DAISY IS indeed everywhere (reference this month's Feature Article CSUN 2008: DAISY Highlights. DAISY has penetrated the accessibility vocabulary. As I was picking up the CSUN Conference package one of the folks working the desk looked at my name tag and said, "Oh, DAISY, that's what everyone is using to read." She didn't know what it was, but she new that a lot of people are reading 'the DAISY way'. The commitment to accessibility (not just DAISY) filled the room during Jim Fruchterman's Keynote. It was emotional, it was uplifting.
And what about Techshare India? It was on the other side of the world, but had a turnout of over 400 participants in its first year. I spoke with Shilpi Kedia, Managing Director of BarrierBreak Technologies in India, at CSUN, and she has already begun planning for Techshare India 2009. I've no doubt that the attendance next year will far exceed this year's.
In February in Eastern Europe, Zagreb, Croatia to be exact, a meeting reigniting the Global Library Initiative served to inspire everyone present. This was immediately followed by the Eastern European Seminar. I would like to thank Sanja Frajtag, Director, Croatian Library for the Blind for all she did to make these events happen and to support the DAISY Board meeting which preceeded them.
The February Quiz Question was: What is "Save As DAISY XML"?
The answer is number 4, Save As DAISY XML is both #1, Open Source software developed by Microsoft, Sonata and DAISY, and #2, A free plug-in for Microsoft Word that will produce DAISY XML. You must have done your homework - 71% had the correct answer!
Many DAISY Friends, Members, staff and Board members attended the recent California State University at Northridge Conference on Technology and Persons with Disabilities. CSUN is the largest conference of its kind. For a short summary of DAISY activities at CSUN read the Feature Article: CSUN 2008: DAISY Highlights.
Question: How many individual presenters were listed in the 2008 CSUN Program?
Be sure to read next month's issue of
The DAISY Planet
for the answer.
The following links are to new or recently updated DAISY Products and Services from our Members and Friends. Marketplace entries also appear on our home page.
The following links are to announcements of recently updated DAISY Products and Services from our Members and Friends. Marketplace entries also appear on our home page.
Mary Schnackenberg (Divisional Manager Adaptive Support,
Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind)
Hundreds of people from India and around the world joined in Techshare India 2008 on February 4 and 5 to learn more about the role of technology in enriching the lives of people with disabilities of all kinds. Organized by BarrierBreak Technologies in partnership with Royal National Institute of Blind People (UK), the pan-disability conference featured presentations on the availability and use of assistive technologies and an exhibition area showcasing accessibility products from around the world. An "Experience Zone" where anyone could experience first hand the challenges faced by people with disabilities provided an exceptional opportunity to explore how technology can break down barriers to quality of life. Dipendra Manocha, Assistant Project Manager of DAISY for All, served on the conference's organizing committee.
Techshare India participants offered enthusiastic reviews of their experience in blog entries at the BarrierBreak Technologies Blog. Some highlights are:
"It was a fantastic and satisfying experience to educate and build a kind of awareness to general public who were amazed to know and see that people with disabilities can work with technologies and lead an independent life!" said Mamta Tandel.
Vasu commented, "Techshare India 2008 was a great learning experience for me. It was pleasure seeing such a huge number of delegates from across the world."
Prachi Chaturvedi stated, "I have learned that accessibility is not about technology it's about people."
Special guests and keynote speakers included Dr. (Smt.) Veena Chhotray, Secretary, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Mr. Javed Abidi, Executive Director, National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (NCPEDP), and Mr. Shadi Abou-Zahra from the World Wide Web Consortium. The conference agenda is available on the BarrierBreak Technologies Web site.
Techshare India 2008 featured several presentations by DAISY Members, Friends, and staff. Dipendra Manocha offered information on methodologies for producing content and "reading the DAISY way". Romain Deltour and Avneesh Singh presented DAISY software tools for authoring and playback of DAISY content; both the DAISY Pipeline (a DAISY open source transformation tool) and AMIS (a DAISY open source reading system/player) were featured. Steve Bennett, Sales Director for DAISY Friend, Dolphin Computer Access Ltd., offered a presentation and demonstration on how teachers and rehabilitation professionals can use Dolphin's EasyConverter to produce DAISY content. In the "Experience Zone", participants were able to listen to digital talking books using AMIS and DAISY hardware players.
BarrierBreak Technologies' Managing Director, Shilpi Kedia, expressed her intention to make Techshare India an annual event to keep people abreast of the latest developments in products and technologies, and to promote initiatives that facilitate bringing these solutions to India. Organizers and participants are eager to repeat the success of Techshare India 2008. To quote Vivek Gaikwad's blog entry from the event Web site, "Techshare rocked!"
Plans are already underway for Techshare 2009.
There are many wonderful hardware and software DAISY reading systems (players) available. AMIS is one of these; it has been developed through the DAISY For All Project of the DAISY Consortium. Previous versions are in use worldwide and testers for this beta release are being sought.
AMIS 3 will be released with support for Windows 2000, XP and Vista.
The AMIS Features List provides additional information.
This an important release of AMIS, and the DAISY Consortium along with the AMIS developers are hoping for widespread testing participation and a strong commitment from those involved. Go to the AMIS Project Web site to sign up as an AMIS 3 tester.
The Web site for AMIS 3 is currently being expanded. For the release of the beta, mechanisms will be in place for accepting all required testing information. Detailed instructions about filing bug reports, a list of features and processes that need to be tested, communication processes, and guidelines are being developed will be provided on the AMIS 3 Web site. Details about bug reporting will also be distributed with the beta release announcement.
The AMIS 3 beta software will be available for download from AMIS Project Web site. Watch for the release announcement on the Home Page of the DAISY Web site.
In Zagreb Croatia, February 27, the DAISY Board and members of IFLA/LBS (Libraries for the blind section of International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions) met to review the goals of the Global Library initiative which was established in Redmond, Washington, November 2004. Were the goals and initiatives still valid? What progress had been made to date?
Four major initiatives were identified:
I. Discovery and access: end user issues
II. Shared collection development and exchange
III. Business model for the global library
IV. Partnership development
This important project will be owned jointly by IFLA/LBS and the DAISY Consortium, and will be managed by the DAISY Consortium. A joint steering committee will be established to provide governance, oversight and direction for the project.
A seminar introducing DAISY and IFLA/LBS (Libraries for the Blind Section of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions) was held in Zagreb Croatia February 27 and 28.
This opportunity to reach out to organizations in Eastern Europe was arranged by IFLA/LBS and the DAISY Consortium in cooperation with the Croatian Library for the Blind. Claudia Lux, President of IFLA, opened the seminar with a powerful keynote speech. Eastern European organizations representing Bosnia and Herzegivina, Estonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Slovenia, and of course Croatia were present. DAISY Board and IFLA/LBS members were also present.
The one and a half day seminar was an educational experience for everyone who attended. The DAISY Consortium extends special thanks to the Croatian Library for the Blind for its hospitality and for helping to bring DAISY and IFLA/LBS to Eastern Europe.
DAISY was indeed everywhere at this year's 'California State University at Northridge' Conference on Technology and Persons with Disabilities (known as CSUN). Even those who know very little about DAISY know that it is the format people are reading. DAISY was brought up in many sessions, not only those given by the Consortium, its Friends and Members.
The 2008 opening keynote speaker was Jim Fruchterman, a leading innovator in the field of assistive technology. Jim's keynote was a highlight of the Conference. His words were inspiring, funny, riveting. How did someone who started out with a military technical focus as the Chief Electrical Engineer for a private rocket company end up as a leader in assistive technology development?
Early in his "rocket" career he saw an OCR (optical character recognition) device. This was the start of his dream: a "reading machine for the blind". He believed, and still believes, in the power of technology to serve people. Along his life's journey Jim has founded two non-profit companies, Arkenstone and Benetech, which benefit people with visual impairments and learning disabilities. His recollection of how he came to the idea of Bookshare is more than worth listening to (Bookshare.org is an Associate Member of the DAISY Consortium). Jim's keynote is available on the CSUN Web site, with direct access to the Keynote Video Archive and the Keynote Audio Archive.
Jim has received too many awards to list here - and yes, he really was a rocket scientist!
Microsoft hosted an Accessible Technology Event and Reception featuring demonstrations of the latest accessibility tools and resources for Office, Windows and SharePoint. "Save As DAISY XML" was the highlight of the presentations. Reed Shaffner, Product Manager for Microsoft Word, introduced the add-in for Word, and George Kerscher, Secretary General of the DAISY Consortium, presented a live demonstration of "Save As DAISY XML".
The sessions presented or co-presented by DAISY staff members were:
The Conference program is still available online for those interested in reviewing the many sessions that were presented.
Those know George Kerscher also know Nesbit his guide dog. This was Nesbit's last CSUN Conference - he is retiring this month. Everyone wished him well, hugged and petted him farewell.
I am pleased to share with you how the ClassMate Reader has impacted the life of an adult who has a learning disability. Now that she can access text from the palm of her hand, she has been reintroduced to the love of reading for pleasure. When a person is provided with tools in the form of assistive technology, the possibilities are endless. Dr. Nina Ghiselli shares how the impact of having this portable tool to assist with reading has made a difference in rediscovering her love for literature.
At CSUN I saw George Kerscher create a DAISY XML (DTBook) file using the "Save as DAISY XML" add-in for Microsoft Word. He showed the actual DAISY book that had been generated using this file with the DAISY Pipeline but added that not everything required to go through this process is in place right now. When will it be possible to do this with the "Save As DAISY" add-in and the Pipeline?
There will be a seamless progression from the DAISY XML (DTBook) output generated by the Microsoft "Save as DAISY XML" add-in into the DAISY Pipeline. The output from the Pipeline will be full text and audio (synthetic speech) DAISY publications. The April release of both the Microsoft "Save as DAISY XML" add-in and the DAISY Pipeline will support this.
Please note that there are several conversion tools available from DAISY Friends which will accept DTBook XML files and output DAISY publications. DAISY Consortium and DAISY Member and Friends conversion tools are listed in the Products and Services area of the DAISY Web site.
Validate! Validate! Validate!: If you produce DAISY content (books, magazines, etc.) be sure to include validation in your workflow process. DAISY content that is not valid may not play on all reading systems (players) and may not be migratable to other formats (for example, eventual upgrade from DAISY 2.02 to DAISY 3). The DAISY Consortium makes both the DAISY 2.02 Validator and the DAISY 3 (ZedVal) Validator available for everyone to download at no cost.