The DAISY Consortium's Newsletter - September 2008

From The Editor

Is DAISY evolving or is DAISY, the best way to read and publish, a revolution? Work on the Standard has begun in earnest, as summarized in this month's first feature article DAISY Standards Update, with the requirements of the DAISY community and other groups having been gathered and compiled. To ensure that DAISY remains the most widely adopted accessible reading format in the world and to facilitate its adoption in other communities and environments (such as the commercial publishing industry) the Standard must remain current, vibrant and viable. In addition, two Save As DAISY developments, Microsoft's Save As DAISY XML and the Open Document to DAISY DTBook Translator from Open Office are bringing DAISY content to an ever-increasing audience and introducing DAISY to tens of thousands more.

2008 has been a 'bumper' year for awards for the DAISY Consortium. It was recently announced that for its development of the AMIS software (an open source, free DAISY player), the Consortium has been named by the Tech Museum of Innovation as a 2008 Tech Awards Laureate. One Laureate in each category will be announced at the annual Awards Gala on November 12th. The continued acknowledgement of the efforts of the DAISY Consortium fuels our efforts and the efforts of our membership.

An update on the 2008 Adaptive Content Processing Conference (ACP08) is provided in this issue of the DAISY Planet. It is a pleasure to note that Hiroshi Kawamura, President of the DAISY Consortium, will be a keynote speaker, and that George Kerscher, Secretary General, will chair one of the thematic sessions.

Two new Friends, Code Factory and Activated Content have joined the Consortium recently. Please visit the DAISY Marketplace to learn about the products these companies have to offer the DAISY community. I would like to thank Evan Hill, CTO of Activated Content for submitting the article Audio Watermarking which appears in this issue of the DAISY Planet.

Changing what it means to be blind is a new multimedia publication produced by RNIB and available for purchase online from anywhere in the world. DAISY is of course one of the many formats available on the CD which accompanies the book. Thanks to the RNIB team for providing the information about this truly accessible publication.

In this issue Penny Hartin the first Chief Executive Officer of the WBU International office, shares her story, describing some of the challenges she has faced throughout her life and how she has used the opportunities presented to her to further her career. Penny is an advocate for the rights of those of us who are blind or low vision, and her story is most definitely a success story.

On the lighter side of things I'd like to briefly mention the Victor Reader Stream Online Birthday Party that took place this past Saturday (September 27) in celebration of the Stream's first year on the market. 200 'party goers' joined the fun and were given the opportunity to hear from and pose questions to the HumanWare behind the scenes team in customer support and software development. A couple of HumanWare's partners, Tom Pile from Audible.com and Mike Calvo CEO of Seroteck.com, also joined the discussion and Q & A. There were lots of prizes and everyone received a take away party prize: a VR Stream audio ring tone for cell phones, courtesy of Terry Kelly Canadian singer songwriter and Victor Stream user. Fun was had by all.

If you or someone in your organization or company would like to contribute an article or provide input into an upcoming issue of the DAISY Planet, please submit it using the Contact Us form (Newsletter category). You can also use the Contact Us form to tell us about your new or updated product or service for inclusion in the DAISY Marketplace.

DAISY Marketplace

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.

The DAISY Marketplace

DAISY Standards Update

Meeting Moves Revision Forward

Formal work on the revision of the DAISY 3 Standard, officially the ANSI/NISO Z39.86 specifications for the Digital Talking Book, began at a meeting held on the Google Campus, September 16 - 18, 2008. Twenty-two people representing organizations and companies from Asia, Europe, North American and the UK were in attendance.

The 18 month timeframe for this major revision is aggressive, with drafts of the Standard available for testing and usage before the 2010 completion date. To facilitate a revision of this magnitude, focused working groups have been formed. A small working group to address the Authoring & Interchange portion of the Standard was identified. In addition three groups were established to conduct research in preparation for the further work on the distribution portion of the Standard. Work on this is expected to begin in the first half of 2009.

Authoring & Interchange Working Group

The members of this group will be proposed to NISO as the official participants for the revision to a portion of the standard that addresses Authoring & Interchange. This group will define an extensible mechanism for the encoding of XML documents, which is in line with the single source concept so familiar to those who have been involved with the DAISY Standards and DAISY production. NISO has advised the Advisory Committee to keep the working group small so that work can move forward efficiently.

The members of the group will contribute a defined percentage of their time to this work. Group members are: Markus Gylling - TPB (Sweden) and DAISY Consortium (lead), Kenny Johar - Vision Australia, Ole Holst Andersen - DBB (Denmark), Marisa DeMeglio - DAISY Consortium, Stephen Phippen - RNIB (UK), Per Sennels - Huseby Kompetansesenter (Norway), Boris Goldowsky - CAST (USA), and Matt Garrish - CNIB (Canada).

The Goal of the Authoring & Interchange working group is to deliver a draft standard for test use in approximately six months. The project plans for the Authoring & Interchange working group are published on the DAISY Web site.

Research Committees

Three research committees were established to assist in the development of the Distribution portion of the Standard. These committees are: Lightweight Audio, CODEC, and Container.

The Lightweight Audio Research committee will focus on issues related to playback on hand held devices which have minimal resources. Committee members are: Dominic Labbé - Humanware (Canada) (lead), Lloyd Rasmussen - LOC/NLS (USA), Hiromitsu Fujimori - Plextor (Japan), Colin Garnham - RNIB (UK), Marc-André Hébert - Humanware (Canada).

The CODEC Research committee will focus on audio encoding and decoding and possible specifications that would be considered. This committee is made up of the same individuals as are in the Lightweight Audio Research committee.

The Container Research committee will focus on examining the potential applicability of existing standards for use with DAISY files (DAISY fileset). These standards are used to contain multiple files in a single (zip-like) container. Committee members are: Reuben Firmin - Bookshare.org (USA) (lead), Dominic Labbé - Humanware (Canada), Lloyd Rasmussen - LOC/NLS (USA), Hiromitsu Fujimori - Plextor (Japan), Nick Williamson - RNIB (UK), and John Brugge - Bookshare.org (USA).

Minutes of Standard revision meetings will be published and available to the public. The minutes of this DAISY Standards meeting held September 16 - 18 are available on the DAISY Web site.

Audio Watermarking

An Inaudible Option

Digital Rights Management, Watermarking, Copy Protection…there are many technologies which address the security of audio content, but it isn't always clear exactly what each one really does and how it can help content producers and distributors, or what impact, if any, there may be on the people who use the content. This article is about digital audio watermarking and its role in the distribution of widely accessible content.

Audio watermarking hearkens back to the concept of putting a faint background image on a piece of paper that is inextricably part of the content that gets printed on that piece of paper. This is a vivid analogy, but not really a precise one. Audio watermarking is the process of embedding inaudible, unique machine-readable codes into digital audio. Unlike the text on paper example, the codes are actually woven inextricably into the audio itself. They aren't part of the file header, they are actually part of the audio, but the modification is so minimal that the human ear cannot perceive an acoustic difference. If you play a watermarked audio file over a set of loudspeakers and record the analog with a microphone, the watermark cannot be heard, but it can still be detected by software designed for this purpose. If you take the original watermarked source and play it side by side with the unwatermarked source in a high quality listening environment, only the most perceptive of human listeners could detect a difference. They would not, however, be able to tell you which of the two was watermarked, they would just be aware that they were somehow different.

These hidden but robustly present watermark codes open up a whole range of applications. One of the most common applications of audio watermarking is security through the embedding of copyright and/or recipient information. There are many ways that this can be implemented, but the most common is to insert a code unique to the recipient into the file that they receive. For example, in distributed audio books, a John Smith code could be added into the copy that went to John, and a Jane Doe code into the copy of the exact same book that went to Jane. These audio books would sound the same to the recipients, but if John made his copy available on the Internet, the distributor would be able to tell that the copy came from John and not from Jane. Although this is a passive deterrent, it has proven to be quite an effective security measure when coupled with appropriate user education about the presence of the mark and how it relates to them.

The huge benefit of watermarking over other audio protection technologies such as Digital Rights Management and Copy Protection is that it doesn't pose any technical barriers to legitimate recipients. There are no security keys involved and there are no added limitations in terms of the device or platform used to access the content. For example, it is possible to distribute content as MP3 files that can be played on any device that supports MP3 playback, but still satisfy security requirements by uniquely watermarking the content distributed to each recipient. Because of its platform agnosticism, audio watermarking is the only security measure for audio files that does not negatively affect or inhibit accessibility. In addition, those exact same watermarks can be used to activate other features, such as related content links, advertising placement, and usage reporting.

Audio watermarking provides content security without compromising accessibility. Organizations or companies which are required to implement security measures in the DAISY books (with audio) which they distribute may find that audio watermarking provides the solution which best meets their customers' needs.

ACP08 Conference Update

The 2008 Adaptive Content Processing Conference (ACP08) organizing committee is very pleased to announce that Hiroshi Kawamura, President of the DAISY Consortium, will give a keynote speech entitled Mainstreaming Adaptive Information Processing: achievements and lessons of the DAISY for All Project. Refining and development of the conference programme is underway. An updated version of the programme will be available on the ACP08 Web site October 1st.

Some of the ACP08 thematic sessions will be:

Adaptive publishing for people with print impairments will be chaired and introduced by George Kerscher, Secretary General of the DAISY Consortium.

The focal point of the second day of the Conference will be the afternoon round table discussion centered on the Green Paper: Copyright in the knowledge economy - Latest developments around legislation, digital delivery to and scanning for libraries. Participants in this discussion will include representatives from the publishing industry, specialist organisations and the DAISY Consortium.

The programme will be both interesting and varied, with something of interest for everyone interested in accessible/adaptive publishing. The final date for registration is Saturday November 1, 2008.

Changing what it means to be blind

New Multimedia Publication

Changing what it means to be blind: Reflections on the first 25 years of the World Blind Union will be of interest to people all over the world who are passionate about blindness, disability and equality. This recently released multimedia book which has been produced by the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) on behalf of the World Blind Union (WBU) is available in English, French and Spanish. The clear print book is accompanied by a CD containing DAISY formatted audio, braille, clear print PDF, and text files. The book is also available in English Grade 1 and Grade 2 braille.

A celebration of the WBU's Silver Jubilee in 2009, the book offers fascinating insight into an organization representing 180 million blind and partially sighted people around the globe. This book describes how the WBU has fulfilled its founder's dreams of firmly establishing blindness and disability rights as global issues.

Changing what it means to be blind reflects the differing styles of the seven people who led WBU through its first 25 years. These memoirs of the six presidents, and of the long serving Secretary General, give the reader a flavour of the workings of an important non-governmental organization which has continued to focus its efforts on firmly establishing blindness and disability rights as global issues.

Orders may be submitted in writing, by phone or email as follows:

UK customers

Letters to the Editor

I've just received an email with rather exciting news and wanted to share it with the readers of the DAISY Planet. In the Mozilla Wiki Weekly Update for September 22, it was announced that the Mozilla Foundation has made a $25,000 grant to Benetech to support the development of a DAISY reader for Firefox.


Dipendra Manocha, DAISY Consortium


Dear DAISY

Dear DAISY,

I produce CDs for the blind on a voluntary basis. I currently use production software that is far too complicated with 100s of keystrokes to cancel the defaults associated with the electronic voicing.

I am a sighted person producing MP3 recordings, using my own voice. These files are then assembled in computer file order and converted to DAISY format. I need a program that ensures that the title is announced when the disk is inserted by the person reading the CDs and it must be possible to create [the structure] with at least two levels.

My recording and audio editing are done on Macintosh but, for the time being, I have to produce the DAISY files on a PC since the software I'm using is for PC only. Could you point me towards something more suited to my needs?

 

Many Thanks,   
R.P. (UK)

Dear R.P.

At this time there is one DAISY authoring software for production with Mac that we know of - the DTBMaker. This is an open source development and is available at no cost. There is a brief description of this software on the DAISY Web site along with a link to the site where it can be downloaded

If you have not been validating your completed DAISY productions, it is strongly recommend that you do so. The DAISY validators are available at no cost and can be downloaded via the DAISY Web site. Both of these tools are PC rather than Mac based (so you should not give your PC away yet).

There are other DAISY software production/authoring options. Please visit the pages Products and Services on the DAISY site for a list and links.

Editor's Note: If you know of additional DAISY production or conversion tools that can be used with a Mac, please let us know using the Contact Us form (Newsletter category).

Tech Tips

W3C Public News is published weekly on the W3C Web site and is also available through email subscription. The W3C Q & A Blog, information about upcoming meetings and talks, calls for review and more are included.