The DAISY Consortium's Newsletter - October 2008

From The Editor

How often are we given an opportunity to make a real difference, to potentially influence (even in a small way) the outcome of a decision that could affect millions of people? Please be sure to read the article WIPO Treaty for Equitable Information Access in this issue of the DAISY Planet, and then, as very little time remains, contact the government representative in your country. Support this proposed treaty - each and every 'voice' that is heard could help to make this happen.

The second article about the partnerships International Bookshare.org is developing in India is a good news story. The success of this endeavour has the potential to bring accessible textbooks and other reading materials to millions of people in India who at present have little or no accessible information.

People everywhere who are unable to read standard print or electronic publications need accessible reading materials to participate equally in society. International copyright harmonization will help to make this happen, as will partnerships such as those Bookshare.org is establishing. Open source developments in the area of information access are increasing in number and moving forward at an incredible rate. There are now three Save As DAISY or Save As DAISY XML options: Microsoft's add-in for MS Word, Odt2dtbook for Open Office, and most recently Save As DAISY XML in Adobe's InDesign CS4. Companies and organizations are incorporating the DAISY Pipeline, one of the DAISY Consortium's open source development projects, into their tools. Obi, the Consortium's open source DAISY 3 player has reached the RC2 stage. Projects such as ÆGIS are focused on mainstream ICT and accessibility.

The need for accessible information is now recognized worldwide by people, organizations and companies (and not just by those of us in this field). Built in accessibility in mainstream ICT (information and communication technologies) is no longer a distant vision. Efforts to break down the barriers that do not support creation and/or exchange of accessible formats are focused and growing. Efforts such as those of Pedro Zurita (Your Stories) are making a difference. His guiding theme was always to work for the building of a society that is truly for all. With every passing day our vision comes closer to becoming a reality.

Share information about your activities and/or products in an upcoming issue of the DAISY Planet. Please send submissions using the Contact Us form (Newsletter category). You can also use the Contact Us form to tell us about a 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 new or recently updated DAISY Products and Services from our Members and Friends. Marketplace entries also appear on our home page.

The DAISY Marketplace

WIPO Treaty for Equitable Information Access

World Blind Union Proposal

The WIPO Treaty for Improved Access for Blind, Visually Impaired and other Reading Disabled Persons is a result of the collaborative efforts of the DAISY Consortium, World IFLA/LBS and the World Blind Union and others who know that changes to international copyright law are required to bring worldwide equitable access to information. In April 2004 a tripartite agreement was signed by these three organizations; the WBU, which has observer status with WIPO, is presenting the treaty initiative on behalf of the group.

IFLAA worldwide meeting of international experts assisted in the development of the draft WIPO copyright treaty at a meeting called by the WBU and KEI (Knowledge Ecology International). The report of the experts meeting which was held in Washington, DC in July provides both background on the process and substance of the treaty proposal.

The purpose of this international and strategically important proposed treaty is to provide the necessary minimum flexibilities in copyright laws that are needed to ensure full and equal access to information and communication for persons who are visually impaired or otherwise disabled in terms of reading copyrighted works, focusing in particular on measures that are needed to publish and distribute works in formats that are accessible for persons who are blind, have low vision, or have other disabilities in reading text, in order to support their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others, and to ensure the opportunity to develop and utilize their creative, artistic and intellectual potential, not only for their own benefit, but also for the enrichment of society.

The two main features of the proposed treaty are:

  1. to provide a minimum standard for limitations and exceptions for the blind and visually impaired
  2. to allow and encourage the import and export of works in accessible formats

The WIPO Treaty for Improved Access for Blind, Visually Impaired and other Reading Disabled Persons is on the Knowledge Ecology International (KEI) website in English, French and Spanish in HTML, PDF, DOC and ODF formats. DAISY 2.02 and DAISY 3 formats of the English version of the treaty are available for download from the DAISY website.

DAISYMany of you will have received the message from the DAISY Consortium sent October 22nd announcing the treaty and requesting that all of you contact your country's representative who will be attending the WIPO Standing Committee meeting and advocate in favor of this draft treaty. The proposed treaty will be presented at the WIPO Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights - Seventeenth Session, which will be held November 3 - 7 in Geneva; this treaty is the first substantive item on the agenda. The WIPO Standing Committee agenda is available on the WIPO website in English, French and Spanish.

In his letter to WIPO delegates regarding the proposed treaty, Chris Friend, Chair of the WBU Copyright and Right to Read Working Group, wrote: The WBU seeks to greatly expand access to works through a global platform for distributing accessible works. This requires creating a harmonized global minimum standard for copyright limitations and exceptions for blind, visually impaired and reading disabled persons that allows exports and imports of works in accessible formats to qualified persons. A link to the complete text of Chris Friend's letter and links to other relevant and important documents are also available on the KEI website.

Greater harmonization in copyright limitations and exceptions is required in order to create a global platform for making published content available to the persons unable to read standard print or electronic publications. If you have not already sent an email letter to the department or minister in your country who will represent your government in the SCCR/WIPO meeting in support of the proposed treaty, please do so today. Contact information can be found with the department of foreign affairs and education for most countries. If you are unable to locate the name of the representative in your country, the names of the SCCR representatives who attended the last meeting are provided on the KEI website. This is your opportunity to make a difference for everyone everywhere who requires information in an accessible format.

International Bookshare.org: Supporting accessible digital texts for millions

New partnerships in India

Bookshare.org logo

On October 20th the Benetech press release Bookshare.org Expands to Provide Accessible Books in India was distributed and received with resounding support.

In a phone interview with Viji Dilip, International Program Manager for Bookshare.org, Ms. Dilip explained that Bookshare.org, a Benetech initiative, is working with non-profits in India in the areas of outreach and membership, and also working with the Indian publishing industry to explain what information accessibility really is. The ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities will play an important role in Bookshare.org's communications and negotiations with Indian publishing industry representatives.

Global permissions are being sought, meaning that access to these titles by Bookshare.org members is not limited by national borders. There are currently 5,500 titles in the Bookshare collection that are available to all of its members internationally (approximately 1,700 with global permissions, the remainder being public domain titles), and this number is growing daily.

Ms. Viji explained that in India things are changing rapidly for those who have sight and have money, but that minimal progress is being made by or for those without sight - with few exceptions, formal education is not within their reach. Even though those who have money have Internet access, they do not have accessible textbooks and reference books for higher education.

International Bookshare.org is working with the DAISY Forum India to approach publishers. Initial agreements with two Indian publishers are in place, and work to establish arrangements with others, including a textbook publisher, is ongoing. Dipendra Manocha, Developing Countries Coordinator for the DAISY Consortium, and President of DAISY Forum of India is working closely with Viji and Bookshare.org to bring DAISY books to the ten million people in India who are blind.

Bookshare.org is offering membership and access to its library at a significantly reduced rate to those who join in India (400 rupees, which is equivalent to $10 US). The concept of paying for a library service is however, very new in India.

The introduction of Bookshare to India was covered in one of the leading Indian national newspapers, Indian Express. See also, the article Bookshare.org Goes Global which was published in the October 2007 DAISY Planet.

This is not the end of the International Bookshare.org story, it is the beginning. They are working to establish relationships with publishers and to establish Bookshare services in numerous other countries.

Save As DAISY XML in InDesign CS4

Adobe InDesign CS4, released this month, includes a Save as DTBook (DAISY XML) option. This new feature was highlighted in an October 20th post at BLOGS.ADOBE.COM. A more detailed description of the new features was posted by one of Adobe's lead tool developers on Adobe's Digital Editions blog. It provides a clear overview of the DAISY XML and ePub support features in CS4.

The October 20th post states But the biggest feature by far is the new option to choose DTBook (aka DAISY XML) content within EPUBs, compatible with the NIMAS standard that has been mandated in the U.S. for providing access to K-12 instructional materials for the visually impaired.

ÆGIS Project: Accessibility Everywhere

IFLA logoÆGIS (Open Accessibility Everywhere: Groundwork, Infrastructure, Standards) is a 3.5 year, €12.6m project, that is focused on access techniques, on mainstream ICT (information and communication technologies) and on accessibility. The project places users and their needs at the centre of ICT developments. End user requirements are a high priority: ÆGIS identifies user needs and interaction models for several user groups, (users with visual, hearing, motion, speech and cognitive impairments as well as application developers) and develops open source-based generalised accessibility support into mainstream ICT devices/applications. Open source development is at the heart of this project.

One case study is presented on the ÆGIS website: ÆGIS allows Martin and his pupils to produce accessible material since ÆGIS software e.g. allows Martin to create textual documents, which he can then seamlessly transfer into DAISY format books for people with print impairments.

The ÆGIS Consortium is made up of more than twenty members from numerous countries in Europe, from North America and the UK. The project officially began its activities at a Kick-off meeting held in early September. Additional information is available on the ÆGIS website.

Obi RC2 Now Available

Obi logoObi, the DAISY 3 NCX and audio production tool, entered the Release Candidate stage with version RC1 on October 24th. RC2 has just been released. Additional Release Candidates will be released before version 1.0 is available.

Obi is the most recent addition to the growing suite of DAISY production tools. It is simple to use, comprehensive audio recording and editing software for creating Digital Talking Books (DTBs).

Key features of Obi:

Additional information about Obi is available. Collecting and addressing bug reports is an important part of the RC period. Instructions for submitting bugs are also available on the Obi website. Before submitting a bug report, check that it has not yet been reported. During the RC period many known bugs are being fixed. Current reported bug status is provided on the Obi Active Tickets page.

The DAISY Forum is the place to interact with other Obi users, testers and developers, to ask for help, discuss features, etc.

Letters to the Editor

In the September Dear DAISY column about DAISY tools for use on a Mac, the Editor's Note asked: If you know of additional DAISY production or conversion tools that can be used with a Mac, please let us know. The DAISY Pipeline is a cross platform conversion tool with support for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux, and we were surprised it was not mentioned in the response.

An early beta of Save-as-DAISY Audacity which was released in early October will eventually also run on all three platforms mentioned above. Audacity is cross-platform audio recording and editing software. It will be possible to produce DAISY 3 NCX-only DTBs by using the DAISY Pipeline to transform Audacity projects. Documentation is available online on the Pipeline website.

Editor's Note:

Not including the DAISY Pipeline as a conversion tool that supports Mac OS X in the response to the Dear DAISY letter last month was an oversight. Apologies to the DAISY Pipeline team.


Romain Deltour, DAISY Consortium


Tech Tips

With the release of Obi RC2, the DAISY Consortium Obi team would like people outside of the Obi development group to start using, trying, and testing it, and providing feedback and bug reports. Details and links are provided in the article Obi RC 2 Now Available.