The DAISY Consortium's Newsletter - November 2008

From The Editor

While some people were at the ACP08 Conference in Amsterdam, many others, including Chris Friend, Chair, WBU Copyright and Right to Read Working Group, were in Geneva at the WIPO SCCR meeting, presenting and/or advocating for the Proposed WIPO Treaty. Efforts regarding WIPO and information access are not complete. Much is to be done between now and the next SCCR meeting in late May 2009. Please read the article WIPO Treaty Proposal Update and the Letter to the Editor to find out how you can assist.

The ACP08 Conference was a rousing success. It was extremely well organized and the quality of the many presentations was excellent. Emilia Persoon, Dedicon Project manager R&D, and member of the MathML-in-DAISY Working Group co-presented the paper Publishing Scholarly Journals in Universal Format - Physicists Take the Lead. It was inspiring to see some of the outcome of the work of the MathML-in-DAISY Working Group. This presentation, including a short video demonstration, is available in the ACP08 Conference proceedings. I've had opportunities to meet some of the members of that WG; they are truly committed to making mathematics accessible.

Your Story in this issue introduces Varju Luceno who joined the DAISY Team several months ago. Varju, as the Consortium's Communications and Marketing Specialist, will be responsible for most of the Consortium's communications and membership support functions as of January 2009. I will continue as the Editor in Chief of the Planet and prepare the DAISY Annual Report as I have for some years. In one way or another I have been involved with DAISY since the Consortium's inception, but it is time to bring others along and for me to step back. Welcome to the DAISY Team Varju!

To keep the DAISY Planet alive and well, please continue to share your news with this community by sending your ideas, suggestions, articles, updates, stories and letters to me using the Contact Us form (newsletter category) or by emailing me directly.

Thanks to all who have contributed to the DAISY Planet, and more, thanks to everyone in the DAISY Community, our Members, Friends and everyone who cares about making information accessible.


Lynn Leith,
Head of Information Services and Administrative Support,
DAISY Consortium

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 Proposal Update

SCCR Meeting: overheated debate

In last month's issue of the DAISY Planet the article WIPO Treaty for Equitable Information Access provided detailed information about the proposed WIPO Treaty that would be presented at the 17th SCCR (Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights) meeting November 3 - 7 in Geneva. From all reports the meeting was extremely challenging for those supporting the proposal and with it the right to information for the blind, visually impaired, and other reading disabled persons. It is not surprising that phrases and words such as an overheated debate and battle have been used to describe the proceedings.

European digital rights logoAnniina Huttunen, a doctoral student at the Helsinki University of Technology, and the EDRI (European Digital Rights) representative at the WIPO SCCR meeting has written an article on the events and outcome of the last day of the SCCR meeting. Her article ENDitorial: An overheated debate on the rights of the visually impaired which is published on the EDRI Web site is enlightening and provides an insider's view of the proceedings.

Sherwin Siy, Staff Attorney and Director of the Global Knowledge Initiative at Public Knowledge, was also present at the SCCR meeting. His article Wrangling Over the Rights of the Blind published on the Public Knowledge Web site presents the discussions, decisions and processes of the 17th SCCR.

Siy describes the processes involved and how the conclusions evolved: At the end of these meetings, a day or so is devoted to debating and deciding what the conclusions of the meeting have been...There then ensues a vigorous debate as to what points of view might have been included or left out, if there was undue emphasis or a noted absence of a particular proposal, etc. Huttunen also describes the chop and change process. Both Siy and Huttunen specifically note that the reference to international exchange (which was in the original wording) was removed.

At the end of the vigorous debate on limitations and exceptions the final wording/conclusion was as follows:
"The Committee acknowledged the special needs of visually impaired persons and stressed the importance of dealing, without delay and with appropriate deliberation, with those needs of the blind, visually impaired, and other reading disabled persons, including discussions at the national and international level on possible ways and means facilitating and enhancing access to protected works. This should include analysis of limitations and exceptions. This should also include the possible establishment of a stakeholders platform at WIPO, in order to facilitate arrangements to secure access for disabled persons to protected works. A number of delegations referred to a paper presented by the World Blind Union (WBU) and expressed interest in further analyzing it."

Both of these articles are well worth reading (perhaps even required reading) for anyone interested in the right to information access for people who are unable to read print and some electronic publications.

Six Months to Strategize and Prepare

The next SCCR meeting will be held in late May 2009. The WBU, DAISY and IFLA/LBS (International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions, Libraries for the Blind Section) in partnership, have already begun to prepare their strategy. This partnership, represented by WBU, will participate fully in the Stakeholder Platform under WIPO's auspices. In parallel, over the next six months, WBU will continue to lobby National Government Delegations who will be attending the May SCCR meeting.

Not all country representatives at the SCCR meeting supported the proposed treaty equally. Chris Friend, Chair, WBU Copyright and Right to Read Working Group, is hopeful that as many people as possible will express their support for the Treaty and the need of the blind, visually impaired, and other reading disabled persons to have access to copyrighted materials.

Additional information and calls to action will be distributed through DAISY Consortium communication channels.

ACP08: A Mind Stimulator

New Ideas in an Historic Venue

DAISY Members and Friends, others dedicated to information access, as well as representatives from the world of publishing were exposed to new ideas, new products and new approaches at the 2008 Adaptive Conference Processing Conference held November 6 and 7 in Amsterdam. Approximately 100 participants had come from all over Europe, the United Kingdom, North American and Japan to join in the learning and mental stimulation.

Maarten Verboom giving the welcome speechMaarten Verboom, Director of Dedicon, opened ACP08 and welcomed the participants. His welcome, although not long, was encouraging and set the stage for the Conference: We can find a broad agreement and consensus on the need to make information available to people with print impairments, but it is far harder to find a consensus on just how this can be achieved, at a local, national or European level. But one of the core points of focus that the EUAIN Network has provided is an emphasis on accessibility not as a product, but as a process.

Stephen King receiving the culture of sharing awardEach of the two days of the Conference began with a keynote speech. On day one in his keynote, Hiroshi Kawamura, President of the DAISY Consortium, addressed the achievements and challenges of the global implementation of the DAISY Standards and the need for equitable access to information by persons with disabilities. Mr. Kawamura invited Stephen King, Group Director, Access and Innovation for RNIB, to speak briefly about RNIB's simultaneous print/accessible format publications. This was the final stage in the preparation for the presentation of the DAISY Consortium Culture of Sharing Award to Stephen for his long-term and continued commitment to DAISY.

The Conference Programme was information-filled. Each of the two days included parallel sessions covering various areas of interest. The ACP08 Conference proceedings are available on the ACP08 Conference Web site with links to many of the presentations provided.

Keon Krikhaar and Thomas KahlischThe second day concluded with a Round Table discussion on the European Commission Green Paper on the Knowledge Economy. Many issues and concerns were discussed and an excellent overview was provided. The Green Paper focuses on the role of copyright in fostering dissemination of knowledge for research, science and education. It is intended as the starting point for a structured debate on the long-term future of copyright policy in these areas. The Green Paper organizes and presents the issues, and points to future challenges in fields that previously have not been a focal point. Hiroshi Kaparticipating in the round tablewamura A structured podcast of the Round Table discussion is available for download also from the ACP08 Conference Web site. The discussion is available in an Audio Only version, an Audio Podcast that is bookmarkable (for iTunes etc.) and as a Captioned Podcast. A DAISY version will be made available in the near future.

Stained glass windows in the stairway of Beurs van BerlageHosted jointly by the EUAIN Network, the ProAccess Project, Dedicon and the Federation of Dutch Publishers, ACP08 was held at the Beurs van Berlage. Built in 1903, this marvelous structure served as the Amsterdam stock and commodities exchange headquarters for almost ideas in an historic venue.

MathML in DAISY WG Winds Down

Closing Words - Neil Soiffer, Chair

MathML in DAISY logoThe top priority of the MathML in DAISY Working Group was to develop a specification for extending the DAISY 3 Standard to support accessible mathematics. Our goal was to do so in a way that did not break the DAISY specification. We may have 'bent' it a little (issues and problems found in the specification during the development process were fixed by the DAISY Consortium development team via errata), but we did what we set out to do - define an extension to DAISY for accessible math that makes use of DAISY's extension mechanism.

As part of the MathML modular extension development process we needed to create sample DAISY books to make sure the spec was sensible, that it worked the way it should. We also needed to work with the DAISY (ZedVal) validator developers to extend the validator to handle MathML. Of course, it was important to develop tools that could produce and use the extension; several companies with members on the Working Group did just that.

Outreach to potential users of the MathML extension was also important to the Working Group. We wanted feedback during the spec development process and awareness of the spec afterwards. To this end, all of the Working Group members gave one or more talks about the extension. The members also developed a mathematics section for the new release of the DAISY Structures Guidelines so that people producing DAISY books with mathematics would be aware of some of the subtler points of incorporating math into a DAISY book.

As chair, I was really pleased with the efforts of the Working Group. Everyone pitched in to work and spoke in both a professional and friendly manner during our conference calls, even though people may have been tired because it was early in the morning for some members and late in the day for others. During the two years we took to develop the MathML in DAISY modular extension (the spec), all of the Working Group members became friends. I'm sure that in the future, when we see each other at conferences it will be a bit like a reunion, even though we never had a face to face meeting. It was a pleasure working with all of them.

People often forget that math is a central topic in every student's day. In the US, it is said to be one of the three 'R's: Reading, wRiting, and aRithmetic. The working group members should feel proud that their work makes this core subject accessible to students and others who use math and require it in an accessible format.

Editor's Note: The MathML modular extension for DAISY was approved by the DAISY Board of Directors in February 2007. In March, the Working Group members who attended the CSUN Conference made sure that everyone in the main exhibit hall heard the good news. Their work on sample books and the Mathematics section of the DAISY Structure Guidelines followed. The DAISY Board of Directors and DAISY Team would like to thank Neil and each of the members of the MathML in DAISY Working Group for their commitment and hard work, and of course, for the results their efforts.

Letters to the Editor

Thank you so much for supporting next week's effort at SCCR through your DAISY channels with first the letter to all from George Kerscher and now the excellent article in the October DAISY Planet.

Your encouragement gives the whole WBU/KEI team leading for DAISY, IFLA/LBS and WBU in Geneva next week just the momentum we will all need to make the most of the growing groundswell of opinion which is agreeing that there is a need for change as we see it. I look forward to sharing with the DAISY Family how we get on.

WBU is undertaking a survey of major producers of accessible format works to ascertain how many titles have been produced in each collection under license arrangements, under exceptions and from the Public Domain. Also the same statistics for 2008 output would be helpful if possible. Please would all DAISY Planet readers gather this information and send it to me using the Contact Us email on the Sight Savers Web site. The data will be collated to provide the team representing our three organisations attending the Stakeholder Platform on January 19th.

Again many thanks.

Chris Friend, Chair WBU Copyright



I work for the Multiple Sclerosis Society, the UK's largest charity for people affected by MS. We publish a magazine which is also available on CD and audio tape for our 45,000 members. We have been interested for some time in investigating the DAISY format (many people with MS have problems with their eyesight) and would like to arrange for a demonstration, here at the Society in London, of DAISY technology for some of our staff - to help us decide if/how DAISY technology might benefit our members. Could you let me know who I might contact to arrange such a demonstration?


Many Thanks,   
C.R. (UK)

Dear C.R.

Materials produced in DAISY format provide improved access to the content for people who are blind or have a visual handicap as well as for those with other print reading problems. Providing your magazine in DAISY format would benefit many of your members.

One of our Full Member organizations is the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) in the UK and I am certain they would be happy to provide some of your staff with a demonstration of DAISY publications and an explanation of the benefits for those who have difficulty reading standard print publications. An email has been sent to the DAISY Board representative for RNIB asking that they get in touch with you about your request.

Tech Tips

The Obi development team would like to thank those who responded to the request for more beta testers in the October DAISY Planet. The new testers have provided numerous bug reports that the development team is addressing.

Information is on the Obi Web site. Instructions for submitting bugs are provided. Current reported bug status is given on the Obi Active Tickets page. A DAISY Forum is available for Obi users, testers and developers.