The DAISY Consortium's Newsletter - February 2009

From The Editor

Information is everywhere, it is not just in books or on the Internet. Perhaps Mr. Broke's inquiry in this month's Dear DAISY column will get people thinking about other ways to incorporate DAISY, to bring accessible information to everyone in many different applications.

In the Letter to the Editor Gerry Chevalier shares information about Bookshare now being available in Canada, but this is not all that is 'news' from Bookshare. There was also good news in the Benetech press release distributed late in January: Bookshare, the world's largest accessible online library for people with print disabilities, has been completely rebuilt with state-of-the-art web technology to make it significantly easier for individuals with print disabilities to access the books they want and need.

Interest in DAISY, DAISY books and accessible information generally is growing exponentially everywhere. We hope that the Resource List for Online Content compiled by HumanWare and reported in last month's DAISY Planet has been useful to many of you. The article Argon Verlag: Setting the Trend for Audio Book Publishers in this month's Planet is incredibly positive and encouraging - a commercial audio book publisher making books in DAISY format available for sale along side their regular line of audio books. ReadHowYouWant (Objective Systems Pty Ltd), a Friend of the DAISY Consortium, now has sample braille and DAISY downloads at its online book store in the braille and DAISY area. Praise Song for the Day by Elizabeth Alexander, read by the poet at the inauguration of Barack Obama, is also available from ReadHowYouWant as a free braille or DAISY download (the download link is at the bottom of the page).

Since the January issue the Consortium has participated in two major conferences, and a third, CSUN 2009 is just weeks away. You will find information about these in this issue. Also coming up March 30 is the 3d European eAccessibility Forum. The program is available online and Forum registration is open. The program in French and registration form in French are also available on the 3d European eAccessibility Forum website. The organizers are pleased to announce that the Forum will have outstanding speakers who are internationally recognised for their expertise.

Some of you may be aware of the accessibility issues with the new Kindle 2. For those who would like to make their voices about this issue heard, a petition has been started asking Amazon Technologies, Inc. to add voice prompts to make it fully accessible. The text of the petition begins: We, the undersigned, ask Amazon Technologies, Inc., and its affiliates, to modify the new Kindle 2, and add the ability to have all menu choices spoken with voice prompts, so that all blind and sighted individuals may purchase, and make full use of this innovative product. The complete text of the petition about Kindle 2 accessibility and a link to sign it are available online. Note that this is not directly related to DAISY Consortium activities, but is provided for as a point of interest which deals with information accessibility.

Over the coming weeks watch News on the DAISY homepage for information about the release of version 2.0 of Save As DAISY from Microsoft.

If you have information that you think may be of interest to other DAISY Planet readers or if you have a comment about one of the articles let us know with the Contact Us form (Newsletter category). You can also use the Contact Us form to tell us about Your Story or to submit news about DAISY and related events, developments and activities.

Lynn Leith
Editor

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

DAISY Front Row & Centre at CSUN

George Kersche speaking at CSUN CSUN 2009 is fast approaching. From March 16 - 21 DAISY takes centre stage with almost 20 workshop sessions about DAISY, DAISY content and content creation, reading tools, developments and more. There is a variety of beginner, intermediate and advanced workshops. The conference program will be available in accessible formats, one of which is DAISY. The DAISY Consortium is highlighted in the "General Information" provided near the beginning of the program.

In the summaries of the two workshops which will be lead by Ron Stewart of the Association on Higher Education and Disabilities, DAISY is described as "the gold standard for accessible digital materials" and "the future in accessible curriculum".

DAISY Workshop Sessions

Some of the DAISY workshops and sessions which include DAISY and that will be presented by DAISY Members, Friends, the DAISY Consortium and others who recognize DAISY as "The Best Way to Read, The Best Way to Publish" are:

For those planning to attend this year's CSUN Conference, be sure to explore the exhibit halls for an opportunity to find out about new DAISY tools, developments and services.

 

WBU Mobilizing for WIPO SCCR Meeting

Equitable Information Access Treaty

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is one of the 16 specialized agencies of the United Nations. "It is dedicated to developing a balanced and accessible international intellectual property (IP) system, which rewards creativity, stimulates innovation and contributes to economic development while safeguarding the public interest." (WIPO website). The Treaty for Equitable Information Access is rooted in that public interest.

The next meeting, the eighteenth session of the WIPO Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR) will be held in Geneva, May 25 - 29. It will be an important meeting for everyone who needs information in an accessible format and for those who believe in equitable access to information. Background information is available in last year's October DAISY Planet and November DAISY Planet.

In 2008 the World Blind Union (WBU) in collaboration with IFLA and the DAISY Consortium, submitted to WIPO the proposed Treaty for Equitable Information Access. World Blind Union logo It is once again on the WIPO SCCR agenda (for the meeting that will be held this May). Although there was significant support for the proposed treaty, with Latin America, Africa, Asia and LDCs totaling over 100 delegations in favour, not all country representatives at the SCCR meeting last year supported it equally. The WBU is mobilizing its core teams in the United States and the European Union in an effort to convince them to change their vote, to vote in favour of the proposed treaty.

Chris Friend, DAISY Conference, Zagreb Croatia, 2008 Chris Friend, WBU Strategic Objective Leader - Accessibility Chair WBU Global Right to Read Campaign, asks DAISY Members, Friends and Supporters, particularly in the USA and European Union to encourage their governments to support the proposed WIPO Treaty for equitable information access. Mr. Friend is willing to act as a reference point for individuals who will be lobbying their governments on this issue.

Dr. Manon Ress, Director Information Society Projects for Knowledge Ecology International (KEI), has very recently posted an article on the KEI blog about the proposed WBU Treaty in which she urges the United States to support it. Dr. Ress writes: "The two main features of the proposed treaty are (1) to provide a minimum standard for limitations and exceptions to copyright for the blind, visually impaired and other reading disabled persons, and (2) to allow and encourage cross-border importation and exportation of works in accessible formats." That same day on www.keionline.org/blogs/ she posted a short piece called "Check your bookshelf!": "Today, I checked the books on my bookshelves at work. I found 69 books. 9 of them are available in formats accessible to the reading disabled in the US and 1 is available to the print disabled worldwide. Continue reading Check your bookshelf!" Dr. Ress followed with another post two days later (on the same site) after she had examined her bookshelves at home.

Have you looked at your bookshelves recently?

AMIS 3, Release Candidate 1

The Free, Open Source DAISY Player

AMIS Logo The first release candidate (RC1) of AMIS 3 is now available. AMIS (Adaptive Multimedia Information System) is the DAISY software player developed by the DAISY Consortium. This release provides numerous notable improvements over earlier versions, including:

AMIS can be internationalized, that is, language packs can be created and made available with the software for different languages. AMIS 2.X had been translated into more than twenty different languages. Volunteer translators for 26 languages are already lined up to produce language packs for AMIS 3. Chinese, Tamil and Dutch are expected to be among the first translations to be completed. When the translations are available they will be posted for download on the AMIS Project page (language packs for AMIS 2.X will not function with AMIS 3).

Other highlights of AMIS include playback speed control, text searching and bookmarking, and reading options. It runs on Windows. Additional information, the link to download AMIS, the AMIS User Guide, AMIS Public Forum and more are provided on the AMIS Project page on the DAISY website. Also included is a link to the AMIS Tracker and Development Site, specifically for developers.

Argon Verlag: Setting the Trend for Audio Book Publishers

Argon Verlag: Setting the Trend for Audio Book Publishers

Argon Verlag logo Argon Verlag is "among the leading German publishers of audio books." In May 2008, in collaboration with Deutsche Zentralbücherei Leipzig (DZB), Argon began its DAISY project. The first 20 DAISY titles in the Argon DAISY Edition were published in October 2008 and were released at the Frankfurt Book Fair (one of the largest of its kind in the world).

Argon DAISY Edition logoSince the project was launched last May, Argon has sold over 5,000 copies of DAISY books. New titles, between 10 and 15 per month, are being added to the DAISY collection which consists of approximately 100 original titles. The books are in DAISY 2.02 format and are audio with structure (NCC). Perhaps one of the factors that makes this project exciting is that the price of the DAISY books is the same as the Argon standard audio books, and they can be purchased by anyone - they are not restricted to individuals who are unable to read standard print. Each title has its own unique ISBN number. To distinguish the DAISY books from the regular audio books "Argon DAISY Edition" DVD boxes have braille labels with title and author information, and "argon daisy edition" is printed at the bottom.

Das Spiel des Engles, DAISY EditionArgon will present their "DAISY Edition" at the Leipzig Book Fair in March this year. Katharina Eberenz, "Argon DAISY Edition" Project Director will participate in a panel discussion at the Book Fair along with Thomas Kahlisch of DZB and others. Ms. Eberenz will also attend the DAISY 2009 Technical Conference in Leipzig this September. DZB is a member of MediBuS, which is a Full Member of the DAISY Consortium.

Argon's DAISY and standard audio books are in German and include new publications and best sellers. The Argon DAISY catalogue is available online. An article about Argon Verlag, the "Argon DAISY Edition", the mainstream publishing market and the collaborative project with Deutsche Zentralbücherei Leipzig has been published (in German) in Börsenblatt

XML in Practice: Formats, Tools, and Techniques

DAISY at O'Reilly Tools of Change

DAISY Logo At the recent O’Reilly Tools of Change Conference held in New York, Marisa DeMeglio, a software developer with the DAISY Consortium, was one of several speakers for the session “XML in Practice: Formats, Tools, and Techniques”. A summary of the session was written by Mike Rankin and is posted on the InDesignSecrets Blog. Ms. DeMeglio was Speaker 5, and the short description of her presentation begins: “In XML circles, DAISY stands for Digital Accessible Information SYstem. It is the stage name for the NISO Z39.86 standard. (You can see why they needed to come up with something catchy like “DAISY”). It is a standard for making digital content accessible to blind, visual impaired (sic), print-disabled, and learning-disabled people.”

A couple of the interesting questions posed by the audience and Ms. DeMeglio's responses to these were:

  1. Q: Is DAISY about the standard or tools?
    A: Development of both standards and tools that work together and that can be re-used is essential to supporting our community.
  2. Q: How would you handle the speech generation for different languages in a text document?
    A: Use the xml lang id in your document. Our tools will support this in the future.

Waiting for the Button that Makes it All Work

Ms. DeMeglio has reported that she received some excellent feedback from people in the days following her presentation. There was a great deal of interest in XML expressed and overall, publishers seem to have some understanding of what XML is and that they need to use it. However they see potential pitfalls related to file format incompatibility and the possible need for revisiting and reworking files during conversion processes. Her response to this is simply that publishers should be looking toward total automation starting from a good quality master format - DAISY.

There was a significant amount of anti-DRM (Digital Rights Management) sentiment, and a great deal of support for the EPUB standard which is an XML format for reflowable digital books and publications, and which has "DAISY inside".

2009 ATIA Conference Highlights

The 2009 ATIA Conference in Orlando Florida provided numerous networking opportunities. Attendees could choose from more than 275 educational sessions. Assistive technology products and services were showcased by more than 200 industry vendors.

DAISY Consortium presentations Plant the Right Technology: Let Your Students Bloom with DAISY and Gold to Fine Jewelry, NIMAS-DAISY, Tools of the Trade were well attended. Larry At a lunch session on Friday, January 30th 2009, Larry Waldman, Program Manager from Microsoft, and George Kerscher, Secretary General of the DAISY Consortium, presented and demonstrated the Save as DAISY add-in for Microsoft Word that enables document transformation to the DAISY format. The new version 2.0 beta of Save As DAISY was provided by Microsoft and included on the conference DVD.

Accessible Instructional Materials, as well as NIMAS/DAISY were featured during several sessions. Mr. Kerscher and Mr. Waldman offered a preview of the Save as DAISY add-in for Microsoft Word a couple times on Friday, including the afternoon session A More Accessible Document Environment.

As part of the ATIA 10th Anniversary celebration, the first ATIA Chicago conference will take place this fall. Presentations for this conference are due to be submitted by March 31. Details are available on the ATIA website.

Letters to the Editor

Dear DAISY Planet Editor:

This may be of interest to DAISY Planet readers especially those living in Canada. The new Bookshare web site includes a special page for Bookshare Canada which offers a significant portion of the Bookshare collection to Canadians and other international Bookshare members.

Best regards,
Gerry Chevalier

Editor's Note: Expansion of Bookshare services anywhere is good news. Many thanks for keeping the DAISY Planet in mind Gerry.

 


Dear DAISY

Dear DAISY,

I was recently advised by a contact of mine at word-bank.com - a company that provides partially or fully blind people with easy-to-use maps via its subsidiary, enabledmaps.com - that you had developed a means of formatting digital information in a way that is logical and easy-to-use for the user.

We have developed a portfolio of audio walks and guides (www.strollon.co.uk) which are of interest to word-bank to complement enabledmaps. However, they are interested in knowing more about how our guides could make use of your research and technology.

Is there any way that you could advise me on this, about how you could improve the accessibility and functionality of our content for visually impaired users?

Many thanks for you time and I look forward to hearing from you.

 

Many Thanks,   
George Broke (StrollOn, UK)

Dear George Broke

We have explored this idea several times. As background, DAISY navigation is normally by hierarchical headings (chapter, section, subsection) and page numbers. This book model can be adapted for museums, exhibits, parks, walking tours etc. Each exhibit could be numbered with an associated description. The person would simply go to that number (as one would go to a specific page number in a book) and listen to the description of the exhibit. Tours could also be created for general areas, providing a 'walk through' tour for the various areas.

For example, at an aquarium they might have a shark exhibit, the arctic exhibit, the sea lions, the killer whales and so on. If each were described and accessible by heading in the DAISY tour, you could walk through the area with the surroundings and exhibits described. This is a one way exhibit, i.e., people walk in one direction and have one path through the area. If people wander around and move more randomly from exhibit to exhibit, the page number approach would be better. In a museum for example the number approach would be best. These could of course be used in combination, with a single direction path from exhibit to exhibit (one way), and random movement within each exhibit (page number, random approach).

In 2005 George Kerscher, Secretary General of the DAISY Consortium, gave a presentation about alternative applications for DAISY.

Tech Tips

Pipeline Lite is a minimalist UI (User Interface) for the DAISY Pipeline which is designed as a sequence of dialogs that can be easily embedded in other applications. DAISY It is open source (LGPL) and cross platform (tested on Windows, Mac and Linux). As it is liberally licensed it can be integrated into both free/open source tools as well as commercial tools.

At present Pipeline Lite is integrated with both Save As DAISY V2 from Microsoft and Obi. Future plans include integration with tools such as OpenOffice.org Writer, Audacity and others. Its versatility eliminates limitations for potential implementations. Custom builds that enable bundling of only relevant Pipeline scripts and libraries are possible; this approach is used with both Save As DAISY V2 from Microsoft and Obi.

The Pipeline Lite wiki page provides a brief overview and a UI walkthrough.