The DAISY Consortium's Newsletter - March 2009

From The Editor

There is a lot of reading in this issue of the Planet. The feature articles include details about two new releases: Save As DAISY Version 2 for Microsoft Word, and Obi, the DAISY 3 production tool from the DAISY Consortium.

In the February issue of this newsletter, the Kindle 2 petition was highlighted in the Letter from the Editor. Things regarding Kindle have changed somewhat dramatically since that time - and the article E-book Access Threatened will enlighten you with details and information. It is no longer a matter of menu choices having voice prompts, it is a matter of synthetic speech rendering being disabled in Kindle books. It is a matter of equitable access to information.

Efforts in preparation for the May WIPO SCCR meeting are gaining ground (WIPO Treaty: Preparations Intensify) and Varju Luceno reports of DAISY activities at CSUN.

There are of course other new points of interest in addition to the news in the regular Planet columns. There is now a DAISY YouTube Channel which is interesting, informative and sometimes entertaining. DAISY in Higher Education, a working group of the DAISY Consortium is now live in the Projects area of the DAISY website (under Interest Groups). If you are involved in higher education or if you are a student, this is an area to watch for all that is DAISY-related and relevant to education.

Registration for two DAISY conferences is currently underway. Early bird registration for the DAISY International Technical Conference in Leipzig this September runs from March 1 to May 31. Registration for the DAISY Conference 2009 New age of DAISY June 3 - 5 which coincides with the DAISY Consortium Annual General Meeting in Seoul Korea has been extended to Thursday April 30.

Thanks to Gerry Chevalier, a man with insight and foresight, for allowing us to publish his Story.

Please send topics and articles of interest using the Contact Us form (Newsletter category) so that they can be shared with other DAISY Planet readers. You can also use the Contact Us form to tell us about Your Story.

Lynn Leith

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

E-book Access Threatened

Kindle 2 & TTS

The same right to read, a different way of doing it... If you have bought a Kindle 2 and are unable to read from the screen, you should have access to the book you've bought with TTS, as the new Kindle 2 supports TTS, right? Maybe, maybe not.

On Tuesday April 7 there will be a protest outside the Authors Guild headquarters in New York City at 31 East 32nd Street on April 7, 2009, from noon to 2:00 p.m. Additional information and powerful quotes from members of the coalition are provided in the Reading Rights Coalition press release dated March 30, 2009: Reading Rights Coalition Urges Authors to Allow Everyone Access to E-books - Informational Protest to be Held at Authors Guild Headquarters.

In February, Amazon introduced Kindle 2, and one of the new features announced was text-to-speech (TTS). The Amazon website Kindle page lists the many new features, including "Read-to-Me: With the new text-to-speech feature, Kindle can read every newspaper, magazine, blog, and book out loud to you, unless the book is disabled by the rights holder". The catch, of course, is "unless the book is disabled by the rights holder". This caveat is a result of the Authors Guild in the USA putting pressure on Amazon because of the Kindle 2 implementation of TTS. And although Kindle 2 TTS was not developed with people unable to read print in mind, it is very exciting for those who are unable to read print, a computer monitor display or "E-ink".

There have been interviews, blog posts, debates and much discussion since Amazon succumbed to pressure from the Authors Guild. The following statement was made by Amazon in the February 27 Amazon News Release:
"Kindle 2's experimental text-to-speech feature is legal: no copy is made, no derivative work is created, and no performance is being given.
Nevertheless, we strongly believe many rightsholders will be more comfortable with the text-to-speech feature if they are in the driver's seat.
Therefore, we are modifying our systems so that rightsholders can decide on a title by title basis whether they want text-to-speech enabled or disabled for any particular title...With this new level of control, publishers and authors will be able to decide for themselves whether it is in their commercial interests to leave text-to-speech enabled. We believe many will decide that it is."

The Authors Guild in the USA reacted to Amazon's innovation because they feel that Amazon does not have the rights to enable the use of TTS with their books automatically. The Authors Guild perspective is presented in the Engadget Interview with Paul Aiken, Executive Director of the Authors Guild by Nilay Patel. There has been discussion about an additional fee that might be charged or proof of a print disability being required to enable this feature.

The disability community in the USA has rallied in response to the Authors Guild position. Approximately twenty disability organizations, some international, have now joined in opposition. The International Center for Disability Resources on the Internet (ICDRI) news release Nine Disability Organizations Speak Out about Kindle 2 Text to Speech begins: "On 16 March 2009, a letter went out from disability organizations to six major publishers that sell Kindle ebooks: Random House, Harper Collins, Simon & Schuster, Macmillan, Penguin and Hachette. These letters insist that Text to Speech be turned back on. At this time, Random House has disabled text to speech on all of its ebooks. Letters were a collaborative effort written on behalf of nine disability organizations: The National Federation of the Blind, the DAISY Consortium, the American Foundation for the Blind, the American Council of the Blind, the International Dyslexia Association, the American Association of People with Disabilities, the National Center for Learning Disabilities and the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law." Links to the letters are provided in the news release.

The issue is being brought 'front and centre' to the attention of the public and all concerned. Letters are being written to authors requesting support. Websites are picking it up, it is on blogs everywhere. For those who would like to read more on this topic a sampling of links is provided:
The Struggle for Book Access: Amazon (Blog Post #2), Jim Fruchterman: "The days of ignoring the problem will be coming to an end. The right solution is universal design: that ebooks are accessible to all and at a fair price."
TechFlash: Seattle's Technology News Source: "Disability groups demand full return of Kindle's text-to-speech" by Eric Engleman (in comments posted in response, several people, both sighted and not sighted stated they will not purchase books with TTS not engaged). L. Furrow wrote: "Random House has stated they are disabling the Text to Speech (T2S) on all their books for Kindle. Why does Random House want to discriminate against the disabled, to prevent them from reading/listening with equal access, with the portability on the Kindle, to books they purchase? Books purchased on the Kindle are only accessible from the device (and only to the specific device it was purchased for). They cannot be shared, loaned, or sold. The T2S is mechanical and is certainly not a performance, or a derivative work." In another post "Megan" wrote: "The Authors Guild's position discriminates against people with disabilities and it's bad business. Why don't authors and publishers want people with disabilities to buy and enjoy their books like everyone else can? Forcing people with disabilities to register as "disabled" to be able to read the same books I can when the technology for those books to be accessible is already there is discrimination, pure and simple."
VQR - The Virginia Quarterly Review: A National Journal of Literature & Discussion

Not all rights holders (authors and publishers) are opposed to Kindle 2's TTS or making their publications openly available. Bean Books, as one example, chose to not use DRM and to make their entire electronic catalog open to people with print disabilities. They have also given permission to Bookshare to convert their files to Bookshare formats and distribute them to print disabled people globally.

At present the Kindle 2 controls are not accessible. Dr. Marc Maurer, President of the National Federation of the Blind stated in an NFB press release "Amazon has taken a step in the right direction by including text-to-speech technology for reading e-books aloud on its new Kindle 2. We note, however, that the device itself cannot be used independently by a blind reader because the controls to download a book and begin reading it aloud are visual and therefore inaccessible to the blind. We urge Amazon to rectify this situation as soon as possible in order to make the Kindle 2 a device that truly can be used both by blind and sighted readers. By doing so, Amazon will make it possible for blind people to purchase a new book and begin reading it immediately, just as sighted people do." In the Amazon Kindle Blog: Accessible Navigation on Kindle dated March 19, the Amazon Kindle Team wrote: "We've heard from many of our blind or vision impaired customers who are excited about Kindle 2's text to speech technology. Some of these customers have asked that we make Kindle even easier for them by adding navigation accessible to the blind. We want to let those customers know that this is something we are working on and we look forward to making it available in the future." It has been reported that Kindle 2 has excellent quality TTS and can be used by many people with disabilities such as dyslexia or learning disabilities. However, unless TSS is enabled, the accessibility of the controls and the fact that the menus do not "speak" will be a non-issue.

Although this is taking place in the USA, this development may in turn affect other countries, setting a precedent on the use of alternative interfaces to books and other publications. Access to mainstream publications by persons with disabilities through TTS, refreshable braille, and other access technologies must be the norm if information access is to become truly equitable. There are more than 250,000 books plus newspapers and magazines in the Kindle Store. The DAISY Consortium's vision includes accessible mainstream content supplied through mainstream channels.

The DAISY Consortium has provided resources for the establishment of the "Reading Rights" website, where related documents and a discussion forum are available.

Save As DAISY add-in V2 for Microsoft Word

Complete DAISY Books with Audio

DAISY, Sonata, and Microsoft logosThe second and recent release of Microsoft's Save As DAISY add-in for Word enables the creation of complete DAISY 3 books. This release of the translator includes a 'lite' version of the DAISY Pipeline generating full text and full audio DAISY content in one step.

This open source development project has moved forward quickly with the collaborative efforts of Microsoft, Sonata Software Ltd. and the DAISY Consortium. Version 2, 2.0 was released March 18. Some of the new features the add-in for Microsoft Word included are:

Documentation provided includes:

Praise has been received by the DAISY Consortium from around the world for its contribution to the project. Michael Hingson, the President of The Hingson Group, is quoted in the recent DAISY Press release: "DAISY navigation system is one of the most significant developments to be made available since the development of Braille. DAISY allows people who are blind to move around recorded and electronic documents easily and seamlessly in a way so far only available to sighted readers."

Work continues, and with the help of input provided by testers and others around the world, 2.1.1 was released March 27 with bug fixes and new feature enhancements. This 'dot' release corrects the Japanese character issue that was present in the earlier version of 2.0.

At the same time Microsoft also announced Project Buttercup. The Buttercup Reader is a browser-based player that uses Microsoft Silverlight for the presentation of full text and full audio DAISY books.

George Kerscher, Secretary General of the DAISY Consortium, closed off the DAISY Press release with the following statement: "This is a major step forward in attaining the DAISY Consortium's vision of a world where all people with print disabilities have equal access to information and knowledge."

WIPO Treaty: Preparations Intensify

In less than two months the WIPO Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR) will meet and the proposed Equitable Information Access Treaty will once again be on the agenda. In the article WBU Mobilizing for WIPO SCCR Meeting: Equitable Information Access Treaty in the February DAISY Planet, Chris Friend, WBU Strategic Objective Leader - Accessibility Chair WBU Global Right to Read Campaign, asked that DAISY Members, Friends and Supporters, particularly in the USA and European Union encourage their governments to support the proposed WIPO Treaty for equitable information access.

Advocates Meet at the State Department in Washington DC

On Friday March 6, senior US government representatives met with George Kerscher, Secretary General of the DAISY Consortium, and James Love, Judit Rius Sanjuan and Manon Ress of Knowledge Ecology International (KEI) in Washington DC to hear about the proposed WIPO treaty for equitable information access. KEI has been working closely with the WBU in preparation for the May WIPO SCRR meeting. Other participants represented the US Delegation to the WIPO SCCR.

The two hour meeting opened with Kerscher demonstrating technologies available to reading disabled persons, describing the population currently being served in the USA, and providing information on formats and service providers. He explained that the reading disabled community is a good citizen about copyright and described some existing registration and encryption methods. Kerscher also presented the international dimension of the problems and the proposed solution. Regarding the WIPO treaty proposal he explained that allowing cross-border movement of publications in accessible formats would greatly reduce the existing excessive waste of resources and the lack of information materials in many countries.

James Love described the negotiations taking place within the WIPO SCCR and explained the WBU proposal process and main features, stating that the treaty would:

  1. Create a global standard for minimum limitation and exceptions to the exclusive rights of copyright owners, in order to make and distribute accessible copies of works
  2. Allow the cross-border sharing of such works

Questions and discussion covered topics ranging from technologies, to possible dialogue with publishers, to costs of publishing material in an accessible format. It was noted that the new Secretary of State, Mrs. Clinton, wants progress on the disabilities initiative. The Copyright Office announced that there would be a request for comments between now and the SCCR meeting and that they will also organize a roundtable or a public forum.

The meeting was positive and productive. The government representatives stated that they had learned a great deal and had a better understanding of the technologies and the issues. A second meeting later that day with a representative of the National Economic Council of the President and an expert on foreign policy and civil liberties brought responses which were very supportive of the proposed WIPO treaty.

ICEVI Joins 'triumvirate'

On March 9, Larry Campbell, President of International Council for Education of People with Visual Impairment (ICEVI) wrote to Chris Friend stating ...following a postal ballot of the ICEVI Executive Committee, we have unanimously decided to join the DAISY Consortium, IFLA and WBU as a signatory to the Position Paper on Access to Information for Blind and Partially Sighted People. Mr. Campbell's letter was shared with key stakeholders. Dr. William Rolland, immediate past president of WBU responded: I warmly welcome the announcement that ICEVI has become a signatory to the Position Paper on Access to Information for Blind and Partially Sighted people. They represent a constituency grossly affected by the book famine as well as the first generation that could benefit from its ending. In unity is strength.

WIPO to Work with WBU, IPA & Member States

In the February 2009 WIPO Magazine Francis Gurry, Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organization responded to a series of questions in an interview entitled Talking to the Director General. Mr. Gurry's response to the question What do you hope to have achieved by the end of 2009? included the following statement: Another distinct area in which I believe that the global IP community can deliver a very positive result is in improving access to published works for visually impaired persons. We will be working with the World Blind Union, the International Publishers Association and with Member States in order to achieve a consensus on a successful process for making this happen.

The following statement was included in a KEI staff blog post entitled WIPO DG Francis Gurry highlights disability as a theme for Conference on Intellectual Property and Global Challenges: ...This proposed Treaty, tabled by the WBU in November 2008, provides an expeditious solution to the problems faced by the blind, visually impaired and other reading disabled persons in accessing protected works. The litmus test of WIPO Member States' commitment to truly integrate the development dimension into WIPO's work program rests in its treatment of the proposed Treaty for Reading Disabled Persons...

Who Should Benefit?

Another related article on the KEI staff blog Who should benefit from a WIPO Treaty for Reading Disabled Persons? was posted March 20 by Manon Ress. She asks Should it [the beneficiaries] only be people who are blind and visually impaired, as some propose, or should it be more inclusive with regard to other disabilities? In this post Ress references and quotes from existing definitions of the reading disabled persons who are beneficiaries of copyright exceptions in various national laws. She also quotes from the publication STUDY ON COPYRIGHT LIMITATIONS AND EXCEPTIONS FOR THE VISUALLY IMPAIRED by Judith Sullivan which states The best way to define the end beneficiary is likely to be by using a functional definition. A functional definition would be based on a person's inability to read the material that has already been published. (page 111).

Obi 1.0: DAISY 3 Production Tool Released

ObiOn March 27 the DAISY Consortium released Obi 1.0, a free, open source audio recording tool for the production of structured DAISY audio books. The output is DAISY 3 (officially, the ANSI/NISO Z39.86 Specifications for the Digital Talking Book) and provides meaningful navigation to the content. Obi is released under the LGPL license and is available for download from the Obi website download area.

Minimal training is required to produce digital content that is accessible to people with print disabilities. DAISY audio books created with Obi can be produced with chapters, sections, sub-sections and pages, providing navigation to the content. With Obi teachers can produce accessible materials for their students quickly and easily, and organizations in developing countries and smaller organizations everywhere can create DAISY synchronized multimedia. The support for unicode in Obi allows producers to create DAISY content in many languages. Obi is fully accessible for those who use assistive technology such as screen readers.

The work on Obi has streamlined the development process of the DAISY Urakawa SDK (software Development Kit) and SDK-based tools. It has created a path for the development of and refinements in future DAISY tools.

Further information about Obi is provided on the Obi website and in the DAISY Consortium press release.

CSUN 2009: DAISY Highlights

Hiroshi The 2009 CSUN Conference brought together people who view accessibility as a critical part of their lives including end users, practitioners, developers, experts, educators, researchers and policy makers. Participants were exposed to new cutting edge technologies and practical solutions that can be implemented to ensure the full participation of persons with disabilities in educational, workplace and social settings. Attendees learned more than ever about Web accessibility and accessible multimedia as well as accessible social networking tools. Hiroshi Kawamura, President, George Kerscher, Secretary General, Markus Gylling and Varju Luceno represented the DAISY Consortium at this year's CSUN.

There were more than 18 sessions that mentioned or covered the production of learning materials in DAISY format. This article mentions only some of them. A heartfelt thanks to Members and Friends of the DAISY Consortium who all did an excellent job promoting the DAISY Standard.

Bookshare During the joint session by Bookshare, HumanWare and Don Johnston, Books Without Basics participants learned about Bookshare's multiple membership options, growing collection of accessible books and free reader software for members.

DAISY in Higher Education session panelists Gaier Dietrich (HTCTU), Jayme Johnson (HTCTU) and Sam Ogami (CSU Office of the Chancellor), shared their experiences with using the DAISY format in higher education, the availability of DAISY books as well as creating DAISY books on campus. The Higher Ed Working Group for the DAISY Consortium is currently being formed. More information is available on the DAISY Consortium website.

Ron Stewart, Association on Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD), talked about the advantages of DAISY in higher education and demonstrated a variety of DAISY Players in his sessions DAISY- The Road to Accessible Curricular Materials and DAISY Software Players, an Overview.

Neil Another very informative session Word, Math and DAISY: It All Adds Up, led by Masakazu Suzuki (Kyushu University), Dennis Leas (gh, LLC) and Neil Soiffer (Design Science, Inc.) covered scanning as well as authoring learning materials that contain math and turning them into DAISY books. DAISY playback devices such as gh Player, AMIS and EasyReader were briefly introduced.

During the session Open Source Software for DAISY - Today and in the Future, George Kerscher, Markus Gylling and Dominique Archambault showcased open source tools such as Save as DAISY add-in for Microsoft Word, the Emerson Reader (a DAISY and Epub player) and Odt2dtbook. In addition, Dominique Archambault led a hands-on session and demonstrated how to use and odt2dtbook to design accessible DAISY documents.

John Gardner (ViewPlus Technologies) shared his vision and plans for making all American Physical Society publications accessible in DAISY format during his session ViewPlus-American Physical Society Collaboration: Making Scholarly Publications Accessible.

Beth and Dr. Norm Coombs from EASI shared tips for creating well-structured Word documents and demonstrated how to install the new Save as DAISY add-in for Microsoft Word during the session How to Use the Word to DAISY Add-In.

In 2010 the CSUN Conference will be held in one centralized venue in San Diego which will eliminate this year's time consuming commute between the Marriott and Renaissance venues.

Varju Luceno
Communications & Marketing Specialist
DAISY Consortium

Letters to the Editor

Is there an article or column in this or an earlier issue of the DAISY Planet that you would like to comment on? Is there an topic that you would like to see covered that has not been included? Please let us know what you think using the Contact Us form (Newsletter category).

Planet Editorial Team




I am totally blind and am interested in creating protected DAISY audio books. I am able to create unprotected DAISY content but would like to protect some of it as I want to make audio tutorials and offer some method of protection like RFB&D and NLS and Serotek do, so if I so choose, people can't just copy the content on their computer. I use both Windows and Linux.


Many Thanks,   

Dear NG

The first encryption specification developed by the DAISY Consortium to turn a DAISY book into a Protected Digital Talking Book (PDTB Version 1) was not made available to the public. The subsequent specification (PDTB Version 2) describes various transformations which may be applied to DAISY books. These transformations, based on standard information technology techniques, will prevent content from being played in reading systems or other user presentation technologies unless appropriately authorized by the issuing library, agency, or publisher. The specification is designed in such a way that a single reading system can be authorized to process books from multiple libraries, agencies, or publishers. Although PDTB2 prevents unauthorized use of DTBs, it does not prevent exchange between cooperating and authorized libraries.

Please note that non-PDTB2-aware reading systems will not be able to play a protected DAISY digital talking book.

The PDTB2 DAISY Protected Digital Talking Book Specification is on the DAISY website.

Tech Tips

The DAISY Pipeline is extensible via add-ins. It is designed to use add-ins in the processing chain. DAISY Developers are asked to contact the DAISY Consortium if they have an add-in for the Pipeline. Although the current list of Pipeline add-ins is not long, it is expected to grow. Pipeline add-ins: MathDAISY - the Design Science Mathematics Add-in and the LAME Encoder (which is included in the DAISY Pipeline and the Lite version of the Pipeline, part of Save As DAISY V2.0 for Microsoft Word).