The first DAISY Technical Conference was held in the United Kingdom in 1999. The DAISY2009 Technical Conference, held last week in Leipzig, Germany was living proof of the incredible advancements made in 'all things DAISY' over the past ten years. DAISY Friends and Members, and the DAISY Consortium, have developed high quality tools for both the creation and reading of DAISY books. There are hundreds of thousands (perhaps millions) of DAISY books in the hands of information seekers and people who love to read. I would like to personally thank Thomas Kahlisch, Director of DZB, the German Central Library for the Blind and Jenni Handschack, Conference Manager, for their months of hard work and for providing the DAISY community with an opportunity to exchange information and ideas. It was wonderful for me to be with the 'DAISY family' once again, and it was clear to me that moving successfully into the future is dependant upon the sharing of information and resources within the DAISY community and beyond.
The online delivery of DAISY content was one of the lead topics at the DAISY2009 Technical Conference. With the approval of the draft of the DAISY Online specification, a standard and consistent approach to both the delivery and receipt of DAISY books is close at hand. This project has illustrated how sharing and working together can bring positive, effective results.
In August at a meeting in Canberra, the capital of Australia, Dr. Francis Gurry, Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), gave an address entitled "Copyright in the digital age" to the National Press Club. Access to information for those unable to read print was not only raised during his presentation, Maryanne Diamond, President of the World Blind Union, who was also present, posed the following question to Mr. Gurry. "I'm interested to know, you know, wearing your UN hat, what you think might be the impact, at the international and at the state level, of such a treaty [the proposed WIPO Treaty for Improved Access for Blind, Visually Impaired and other Reading Disabled Persons] in regard to copyright and access to information." Although this is only a very short portion of the response, it illustrates the positive tone: "I think the impact is going to be enormous. We've already felt it. It's on our agenda. And it's something that I'm personally very much committed to seeing gets a constructed and useful solution." The complete transcript is available on the AustralianOnlinePolicy website. (Note: it is however a PDF file and I do not know how accessible it is with a screen reader.)
The article DAISY 2009 Roadmap & Revision of DAISY Standard provides you with some insight into 'DAISY in the future', what DAISY content will 'look, sound and feel like', and, how working with disability groups and others previously not involved in the development and evolution of the DAISY Standards will bring the DAISY reading experience to new heights and new audiences. A recent article at Reuters.com, "Digi-novel" combines book, movie and website describes the reading experience provided by "Digi-novel" - "Is it a book? Is it a movie? Is it a website? Actually it's all three." Anthony Zuiker, Digi-novel's creator states: "The future of business in terms of entertainment will have to be the convergence of different mediums." DAISY 4, the new DAISY Standard, will support the creation of accessible multimedia content. This has long been the vision of the leaders of the DAISY Consortium, and the sharing of expertise and knowledge that has historically been 'the DAISY way' will bring it to fruition.
A short note about Gracevoice Oy, a new DAISY Friend (Publisher, Educator, or Advocate category) based in Helsinki, Finland - Gracevoice Oy offers digital audio book production services and publishes select titles. In 2009 Suomalainen Ääniraamattu (the Finnish Audio Bible) was published in several audio book formats, including DAISY. It has the same structure as the printed Bible and DAISY users say that they can find a particular verse as fast as it can be found by someone using the print version. Welcome Gracevoice Oy, and congratulations on a DAISY job well done.
If you have news about your organization or company, or about issues relevant to the DAISY community, please let us know by using the Contact Us form (Newsletter category). You can also submit a comment (supportive or critical) for the Letters to the Editor column or let us know you'd like to share 'Your Story' with the Planet readership using the Contact Us form. Your input helps us to keep the DAISY Planet alive and well.
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 DAISY2009 Conference, hosted by the German Central Library for the Blind (DZB), was information-packed and attended by almost 150 people from around the world. Comments from participants ranged from "absolutely wonderful" to "the best yet". Presentations brought everyone up to date on the progress of DAISY implementations and tools, and even more importantly, on plans for the future, including new tool and system developments.
Thomas Kahlisch (Director of DZB), Elke Dittmer (President of MEDIBUS - German Media Association for Blind and Vision Impaired People) and Marc Van der Aa from Plextor (the Premium 1 Conference sponsor) welcomed conference participants at the official opening on Wednesday evening. Thomas Kahlisch charged the participants with the following task for the evening: "eat, drink and network" - and everyone did.
Eva-Maria Stange, Minister of Science and Art of Saxony, welcomed the participants as the Conference formally began on Thursday morning. The four keynote speeches, two to begin each day of the Conference, were inspiring and informative. Fifty presentations ran in two parallel tracks and perhaps the biggest challenge of the Conference was deciding which of the sessions to attend. One of the major themes that developed throughout the two days was 'sharing' - sharing of ideas, DAISY content, tools and systems. This theme was reflected throughout but was particularly evident in the keynotes from Betsy Beaumon (Vice President, Benetech) "Bookshare: Partnering to Deliver Online Accessible Materials", and Hiroshi Kawamura (President, DAISY Consortium) "Designing a global library for persons with print disabilities", and in the closing presentation from Margaret McGrory (Vice President, CNIB) "Breaking New Ground: a virtual global library service to widen access for people with print disabilities". DAISY was everywhere, in almost every presentation, at almost every exhibit booth. In his keynote "Scientific Journals Go DAISY", John Gardner (President, Viewplus) stated "DAISY is not just for blind people, it is for everybody. It is a format that is universally accessible." "DAISY Road Map 2009" the keynote given jointly by George Kerscher, (Secretary General, DAISY Consortium) and Markus Gylling (CTO, DAISY Consortium) brought participants to the focal point of the Conference: "DAISY connecting with the future". The Road Map and revision of the DAISY Standard were the primary components of this keynote.
Presentation topics ranged from DAISY tool developments, to implementation updates, distribution models (DAISY online delivery being the focus in several), braille and DAISY, images in DAISY, content transformation and creation, and much more. Information about DAISY workflows and plans for future developments were clearly relayed. A small sampling of the outstanding statements that highlighted "DAISY connecting with the future" and sharing are provided under "Day One" and "Day Two" below.
For Thursday evening DZB had arranged a private concert at the world famous Gewandhaus, followed by dinner at the restaurant Ratskeller (meaning "Court House") which is one of the most beautiful restaurants in Leipzig. Those who had booked the social event were treated to an exceptional music experience and the spectacular surroundings and traditional and gourmet food of Ratskeller. When Thomas Kahlisch asked the group before dinner what the tasks for the evening were, all 100 replied in unison "eat, drink and network" - and everyone did!
Perhaps the two subjects referenced most frequently throughout the DAISY2009 International Technical Conference were the DAISY Pipeline and Online Delivery of DAISY content. Online delivery was most certainly in the future plans of organizations and tool developers alike. The DAISY Pipeline has been integrated into numerous tools and systems. Work on the next generation of the Pipeline will begin in the coming two weeks, with a new core engine for the 'front ends' (Pipeline Lite, Pipeline UI and PipeOnline) being incorporated. Of course, in line with many of the developments presented, collaboration in the development of Pipeline 2 is welcome.
Margaret McGrory (CNIB) presented the final paper of the conference with "Breaking New Ground: a virtual global library service to widen access for people with print disabilities". Ms McGrory stressed the necessity of sharing between organizations, described the origin of the Global Library Initiative, and outlined the challenges the project faces as it moves forward. The initiative is "not just about books; it is about literacy, education, life-long learning, employment and quality of life." Information about the Global Library Initiative is provided on both the IFLA/LPD (Libraries Serving Persons with Print Disabilities Section) and DAISY websites.
Elke Dittmer closed the conference, thanking all who had contributed to its success, with special thanks given to Thomas Kahlisch. In her final words she repeated the statement made by one of the conference participants from India: "Long live DAISY".
The presentations will be published on the DAISY2009 Conference website in mid October and will be available to everyone.
The DAISY Consortium Board of Directors approved the second draft of the DAISY Online Standard at the recent Board meeting in Leipzig Germany. This specification is a protocol that standardizes the communication between a compliant Reading System (DAISY player) and a service provider across the "DAISY Ecosystem". It has been developed to transfer DAISY and other accessible content from a service provider to a Reading System.
When the Online Working Group (WG) reached agreement that the draft was ready to submit for approval, Kenny Johar, co-leader of the WG shared his sentiment about the accomplishment with the team members: "Congratulations to Technical Subgroup for this milestone. This would have not been possible without the hours and hours of work that have been put in by the team."
The DAISY Online initiative was kicked off at a meeting at CNIB (a key member of the Canadian DAISY Consortium) in Toronto in 2007. It has taken over two years and a significant amount of effort by the WG members to make the DAISY Online Standard a reality. Given the diverse needs of DAISY Consortium Member organizations, it was a gargantuan task to architect and develop a standard that satisfied all the requirements. The WG faced a significant challenge in addressing all these requirements, while creating a standard that allowed organizations to use only those aspects of the standard that were pertinent to their specific needs.
Although the WG believes that the standard is now stable and ready for real-world implementations, as with any standard of this magnitude, they do expect that issues will be discovered as the draft is implemented. Through established processes the WG will endeavour to address any identified issues. It is hoped that formal recommendation status will be reached in the near future. However, to get the DAISY Online Standard endorsed as a full-fledged recommendation of the DAISY Consortium, the input and experience of organizations using the specification is needed. The most recent and approved version is on the DAISY website in the DAISY Online Project area.
Some of the key benefits of implementing the DAISY Online Standard are listed below.
The primary features, in brief, are as listed below.
The DAISY Online standard would have not been possible without the significant contributions of knowledge, expertise and effort made by the DAISY Consortium, CNIB, RNIB, Vision Australia, HumanWare, Plextor and Solutions Radio. Special thanks to Kenny Johar and Markus Gylling, co-leaders of the project.
Prior to the DAISY2009 Conference in Leipzig Germany I had an opportunity to interview George Kerscher, Secretary General of the DAISY Consortium, and Markus Gylling DAISY CTO. Although the Roadmap and the Standard are completely different topics, the two are ultimately intertwined. This article, for the most part, takes the form of interview questions and answers.
Question: Why did the DAISY Consortium think a new Roadmap was necessary?
Answer: A new roadmap was necessary, in part, because the DAISY Standard is in the process of undergoing a complete revision. We need to inform the DAISY community about the technical landscape in the world today and where the DAISY standards fit into that landscape. Technology is changing rapidly, and we are ever vigilant to ensure the Standard is alive and well and up to date.
Question: The title of the 2005 Roadmap is "Road Map to Implementation of DAISY". Is the title of new Roadmap the same?
Answer: The title is simply "DAISY Road Map 2009". It goes far beyond implementation.
Question: What are the biggest changes in the new DAISY Roadmap as compared to the previous version?
Answer: The three changes concern the revision of the Standard which is currently underway, the rise of the EPUB standard and its adoption in the publishing community, and, the evolution of the global library.
Question: Is the direction of the new Roadmap achievable? Are there significant changes?
Answer: Yes, we are working on it and have been for years. Some of the things have been in development for a number of years. The whole issue of copyright and global library spans a decade or more.
Question: How does DAISY in the mainstream fit into the Roadmap?
Answer: The most obvious mainstream implications surround EPUB and a path for publishers to move from text-only EPUB into DAISY multimedia. We provide publishers with a mechanism to transition to multimedia from the single-dimension text based eBook. We also have the addition of video to DAISY 4 (what we are currently calling the revision of the Standard) which may or may not impact commercial publisher interest in DAISY multimedia. Some of the other features, plus video, will be the final piece in the puzzle to make DAISY a full fledged multimedia format that can be tailored to any user group needs.
Question: Does it go beyond the revision of the Standard which is currently underway? What is the 'end' date for the Roadmap?
Answer: We have a clear view of the road for the next 18 months, and we have projects that extend to the end of 2013. We know where the road is going through 2013, but we are not sure of the number of potholes we might encounter along the way.
In his keynote speech, Kerscher provided additional insight into the new Roadmap and the Standard which will be expanded to include new user communities and additional disability groups. The context of the educational sector is also considered. Kerscher stated that authoring (production) and distribution with the DAISY 3 Standard work well, but that the new Standard will improve upon this and will be more powerful. The "DAISY Road Map 2009" will be posted on the DAISY website.
Question: In the past, with the introduction of the DAISY 3 Standard, it has been difficult and has taken considerable time to have it adopted. Do you foresee a similar time lag with the adoption of DAISY 4 (Zed Next)?
Answer: We've learned a lot since the DAISY 3 Standard was released. DAISY 4 will be able to be implemented much more quickly for a variety of reasons. The step between DAISY 3 and DAISY 4 is much larger than the step between DAISY 2.02 and DAISY 3. DAISY 4 introduces a whole new range of 'features', functions and formats, which will immediately attract both current and new users. DAISY 4 will be rolled out first as a draft Standard for trial use and during that time tools such as the Pipeline and Tobi will support DAISY 4. So once the trial period is over, there will be tools that support the new Standard. With DAISY 3 it was years before tools were available to support the Standard which caused the delay.
Question: What differences will end users find in the DAISY books they read when the new Standard is adopted? How will they benefit from using DAISY 4 as compared to 2.02 or DAISY 3 content?
Answer: There are new groups of end users who are addressed in DAISY 4. Some members of the Working Group are from the deaf and hard of hearing community. Statistically 50% of the deaf community, those born without hearing, never read print at higher than a fourth grade reading level, because text is all based on sound. Text is a mechanism for encoding the sound of speech. Another clearly identified user group is the autism community.
In educational environments the ability for end users to interact with content such as tests, quizzes and workbooks will be introduced and it will be possible to share annotations. Several new audio codecs with better sound quality will be included. There will be a defined packaging format, that is, one file with a unique extension. The visual presentation will be greatly improved, so those with low vision, those with dyslexia, and the mainstream community will find the visual presentation much better. We do not intend to redesign what doesn't need to be redesigned. For some types of books, fiction for example, the current reading experience works extremely well, this will not change.
The text presentation in DAISY 3 has serious limitations, specifically tables and images and any kind of advanced layout does not render properly. These will be addressed and fixed in DAISY 4. This problem occurred because the major browser manufacturers never supported XML natively (everyone thought they would) so in DAISY 4 we are capitalizing on our knowledge of XML and how it is being used the in world today, and looking at distribution options that will provide the richest reading experience possible.
We are defining a DAISY lightweight profile that will allow DAISY content to be read on hardware players that are less expensive to produce and that should therefore cost less.
Question: Why should organizations currently producing DAISY books make the change to DAISY 4? What benefits would they gain by making the change?
Answer: There is a long list of reasons, starting with the XML authoring and interchange format, which is part A of the new Standard. Anyone with an interest in text, whether providing books, accessible phone bills or train schedules, will want to move to DAISY 4 for authoring and "interchange". Interchange means the exchange of DAISY XML between organizations and support for creation of a variety of output formats, for example, braille and large print. Authoring and distribution are completely separate. DAISY 4 will be adaptable, not rigid, more adaptable by the content creators. It will be rich enough to support the production of braille directly. There have been issues with creating braille directly from DAISY 3 - these will be resolved. It will ready the text content for braille translation. Note: braille contraction is not in scope for the Standard.
Question: Why should commercial publishers adopt DAISY 4? What benefits would they reap from doing so? If they have not adopted DAISY 3, why would they adopt DAISY 4?
Answer: Video, good audio codecs and multimedia plus all the reasons in the response to the previous question. They are already targeting EPUB as a format for their digital publishing. The synergy between EPUB and DAISY is so strong, that it will be possible to transform EPUB documents to DAISY 4 automatically. They can use any XML format they want to meet their needs, but at some point they have to publish it (print) and/or EPUB - just as easily they could transform it into DAISY 4. They can feed it into any distribution chain, and in some countries, if required, can meet legal obligations to provide accessible format. It covers the widest variety of publication types (for example magazines, tests, schedules). DAISY 2 and 3 focused on the book, in DAISY 4 books are only one of the types of documents supported.
Question: Will there be a commercial market for DAISY 4 content?
Answer: Yes, we believe there will, the multimedia book is ultimately the best way of reaching the widest audience. It will support output to multiple distribution formats. The output options in the distribution part of the revised DAISY Standard will support output to other formats that are accessible. The "mother ship" is synchronized multimedia.
Question: What tools (production and playback) will be available to support it when the Standard is released?
Answer: Several of the DAISY Consortium Friends are involved in the revision process and have indicated they will support the Standard in their commercial tools when it is released. DAISY's own open source development projects will support DAISY 4.
Question: Are any delays in the release expected?
Answer: We are hoping to be done before 2010 is over, but as we are building on a lot of other emerging standards, the possibility of delay always exists. Changes in technology could require us to adapt to a changing landscape (a roadmap goes over the landscape) and changes in the landscape may require modifications that could lead to delay. We need to be agile enough to make changes in response to an ever changing landscape.
Editor's Note: Thanks to both George and Markus for taking the time out of their busy schedules in Leipzig for this interview.
Tobi, the Open-Source authoring software developed by the DAISY Consortium, was demonstrated for the first time at the DAISY2009 International Technical Conference in Leipzig Germany. Daniel Weck, Software Architect and Programmer for the Consortium, presented the paper and demonstrated this authoring tool for which so many people have been waiting.
Tobi is primarily an authoring tool for DAISY 3 synchronized text and audio publications, but the application's feature-set can be extended via plug-ins which will provide further functionality and production capabilities. Support for the revised DAISY Standard is planned for the second half of 2010. It will include new features such as sign-language video. An "early access" release will be available for public testing at the end of October 2009. A "developer preview" will also be provided for solution implementers who wish to contribute and/or write their own extensions. A dedicated community forum will be opened soon to support early adopters and other interested parties, and to gather feedback before the application is finalized. The first stable, production-ready release is scheduled for late April 2010. Public announcements will be made in News on the DAISY homepage and through the DAISY website news feed. Detailed information can be found on the Tobi Project homepage. Updates will also be provided in future issues of the DAISY Planet.
This initiative is a part of the global Right to Read campaign initiated by the World Blind Union. Bookbole, the Center for Internet and Society and the DAISY Forum of India have joined together to launch the Right to Read campaign in India.
The formation of this country-based alliance is an excellent model for other countries to follow. As we approach the next WIPO Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR) meeting when the proposed Treaty on Copyright will be discussed in great detail, the need for government support of the Treaty grows. Alliances such as the initiative in India will make governments and their delegations aware of both the support of the Treaty and the need for accessible reading materials.
Thank you for including the ReadHowYouWant-HumanWare announcement in the August DAISY Planet.
Bradi Grebien-Samkow, Associate Publicist, ReadHowYouWant
It has been a pleasure to meet you, and I look forward to the opportunity of meeting you in person again soon. Once again thanks a ton for all your efforts. You have made a mere mortal sound interesting! < smile>.
Editor's Note: The second part of Kenny Johar's story is in this issue of the DAISY Planet. He is not only an exceptional person, he is humble too.
Can one of my visually impaired students download books from you onto his Victor Reader Stream free? How do we go about doing that?
Teacher of the Visually Impaired
One of the questions most frequently received through the DAISY Contact Us form is about the availability of AMIS 3 language packs. As new language packs become available, they are added to the list on the DAISY website in the AMIS Project area/Download AMIS in different languages. Links are provided for each language pack. You can install a language pack while maintaining your current configuration. Just download the language pack and install it. AMIS will use English as its default until you pick another language from the Preferences dialog. Then restart AMIS and it will be in the language that you have selected.
To get back to the Preferences dialog when AMIS is in another language (if you don't know the language on the screen) go to the left most menu ("File" in English) and select the 6th item in the list. The Preferences dialog will appear. Choose a new language from the second drop-down selection list on that screen (the first has TTS voices, the second has language names). Then restart AMIS (Alt + F4 to exit once you've closed the dialog and said "Ok" to the prompt that is telling you to restart AMIS).