Regardless of the hemisphere, continent, country or city where you reside, it is almost certain that you have heard and read about the natural disaster which has recently ravaged Haiti. Our thoughts and hearts are with those who have lost loved ones, who have been injured, and who, in many cases, have also lost most or all of their meager belongings.
There are many things that mankind can control, change or influence, but the forces of nature are mightier than mankind. Nature is not biased, it holds no prejudice and has no favourites, it does not 'care' if you are young or old, black or white, healthy or infirm, or what your abilities or disability might be. It is often easy to focus on issues with which we are familiar and which have been important to us for much of our lives, but something like the earthquake in Haiti can shake us out of our 'comfort zone', and in its unique powerful way, bring people around the world closer together.
In an email from Maryanne Diamond, President of the World Blind Union (WBU) it was reported that the premises of both the Haitian Society of the Blind (SHAA) and the St. Vincent's Center for Handicapped Children in Haiti (which also served as the school for the blind) have been damaged. Ms. Diamond outlined contacts which the WBU has made in order to coordinate their efforts and support, and stated clearly that the first priority in Haiti is emergency aid. The rebuilding work will wait until after the immediate emergency has been addressed.
Let us hope that when Haiti has recovered and its infrastructure has been rebuilt that the country and its people are better able to withstand nature's wrath in the future. Nature may be mightier than mankind, but nothing is more powerful than people caring for and helping other people.
I would be remiss if I didn't mention this week's long awaited announcement about the Apple iPad. Has there ever been such 'hype' about a new technology or device? Probably not. The iPad accessibility features are listed on the iPad website - it comes with Apple's VoiceOver screen reader. In addition to handling videos, photographs and email, and all of its other features, the iPad is designed for reading books, eBooks, which can be downloaded directly to the device with the free iBook app (application). The good news here is that the eBooks are in EPUB format (which is text-only DAISY). The big question is: does VoiceOver work with the Apple eBook EPUB files - are they accessible? Information about iPad and Apple eBooks is all over the Web (almost overwhelming actually), including Mashable: Apple iPad: A Comprehensive Guide, and Mashable: iBooks: Apple Answers the Kindle with a Digital Bookshelf Like No Other. You may want to wait a few days before trying to read the information about iPad on the Apple iPad website; it seems that there is so much traffic on the site that it is rather unresponsive and slow.
"Your Story" this month is from Jim Fruchterman, President and CEO of Benetech. This is Part 1 of Jim's story - he takes us back to his early days in Silicon Valley and the rocket that blew up on the launch pad (yes, a rocket). Both Parts 1 and 2 reflect Jim's 'high energy style', his enthusiasm and his desire to do something with his life that brings positive change to the world through technology. Part 2 will be published in the February DAISY Planet. Thanks Jim for sharing Your Story with us.
I would also like to thank Kathy Kahl for providing the details for the article DAISY Goes Drupal, Romain Deltour for the information included in the article DAISY Pipeline Maintenance Release V20100125, and Prashant Ranjan Verma for his report that was the basis for the article Zagreb Training brings DAISY Production to Croatia.
Please share news about your organization or company, or about issues relevant to the DAISY community, using the Contact Us form (Newsletter category). Letters to the Editor and stories for our "Your Story" monthly feature are most welcome. Help us keep the DAISY Planet relevant and meaningful.
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.
DRUPAL is the free, open source content management platform selected by the DAISY Consortium for its website. Our website was launched with Drupal just as 2009 came to a close. This upgrade will allow the DAISY Consortium to offer more extensive website features and significantly improved user capabilities.
The daisy.org website is now live on the Drupal Content Management System (CMS) platform. Significant time and effort have gone into converting the content to the Drupal CMS. All links have been changed with 'redirects' and aliases for URLs (web page addresses) are in effect. We ask that you please update your bookmarks and let us know using the Contact Us form if you find a link that does not work or information that is missing. And, although the launch has taken place, there is still much work to be done. Announcements will be made as additional new features are added.
So that DAISY Members and Friends are still able to access the membership restricted areas of the DAISY website, a generic login has been set up in Drupal as a temporary measure until arrangements for all of the account managers are in place and individual logins are created. The generic login and password are the same as they have been in the past. In general the DAISY website has a very similar 'look and feel' as it did prior to the conversion to Drupal.
An example of a Drupal enhancement on the DAISY website is the new DAISY Glossary. The need for a readily available glossary of DAISY terminology was recognized by DAISY trainers and technical developers who respond to inquiries. Using the Drupal Glossary module, the content at www.daisy.org/glossary was collaboratively edited by all DAISY team members and implemented efficiently. All glossary terms appearing on the DAISY website are associated with the glossary; placing your cursor over a glossary term brings up a 'definition box' with the definition of the term, and selecting a glossary term on any page takes you to that term in the glossary.
News announcements will be posted on the DAISY homepage and emails will be sent to the DAISY Members and Friends lists as additional features are added. Information about these updates will also be included in future issues of the DAISY Planet.
On October 26, 2004 a call for participation in a collaborative software development project hosted by the DAISY Consortium went to the DAISY Members, Friends and the development lists. The call was for participation in the development of DMFC, the DAISY Multi Format Converter, now called the DAISY Pipeline. In that email Markus Gylling, at that time the International Technical Development Coordinator for the DAISY Consortium (now the Consortium's Chief Technology Officer) stated that it would "become a common and unified software framework for document and fileset conversion processes." Now, five and a half years late, and after multiple release candidates and primary releases, maintenance release v20100125 of the DAISY Pipeline has been made available. Gylling was indeed correct, the DAISY Pipeline, which is one of several DAISY Consortium open source projects, is in use around the world and has been picked up by numerous developers who have incorporated the Pipeline into their tools. Even more importantly, many, many people have contributed a variety of scripts (conversions and transformers) and other enhancements. The DAISY Pipeline is truly a collaborative effort.
Maintenance release v20100125 of the DAISY Pipeline includes numerous improvements and new contributions:
The DAISY Pipeline team and the DAISY Consortium extend sincere thanks to all of the contributors and to everyone who has tested and used the Pipeline and reported bugs. Your feedback is always greatly appreciated and is necessary for the further development of the DAISY Pipeline, a project which illustrates the powerful results of collaboration.
In July 2009 a first call for participation in the "Pipeline 2" project was distributed by George Kerscher, Secretary General of the DAISY Consortium. Development of the next generation DAISY Pipeline depends upon an even more concerted commitment from DAISY Members, Friends and supporters around the globe. The Pipeline 2 project charter will be published in early February, and a formal call for support will be distributed to the DAISY community. Upon approval by the DAISY Board of Directors , the project will be officially launched in May 2010. Further information is available on the Pipeline 2 development site.
Five days of training in DAISY book production were recently conducted at the Croatian Library for the Blind by Prashant Ranjan Verma, a Training and Technical Support Consultant for the DAISY Consortium. The Croatian Library for the Blind is a governmental institution under the Ministry of Culture, and is an Associate Member of the DAISY Consortium.
Following the first day and an evaluation of the progress and skill sets of the two people in training, Mr. Verma customized the course outline and content to ensure that the information and processes being presented could be adopted in an actual production setting. Both people were highly experienced language experts who had worked in the Library's analogue tape studios. From the production tool options available MyStudio PC was chosen as the most suitable.
The Library assigned a technician who was knowledgeable about computer software applications and also brought in a sociology student from Zagreb University to assist with the training. With their understanding of computers they were able to learn the various DAISY tools quickly. An IT expert from the Library observed the training and was able to comprehend DAISY concepts and get a good understanding of DAISY tools.
The expected outcomes of the training provided for the technicians at the Croatian Library for the Blind included
During the training the two trainees each produced five DAISY books, including books in the Croatian language and TTS narration and audio import. At the end of the five days of training all participants were provided with a resource CD that contained training material and software useful for DAISY production and playback. Mr. Verma reported that the Croatian Library for the Blind now has the competence required to produce DAISY books and also has the required hardware and software in place. He also stated that there is a great of awareness about the DAISY format among users Croatia who have requested that the library to begin producing and providing DAISY books.
The primary goal of the Contrapunctus Consortium, a European research project, has been to create a service which provides blind musicians with better access to braille music scores, in terms of storage/filing, retrieval, comprehension and ease of use. Historically transcription of music into music braille required expertise in both braille transcription and music, access to music braille was limited, and there were few people who were blind or had a visual disability who could read music braille and use if effectively.
The transformation process and additional technical information are outlined in the paper Translation from Braille Music Mark-up Language to DaisyXML given at the Leipzig DAISY2009 Conference last October.
Additional information about the Contrapunctus Project and what it has achieved are provided in the AlphaGalileo press release:
CONTRAPUNCTUS has created an online portal as an access point to a Braille score library, compiling contributions from the most important European libraries for the blind. Musicians anywhere in the world can now download software for free from the CONTRAPUNCTUS website and start to explore enriched, multimodal, and easily navigable musical scores.
Three members of the Contrapunctus Consortium - Dedicon, ONCE and RNIB are Full Members of the DAISY Consortium. For further details, including information on the tools available, visit the Contrapunctus Project website.
• Synscenter Refsnaes and their partner The Royal National College for the Blind (RNBC) have been awarded the prestigious annual BETT Award for RoboBraille, an email-based service which provides reading materials to students who have a visual disability or who have dyslexia. The Bett Award is given in recognition of excellence in educational ICT. The RoboBraille DAISY service also supports production of structured audio books based on the DAISY Standard. A DAISY book created with RoboBraille provides a talking book format with enabled navigation within a sequential and hierarchical structure consisting of marked-up text synchronized with audio. "...the team behind RoboBraille is very interested in collaborating with organizations all over the world to help visually impaired and dyslexic students of all nationalities." (Lars Ballieu Christensen, RoboBraille coordinator)
• On January 19 CNIB launched its public Right to Read Campaign. In Canada library services for individuals unable to read print are not government supported. The CNIB Library is the largest accessible content producer in Canada, but it is no longer able to fund these services with charitable dollars. Information is available in the Right to Read area of the CNIB website. CNIB is a member of the Canadian DAISY Consortium.
• A student at the Kennedy Middle School in New Mexico, USA, is interviewed in the You Tube video Bookshare.org How-To By Jessica Pinto. This young woman has a physical disability and reads Bookshare digital books on her laptop in a large font. Editor's Note: this short video is worth the three or four minutes it takes.
• A Japanese language pack is now available for AMIS, the DAISY Consortium free, open source DAISY player. For the regularly updated list of new AMIS language packs available for download, visit the AMIS Project page on the DAISY website.
I am a reader of the DAISY Planet and find it a very useful communicator of DAISY related information and events.
- A. S., India
Editor's Note: I am always pleased to receive your comments on the DAISY Planet or any of the articles in it. Please share your thoughts, including suggestions and critiques, using the DAISY Contact Us form (Newsletter category) or send your "Letter to the Editor" to me directly by email.
I'm very excited to hear about this aid for the first time. My father lost his sight a few months ago and he has been quite depressed ever since. Reading used to be a great passion of his and I believe with this easy to use aid he need not be deprived that pleasure.
Unfortunately I live in Nigeria where there are barely any aids provided for blind people and so I doubt I can buy any daisy materials here. Is it possible to order it on line? If not, I shall be travelling to South Africa very soon so could I possibly get the materials there?
Please get in touch and advise me on how to go about making a purchase.
Thank you, ever so much,
DAISY is transforming the reading and learning experiences of many people around the world. We are not aware of DAISY related developments in Nigeria, but we have a member in Malawi - Montfort Education Centre for the Blind and also in South Africa. Hopefully the information provided below will be helpful to you.
You can also download AMIS - a free DAISY Player from the DAISY Consortium website.
The South African Library for the Blind is an Associate Member of the DAISY Consortium. They are located in Grahamstown and are in the process of converting their cassette tape library to the DAISY format. Their staff may be able to advise you on how to purchase a DAISY Player in South Africa. They can be contacted at:
SA Library for the Blind
P.O. Box 115
Tel: +27 (0)46) 622-7226
Fax: +27 (0)46) 622-7650
You can also send an email to them; addresses are available on the South African Library for the Blind website.
The South African National Council for the Blind website may also provide you with useful information.
There is a free DAISY production tool called Obi which is available from the DAISY Consortium. It may be something you or others in your community might want to look into. Information about this open source, DAISY content creation software is provided in the Obi Project area the DAISY Consortium website.
- DAISY Editorial Team -
W3C WAI has recently published a new resource, Contacting Organizations about Inaccessible Websites, which is a complete draft for public review. Feedback is requested. Comments are due by February 3 and should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
This document provides guidance on identifying key contacts, and identifying and describing the problem. Resources are provided as are tips and several sample e-mails. Contacting Organizations about Inaccessible Websites was developed by the Education and Outreach Working Group (EOWG) as part of the WAI-AGE Project. "WAI-AGE is a European Commission IST Specific Support Action, with the goal of increasing accessibility of the Web for older people as well as for people with disabilities."
WAI also invites you to share your experiences and ideas on the W3C Blog - encourage web accessibility.