The DAISY Consortium's Newsletter - February 2010

From The Editor

This issue of the DAISY Planet breaks all previous 'records' in terms of number of articles. How can so much have happened in the shortest month of the year? I will therefore keep this column as short as I possibly can.

I recently came across a paper Essays on the Design of Electronic Text prepared by graduate students of the iSchool at the University of Toronto. Although it is somewhat dated, it is worth reading. The final sentence of the conclusion really struck home: "In the end, the best outcome of current technology and research into accessible electronic text would be for sighted and unsighted users to all enjoy the day's news, latest novel, textbook, or academic paper without any delay in publication or barrier to use." – rather insightful for a group of students.

Paula Brannon, an AT Coordinator for the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind, is featured in a recent YouTube video. She talks about the difference Bookshare and DAISY have made for her students. During an author visit with the class the author asked the students "How do you read my books?". The entire class raised their hands and said "our DAISY books". Brannon also recalls that when one of the Harry Potter books came out, everyone wanted it - Bookshare had it, her students had it! This video is well worth the 3 or 4 minutes it takes to watch it.

The February Your Story is Part 2 of Jim Fruchterman's story. In Part 2 Jim has moved on the to 'Bookshare period' of his life. Even though this man has already accomplished a great deal, he closes his story with "And, there's so much more to be done!". And those of us in the information access 'business' know that he is right.

Thanks to Jim for sharing his story with us and to all of you who provided submissions for this issue of the DAISY Planet.

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 DAISY Marketplace

DAISY Online Delivery Opens Door for Global Interoperability

There has been a sense of urgency for a standard that would support the online delivery of content from providers to reading systems. In the world of information access this is understood as the delivery of accessible content (DAISY books, braille files, etc.) to end user reading systems. However it is expected that this 'open' design principle will also make the protocol useful as a content delivery mechanism beyond the sphere of accessible publishing. It has also been critical to ensure that the protocol was sufficiently flexible to meet diverse delivery requirements.

First DAISY Online meeting, June 2007The need was clear, but the task was tremendously challenging. In June 2007 DAISY Members and Friends from ten countries, representing nine organizations and six companies, met in Toronto Canada for the two day meeting. The needs of end users have been at the centre of this DAISY Consortium project - this was clear from that first meeting. Experience and foresight lead George Kerscher, Secretary General of the DAISY Consortium to state at that initial meeting that to ensure success, the specification and sample implementations had to be ready simultaneously ... and they are.

On February 17 the Final Draft Specification of the DAISY Online Delivery protocol entered the public review phase which extends from February 18 to March 20. In response to the release of the final draft, George Kerscher stated:

The interoperability testing this working group is doing will have a major positive impact on the rapid adoption of DAISY Online Delivery services around the world. Having tested sample implementations in place at the same time as the specification is approved will affirm that the standard is ready for use in our libraries and that conforming products are ready for finalization.

In his email announcing to the DAISY Online Delivery Working Group that the specification was posted on the DAISY website, Kenny Johar, co-chair, sent the following words of thanks on his behalf and on the behalf of Markus Gylling who also co-chaired the team: "This would never have been possible without the tireless efforts of group members. A very big thank you for all your efforts." Both Working Group members in good standing at the time of the publication of the final draft and those who have contributed throughout the development process are provided in the Specification Acknowledgements.

Johar has summarized as follows:

We are at a very significant point in the definition of this very challenging, yet very significant standard. Developing a standard that catered to the online requirements of organisations around the world was always going to be a very involved task. The single factor that has brought the standard to this point has been the belief and hard work of the group members. We now look forward to receiving feedback from the community at large.

Input can be submitted using the DAISY Contact Form (select the "Project: DAISY Online Delivery" category from the dropdown list provided).

The Working Group will remain active following the public review phase and Board approval of the specification in order to address errata and questions.

Techshare India 2010 Promotes Assistive Technology for People with Disabilities

Techshare India 2010 logoTechshare India 2010, held February 15 – 16 at the India Habitat Center in New Delhi, was devoted to technologies for persons with disabilities. This pan-disability conference was organized by the Royal National Institute of the Blind People (RNIB), a Full Member of the DAISY Consortium, and BarrierBreak Technologies, a Friend of the DAISY Consortium, and the National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (NCPEDP). Techshare is India's only technology conference and exhibition which promotes assistive technology for people with disabilities. More than 500 delegates from all over the India and from around the world attended. Approximately 30 exhibitors from different countries and companies displayed a variety of products.

The Honourable Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment, Shri Mukul Wasnik, shared his perspective on the importance of an event like Techshare India 2010, stressing the importance of making the environment inclusive and accessible to people with disabilities. Other speakers included Ms. Shilpi Kapoor, Managing Director, BarrierBreak Technologies, Kevin Carey, Chair of RNIB, Javed Abidi, Director, National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (NCPEDP), and Dr. P. Anandan, Managing Director - Microsoft Research Lab India. In his speech Carey explained that a more accessible world is one of the World Blind Union's (WBU) strategic priorities and stated:

Disabled people, governments, industry and commerce, now need to work together to make the promises of the convention real. To find solutions to help industry and commerce design better inclusive Information and Communication Technologies, to find ways of getting better adaptive technology into people's hands, and helping people develop the new skills they need.

That is why the World Blind Union asked its Technology committee to find ways of bringing people together to work on finding solutions to the challenge. And that is where the Techshare series of conferences comes in.

There was a strong DAISY presence throughout the two day event. Friends of the DAISY Consortium including Dolphin, HumanWare, Code Factory, and BarrierBreak Technologies exhibited their latest DAISY production and playback tools and services. The DAISY Consortium and DAISY Forum of India jointly hosted a booth in the exhibition area, highlighting DAISY and the services and products DAISY Forum of India provides for its members.

Once again the 'experience zone' was a great success. Participants with a disability were able to get hands-on experience with a variety of tools and products. A new low cost DAISY Player (still undergoing field testing) from Bisquare India drew a great deal of attention. Bookshare, which is a Full Member of the DAISY Consortium and is now operational in India, announced a free subscription for anyone with print disability who signs up for the service by March 31, 2010. Two presentations about Bookshare services were given by Anubhav Mitra and Nirmal Verma (Bookshare employees in Delhi). Through collaborative efforts between DAISY For India and Bookshare, people who register for Bookshare also receive a membership to the talking book library of the DAISY For India network and are therefore able to access talking books produced any where in India.

The following presentations related to DAISY products and services were given at Techshare 2010:

Organizations of and for persons with disabilities and individuals with disabilities were among those who attended and experienced the world of access technologies.

Techshare Conferences began in London England over a decade ago. It is now a global series of conferences, with India having been the first country to host a Techshare Conference outside of the UK. Credit for the idea of bringing Techshare to international venues goes to Shilpi Kapoor, Managing Director of BarrierBreak Technologies, who in 2007 had approached Stephen King, Group Director, Prevention & International affairs Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), chair of the World Blind Union (WBU) Technology Work Group, and DAISY Board Member, with her concept. Techshare India 2008 was the first; it was an incredible success, surpassed only by the success of Techshare India 2010.

Editor's Note: Thanks go to Dipendra Manocha for providing a report on Techshare 2010 for the DAISY Planet.

Dedicon Helps Sister Agencies with DAISY Conversion

High Speed Analogue to DAISY Service

Many organizations which are providing their patrons with reading materials in DAISY format have begun converting their existing analogue (tape) collections to DAISY, some have even completed the process. However, there are still organizations which have only just begun the conversion process and others which may still be in the planning stages.

The are numerous reasons for converting an analogue collection to DAISY, including the vast resources invested in creating the analogue titles, greatly reduced storage and distribution costs for digital content, and of course the significantly improved access which readers experience with DAISY Digital Talking Books.

Dedicon Building, Winter 2010 Dedicon, which is located in the Netherlands and is a Full Member of the DAISY Consortium, began digitizing its production processes in 2002; by 2004 all of its audio materials were being produced and distributed in digital format. All 60,000 archived titles in the Dedicon analogue collection were digitized. To achieve this goal over a brief period of time the Dedicon team developed an extensive automation process.

Conversion Process

Dedicon Scanning OperationTapes are digitized at high speed with digital audio (WAV) file output, track announcements are deleted, new ones are inserted if desired, and periods of silence can be deleted. Additional metadata is added and a DAISY structure is applied (allowing the reader to navigate through the content effectively). The audio is then converted to MP3 at the desired bitrate. Completed DAISY content is then validated to ensure that it complies with the DAISY 2.02 Standard.

Conversion Services

Since 2004 Dedicon has completed conversion projects for a number of organizations. Thousands of radio plays have been converted to DAISY and 6,000 books were recently converted for a French language Belgian library. Dedicon is offering its expertise and conversion production capacity to DAISY Members and affiliated organizations. Those who are interested in this service or who would like additional information should contact Dedicon at info@dedicon.nl.

Dedicon: an Overview

Dedicon Building, Winter 2010Dedicon is specialized in producing and supplying accessible reading materials. Customer requirements play a major role in their production process. The range and number of newspapers, magazines and books in accessible format are representative of the printed publications available in bookshops and newspaper kiosks. In addition, Dedicon produces educational and professional reading materials which are customized to the needs of the individual. Both technology and customer requirements change and evolve. Dedicon regularly adapts to these changes through research and development, increasing their customer base and reaching new target audiences.

DAISY Standards Foster BrailleNet/HumanWare Collaboration

5000+ Bibliothèque Hélène DAISY DTBooks can be read on Victor Reader Stream

The Bibliothèque Hélène digital collection of more than 5,000 titles is made up largely of French books. All are XML DTBook text-only DAISY format. They are protected using the DAISY PDTB2 specification and can be read on the HumanWare Victor Reader Stream. Dominique Burger, of the Université Pierre et Marie Curie, and President of BrailleNet, has stated that this joint effort "illustrates wonderfully the power of DAISY standards to foster this type of cooperation."

BrailleNet logoBrailleNet is the first library to secure full text (text only) DAISY content using the PDTB2 protocol; other libraries protecting their content with the DAISY PDTB2 specification are providing DAISY Digital Talking Books with audio (and structure for navigation).

Tools are Open Source and Free

All of the software tools used to protect the Bibliothèque Hélène DAISY collection are free (with a GNU GPL license) and can therefore be used by others:

The file server and DTBprotect tool which have been developed by BrailleNet are available at no cost. Organizations interested in these for possible implementation in their library can contact Bibliothèque Hélène by email at helene@snv.jussieu.fr.

Who Can Register for Bibliothèque Hélène?

Anyone authorized by the French legislation on copyright exception who is living in France and French citizens living abroad, may apply for access to the Bibliothèque Hélène collection. Registration is free. People with a print disability may apply for registration contacting Bibliothèque Hélène by email at helene@snv.jussieu.fr

BrailleNet (an Associate Member of the DAISY Consortium) and other organizations with DAISY collections are hopeful that as progress is made with adoption of the proposed WIPO Treaty and the Trusted Intermediaries Pilot, it will become possible to make their books available beyond their national borders.

Blackstone Audio Discovers DAISY

Vision Australia and Blackstone Audio Partner to Increase the Availability of DAISY Books

Vision Australia logoBlackstone Audio is one of the largest producers of unabridged audio titles in the USA; Vision Australia is Australia's largest blindness agency. One plus one equals two, and in this case "two" equals the introduction of DAISY formatted books to the Blackstone Audio collection.

The partnership is described in the Vision Australia press release:

Following discussions with Vision Australia in 2009, Blackstone Audio became aware of the potential worldwide market for accessible content. With the assistance of the technical team at Vision Australia, the first batch were delivered in October, and made available to clients shortly after. Based on the worldwide audio standard, Blackstone will produce future orders in DAISY 2.02 compliant format.

Blackstone DAISY books are audio and structure DAISY DTBs, bringing many more books with DAISY navigation to those who have experienced its benefits and who love reading DAISY formatted books.

Gerard Menses, CEO of Vision Australia described the importance of the outcome of the partnership:

There are more than four million Australians who have a print disability and need our help. And, with continued support from organisations such as Blackstone Audio, Vision Australia can work towards bridging the information divide that has been a barrier to our community for too long.

Blackstone Audio sells worldwide and is also working with/in discussion with other major libraries which provide accessible books to their readers. At present Blackstone is offering 37 of their titles in the DAISY format. As an independent audiobook publisher, they do everything in-house; they have the technology to deliver all of their titles in the DAISY format (backlist and new releases). Blackstone Audio currently offers over 4,500 titles and publishes over 35 new releases a month. In the long term, all of their new releases will automatically be available in the DAISY format at the same time as the other formats.

The Vision Australia/Blackstone Audio partnership demonstrates how collaboration can result in mutually beneficial opportunities for other 'sister' agencies and increase the availability of accessible information.

Blackstone Audio has indicated that they are planning to join the DAISY Consortium this year.

Ensuring and Promoting Access to Information through DAISY

International Symposium hosted by Japanese Society Rehabilitation of Persons with Disabilities (JSRPD)

Approximately 140 people met in Tokyo on February 19 to learn about the latest DAISY developments and about EPUB – the emerging de-facto standard for commercial e-publishing, and to discuss the implementation of DAISY in Japan (including legal and institutional issues). Participants included education researchers, teachers, IT engineers, people from public libraries, libraries for the blind, and the Japanese National Diet Library, businessmen, as well as individuals representing volunteer organizations involved in DAISY production.

On January 1, 2010, the revised Japanese copyright law came into effect. This long awaited change has greatly improved the reading environment for people with disabilities; interest in DAISY from individuals who had not previously been able to experience reading DAISY formatted books because of the copyright law is growing rapidly. The symposium was held in order to share information about DAISY, EPUB and issues surrounding the implementation of DAISY in Japan.

Romain Deltour speaking at the International Symposium, Tokyo, 2010 The keynote speech by Hiroshi Kawamura, President of the DAISY Consortium, provided an overview of DAISY implementation in Japan. Four guest speakers — George Kerscher – Secretary General of the DAISY Consortium and President of the IDPF, Gregory Kearney – Manager, Accessible Media Association for the Blind of Western-Australia, Markus Gylling – Chief Technology Officer for the DAISY Consortium, and Romain Detour – DAISY Technical Development Team Member, each gave a presentation on the present and future of e-books which "everyone can read" and on the digital library based on DAISY.

Between the morning and afternoon symposium activities, three companies, Shinano Kenshi Co., Ltd., Olympus Imaging Corp. and CYPAC Co. Inc., exhibited their DAISY players.

Panel at the International Symposium, Tokyo, 2010In the afternoon a lively panel discussion addressed issues raised during the earlier presentations and other concerns about e-publishing, e-books and access to information in Japan for all. The panelists were:

Hiroshi Kawamura facilitated the discussion and concluded the symposium, encouraging the collaborative efforts of all stakeholders in the quest for information access for all and for the bright future of e-books for all.

DAISY Website: the Place to get the CSUN Conference Program

The 25th Annual International Technology & Persons with Disabilities Conference, CSUN 2010, will take place March 22-27 in San Diego, California. For the first time the CSUN Conference program will be available and downloadable prior to the Conference. The DAISY Consortium has agreed to post the program on the DAISY website.

The CSUN program is currently in production and will be posted for download from the DAISY website (CSUN program) in both DAISY and HTML formats as soon as it is available. Participants will be able to save the program to their solid state devices before arriving at the Conference venue. The program will also be distributed at the conference on CD as in previous years.

George Kerscher, Secretary General of the DAISY Consortium, will attend the Conference and will present the session "Digital Accessible Publishing Spotlight: Distribution, Standards and Challenges". Sessions which deal with "things DAISY" will be identified in the Conference program as "DAISY related".

Mainstreaming ICTs for Persons with Disabilities

An expert group of approximate 30 individuals representing NGOs, the private and academic sectors, ITU (International Telecommunication Union), UNESCO, and G3ICT (Global Initiative for Inclusive ICTs), met recently to discuss how to support the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The invitation to the meeting which was held February 22 - 23 in Paris was extended by Mr. Khan, Assistant Director General for Communication and Information for UNESCO. The consultative meeting "Mainstreaming ICTs for Persons with Disabilities to Access Information and Knowledge" was organized by UNESCO and G3ict.

On the morning of the first day, issues, challenges and opportunities were presented. Barriers identified in the agenda included:

That afternoon break-out groups brainstormed the issues and topics, and then reported back to the larger group. Based on the outcomes of the first day, four working groups were established and tasked with formulating concrete proposals. The four key themes discussed were:

The working group proposals were reported to the plenum and will be further developed in the near future. The expected outcome is a White Paper which will be submitted to Mr. Khan. Following the submission of the White Paper, UNESCO will determine their strategy and required related actions.

Bernhard Heinser, Chief Financial and Development Officer for the DAISY Consortium, and Dipendra Manocha, DAISY Developing Countries Coordinator, were among the 30 invited participants.

Letters to the Editor

Editor's Note:

The letters received this month have all been suggestions and information for DAISY Planet articles, and there have been quite a few. Although they are not presented here, I would like thank each and every one of you who took the time to submit suggestions or reports for this issue of the DAISY Planet. Contributions such as yours help to keep the Planet informative, well rounded and interesting. If you would like to share updates about your organization or company, or share news about activities or events that may be of interest to the DAISY community, please use the DAISY Contact Us form (Newsletter category) or contact me directly by email. Letters to the Editor are most welcome.

Dear DAISY

Dear DAISY

I run a professional recording studio and I record and convert audio books to DAISY format. This is a free service I offer to the community. Currently I am using Obi 1.1.

My interest in DAISY stems from the fact that I am partially sighted and thus I enjoy the benefit of DAISY books. I own a recording studio and I also represent NCTec, a supplier of assistive hardware and software for the visually disabled, in the Eastern Cape.

I mainly get DAISY books from the Library for the blind. I hope to help them so I started off by converting an audio book by a local author which I had recorded previously, to DAISY using Obi.

I am also involved with helping partially sighted/blind students at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University and I would like to record their textbooks into DAISY format. I am very interested in your Tobi software as having the text as well as audio is very important in this instance.

Can I get permission to use the DAISY logo?

Thank you and best wishes for 2010 to you.

AR,
Audiotrax Studios,
South Africa

Answer

Dear Anton,

We have received several inquiries recently from South Africa. We are excited to hear that people are very interested in DAISY and DAISY books.

You may use our logo. There is a selection of our logos and our logo trademark policy on the DAISY website.

- DAISY Editorial Team -

Tech Tips

Google has announced the most recent addition to their scholarship programs in Europe - the Google Europe Scholarship for Students with Disabilities. This scholarship is designed for students with disabilities studying Computer Science or Computer Engineering who have shown academic strength and demonstrated a passion for computer science. The deadline for applications is March 15, 2010.