Mother Nature almost always wins, and that was certainly the case with the ash that resulted from the eruption of Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland this month. The location for the second DAISY Board Meeting of the year, New Delhi, India, has been planned since early 2009, and rescheduling the General Meeting to that location was the clear solution. It will be the first time that a DAISY GM is held in a Newly Industrialized Country (NIC) – India is no longer classified as a developing country. "Newly industrialized countries (NICs) are nations with economies more advanced and developed than those in the developing world, but not yet with the full signs of a developed country." (Wikipedia) It will also be a wonderful opportunity for DAISY Members and Friends to experience first hand the commitment to and belief in accessible information that is so strong in India. Please read the articles DAISY General Meeting Rescheduled due to Volcanic Ash and Changing Copyright Regime in India for information about the rescheduled DAISY GM and the DAISY Technical Conference which will be aligned with it, and for insight into the efforts to improve access to information in India.
The cancellation of flights into and out of the UK also made it necessary to reschedule the WIPO Stakeholders' Platform meeting that was to take place in London immediately prior to the DAISY Board Meeting. It is now set for the end of May, coinciding with the WIPO Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights : Twentieth Session (SCCR/20) in Geneva. I am hopeful that I will have a report on these important meetings for the May DAISY Planet.
The IFLA/LPD (Section Libraries Serving Persons with Print Disabilties) 2010/2012 Strategic Plan was published earlier this month. The mission is given as follows: "to advocate for library services that are equitable and accessible for persons with a print disability". The following Actions arising from the first two of the four stated goals illustrate the alignment of the efforts of IFLA/LPD and the DAISY Consortium:
Some of you may notice that the "Bits & Pieces" column which became a regular section in the DAISY Planet now appears as a column (at the right side) rather than as a primary article (in the centre). There always seem to be tid-bits of information that may be of interest, so we've decided to try it as a regular column.
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). Letters to the Editor are most welcome. You can also to share 'Your Story' with the Planet readership using the Contact Us form (or let us know if you know someone with a story to tell). Thanks go to Ketan Kothari of Sightersavers for submitting the article Changing Copyright Regime in India for publication in the DAISY Planet.
Your Story this month is the second part of Lars Sönnebo's story. As I wrote in this column in the March DAISY Planet, Lars and DAISY go back to the beginning. One might think that the second half of his story would complete the tale, but when you read it you will realize that the end is far from here and now. It has taken considerable urging to get Lars to document his part in the history of DAISY, but I believe that it has been more than worth it. Thank you Lars.
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.
Ash from Iceland's Eyjafjallajökull (pronounced ay-yah-FYAH-lah-yer-kuhl) volcano grounded people from all over the world who were trying to travel to Europe and the UK, and folks in the DAISY community were no exception. The Consortium's Annual General Meeting was to take place in Edinburgh on April 22, but for the first time in the history of the DAISY Consortium, it has been necessary to reschedule the GM. The Consortium's President, Treasurer and senior staff made the difficult decision over the weekend prior to the meetings – until then there was still hope that the ash would clear and air traffic would resume. The new date and location for the 2010 Annual General Meeting of the DAISY Consortium are:
The first of the two 2010 DAISY Consortium Board of Directors Meetings, also planned for that same week, is rescheduled for Zurich, Switzerland, May 28 and 29.
Also set for that same week was the conference "Looking to the Future: Access to the Curriculum" being hosted by the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB). As many of the participants were from the UK, the conference went ahead as planned. Although the number of international guests was greatly reduced, all reports indicate that it was a great success.
Details about the rescheduled DAISY Consortium General Meeting will be sent to the DAISY membership lists in the near future. A DAISY Technical Conference and the second DAISY Board Meeting will be held that same week in New Delhi. Please also see the article Changing Copyright Regime in India for details about efforts in that country to bring accessible information to those who are unable to read print materials.
The primary purpose of the 4th European eAccessibility Forum, held April 12 in Paris France, was to provide all participants with an opportunity to learn about information access in the digital domain and to discuss the issues with experts in the field. Speakers included specialists from organisations representing consumers of accessible information, research organisations, public national and European institutions, and, European and international for-profit companies. Plenary papers, workshops and demonstrations were presented. Romain Deltour, Software Architect for the DAISY Consortium, attended the Forum and has provided an overview of the day-long event so that those unable to be there will nonetheless benefit from the information exchange that took place. The proceedings will be available on the BrailleNet web site at www.braillenet.org in the near future. Highlights, points of interest to the DAISY community and conclusions are therefore the focus in this article.
Some of the general, overarching views expressed were:
Ms. Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, Minister of State for Prospects and Development of the Digital Economy, opened the Forum. She stressed that information and communication technology (ICT) promotes social inclusion and access to employment, but that there is the risk of social exclusion. In her closing statement she said that the extra cost incurred by the implementation of accessible services is a myth – that accessibility is actually a long term investment.
In the keynote speech "Agenda for an eAccessible European Union" Miguel Gonzalez-Sancho (Deputy Head of Unit for ICT for Inclusion in the European Commission, Directorate-General Information Society & Media) concluded that the European Union continues to support the development of eAccessibility through political involvement, legislation, and funding.
In the second keynote speech "W3C/WAI Standards for Creating and Displaying Accessible Web Content" Jeanne Spellmam (W3C/WAI - Web Accessibility Initiative) explained that ATAG, WCAG (both developer-oriented) and UAAG (user-oriented) are among the W3C standards for web accessibility. The keynote focused on ATAG – Authoring Tools Accessibility Guidelines. Spellman explained that ATAG is of the utmost importance to ensure accessibility and also to raise accessibility awareness. It requires authoring tools to both be accessible and to produce accessible content. Authoring tools must be:
The last Call Working Draft of ATAG 2.0 will be published in the near future and implementations are needed. Spellman also stated that reviews, evaluation and translations are more than welcome. The document "Implementing ATAG 2.0" is a plain language explanation of the ATAG specification which is very important for end users.
In the session "Comparative Approaches to Current Legislation on eAccessibility in Europe" Donal Rice (National Disability Authority, Ireland) discussed the MeAC study (Measuring progress of eAccessibility in Europe) which identified different kind of laws and policies, ranging from strong sector-specific regulation to more horizontal legislation. Rice also explained that ITU (International Telecommunication Union) and G3ICT (Global Initiative for Inclusive ICT) provide the e-Accessibilty Toolkit to help policy makers implementing the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
One of the highlights for those in the DAISY community was the Session 3, "Accessible Publishing Chain".
In the presentation "Embedding automated accessible outputs in course production" Gerald Schmidt (Open University) described the university's operation and DAISY roll-out.
Dr. Thomas Kahlisch and Julia Dobroschke (both representing DZB - the German Central Library for the Blind) lead the session "Leibniz - a project to make none-fiction publications accessible". Project Leibniz is about the development of software tools and workflows for the semi-automated transformation of published materials for persons with disabilities. The project features strong cooperation with publishers and the results can be integrated in the development of the Accessible Global Library.
"The future of easy and independent accessible content publishing" was presented by Kathleen Asjes (Dedicon Netherlands, Accessible Information for People with a Print Impairment). Asjes outlined the AltTEXT project:
In Session 4 "Societal impact of eAccessibility" the session "AEGIS European Project, developing infrastructure, developer's tools, assistive technologies under an open source software license" was given by Christophe Strobbe (KUL, Leuven). In his presentation Strobbe explained the Project:
The Forum closing remarks were very fittingly given by Dominique Burger (INSERM - UPMC, President of BrailleNet). He explained that accessibility is a complex topic but that we are clearly moving from a pioneering approach to a professional and systematic approach. Burger described the increasing harmonization of accessibility needs and mainstream needs, citing the Leibniz project in cooperation with German publishers and book shops, DAISY/EPUB harmonization, and commercial companies integrating accessibility tools and checkers natively into products as examples. He added that the tremendous long term benefits of implementing accessibility outweigh the costs involved. In closing he announced the creation of "Institut de l'Accessbilité Numérique" (Institute for Digital Accessibility) which will regroup BrailleNet initiatives (AccessiWeb, Hélène Library, European eAccessibility Forums) and non-profit or industrial partners. One of its stated objectives is to further participate in standardization efforts, including those of the W3C and the DAISY Consortium.
Photo credit for the pictures in this article is to CSI - JP ATTAL, as noted in the alt-text of each.
This article was submitted by Ketan Kothari, Programme Officer, South India Area Office, Sightsavers
India is a multilingual, multicultural country with over 100,000 books and other literature published annually. The very small percentage that is available in accessible formats is converted either by organizations working for people who have a print disability or the individuals themselves, at their own expense. This very grim situation adversely affects access to education for people with a print disability. For the past five years there has been an arduous struggle to change this. The late Prof. Vinod Sena, himself a person with low vision, sowed the seeds of this movement in the early part of this century, vigorously pursuing this matter at all levels.
At the end of 2005 the government of India proposed an amendment to the 1957 Indian Copyright Act. For the first time, it included an exception clause for people with a print disability. But the proposed clause was far from what was needed. Since then the struggle to bring information access in India has actually begun.
In April/May of 2006, a conglomerate of organizations was formed under the banner of Publication Access Coordination Committee (PACC), with Xavier's Resource Centre for the Visually Challenged, (XRCVC) Mumbai, leading the way. Almost all of the national organizations in the area of blindness joined; they submitted a well researched memorandum which contained the text of the needed and desired amendment. Simultaneously, these organizations also kept in touch with the mainstream IP professionals to win them over to support the cause. But the amendments were put into 'cold storage' with no results.
In 2007, a forum of DAISY book producers was established - DAISY Forum of India (DFI). There are now over 70 member organizations in this Forum. DFI began talks with publishers to convince them to make their publications available in accessible formats, or at least to grant permission to convert their publications into accessible formats. Many publishers were apprehensive about the threat of piracy. It has taken a lot of convincing and demonstrations of the technology to convince some publishers to come on board. Today some of the leading names in the publishing world, such as Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press, and Sage Publications, have come on board and have given DFI rights to convert their titles into accessible formats.
In 2008, another historical event took place – Bookshare came to India. This provided Indian readers with an opportunity to access many, many books that are available worldwide in DAISY format. DFI played a key role.
The struggle to have the law amended continued. No efforts were spared to convince the government, but frequent changes in postings to the government Registrar of Copyright meant that the information explaining the need for change in the law had to be repeated again and again.
During this time the World Blind Union (WBU) launched the Global Right to Read Campaign in partnership with the DAISY Consortium, ICEVI and IFLA/Libraries Serving Persons with Print Disabilities Section. The purpose of the Campaign was to encourage greater access to published works for people with a print disability, and in particular to seek changes in copyright law at national and international levels.
This was an excellent opportunity to align the movement in India with global best practices, and in 2009 the Centre for Internet and Society (CIS) took up the DFI initiative. They contacted the WBU Campaign and expressed the desire to associate the growing Indian movement with the global campaign.
Government leaders in this area in India were informed that the amendments would be put forth in parliament. This time things went very quickly. Support was garnered from some eminent lawyers which helped a great deal.
In late 2009 the movement gained momentum. The amendments were posted on the Internet and activities increased. Personal contacts were used to reach the responsible government representative. However the amendments as proposed by the government would create new difficulties. What eventually went to parliament was not what was needed...the UNCRPD was barely considered in the disability related clause. A totally new provision of licensing was introduced. This was extremely discouraging, and on a different level, it increased the problem, as most of the conversion work is done by voluntary agencies that have neither money nor technical support.
Realizing that the steps taken were not yielding the necessary results, the leadership of the movement engaged the media; press conferences were held in a number of cities; issues were explained to the media. Meetings were held with MP's from all political parties to solicit support. Efforts were made to bring all of the national organizations of the blind to the same 'information access' platform, resulting in the formation of the National Access Alliance of India (NAA). NAA is made up of the six WBU Members in India: NFB, AICB, NAB, ICEVI, Sightsavers and DFI. All six members are working in harmony to bring about the required and desired copyright amendment.
An advocacy strategy has been developed and the outlook for the necessary change in the law is coming closer to being a reality. The single goal is to have the Indian law amended so that those who have a print disability have access to current material published in India, without the additional expense that would result from licenses or royalties.
International organizations such as Sightsavers, the DAISY Consortium are associated with the National Access Alliance of India.
Editor's Note: The pictures of the Right to Read Campaign, January 30, 2010, in New Delhi India are provided courtesy of the Centre for Internet and Society (CSI) website. Additional pictures and numerous videos are also posted on the site.
More than a dozen of the DFI member organizations have an accessible book library catalogue. Someone who is a member of any of the more than 70 DFI organizations may order books from any of these online catalogues.
I would like to thank Ketan Kothari, Sightersavers Programme Officer, for submitting this article for publication in the DAISY Planet.
Daniel Weck, lead Tobi Software Architect and Programmer for the DAISY Consortium, reports that the software development is moving forward well, and that Tobi is now quite 'solid' as a result of internal testing and feedback from a small number of external contributors. However, Weck also recently stated that more feedback is needed to bring Tobi to the 'production-ready' stage.
The first Release Candidate (RC) of Tobi, the DAISY Consortium's open-source full text/full audio authoring tool will be made available for download this week. A basic documentation primer to help new users to get started is being written and is expected to be available along with RC1.
It is hoped that with this first Release Candidate people will install Tobi and work with it to create original DAISY content or to import an existing DAISY book for further production. The goal is to get organizations interested, and ultimately involved in some way. Bug reports and general comments are welcome – feedback is essential to move from RC1 to V1 of Tobi.
As with all DAISY Consortium software development, participation by and contributions from the Consortium's membership are essential. Both the link to download Tobi RC1 and additional information about Tobi are provided on Tobi project page of the DAISY website (download link will be provided by the end of this week, April 30).
This is actually not directly related to the DAISY Planet, but I'd like to take the opportunity our newsletter provides to publicly thank HIMS for providing the DAISY staff team with three BookSense XT units. They will also be providing us with units which have an LED display for the LD market when they are available. We are also extremely grateful to numerous DAISY Friends such as Plextor Co. Ltd./Shinano Kenshi, HumanWare, Dolphin Computer Access Ltd., gh LLC, Bones GmbH, and others who have provided our team with DAISY hardware and/or software for DAISY Consortium training, testing, and marketing.
- George Kerscher, Secretary General for the DAISY Consortium
I would like to inquire as to whom I should contact regarding the potential use of some of your exemplars in our products' (Kurzweil 1000 and Kurzweil 3000) "Sample Documents" folder? Please email or phone me.
Your prompt attention to this request for information is greatly appreciated.
Cambium Learning Technologies,
You are welcome to use any of our sample books that have been posted to the Samples Area of the DAISY Consortium website.
You may also be interested in reviewing the free sample content that has been posted to some of the DAISY Consortium Friends' websites, for example:
If you should choose to use our sample content, please give credit to the DAISY Consortium. If you are interested in content available from any of the DAISY Friends, please contact them directly for permission prior to doing so.
- DAISY Editorial Team -
• Two new Bookshare/publisher agreements will improve information access.
Simon & Schuster has signed an agreement that will give Bookshare members access to an extensive selection of titles. Simon & Schuster, one of the world's leading publishers of English language books, is contributing thousands of adult and children's books, in EPUB format, to Bookshare. Jim Fruchterman, CEO of Benetech stated: "This substantial commitment brings the world one step closer to the vision of equal access to print materials for individuals with print disabilities..."
Merriam-Webster, America's foremost publisher of language-related reference works, has signed an agreement to provide Bookshare with worldwide rights to its entire collection of key references works. Jim Fruchterman, CEO of Benetech: "Getting dictionaries into accessible formats opens up new avenues for individuals with print disabilities to look up words and information..."
• DAISY the Easy Way is a very straight forward, easy to understand and accurate description of what DAISY is. It also includes information about DAISY content creation. The script (.wpd format) is derived from a presentation given at the 2009 Round Table Conference. It was prepared by Andrew Furlong of Vision Australia and one of his team members. The presentation was followed by a two hour workshop during which DAISY content was created using the methods described.
• SightCity, "Germany's biggest exhibition for Aids for the Blind and the Visually Impaired" is taking place in Frankfurt April 28 to 30. Numerous DAISY Friends are present, including: Acapela Group, Bones, Code Factory, Dolphin Computer Access, HumanWare, HIMS, Shinano Kenshi Europe, Solutions Radio BV, and ViewPlus Technologies. MEDIBUS, a Full Member of the DAISY Consortium, is represented at their booth by DZB and the Westgerman Talking Book Library.
• The RNIB BookStream book club is open to blind and partially sighted people living in the United Kingdom. Any of the DAISY audio books in the RNIB catalogue can be read via an Internet connection. DAISY books can be selected and added it to your personal bookshelf. It is possible to move forward and back, and when the book is closed and reopened to continue reading, it will begin at the same point where the reading stopped.
• odt2daisy Version 2.1 was released April 12 and is available for download.
• The Latin American Spanish translation of AMIS, the DAISY Consortium's open source DAISY software player/reading system is now available for download.
There were a number of math-focused sessions at the 2010 CSUN Conference last month. One which may be of particular interest to DAISY Planet readers and which is available online is: