July and August are very often rather quiet in the world of DAISY, so even though there is no DAISY Planet issue for July, I'd expected that this issue would be rather 'light'. That has not been the case as you will find when you read this month's Planet, and you may also notice that our newsletter has had a 'facelift'. The Planet fills more of the screen and the three columns are wider, allowing more words across each line. The font is larger in the headings, and content and all major headings are set in a contrasting colour band. Please let me know if you think the DAISY Planet's new 'look' is a positive change. The DAISY 'globe' has also been changed.
I'd like to thank Varju Luceno (our Communications & Marketing Specialist) for her work on the DAISY Planet 'facelift' and for putting up with my overall fussiness about font, layout, contrast, colours etc. In addition to the many, many other things she does, Varju does an incredible job digging up news and posting it to the DAISY homepage. If you haven't yet signed up for our DAISY news feed you might not be getting the most current DAISY-related updates.
George Kerscher, Secretary General of the DAISY Consortium, will be the Keynote Speaker at this year's Accessing Higher Ground: Accessible Media, Web and Technology Conference. The focus will be on the implementation and benefits of assistive technology in the university and college setting for people with sensory, physical and learning disabilities. Other topics include legal and policy issues, and making campus media and information resources accessible. Accessing Higher Ground will take place November 15-19 in Westminster, Colorado, USA.
One of the benefits the DAISY Consortium provides for its Friends is the DAISY Marketplace – both on our homepage and in the DAISY Planet. We encourage you to email Varju or me if you have our addresses or use the Contact Us Form to tell us about your new and updated tools or services. The DAISY website is among the top 1.1% of all websites. According to Website Grader "The website daisy.org ranks 30,841 of the 2,772,487 websites that have been ranked so far. A website grade of 98/100 for daisy.org means that of the millions of websites that have previously been evaluated, our algorithm has calculated that this site scores higher than 98% of them in terms of its marketing effectiveness." According to Google Analytics, the number of visitors coming to the DAISY website increases after each new DAISY Planet is published – why not take advantage of the communication/marketing opportunity that the DAISY website and the Planet provide?
Sharing information about DAISY and DAISY-related activities applies to the overall DAISY membership. If your organization has information to share with the DAISY community, please let us know about it.
The article which I think gave me the greatest pleasure in writing this month is Mongolia Discovers DAISY. I learned a great deal in the process and had the privilege of meeting (by email) a number of wonderful people I otherwise may never contacted. And I was inspired by the work of YPSA as relayed in the article YPSA Receives Top Prize for DAISY For All.
Something I enjoyed reading (not writing about) this month was the blog post Save a tree, pick a DAISY: "Next, how long will it be before the public realizes that they can have BOTH text AND audio in one little digital package known as the DAISY format?" I found it worth the minute it took to read it.
This month's Your Story is from Mary Jane Barnett, and it is more than a little different from the other DAISY Stories published on our website. Mary Jane, thank you for being an advocate for DAISY and for telling us your story.
Thanks to each of you who wrote and sent suggestions, ideas or outlines for articles over the past two months. Please remember that Letters to the Editor are more than welcome (thank you Niels). 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).
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.
Mongolia is a country of extremes – short hot summers and very, very cold winters, with temperatures falling as low as -30°C (-22°F). The Gobi Desert, which has wide temperature fluctuations, is located in the southern part of the country while the north is mountainous and cold. It is the world's second largest landlocked country and has a population of approximately 2.9 million people. Ulaanbaatar is the capital and is the largest city in the country.
In July this year the DAISY center was established at the Ulaanbaatar City Public Library (UPL) with support from the EIFL Public Library Innovation Program (PLIP) and cooperation with the Mongolian National Federation of the Blind (MNFB) a non-profit and non-governmental organization. The EIFL PLIP awards grants to public libraries in "developing and transition countries for innovative services using technology to improve individual livelihoods...All the winning proposals demonstrate the socio-economic contributions made by public libraries and the active role they play in their communities. These successful public libraries are at the center of their communities because they are responsive to their needs." There were 324 proposals submitted from 49 countries – one of the twelve winning libraries was the Ulaanbaatar City Public Library. The UPL grant application provides the complete details of their proposal which names MNFB as their primary partner (information is provided in English immediately below the section in Mongolian).
In the "Brief Description" given in the UPL Blogspot Factsheet it states:
Providing educational resources for the blind is made even more difficult in a country such as Mongolia with very remote rural communities. The current services are primarily available in the capital. To address this issue, the UPL project will produce DAISY Digital Talking Books and set up a national network of libraries for the blind in order to ensure access from all regions of Mongolia.
How did UPL and MNFB initially learn about and become interested in DAISY as the international standard for accessible reading materials? In May 2008 Mr. M. Tsengel, an IT Instructor at MNFB's Rehabilitation and Training Center, attended a "DAISY for All - International Train the Trainers" seminar held in Bangkok (Mr. Tsengel will serve as a major expert in the introduction of DAISY in Mongolia). In March 2010 Hiroshi Kawamura, President of the DAISY Consortium, visited MNFB providing encouragement for the implementation of DAISY. In July of this year Gerel Dondow, who works for MNFB, traveled to New Delhi India to receive extensive training in DAISY book production. Gerel is participating in the DAISY training as part of the one year "Braille without Borders" International Institute for Social Entrepreneurs program. She will complete her DAISY training in September and return to Mongolia in December. She reports that she is learning how to make DAISY books, that she has learnt many things about DAISY books as well as how important, useful and accessible they are for people who are blind or have a vision disability. Until June MNFB was the sole provider of braille and talking books to UPL. However, with the award of the EIFL PLIP grant, they have begun producing DAISY books. Gerel describes this as an extremely important advancement for people in Mongolia who are blind. She plans to produce DAISY books in her country when she returns home.
As part of the UPL DAISY Project their talking book collection will be digitized into DAISY Digital Talking Books. Most countries which have adopted the DAISY Standard for their talking book collections have converted their existing analogue audio books in order to quickly increase the size of their new DAISY collection.
Their are 21 "aimags" (provinces) in Mongolia. UPL will provide DAISY players to the public libraries in each of the aimags. When a stock of DAISY books has been produced, librarians from each of the aimags will be brought to the UPL DAISY Digital Talking Book Center for training. This is scheduled to coincide with the Mongolian National Book Fair mid November this year. Following the on-site training and introduction of DAISY, additional training and support will be provided through Internet seminars for the 21 aimag library centers and the more than 300 county libraries. At the present time none of the rural libraries has accessible books in their collections.
Emerging technologies can 'open or close doors' for people with disabilities. Recently the US Departments of Justice and Education sent a joint letter to college and university presidents across the country. The focus of the letter was electronic book readers and accessibility. These departments share responsibility for protecting the rights of college and university students with disabilities.
The letter opens with the following statement:
We write to express concern on the part of the Department of Justice and the Department of Education that colleges and universities are using electronic book readers that are not accessible to students who are blind or have low vision and to seek your help in ensuring that this emerging technology is used in classroom settings in a manner that is permissible under federal law. A serious problem with some of these devices is that they lack an accessible text-to-speech function.
This is not a new issue in the USA, but this letter is significant as it outlines the legal obligations of post secondary institutes to ensure that the technologies employed must meet the requirements of the law. Further in the letter it states:
As officials of the agencies charged with enforcement and interpretation of the ADA and Section 504, we ask that you take steps to ensure that your college or university refrains from requiring the use of any electronic book reader, or other similar technology, in a teaching or classroom environment as long as the device remains inaccessible to individuals who are blind or have low vision. It is unacceptable for universities to use emerging technology without insisting that this technology be accessible to all students.
The article Blinding Technology of Online Learning was published August 23 in "Inside Higher Ed News". The issues of both the online learning-management platform and the content used in online courses are examined. The letter sent to the college and university presidents is referenced, and it is noted that online education is not explicitly addressed. However, the problem of the rate of technological advancement and the difficulties which assistive technology providers and students who are blind or have low vision have in trying to keep up with this pace is clearly outlined.
When post secondary institutions use or require the use of these emerging technologies, both the e-readers and the content must also be accessible, one without the other will not meet the needs of these students.
Countries which have signed and ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities may wish to review the position of the Departments of Justice and Education in the USA and develop similar approaches and policies in their respective countries.
Would it not be easier, less expensive and better for everyone, everywhere, if accessibility were built in from the start?
The 2010 National e-Content and ICT for Development Award was the first national award of its kind in Bangladesh. There were 93 candidates in 15 categories; 48 candidates were short listed. Organized by D.Net (Development Research Network) and hosted by the Ministry of Science and ICT, the primary purpose of the award is to recognize and honour information and communication technology (ICT), and e-Content innovations, applications, and initiatives. The contest was open to companies, non-profit organizations and individuals from Bangladesh.
Measures supporting integration of the global information society; bringing least developed countries into the knowledge society; reducing digital divides between technology-empowered and technology-excluded communities and groups such as rural areas and women; bridging society and strengthening social and political participation of individuals and groups through ICTs.
On August 10 the Daily Star reported that YPSA was awarded the "top prize" for DAISY for All in the e-Inclusion and Participation category.
YPSA also received the Special Mention award in the e-Enterprise and Livelihood category for its Ship Breaking in Bangladesh web portal. Shipbreaking is the process of dismantling an obsolete vessel's structure for scrapping or disposal. The YPSA shipbreaking web portal addresses the many issues that surround this industry. Since early in the 1980's ships have been sent to countries such as India, China, and Bangladesh for dismantling. "Shipbreaking...is of paramount importance to the macro and micro economies of poverty stricken Bangladesh. Shipbreaking activities present both challenges and opportunities for our coastal zone management. Meeting the increasing demand for raw materials such as steel needs to be balanced with the negative impact this activity is having on our coastal environment and the conditions of the workers." The steel which makes up about 95% of a ship's mass is sold and reused.
The awards were presented at the National Museum in Dhaka on August 9. Vashkar Bhattacharjee, Senior Program Officer and Focal Point person of DAISY Bangladesh accepted the "champion" award for DAISY on behalf of YPSA. Nazmul Haider, Senior program officer for YPSA accepted the Special Mention award for the Ship Breaking web portal.
The Daily Star published a follow-up article National e-content and ICT4D Award 2010 winner: DAISY makes disabilities not so challenging on August 27 about YPSA's DAISY library.
Winners of the e-Content and ICT for Development Award are eligible for the 2011 World Summit Award. "The World Summit Award (WSA) is a global activity to select and promote the world's best e-Content and most innovative ICT applications. It offers a worldwide platform for all who value the creative use of ICTs and who are committed to making today's information society more inclusive." The 2010 National e-Content and ICT for Development Award contest is endorsed by the WSA.
The National Federation of the Blind (NFB) "Youth Slam will be a five-day, interactive science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) academy designed to empower blind high school students to explore STEM subjects and demonstrate that the blind can participate in the same fields as their sighted peers." NFB's Youth Slam is entered in the Pepsi Refresh Project - a project with grants of $250,000 to be awarded.
The goals of Youth Slam are to:
Winners of the grants are determined by total number of votes received. Voting continues through September. The two projects receiving the greatest number of votes each month are awarded $250,000. The top 100 projects for each month are moved to the list of projects for the following month. The NFB Youth Slam project is currently at number 16 and in an excellent position to receive the grant for September.
There are three ways to vote and you can vote every day for the NFB Youth Slam project which promotes equality in the classroom. When voting for the first time you will be prompted to either sign in with Pepsi or login using a Facebook account:
Note: Both visual and audio "captchas" are provided.
A video of interviews with students and staff involved in a variety of the program's activities is also included on the NFB-Youth Slam/Pepsi Refresh Project page. It demonstrates how important and perhaps even life-changing participation in the program can be for high school students who are blind.
Submitted by Varju Luceno
Zürich has much to offer all of its visitors – traders, history buffs, outdoor enthusiasts, and friends of culture and architecture who come from all over the world. It is famous for its banks and it is home to the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH). Among other great libraries, Zürich houses the Swiss Library for the Blind and Visually Impaired (SBS) – one of the six members of the Swiss DAISY Consortium.
I had the pleasure of meeting some of their hard working staff members in June and had an opportunity to take a tour of their well-equipped facility. A cup of good Swiss coffee and the beautiful view from the SBS roof-top cafeteria wiped away my jetlag.
SBS has been making information accessible for blind and visually impaired people for over 25 years. They procure and produce audio books, eBooks, Braille and Large print books, music and tactile games and make them available free of charge to their patrons. The Library produces about 300 audio books, 70,000 pages in Braille and 30,000 pages of large print (books and magazines) per year. About 40,000 titles are currently available in their catalog. SBS is continuously working to expand and improve their collection.
The audio book studio at SBS produces books on-demand by orders received from SBS patrons and third parties. Their production includes all genres of fiction, textbooks, educational materials, reference books and technical literature as well as periodicals. DAISY books are recorded and distributed in DAISY 2.02 format. The studio employs over 70 trained narrators who produce about 5,000 hours of voice recordings per year.
I saw several talented narrators at work and followed their recording progress on a computer screen. In another department I was reminded once again of what a precise and challenging process it can be to transcribe a printed school textbook along with its tests and images into accessible formats. It was a great learning experience to witness the efficient and well-managed DAISY book production at SBS. I also learned that returned CDs with DAISY books are collected and recycled.
To finance their operations, including the creation and distribution of accessible reading materials, SBS relies upon subsidies from public authorities and private donations. They reach book lovers through creative, targeted advertising, for example, people are given an opportunity to sponsor the production of a book production in an accessible format. I was able to see a number of the wonderfully designed books and CDs that have helped SBS continue to fulfill their mission.
Thank you Bernhard Heinser for organizing the tour. I would also like to thank Ilona Koch and Johannes Joos for their warm welcome.
Thanks go to Varju Luceno, Communications & Marketing Specialist for the DAISY Consortium, for submitting this article for publication in the DAISY Planet Newsletter.
This is just to let you know that I installed the old LpStudio/Pro , version 1.6.3 from the DAISY Consortium on a new Windows 7, 64 bit edition, and it is working without any problems - as it did with all the previous version of the Windows OS from W98.
There's not much software in this world that will do this out of-the box and unchanged.
I think it is fair to congratulate both the ordering party and the developing party on this.
My congratulations and my best wishes to all of you who were involved,
Med venlig hilsen/Regards,
Editor's Note: Version 1.6.3 (the final version of LpStudio/Pro) was released in early 2003. Members of the DAISY Consortium developed the requirements (a complex and time consuming process, as organizations had a wide variety of production tool needs), tested & and retested the software, and submitted bug reports. The company that developed this software was Labyrinten DATA AB which was later acquired by Dolphin Computer Access Limited (a long time Friend of the DAISY Consortium).
We are considering to establish a National Library for blind in Slovenia and becoming an Associate Member of the DAISY Consortium. May I kindly ask if you could please estimate the costs (beside the fee) that one should have after joining your Consortium? For example, do we need some special computers or
equipment and what's the cost of training?
We're looking forward to your reply.
With best regards,
Library System Development Centre,
National and University Library,
Your organization is most likely eligible to join the DAISY Consortium as an Associate Member. Associate Members may join at any time during the calendar year and are eligible to receive DAISY training at discounted prices as well as free licenses to the DAISY production software Sigtuna DAR 3, MyStudio PC and LP/Studio Pro. These software tools were developed by the Consortium and our members for use by our member organizations. Two other DAISY authoring tools, Obi (for audio with structure DAISY books) and Tobi which is still under development and is used to create full text with audio DAISY books, are available freely to everyone.
Standard PCs can be used with DAISY production software, but you will need to install it. Special software is also required to play back DAISY books on a computer. Information about commercial DAISY software players and AMIS, the free, open source DAISY playback software developed by the DAISY Consortium, is available on the DAISY website. Information about DAISY hardware players is also provided.
The Associate Member Fee, per year, is USD $2,894.00 Additional information about how to join can be found on the DAISY website in the Get Involved area.
The DAISY Consortium can provide on-site training. Information about training costs and consulting services is provided on the DAISY website in the Training & Support area. Costs are based on a single trainer. An equipment set up day and two days for travel would be included in the figure as would hotel cost, airfare, per diem and trainer cost.
Feel free to contact us for any further clarification or information about training, equipment and software requirements.
Hope this helps. Thank you for your interest in DAISY!
Editor's Note: DAISY Consortium Member organizations benefit from a discount system based on the World Bank Classification (income per capita), for training costs as well as for membership fees. Note also that support and advice can be provided via email, the DAISY forums, email lists, and by phone and SKYPE.
• DAISY was in the spotlight at the IFLA World Library and Information Congress held 10-15 August 10-15 in Gothenburg, Sweden – Library Services to People with Special Needs and Libraries Serving Persons with Print Disabilities joint session: "The right to read – How to include excluded citizens in the knowledge society?" Margaret McGrory, DAISY Board member for the Canadian DAISY Consortium presented "The Global Accessible Library – the work so far", representing the DAISY/IFLA Global Accessible Library initiative. Members of the "Panel Session on the Right to Read" included Ellen Tise – IFLA President, Julie Rae – DAISY Board member for Vision Australia, and Hiroshi Kawamura – President of the DAISY Consortium. Two presentations at the IFLA preconference are of particular interest: Why is DAISY fulltext valuable to print-disabled readers? by Miriam E. Nes Begnum of MediaLT and DAISY fulltext audio books by Pål Hals of the Norwegian Library of Talking Books and Braille (a member of the Norwegian DAISY Consortium).
• DAISY makes it into USA Today: Millons of Books Get Digitized for the Disabled "The Internet Archive began scanning books in 2004 and now has more than 1 million available in DAISY format, or Digital Accessible Information System, a means of creating "talking" books that can be downloaded to a handheld device. Unlike books on tape, the digital format makes it easier for print-disabled people to navigate books..."
• The BBC News article Technology gets disabled-friendly is subtitled "Manufacturers of handheld devices seem to be more eager to accommodate customers with various disabilities - particularly those with impaired vision". The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), Olympus, CodeFactory and the DAISY Standard are featured in the article. A video taken at the Techshare Mobile Exhibition in Birmingham provides a 'snapshot' of some of the handheld devices.
• The Association for the Blind of Western Australia and Curtin University of Technology announced the availability of DaisyWorm, a DAISY reader application for the Apple iPhone supporting DAISY 2.02, and DAISY 3 formats. DaisyWorm will play non-protected full audio and full text/full audio DAISY books on the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. Additional information is available on the BAT Channel and the iTunes store (where it can be purchased and downloaded).
• In July the India Chapter of Bookshare held a workshop at the National Association for the Blind (NAB) premises in New Delhi. The main objectives of the workshop were to: 1/ introduce the Bookshare library to members and those who wish to join, 2/ introduce them to the latest reading options available, 3/ introduce them to the interface of the Bookshare.org website, 4/ explain how books are downloaded from the Bookshare library, 5/ provide information about various software and hardware playback options for Bookshare books, and 6/ to answer their questions about Bookshare.
Similar workshops were held in June in Bangalore and Madurai. Additional workshops are being planned for other parts of India.
• ArteConTacto Kunstvermittlung – Accessibility for the Visually Impaired – guide in DAISY. ArteConTacto's mission is to provide access for the visually impaired to permanent and temporary art exhibitions. The MUSA (Museum on Demand) program is available for download as a DAISY book (in German) from the ArteConTacto website.
• The Holy Bible – New Testament – Part Ia Gospel According to Mathew is available in Tamil from Bookshare. It was submitted to the Bookshare library by Worth Trust.
• How to Create a DAISY Project - A Guide is available on the RoboBraille website. RoboBraille, an e-mail service which converts digital text documents into braille or audio files, was developed by Sensus Aps and Synscenter Refsnæs.
• The article The ABCs of E-Reading: New Devices Are Changing Habits. People Are Reading More, Even While in a Kayak, published in the Wall Street Journal provides some interesting data on e-readers. "A study of 1,200 e-reader owners by Marketing and Research Resources Inc. found that 40% said they now read more than they did with print books..."
• The 26th CSUN Conference will be held March 14-19, 2011 at the Manchester Grand Hyatt Hotel, San Diego, California. The Call for Papers begins Wednesday, September 1 and closes Wednesday, October 13. Full details are provided on the 2011 CSUN Conference website.
• Earlier this month the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (K.U.Leuven) released odt2braille, an extension for the OpenOffice.org office suite that enables users to save documents as braille or to send them directly to a Braille embosser. Details are provided in the official press release. This open source, freeware extension can be downloaded from the sourceforge odt2braille webpage.
An inquiry recently posted to one of the DAISY technical lists asked for information about XML editors that are accessible for people who are blind and which can validate against an xsd or rng schema, and are extensible. It was also noted that the organization is moving its braille production to a work flow centered around DTBook XML and that oXygen is used by some folks at the DAISY Consortium.
Some of the input received was as follows:
• The oXygen plugin for the Eclipse IDE editor is accessible. Install Eclipse and then the oXygen plugin. I use it with JAWS and it seems to work fine. I have found that all the features and plug-ins for Eclipse under Windows and Linux, using Orca, are accessible. It's a great tool and has a lot of nice features for development in a variety of languages and platforms.
• oXygen is available both as a standalone application and as a plugin for Eclipse. Both alternatives may not have the exact same accessibility features.
• Visual studio has a very accessible xml editor. I have been using it for a while now with JAWS. Another xml tool I have found very beneficial is Trang by James Clark. It can convert from dtds to xsds, Relax ng schemas to xsds. For those of us who like authoring schemas in Relax ng, this tool can readily convert these schemas to xsds -- Xsd being the schema language more widely supported across the Microsoft developer frameworks.
• I use nxml-mode in Emacs with Emacspeak. Gives you on the fly validation, syntax coloring with Aural CSS-based audio-formatting to indicate various features, incremental tab completion, and the works.
There were a couple of responses which stated that oXygen was not accessible with VoiceOver on the Mac. For clarification the company was notified. Their response was: "oXygen is accessible on Mac OS X but not fully accessible. For details about the accessibility level of oXygen please see the Voluntary Product Accessibility Template on the oXygen website. The accessibility level of the oXygen Eclipse plugin may differ from that of the standalone application because it has a completely different GUI implementation. We use Java/SWT for the Eclipse plugin and Java/Swing for the standalone version."
If you have additional information about accessible XML Editors, please post it on the DAISY General Forum or send us the details using the DAISY Contact Us form so that it can be shared with the DAISY community. Thanks to everyone on the DAISY Technical Developments list for their prompt responses, and in particular to those who gave permission to publish their input in the DAISY Planet.