The DAISY Consortium's Newsletter - September 2010

From The Editor

The announcement about the new Bookshare International partnerships linked to from this month's Hot Off the Press is something many, many people have been awaiting. A new Bookshare publishing partnership was also announced this week. The University of British Columbia Press has become the first Canadian publisher to partner with Bookshare, and they have granted world rights to their entire collection. UBC Press books will be available to Canadian and worldwide Bookshare members. Publishers which partner with Bookshare providing world rights are helping to put accessible publications in DAISY 3 text-only and electronic braille (BRF) formats in the hands of people with print disabilities in a growing number of countries around the world. I applaud Bookshare and these publishers.

The European Union Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), outlined in the article European Union Enables Cross-Border Exchange, is wonderful news for people with print disabilities in EU countries. The MoU incorporates the Trusted Intermediary approach and will be closely monitored. This is most definitely a step in the right direction however the proposed WIPO Treaty for Improved Access for Blind, Visually Impaired and other Reading Disabled Persons, if passed, would enable the cross-border import and export of accessible publications around the world – and that is what the DAISY Consortium and its membership are working toward. The WIPO Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights: Twenty-First Session (SCCR/21) will be held November 8 - 12, 2010 in Geneva. Limitations and exceptions are on the agenda once again. I hope to be able to report a positive outcome from this meeting in the November DAISY Planet.

On September 20, WIPO launched WIPO Lex, a search facility for national laws and treaties on intellectual property (IP) of WIPO, WTO and UN Members. This on-line global IP reference resource provides up-to-date information on national IP laws and treaties. Those who are keenly interested in copyright issues and laws around the world may find this resource informative and useful.

As previously reported, a series of DAISY and related meetings will be held in New Delhi, India, in October. A WIPO Stakeholders Platform meeting will precede the DAISY Board Meeting and Annual General Meeting, which will of course be followed by the DAISY Technical Conference. I wish everyone attending one or more of these meetings a safe journey and productive stay with positive outcomes.

I've noticed that quite a number of our Members and Friends have mentioned the DAISY Consortium and/or DAISY books on their website, sometimes providing a link to the DAISY site. For example gh, LLC, a DAISY Friend, lists the DAISY Consortium as one of its three "Industry Associates and Affiliations". IVONA, a relatively new DAISY Friend, acknowledges its "partnership" with the DAISY Consortium, and includes the DAISY logo. Others such as RNIB (a Full Member of the Consortium) have devoted an area of their website to provide information about DAISY. It would be wonderful if all of our Members and Friends acknowledged DAISY on their websites. There are over 100 organizations, companies and individuals belonging to our Consortium. Bringing the benefits of the DAISY Standards, DAISY formatted publications and/or DAISY reading systems to the attention of even larger audiences (and in their native language) will help to further promote DAISY worldwide.

This month's Your Story is from Kathy Nimmer, an author and teacher whose story is uplifting. I am hoping that young authors who are blind or have a print disability will read it and be encouraged, perhaps even inspired. Thank you Kathy for sharing your story with us.

Some of you may have noticed that the DAISY Planet Newsletter box on the DAISY homepage never displays more than four links to the articles in that issue, regardless of the number of articles present. Some of you may not, and I thought it might therefore be wise to mention it. When the current issue is selected or when the page with previous issues is opened, links to all of the feature articles will display.

Is there something in this issue of the DAISY Planet or in earlier issues that you either agree or disagree with strongly? Share your thoughts about these issues or other DAISY-related issues with the worldwide DAISY Planet readership by contacting me directly by email or by using the Contact Us form (Newsletter category). Articles and suggestions for articles are always welcome, as are Letters to the Editor.

Lynn Leith

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

"End the information deprivation" - Stevie Wonder

United Nations Messenger of Peace: a Call to Action

Musician Stevie Wonder (left) gives UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon a special handshake following his United Nations Messenger of Peace induction ceremony, December 3, 2009. Source: UN NEWS & MEDIA, UN Photo website In December 2009 Stevie Wonder, well-known singer and songwriter, was inducted as a United Nations Messenger of Peace – there are only twelve people in the world who currently hold this distinguished title. Each Messenger of Peace has a different focus, for example combating poverty, disarmament, conservation and the environment. In his role as UN Messenger for Peace focused on disability issues, Wonder was invited by Francis Gurry, WIPO Director General to speak at the opening of the annual meetings of WIPO Assemblies on September 20. The subject of that speech was access to information for people who have a print disability and the cross-border exchange of published works to facilitate that access.

"Declaration of Freedom for People with Disabilities"

Wonder told the world leaders that they "can turn inaction into action and dreams into reality". He stated early on that his "mission is to bring hope and light to the millions around the world who live with disabilities, and specifically today those like me who are blind or visually impaired." At several points during the speech the critical need for the "tools" necessary to learn and to grow was stressed – the tools being referred to are of course books, published works, information that is rarely available in an accessible format in its original published format. Wonder spoke not only of the information needs of people who are "blind or visually impaired"; people with other disabilities which prevent them from accessing most commercial publications were included as part of the very large group worldwide that requires access to information.

He had done his homework – he knows about the various proposals which have been put forward as approaches to address the need for international exchange of accessible publications. Wonder mentioned the four proposed solutions:

Stevie Wonder speaking at the opening of the annual meetings of WIPO Assemblies on September 20, 2010. Source: UN NEWS & MEDIA, UN Photo website He told the group of world leaders that the proposals are all different in terms of how they plan to address the cross-border transfer of information and the development of a protocol, and yet at the same time respect the rights of those involved.

"While I know that it is critical not to act to the detriment of the authors who labor to create the great works that enlighten and nourish our minds, hearts and souls, we must develop a protocol that allows the easy import and export of copyright materials so that people with print disabilities can join the mainstream of the literate world."

Wonder asked that the leaders work toward a consensus, that they "put ideological differences aside and come up with a practical solution". He challenged the delegates to bring to conclusion an agreement on improved accessibility to copyright protected works by visually impaired persons within a year:

"It can be done. We have the greatest minds in the world right here in this room. Please work it out, or I will have to write a song about what you didn't do."

That statement was said with humour, but the issue is critical. Wonder had earlier asked those present to join his "declaration of freedom for the many print disabled and visually impaired by giving them the tools which to see their way out of poverty and the darkness that is created when the mind has not access to something as simple and as powerful as a book."

Paul Schroeder, the Vice President of Programs and Policy at the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) was interviewed in the New Yorker article Stevie Wonder and Books for the Blind. In response to the question "Are Stevie Wonder's statements on Monday in line with what your organization hopes to see?" Schroeder replied:

"We definitely want to see a treaty or other mechanism that allows books to be shared across borders for use by people with print disabilities. There is a real crisis in access to reading material, both new and old, and it's especially traumatic for people in the developing world."

This is simply an issue of access to information, the right to information access, but the nature of international copyright and exchange of publications across borders is complex. Information about copyright, WIPO and efforts to bring about information access for all people with a print disability is available in numerous earlier issues of the DAISY Planet newsletter.

Sources for this article include WIPO News & Events: Stevie Wonder calls for International Action to Enhance Accessibility for Visually Impaired Persons, New Yorker: Stevie Wonder and Books for the Blind, and AccessTech News: Stevie Wonder Strikes Chord in UN Appeal for Disabled. Wonder's speech is available in the New Yorker article Stevie Wonder and Books for the Blind. It is also available on the WIPO website (note: it opens with a WIPO webcast screen, with no audio, that lasts for about 5 seconds, then the video begins).

European Union Enables Cross-Border Exchange

"the same books at the same time and at the same price"

"Today's agreement shows what Europe truly stands for: an Internal Market that not only promotes culture but also caters for the needs of people with special needs or disabilities… It is important that visually impaired citizens, can have access to the same books at the same time and at the same price [as] all other citizens." This statement (which closely resembles the WBU Right to Read Campaign slogan and is similar to the DAISY Consortium's Vision statement) was made by Commissioner Michel Barnier at the signing ceremony for the European Commission Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on access to works for dyslexic or visually impaired readers. It is explained in the Europa press release of September 14, Copyright: Commissioner Barnier welcomes agreement on greater access to books for the visually impaired that the MoU will address the problems with cross-border exchange of accessible publications with "a system of distribution through Trusted Intermediaries" (institutions such as associations for the blind, libraries and special schools).

The MoU which was developed and signed by representatives of the European publishing industry and organizations representing people with print disabilities opens with a summary list of what has been agreed to by the signatories:

Under the MoU, people with a print disability who are registered with a Trusted Intermediary will be able to access books from the EU countries.

The European Commission Green Paper Copyright in the Knowledge Economy and the primary problems which were identified in the public consultation responses provided the foundation for the MoU. One of the main issues which came to the forefront was the lack of cross-border exchange of accessible (special format) works. Exceptions to copyright for individuals who have a visual disability or are dyslexic exist in all EU Member States however, there are variations in the exceptions which stand in the way of cross-border distribution.

As a result an EU stakeholder dialogue group was establish by the European Commission in 2009 to bring together concerned parties from the technology sector, publishers, writers, collecting societies, libraries and representatives of the European Commission. The MoU which was signed September 14 is a result of their collaborative efforts.

The groups and organizations which have signed the MoU will monitor its progress and will provide an implementation report after the first year to ensure its success. Additional information is available on the European Commission: Copyright in the Information Society website page.

DAISYpedia: Share Your Knowledge

Phase 2 Launched

Since the DAISY Planet article DAISYpedia: Phase 1 is Live – Out with the Old, in with the New was published in May, efforts have been concentrated on developing and implementing Phase 2. It was explained in the article that in order for this information resource to remain relevant and meaningful, contributions from the DAISY community would be vital. Your opportunity to keep DAISYpedia alive and growing has arrived with the launch of Phase 2.

Earlier this month an email was sent to the DAISY Training & Support list and the Technical Developments list announcing that it is now possible to become a DAISYpedia Editor, to contribute content as well as edit existing articles. The introductory paragraph summarized what DAISYpedia is: "DAISYpedia is an information resource designed to assist with and support the implementation of the DAISY Standards worldwide. It is also an online how-to guide offering articles, step-by-step instructions and training materials on creating and reading publications in DAISY format."

Three of the links at the left of the DAISYpedia homepage will be of particular interest to those who wish to share their knowledge: Article Submission Guidelines, Become a DAISYpedia Editor, and DAISYpedia To-Do List which includes a link to the list of articles which have been requested by DAISYpedia users. Articles are not limited to those which have been requested. All new submissions and edits to existing articles will be reviewed and published by a member of the DAISY Training and Support staff team.

DAISYpedia is already being promoted in the September Swedish DAISY Consortium Newsletter as DAISYpedia - all in one place and the Open University in the UK has included a link to DAISYpedia from the Disabled Student Services area of their website. One of the replies to the DAISYpedia announcement that went out to the DAISY lists was from Shakila Maharaj who works with Disability Management Services (DMS) in Durban South Africa: "This is an excellent development. It is exactly the resource I had hoped for. I can see it adding great value in equipping us." Wikis are not new, but a wiki that specifically addresses the many and sometimes complex issues that surround DAISY publishing and reading is (Kathy Kahl, Information Systems Engineer for the DAISY Consortium first suggested the name "DAISYpedia" in 2007).

Development of DAISYpedia continues, with features such as image auto-sizing planned. Please use the DAISY Contact Us form (DAISYpedia & Training Courses category) to provide comments, suggestions and input.

Help us to ensure that DAISYpedia meets the expectations and DAISY information needs of people around the globe. It is time to share your knowledge with the wider, international DAISY community – apply to Become a DAISYpedia Editor.

Dorina Nowill: 1919 - 2010

One of the Top 100 Most Influential Brazilians in 2009

A recent photograph of Dorina Nowill Dorina was born in Sao Paulo, the largest city in Brazil. At the age of 17 she contracted an eye infection which left her blind. She was the first blind student to attend regular classes at the Ecole Normale Caetano de Campos, in Sao Paulo, graduating as a teacher. With a scholarship from a foundation which focused on the education and rehabilitation of people who were blind, Dorina continued her education at Columbia University in the United States where she met Edward Hubert Alexander Nowill who she would later marry.

Mrs. Nowill was well aware that there was a severe shortage of braille books in Brazil. In 1946 she and a number of associates established the Foundation for the Book for Blind in Brazil, which was later renamed the Dorina Nowill Foundation for the Blind, in recognition of a lifetime dedicated to the inclusion of people who are blind or have a visual disability.

During her more than 60 year career with the Foundation she was president of the World Council for the Welfare of the Blind (now the World Blind Union - WBU), received numerous awards and national and international medals. She had five children, twelve grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

Mrs. Nowill passed away at the age of 91, leaving a legacy of perseverance, compassion and patience.

The Dorina Nowill Foundation for the Blind is a member of the DAISY Latino Group.

EPUB and Accessibility

Prepared by George Kerscher, Secretary General of the DAISY Consortium & President of the IDPF, with input from Varju Luceno and Lynn Leith

Millions of EPUB publications have become available in the last few years with more titles than a blind person 25 years ago would have ever dreamed. The addition of EPUB support in accessible eBook readers provides visually impaired readers with immediate access to the growing eBook market. For print disabled readers electronic books are a necessity since printed publications are simply not accessible. Print-disabled readers can now open any unprotected EPUB book and experience their preferred combination of audio and highlighted text.

From a pure accessibility perspective, EPUB borrows heavily from the DAISY Standards and W3C & Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) specifications. The text must be present for presentation through synthetic speech, refreshable braille displays, and enlarged character display. Every person over 50 enjoys the benefit of increasing the font size and most systems support sizes that legally blind people can use. Using assistive technology, such as a screen reader, Text-To-Speech (TTS) and refreshable braille can be supported.

EPUB logo All of the features we are beginning to see in EPUB reading systems have been part of DAISY readers for more than a decade. It is wonderful to see accessible features working their way into the mainstream.

Currently, both the DAISY Standard and the EPUB Standard are under revision. Accessibility in EPUB 3 is front and center. The DAISY Consortium is not only participating in the revision of the EPUB Standard, it is leading the process. Accessibility will therefore be woven into the fabric of the EPUB Standard, benefitting both mainstream readers and those who require accessible reading materials.

MathML 3: W3C Proposed Recommendation

Mathematical Markup Language (MathML) Version 3.0 is under review by the W3C Advisory Committee for endorsement as a W3C Recommendation. This new specification was moved to "Proposed Recommendation" status on August 10; endorsement is expected in the very near future. MathML is an XML application for describing mathematical notation, capturing both its structure and content.

MathML3 includes numerous improvements over MathML 2, particularly in relation to accessibility. The handling of elementary mathematical expressions has been vastly improved. There is also improved support for bi-directional mathematical expressions.

The accessibility community (particularly DAISY Member organizations) has provided voting support for MathML 3. MathML vocabulary which has been incorporated into the DAISY 3 Standard has proven to be very effective for middle and upper level math and science.

A video of MathPlayer from Design Science Inc. 'speaking' elementary math expressions provides an excellent demonstration of the power of MathML 3. Design Science Inc. is a Friend of the DAISY Consortium.

Letters to the Editor

Dear Lynn and Dear Varju,

What a big, and lovely surprise to see an article about SBS in the DAISY Planet! It is a pleasure to read something about our organisation in your Newsletter. Thank you very much to both of you, Varju for writing the article und Lynn for publishing it in the DAISY Planet. Many thanks! Varju, I am sorry we could not meet during your stopover in Zurich. I hope we will meet soon.

Thanks again!
Kind regards,

Flavia Kippele

Editor's Note: Dr. Flavia Kippele is Director of the Swiss Library for the Blind (SBS) and is the DAISY Board representative for the Swiss DAISY Consortium.


Running DAISY books on mobile telephones and devices is something I think many users would like to be updated on. I've found iPhone has two applications for DAISY (full text) books. What about the other brands, like Samsung, Nokia, Sony etc? Or are there applications available independent of formats?

I'm not sure where I would expect to find such information. Would it be in the Marketplace section or an article and updates in the DAISY Planet Newsletter?

With the mobile phone as a new and growing platform of playing DAISY, focusing information on the issue should be of great help for many potential users.

Hope to read more about it on the DAISY pages soon :)
H. H.,


Dear H.H.

Information related to the Tools and Services developed by our Friends and Members is provide in the Tools and Services section of the DAISY website. New tools and services as well as updates to existing tools will be posted in the DAISY Marketplace (on our homepage and in the DAISY Planet).

Mobile DAISY Player developed by Code Factory for Symbian phones may be of interest to you. More information is available on the Code Factory website. Nuance Daisy2Go (a part of the Nuance Accessibility Suite) from Nuance Communications may also be of interest. Additional information is provided on the Nuance Communications website.

At the present time mobile DAISY applications are included in the Software Players section of our Tools and Services area. We are considering adding another section specifically for mobile DAISY applications and will continue to add new tools and services to this important area of our website as they become available.

The article DAISY Books on Mobile Phones has just been added to the Reading the DAISY Way articles in DAISYpedia.

For information about how to contribute to DAISYpedia see the article DAISYpedia: Share Your Knowledge in this issue of the DAISY Planet.

Bits & Pieces

O'Reilly ebook bundles now include DAISY talking book format. "Although the DRM-free EPUB files in our ebook bundles are compatible with many reading systems for print disabled customers, many readers prefer the DAISY format that Bookshare provides, and either don't qualify for access via Bookshare, or would prefer to pay for the ebooks. Through a collaboration with Bookshare, today we've started making DAISY files available within our ebook bundles on for more than 800 titles…Our mission at O'Reilly is to change the world by spreading the knowledge of innovators, and making our books available in accessible DAISY format helps us accomplish that mission." Bookshare is a Benetech initiative – Benetech is a Full Member of the DAISY Consortium.

• A new YouTube AMIS DAISY Player Demo video is now available. There is also a YouTube video about AMIS in Spanish AMIS - Lector de libros audibles DAISY libre de costo y altamente funcional. AMIS is the open source DAISY player developed by the DAISY Consortium.

DAISY Public Domain Books are available for download from Associated Services for the Blind & Visually Impaired (ASB). Their accessible books are available for downloads worldwide. The ASB DAISY books are converted from public domain English books. To download ASB books you must be an ASB member and provide "proof of a visual impairment".

• AHEAD 2011 – Call for Proposals for the Association on Higher Education And Disability 34th Annual Conference is open until October 25. AHEAD 2011: Sustainable Access through Partnership will be held July 11 - 16, 2011 at the Washington Convention Center in Seattle, Washington, USA.

• The official website of the World Congress Braille21 was launched this month. The site is available in English, German, French and Spanish. This conference will take place September 27 - 30, 2011, in Leipzig, Germany.

• The RFB&D blog post Hope and Healing is about a young U.S. Army Sgt., Joel Tavera, who was seriously injured in Iraq. Joel is now blind. "Hope and Healing" is about Joel's introduction to the Plextor Pocket and RFB&D DAISY books. RFB&D is a Full Member of the DAISY Consortium.

Open University in the UK uses multiple approaches to create DAISY formatted books, including conversion of their audio cassette books and their pre-existing digital recordings, conversion of PDF material by external suppliers, creation of new DAISY DTBs importing XML-based documents using a conversion tool, and production of new content with human narration (volunteers) in the OU Audio Recording Centre. The type of DAISY DTB produced, full-text with audio or audio with structure, is dependent upon the content conversion or creation method. The OU Open Links newsletter is available in DAISY and PDF formats. Open University is an Associate Member of the DAISY Consortium.

• IDPF eBook sales statistics for July showed the highest reported trade sales for a single month thus far (the previous monthly high was $31.9 million) with trade eBook sales totaling $40,800,000 for the month, a 150.2% increase over July 2009 ($16,300,000). The statistics, historical data and additional information are available on the IDPF website.

• It was reported in the Vision Australia Newspapers Service that Vision Australia now offers over 190 Australian newspapers in accessible formats (including DAISY) to its members. Vision Australia is a Full Member of the DAISY Consortium.

Tech Tips

Question: Is there a tool available (preferably free software) to produce a DAISY book starting from a set of MP3 files?

Answer: Most of the DAISY audio recording tools will allow you to do this. There is manual work involved. For DAISY 2.02 format, you could use MyStudio PC. For DAISY 2.02 and DAISY 3 you could use Obi or Dolphin Publisher. Obi is an open source development of the DAISY Consortium and is available at no cost. MyStudio PC is available to DAISY Members at no cost. Dolphin Publisher is a commercially available DAISY production tool. There is also an Audacity to DAISY transformer in the DAISY Pipeline that supports this, however manual work is still required.

Editor's Note: this inquiry was submitted to one of the DAISY technical lists. The information in the answer was provided by members of that list. Permission to publish the question was requested and granted. Thanks to the DAISY membership for providing knowledgeable, ongoing support to those who submit inquiries to our lists. If you know of other tools which support this conversion (MP3 to DAISY) please post the information to the DAISY general forum so that it is available to other members of the DAISY community. Alternatively you may use the DAISY Contact Us form (Newsletter category) so that the information can be published in the DAISY Planet. An article on this topic would also be an excellent addition to DAISYpedia (see the article DAISYpedia: Share Your Knowledge in this issue of the DAISY Planet for more details about this DAISY information resource).