As many of you know, the DAISY Standard is in the revision process; the revised Standard will be made up of two parts: Part A – Authoring and Interchange Framework, and Part B – Distribution Framework. (For an explanation of the division of the Standard into two parts please read the article DAISY Standard: Revision in High Gear in the June 2009 DAISY Planet.) Part B is focused entirely on distribution formats. At the DAISY Consortium Board of Directors meeting held this week in New Delhi India, a decision was made to move forward with a merger of Part B of the DAISY Standard (distribution) and EPUB 3 – the EPUB standard is also under revision. Read EPUB and Accessibility in the September 2010 DAISY Planet and EPUB Standards: Maintenance Begins in the August 2009 Planet for information about DAISY and the EPUB standard. I plan to include an article providing details about this decision in the November DAISY Planet.
The conference Enabling Access to Education through ICT also took place in New Delhi this week. Speakers included Hiroshi Kawamura (DAISY Consortium President), George Kerscher (DAISY SG and President of the IDPF), Prashant Verma (DAISY Consortium Technical Support and Software Testing Consultant), Michael Katzmann (Chief, Materials Development Division for NLS, and DAISY Board member). An article about the conference which actually ends today will be in the next DAISY Planet.
As I mentioned last month, the WIPO Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights: Twenty-First Session (SCCR/21) will be held November 8 - 12, 2010 – Limitations and Exceptions are of course on the agenda. I will be receiving a report on the meeting and outcome, and will be providing you with the details in the November newsletter.
I would like to congratulate Craig Mill and the JISC Regional Support Centre, Scotland North & East for their efforts and tools which support access to information and promote DAISY Consortium open source tools. The clearly written and extremely interesting article Create&Convert: just use it, give it, share it – all for free was submitted by Craig recently for publication in the DAISY Planet. Good luck to JISC with the 2011 BETT Awards.
Details about the newest Obi release candidate are provided in the article Obi 1.2 RC2 – Easy & Accessible DAISY DTB Production. We are asking members of the DAISY Community to provide feedback on RC2 by testing and bug reporting this release candidate. DAISY is about collaboration – please work with our developers and help us to complete the Obi 1.2 release.
Over the years a number of DAISY Friends have shown their support for the DAISY Consortium by providing our developers and communications team members with one or more of their hardware or software tools for demonstration and/or development purposes. Thanks go to the following DAISY Friends for their recent gifts:
The Publisher Accessibility Newsletter, Issue 10, October 2010, is now available. This newsletter is produced quarterly by industry trade bodies and licensing/standards organisations under the umbrella of the 'Accessibility Action Group'. It is both interesting and informative, and is designed to help publishers meet the specific requirements of people with reading impairments. This issue contains numerous updates on activities of DAISY Member organizations and other DAISY-related information. Congratulations to Alicia Wise and Imogen Forbes of the Accessibility Action Group on yet another comprehensive issue of a newsletter that is relevant to commercial publishers and the DAISY community. (Note: Issue 10 is at the bottom of the list at the link. All issues are available in both Word and PDF formats.)
If you are relatively new to DAISY there is a very recent, informative and non-technical Q & blog post, Ask The Expert - DAISY with Andrew Tweedy, that you may find helpful.
In the Letter from the Editor last month I mentioned that some of the DAISY Members and Friends provide information about DAISY on their website and followed this by saying "It would be wonderful if all of our Members and Friends acknowledged DAISY on their websites." I've since found that there are indeed many more of your websites which provide information about DAISY and some are quite extensive. ReadHowYouWant has an area on its site called Learn More About the DAISY Format which goes into much more details than a basic description of DAISY. The Planman Technologies DAISY & Braille page opens with a statement of their commitment to DAISY: "...we actively support the DAISY vision to promote international standards and technologies. We enable equal access to information and knowledge by all people with print disabilities which also benefit the wider community." Thanks to all of our Members and Friends for spreading the word about DAISY and its benefits.
This month's Your Story is from Gerel Dondow who is the CEO of the Mongolian National Federation of the Blind (MNFB). She has successfully faced the challenges she has met, but it has not been an easy path. I have greatly enjoyed working with Gerel on the article Mongolia Discovers DAISY (August 2010 DAISY Planet) and on her story. Thank you Gerel.
It looks as though the November DAISY Planet will be an interesting and information-packed (dare I say exciting) issue. Please send comments about this or previous issues to 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 and Stories.
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.
Submitted by Craig Mill
I work for an organisation which is based in Edinburgh, Scotland and which supports innovation and training in e-learning (the JISC Regional Support Centre, Scotland North & East). A couple of years ago we (the RSC) developed a project which focused on providing portable, open source and free applications to staff and students in colleges and universities throughout Scotland.
As I have a background in assistive technology most of the applications were aimed at supporting learners who have additional support needs such as dyslexia and/or print-impairments. The impetus of the project derived from a Training Needs Analysis survey I undertook in 2007 which revealed that between 2001 and 2006 there had been a 300% increase in students attending colleges in Scotland who identified themselves as being dyslexic. Figures for blind and partially sighted students increased by 33% over a similar period (reference: Scottish Funding Council, Infact Database Training Needs Analysis survey.
While many of the students received a bursary (Disabled Students Allowance - DSA) which provided assistive technology and other aids, a large proportion of students, e.g., part-time or students not in receipt of a DSA, either had to use existing software which was available on the college network (and often patchy), buy their own software, or do without.
With a new name 'AccessApps' and a collection of over 40 portable applications which could be freely downloaded from a secure website, www.eduapps.org, it wasn't long before people were benefitting from the range of applications on offer. AccessApps provided independence for learners, 'power in their pocket' no need to install anything as all the applications ran from their USB stick. Students could move from computer to computer with all their favourite programs – at home, at work, as school, wherever there was a Windows computer.
I never realised just how successful the project would be. In 2008 AccessApps won the Scottish Open Source Awards (education category) and the following year other prestigious awards followed. By now AccessApps had developed into 3 strands 'Eduapps': TeachApps for teachers and lecturers, LearnApps for all learners, and AccessApps. With thousands of downloads from all over the world I was overwhelmed with its success.
Despite its success I was keen to improve AccessApps. I carried out a number of case studies with dyslexic students who had used AccessApps. Much of the students' feedback suggested that while they found AccessApps beneficial, there were simply too many applications to choose from. This resulted in the development of MyStudyBar, a floating toolbar with specific applications to support literacy. MyStudyBar features colour filters to help with light sensitivity, speech-to-text, a talking dictionary, word prediction and more. Within a couple of months the number of downloads exceeded both AccessApps and my own expectations. The idea seemed very simple, a floating toolbar which offered some of the best open source and freeware applications. I then took the same concept and developed 'MyVisBar' for learners with visual difficulties. Again this proved to be very successful.
However, despite the success of EduApps I was conscious that we needed to provide similar tools which addressed and provided support for alternative formats. It was while I was cycling to work that the idea popped into my head. Why not provide a platform which contained all the goodness of the DAISY Consortium with easy-to-follow screencast tutorials, a portable platform which ran from a USB pendrive, which took someone through the stages of creating accessible Word or Open Writer documents to converting them to DAISY digital talking books – from start to finish with everything you required in one place?
Create&Convert was born! It was my greatest challenge to date and one which incredibly labour intensive, but it was and is a labour of love. There is still much to do; the menu/interface is not screen reader accessible, the keyboard navigation needs to be improved and there is no built-in scanner option to scan and OCR documents. I'm by no means a programmer, just someone who wants others to benefit from the great products of DAISY – so if there's anyone reading this article who can improve Create&Convert please let me know.
While I realise there are some great commercial programs available, in times of efficiency savings and economic cuts, many organisations simply can't afford to buy site licences. Create&Convert is therefore intended to promote DAISY to colleges and universities and provide a means whereby staff and students can begin to create accessible documents and convert to other formats with ease. There are two versions of Create&Convert, the Open Writer version which features the odt2daisy, the Export as DAISY-add-in for OpenOffice.org Writer and the odt2braille Add-ins. The Word version features the Save as DAISY - Microsoft Word Add-In. Both versions offer the DAISY Pipeline, and the excellent DAISY production tools, Tobi and Obi. All the screencast tutorials have closed captions and are supplemented with text transcripts both in Word and OpenWriter. Create&Convert also has a download section for additional components such as Direct X and .Net.
I really see Create&Convert as a training and resource tool, something to familiarise people with DAISY. I would like to think that after they've used it a couple of times they would be comfortable with going to the DAISY web site to download updated versions of the various DAISY Consortium software tools that are in Create&Convert.
If you would like to find out more about Create&Convert visit the EduApps site at www.eduapps.org. There is also a link to an audio interview about Create&Convert on the site.
Editor's Note: Many thanks to Craig Mill for writing and submitting this article for publication in the DAISY Planet. A screen cast introduction to Create&Convert is available on the EduApps Create&Convert page. There is also a Contact tab if you wish to get in touch with him. Just prior to publishing this issue of the DAISY Planet I was advised that the JISC Regional Support Centre, Scotland North & East won a Commendation last Friday for MyStudyBar at the Glasgow Herald Digital Awards and that they have been shortlisted for the 2011 BETT Awards in the Special Educational Needs Solutions for MyStudyBar.
MathML 3.0 was published as a W3C Recommendation on October 21 – exactly seven years from the publication the previous MathML Recommendation, MathML 2.0 2nd edition. "MathML is an XML application for describing mathematical notation and capturing both its structure and content. The goal of MathML is to enable mathematics to be served, received, and processed on the World Wide Web, just as HTML has enabled this functionality for text." (MathML 3.0 Specification)
In short, it is a markup language developed specifically by the W3C for mathematical and scientific content. In mathematics, as in text content, there are issues surrounding the 'display/presentation' and the 'meaning/semantics'. In MathML, presentation markup is used to display mathematical expressions while content markup is used to convey mathematical meaning.
"W3C announces today an important standard for making mathematics on the Web more accessible and international, especially for early mathematics education. MathML 3 is the third version of a standard supported in a wide variety of applications including Web pages, e-books, equation editors, publishing systems, screen readers (that read aloud the information on a page) and braille displays, ink input devices, e-learning and computational software." (W3C Press Release, October 21)
MathML 3 introduces new support for the representation of the multitude of diverse notational styles and visual layouts of mathematical operations such as multiplication, long division, subtraction, and addition. The mathematical structure is maintained so that the math problems can be spoken comprehensibly by assistive technology such as screen readers.
Numerous changes and additions have been incorporated into MathML 3. The most notable additions are:
There is greater alignment of MathML with OpenMath which is an extensible standard for representing the semantics (meaning) of mathematical objects. Also of significance is the fact that MathML 3 is a part of HTML 5. A complete list of the additions and changes is available on the Design Science website. Design Science Inc. is a Friend of the DAISY Consortium.
Dr. Neil Soiffer who joined Design Science in 2003 and has worked on math accessibility in their MathPlayer plug-in for Internet Explorer. He was a principal architect of MathML and remains active in the W3C MathML Working Group. In addition Neil chaired the DAISY Consortium Working Group that developed the Specification DAISY 3 Modular Extension for MathML.
"MathML 3 is a wonderful step forward for accessibility because of the added support for elementary math notations. I've put up a demonstration displaying and speaking elementary math on the Design Science website. And, thanks to the contributions from people worldwide, many notations from around the world are now supported, and that is good news for an international organization like the DAISY Consortium." (Neil Soiffer)
George Kerscher, President of the International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF), and Secretary General of the DAISY Consortium, a W3C Member devoted to developing and promoting accessibility standards:
"We've incorporated MathML vocabulary into the DAISY Standard...With MathML 3 support for elementary math notation, materials used to teach math in elementary schools can now be made accessible. This will make production of math faster, cheaper, and better for those with print disabilities." (W3C Press Release)
Mathematics and science are essential in today's world, and having access to mathematical and scientific publications at all levels of education by everyone regardless of ability is critical to learning and knowledge. MathML will be incorporated into the revised DAISY Standard.
Mathematical notation is written right-to-left in some parts of the world, for example, in Arabic text and in other right-to-left languages. With MathML 3 it is possible to encode right-to-left notations in presentation MathML. Some values for handling Arabic characters have also been introduced.
Adil Allawi, Technical Director of Diwan Software Limited, a vendor of Arabic language publishing software:
"We have been working for the past five years converting Arabic school books to electronic documents, but, we have always faced problems with mathematical books which rely on custom layout and fonts...The right-to-left features of MathML 3.0 will make a real difference in the Arab education field. It makes it possible, for the first time, to build standards-based and truly interoperable electronic maths books for students in the Arab countries." (W3C Press Release)
The W3C MathML software list contains information about and links to software that uses MathML. One of the twelve software categories is "Accessibility".
Release Candidate 2 of Obi 1.2, the DAISY Consortium 'audio with structure' DAISY book production tool is now available for download at the bottom of the Obi 1.2 RC2 Wiki page. Obi is an open source development project; the software is released under LGPL license. It is available at no cost and the source code may be run, modified and/or redistributed.
Obi, which is designed to be both accessible and easy to use, can create DAISY 3 (ANSI/NISO Z39.86) and DAISY 2.02 DAISY Digital Talking Books. This release addresses usability issues and bugs reported following the release of version 1.2 - RC1. One of the primary issues that had to be addressed was the handling of large projects, and this release allows content creators to import and author large projects. In addition, GUI performance issues are largely resolved.
There have also been numerous changes to Obi's views, primarily in the Content View. Detailed lists of enhancements in Obi 1.2, plus major bug fixes in RC 1 and RC 2 are available on the Obi Wiki.
Questions and issues can be submitted to the Obi Forum. Instructions for submitting bug reports are provided. Bugs can be reported and suggestions and feedback can be provided by email to obi.feedback(at)gmail.com.
Plans to release Obi 1.2 before the end of 2010 are in place, however, your feedback on RC2 is needed for the Obi development team to move forward to that point effectively. The DAISY Consortium is therefore asking that members of the DAISY Community collaborate in this development through testing and bug reporting.
Congratulations and thanks go to Nick Williamson of the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) who became our first DAISYpedia Editor. He has submitted two articles since becoming a DAISYpedia content creator and editor: DAISY Online Delivery and Difference between DAISY 2/DAISY 2.02 and DAISY 3. Nick was one of the team members who developed the Specification for the DAISY Online Delivery Protocol and was one of the editors of that specification.
Dipendra Manocha who heads up the DAISY Consortium's training and support activities responded to Nick's contribution as follows: "It feels great to be able to get such contributions into DAISYpedia. I sincerely hope that we receive many more." We do however understand that you, the people who make up the DAISY Community, are busy working on and contributing to various projects, and that it can be challenging to commit to one more activity - contributing to DAISYpedia. Nick has made the time to share some of his knowledge about DAISY – please consider sharing the knowledge you have about DAISY through DAISYpedia.
You can use the Contact Us form to get in touch with the DAISYpedia team to let us know if you would like to submit an article via email. You can also apply to become a DAISYpedia Editor. As an editor you will receive a login which gives you access to add new content and edit existing content in DAISYpedia. Your feedback and content contributions are important.
The second Working Draft of the Z39.86 Authoring and Interchange Framework Specification and new documentation are now available. ZedAI is the next generation DAISY XML. It is one of two parts that will compose the next DAISY Standard, also referred to as DAISY 4.
This draft is an iterative release which addresses a number of issues in the ongoing development of the profile catalogues. It is primarily focused on cleaning up markup ambiguities which needed to be addressed from the first release. The addition the description element for accessible descriptions (internally embedded and externally referenced) is one of the main new features. Noteworthy improvements to the core modules include:
A complete list of the specific changes is provided at: Version history of the Z39.86-AI Book profile, Version 0.7.
The ZedAI Working Group asks that reviewers continue to focus on the same aspects detailed in the first Working Draft. This list is available on the ZedAI User Portal.
The release of the ZedAI Draft Specification for Test Use is expected early in 2011.
I have just read the whole September Planet. I make a point not to miss the monthly story. Perhaps that story telling is what brought me to be a very faithful of the DAISY newsletter.
Take good care,
My mother-in-law is blind and has been given one of your wonderful DAISY Players as she was an avid reader. I have several audio books which I would like to convert to DAISY as I believe you do not use WAV, MPE3 or WMV formats. Can you tell me if there is a converter I could use? Many thanks for an incredible product!
Dear L. D.
Most DAISY players can play MP3 files but if your audio books have not been recorded as DAISY books, readers can't take advantage of the navigation DAISY format offers. You have not mentioned which DAISY Player your mother-in-law has, but you can read more about them on the RNIB website.
RNIB also provides books in DAISY format to their customers. More information about how to get them can also be found on the RNIB website on their About DAISY audio books page.
You can create DAISY files from MP3 files if you know how to use Audacity which is free audio editing software. (Please note that the audio books you have may be subject to copyright restrictions.)
Instructions for creating DAISY files from your Audacity project are available in the DAISY Pipeline area of SourceForge.
Editor's Note: We received this update in a follow-up email – "I am delighted to say that I have successfully converted many audio MP3s for my mother-in-law for your incredible product. It has been a god send for her and I do believe it is now her very best friend!"
• Accessing Higher Ground 2010: George Kerscher, DAISY Consortium Secretary General and President of the International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF) will be the keynote speaker at the "Accessible Media, Web and Technology Conference", November 15 – 19 in Westminster, Colorado, USA. The primary focus of this conference is the implementation and benefits of accessible media, universal design and assistive technology in the university, business and public setting.
• AMIS, the DAISY Consortium open source DAISY player, is now available in Serbian and can be downloaded from the AMIS Translations page in the AMIS area of the DAISY website. Thanks go to Dejan Zubovic and the Special Library for Blind and Visually Impaired of Republic of Srpska for the AMIS Serbian translation.
• RNIB News:
The winner of the 2010 Man Booker Prize for fiction, Howard Jacobson for his comic novel The Finkler Question, and the shortlisted titles are available in accessible formats from RNIB. "Each of these novels is available in accessible formats including braille, giant print and Talking Books, thanks to Man Booker's commitment to including an accessible clause for publishers. This means that blind and partially sighted people do not have to wait to read the prize winning entry." Details about the RNIB Book Stream Book Club and online book store are provided on the RNIB website.
RNIB will celebrate75 years of Talking Book service on November 7th; 40,000 readers received 1.76 million DAISY talking books from a collection of over 17,000 titles last year.
• Bookshare News:
Earlier this month Bookshare announced a major milestone: the five-year goal to serve 100,000 students (set as part of the award received from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs) was reached in less than three years.
Mada (the Qatar Assistive Technology Center) has partnered with Bookshare to provide access to over 13,000 accessible English-language books from Bookshare to 500 individuals in Qatar who have a print disability. Details are provided in the October 18 Bookshare Blog.
CABI, the Centre for Agricultural Bioscience International, has entered into an agreement which will provide Bookshare with their collection of nearly 500 titles in the areas of agricultural, animal and veterinary sciences, environmental sciences, human health, food and nutrition, leisure and tourism, microbiology and parasitology, and plant sciences (PRWeb).
Viji Dilip, the International Program Coordinator for Bookshare International service is featured in the San José State University 'Washington Square Magazine' article The Gift of Insight. Ms. Dilip plays an important role in Bookshare's international activities. Additional information is provided in an interview with Viji Dilip in the October 2008 DAISY Planet: International Bookshare.org: Supporting accessible digital texts for millions.
• This month ReadHowYouWant announced that they now have over 5,000 titles available in DAISY and other accessible formats.
• No Shelf Required: E-Books in Libraries –
Accessibility and eBooks – Resources and an Interview. This interview is with Ken Petri, the Director of the Web Accessibility Center at The Ohio State University, and is about the accessibility of eBooks and eBook readers.
EPUB 2.1 Charter. The IDPF, which now maintains the international standard for the EPUB format, is working to address many of the problems with the current EPUB specification, including rich accessibility and navigation and support for MathML.
DAISY is the de facto accessible e-book standard. DAISY 3 and EPUB are supposed to 'coincide' in EPUB 2.1, which ultimately means there will be an international standard e-book format that can be fully accessible."
• Almost 800 open-standard ePub books available from the iBookstore – More than 600 O'Reilly titles and almost 150 Microsoft Press titles have been added to the iBookstore, and, they don't have any DRM. At present these titles are limited to the US and Canada iBookstore. However, Andrew Savikas, VP, Digital Initiatives, O'Reilly Media explained that "our intention is to make the full catalog of titles from O'Reilly, Microsoft Press, and all of our digital distribution clients available in every territory with an iBookstore." Additional details are available on TeleRead.
• gh LLC (gh) has produced three review guides – study guides for the GMAT, using MathML and SVG images. The books are DAISY 3 text-only format. Full details about the guides are available on the Graduate Management Admission Council website: These study guides "are products of the Graduate Management Admission Council and have been optimized for playback by the ReadHear PC reader, produced by gh, LLC. Each e-book comes with a free copy of the reader software. ReadHear enables you to read the e-book both visually and audibly...This e-book edition has been formatted as a DAISY Digital Talking Book. The internationally recognized DAISY format provides the best possible standardized access to books for people with print disabilities." ReadHear PC reader is soon to be released by gh LLC (gh). ReadHear Mac is the first fully-featured Digital Talking Book player for the Mac.
• DAISY Kindergarten Books and Rocket Science Journals: ViewPlus Technologies "is creating universally-usable DAISY math and science supplementary curricula for United States kindergarten and first grade children. These books are rich in interactive, fully accessible graphics and may be read with modern DAISY software readers. Graphics are accessed by audio/touch using the ViewPlus IVEO technology. ViewPlus is also collaborating with the American Physical Society (APS) to permit APS journals to be published in this text+graphics DAISY format. APS is the leading publisher of professional physics journals in the world."
• Feedbooks S.A.S. offers thousands of public domain books in EPUB format at no cost (there is also a wide variety of in-copyright EPUB books which are for sale). It was one of the early adopters of EPUB for its service. Feedbooks is based in Paris, France.
• The Manchester Disability Event which will be held November 19 – 20 is the first event of this kind in the Manchester area. A number of DAISY Friends and Members will be there, include Dolphin Computer Access Limited, HumanWare, and the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB). The workshops will be focused on issues people encounter in all aspects of day-to-day life, at home, in education or employment. Information is available on the DD Aware website.
• Manisha Chaudhry, Head of Content Development of Pratham Books stated in an interview with PaperTigers.org: "By increasing the number of books under Creative Commons licenses, we are able to reach more children through new mediums and, what's more, meet our objectives of inclusiveness. Our books have been converted into Braille and DAISY formats, recorded into audio books for the blind, translated into languages we do not publish..." Pratham Books, established in 2004, is a non-profit trust that publishes high quality children's books at affordable prices and in multiple Indian languages.
The DAISY Pipeline 2 is a project to develop a next generation framework for automated production of accessible materials for people with print disabilities. It will be the follow-up and total redesign of the original DAISY Pipeline.
The TTS Production Working Group of the DAISY Pipeline 2 project invites the DAISY Community to comment on the requirements for the next-generation TTS-based production system which will be incorporated into the new DAISY Pipeline. Information and documents are available on the DAISY Pipeline TTS Working Group Google Groups page.
Comments, suggestions or amendments are to be submitted by November 26th to the TTS WG mailing list if you are subscribed to that list. If you do not have a subscription but would like to review the requirements and provide input you can contact Romain Deltour by email at rdeltour (at) gmail (dot) com.
The new Pipeline TTS-based production tool will be based on the new Pipeline 2 framework and will be a total redesign of the current Pipeline TTS Narrator. Development is already underway by the Pipeline 2 TTS WG, with concrete implementation expected in Q3, 2011, upon renewal of the project charter.
More information is available on the Pipeline 2 TTS WG wiki page.