The DAISY Consortium's Newsletter - June 2011

From The Editor

The summer or winter equinox has recently passed and some of us, depending upon whether we are north or south of the equator, can look forward to months of hopefully wonderful weather. As in years past there will not be a July issue of the DAISY Planet, but I think there may be enough interesting news and information in this issue to keep you thinking until the end of August when the next issue will come your way.

In the last DAISY Planet I said that I hoped to be able to bring good news about the outcome of the extended 22nd session of WIPO/SCCR. And indeed the news is good. Please read the article WIPO Delegates Reach Agreement on Single Text for the outcome of the meeting. Compromise by those involved and commitment on the part of those who support a binding treaty have brought us to this point and will carry the process forward.

Some of the articles in this issue let you know that this has been an extremely busy month for many of the people on the DAISY team. Although not published as a feature article, another event where DAISY played an important role was the ITU Asia-Pacific Regional Forum on Digital Inclusion for All which was held June 21 to 23. Hiroshi Kawamura, President of the DAISY Consortium, spoke to participants about disaster risk reduction for all and how DAISY enables everyone. His presentation DAISY Standard & Disaster Risk Reduction for All is available on the ITU website.

The article Mongolia Discovers DAISY was published in the August 2010 issue of the DAISY Planet, and in October Gerel Dondow's story was published (Gerel is the CEO of the Mongolian National Federation of the Blind). When I come across an update about DAISY implementation in Mongolia I make a point of mentioning it to you, perhaps because I've personally found their efforts to bring DAISY books to the people of Mongolia who require accessible publications quite amazing. Their DAISY Center was established in July 2010, at the Ulaanbaatar Public Library. This month they have posted a Case Study and Impact Assessment. It includes background information, a project description, some of the challenges they've faced, the strategies and tools they've used, and more. There is also a short "success story" about a man by the name of Erdenebat who is 38 and totally blind as a result of a car accident. He has had to choose a new career path: "before attending the massage courses I didn't know that such an excellent equipment had ever existed. Thanks to this project I have got a confidence that I would successfully complete the courses. I am changing my profession and I was not sure that can become a true massageur. I didn't know the Braille script and wasn't able to read the manuals written on it. Now I believe in myself because the listening of DAISY books helped me to understand a lot, get deepper knowledge and have clear vision of what is massaging." DAISY does make a difference in people's lives, and sometimes, as with Erdenebat, it is a big difference.

Issue 12 of the Publisher Accessibility Newsletter was published earlier this month. This newsletter is produced quarterly by industry trade bodies and licensing/standards organizations under the umbrella of the 'Accessibility Action Group', providing an overview of current activities designed to help publishers meet the precise requirements of people with reading impairments. Much of the information is directly relevant to members of the DAISY Community and others interested in information access. Issue 12 is available from the Publishers Licensing Society website in both Word and PDF formats.

The World Report on Disability estimates that worldwide more than one billion people have some form of disability. How many of these people are unable to participate fully in society, achieve their goals or even enjoy a good book because of their disability? I will continue to watch for updates on the progress of DAISY implementation in Mongolia – their efforts and the efforts of people around the world who are committed to making information accessible inspire me – I hope they do the same for you.

Once again I would like to thank those of you who have submitted an article or an idea for an article, or who have provided input or information for the DAISY Planet. Please keep our newsletter in mind when you or your organization or company has news to share. You can get in touch with 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.

Have a safe and happy July and August!
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

SBS: Moving Forward Together

DAISY Consortium 15th Anniversary Series

SBS in the Unique Environment of Switzerland

SBS   logo With just 7.8 million inhabitants, Switzerland has four official national languages: German (63.7%), French (20.4%), Italian (6.5%) and Romansh (0.5%). These languages are spoken in different parts of the country thus the culture and reading habits differ widely. This is why there are six libraries for the blind, visually impaired and print disabled: two in the German speaking, three in the French speaking and one in the Italian speaking parts of Switzerland. All of them are private organisations; some 50% of their total expenditure is financed by State agencies. For the remainder of their financing they are dependent upon donations, legacies and orders placed with them.

In 2000, these six libraries joined forces, forming the Consortium of Swiss Blind Media Institutions which is managed by the SBS. Since 2002, this group of libraries has also been the Swiss DAISY Consortium.

SBS in Brief

The first "Swiss Lending Library for the Blind" was founded in 1903, followed in 1950 by the "Library of Audio Recordings for the Blind". The merger of these two organisations in 1975 resulted in the establishment (after a few name changes) of the "SBS Schweizerische Bibliothek für Blinde, Seh- und Lesebehinderte" (Swiss Library for the Blind, Visually Impaired and Print Disabled) as it is now known.

Photograph of two hands at a piano keyboard, with braille across the top of the picture In Switzerland, only the SBS transcribes music into braille.

Today the SBS supplies books, music and periodicals, which are produced as braille, e-Text, DAISY Audio and with large print characters. It also lends tactile games. The SBS supplies a wide range of literature, from detective stories and novels to complex professional works, books for children, young people and adults. Customers have a choice of 30 different periodicals. The SBS is particularly active in the production of teaching aids, academic works and specialist literature. The promotion and preservation of braille competence is an important task of the SBS which provides a range of related products.

The SBS also produces voting documents in DAISY format as people in Switzerland are regularly asked to vote on issues at the local, cantonal or federal level.

SBS and the DAISY Consortium

In the mid 1990's, few people were familiar with the Internet and email. The SBS Chief Executive at that time, Bernhard Heinser, predicted that the digital age might improve access to information for the blind, visually impaired and print disabled. An early version of DAISY was presented by the Swedish Library of Talking Books and Braille (TPB) at the World Telecom Exhibition 1995 in Geneva. The Library Director brought this innovation back to Zurich. Shortly afterwards, the SBS learned that a "DAISY Consortium" was to be founded. The SBS wanted to be a part of this movement and in May 1996 it became one of the founding members of the DAISY Consortium.

Photograph of the SBS building in Zurich; the SBS headquarters are also home to the DAISY Consortium.In early 1998, the SBS proposed that the DAISY Consortium should be organised as an association under Swiss law to benefit from the flexibility which this legal status allows. The association was founded in Zurich on 18 November 1998. Since then, the DAISY Consortium has been officially based on the premises of the SBS.

On 12 December 2003, the DAISY Consortium organised a "Global Forum on Disability in the Information Society" which coincided with the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) held in Geneva (Switzerland) December 10 to 12. The SBS conducted many organisational and administrative tasks and also produced a DAISY book (full text, full audio) with practical information, a presentation of DAISY, the program of the Global Forum, the Declaration of Principles of WSIS and the Action Plan of WSIS. This was done in the six official languages of the World Summit: English, French, Spanish, Russian, Arabic and Chinese (recorded by native speakers).

All of this was based on the motto: "Moving forward together".

SBS and DAISY Yesterday

Plextalk 300 DAISY CD-based Player developed by applying feedback from the field trial results A global field trial for the prototype of the first DAISY digital talking book player, the PLEXTALK, was conducted in 1997. The SBS participated and digitised 11 books and periodicals for the trial. It coordinated the field trial survey in Switzerland.

In 2002, the SBS began digitising and structuring its analogue books. Shortly afterwards, new books were produced exclusively in DAISY format. In April 2004, the first DAISY audio books were made available on loan and, in April 2009, the SBS stopped lending cassette books.

SBS and DAISY Today

Photograph of a professional microphone in one of the SBS 9 recording studios Some 80 trained narrators record DAISY books, DAISY periodicals and DAISY voting documents in nine professional sound recording studios. DAISY books are loaned out on CD or flash card, on demand; periodicals have been available for downloading or streaming since 2010.

When the new Swiss copyright law entered into force, the SBS responded immediately: since 2010, commercial audio books are being converted into DAISY audio books and included in the library. The exception clause applicable to media for persons with a handicap allows published media to be processed so that it can be used by those individuals, without the need for prior consent; the copyright fees are settled annually.

"DAISY Producer", an XML-based production tool which uses the DAISY Pipeline and liblouis, was developed by the SBS. With the "DAISY Producer", XML, specifically DTBook XML (the XML vocabulary of the DAISY Standard), is converted into braille. At present text versions of literature are being produced in braille. This tool will support the production of complex documents. Development work continues.

The SBS has an active role in the development of the DAISY Pipeline 2, supplying 30% of a full-time computer expert's hours to the project. It also participates in the Braille Working Group, and conceptually supports TIGAR, contributing financial aid of $50,000 in 2011.

These networked activities align with the fundamental principle "Moving forward together".

SBS: Plans for the Future

Photograph of train station featuring a suitcase with a hat and dark glasses on top and a white cane resting against it Downloading and streaming of DAISY books will be possible for SBS users by the end of 2011. "DAISY Producer" will be equipped with a "self-learning" dictionary, minimising the cost of braille proofreading and speeding up braille production. Large print on paper can now also be prepared with "DAISY Producer" (replacing the photomechanical enlargements which were previously necessary). Three different font sizes will be available.

The sale of DAISY audio books will also be introduced by the end of 2011 and the exchange of books with libraries for the blind in English speaking countries will be expanded. This year, the SBS is devoting special attention to elderly visually impaired persons who represent a big target group in Switzerland (estimated to be 100,000 people).

The new SBS target group of "print disabled" persons will be investigated in 2012/13. For this the SBS would like to draw on the experience of its DAISY partners. The library's offerings are also being expanded to, for example, include audio films.

Once again on the principle "Moving forward together", the SBS will continue to work to the best of its ability in the DAISY Consortium.

SBS and Other Organisations

The SBS cooperates nationally, on a transnational level (German-speaking area) and internationally in various ways, and plays an active role in many commissions and working groups. Examples are the DAISY Consortium, Medibus (Media Association for Blind and Vision Impaired People, Germany), the Swiss DAISY Consortium and the Swiss National Association of and for the Blind (SNAB). SNAB is the Swiss national umbrella organisation for 60 member organisations involved in the field of blindness. It performs tasks involving the representation of institutional interests. The SBS is a member of SNAB. Medibus coordinates the production of German language DAISY books to prevent duplicate production of books. All of these DAISY books are exchanged free of charge within Medibus.

The Swiss DAISY Consortium

The Swiss DAISY Consortium is a Full Member of the DAISY Consortium. The six partners exchange DAISY experiences and information, and publish DAISY newsletters in German and French. In 2011 a joint survey measuring customer satisfaction was conducted by a market research institute for the third time.

SBS: 2010 Numbers

WIPO Delegates Reach Agreement on Single Text

WIPO Delegates Reach Agreement on Single Text

22nd Session of the World Intellectual Property Organization, Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (WIPO/SCCR)

As specified in the Conclusions of the 21st WIPO/SCCR meeting held late last year, three additional days were added to the June SCCR meeting, the 22nd Session of the WIPO Copyright Committee. These three days which preceded the formal meeting were "dedicated to limitations and exceptions for persons with print and other reading disabilities". The agenda of the formal SCCR meeting which was held June 20 to 24 also addressed this same issue.

Background information about the issues around a treaty dealing with copyright limitations and exceptions is available in the DAISY Planet article WIPO Copyright Committee: Stalemate Ends. Links to additional information are also provided in that article.

The "non-paper"

It has been reported that the first three days got off to a rather slow start. However, by end of day Friday June 17, the delegates had prepared a non-paper which had gained increased support for submission to the 22nd Session which would begin on Monday (note: the non-paper is a PDF file that is not accessible). The development of this "non-paper" involved reviewing the four documents which had been put forth at previous sessions, beginning with the submission of the proposed "WIPO Treaty for Improved Access for Blind, Visually Impaired and other Reading Disabled Persons" in November 2008 by the World Blind Union (WBU). Links to the four proposals are given in the article WIPO Copyright Treaty: Consensus Not Reached. This was in itself no small or simple task and required considerable compromise and understanding by all parties.

Our "Voice"

There have been strong differences of opinion regarding the wording of a proposal for a treaty or recommendation (and whether it should be a treaty or recommendation!) with differing viewpoints from delegates representing developed countries as compared to the views of delegates from developing countries. However, there has been one consistent, powerful 'voice' throughout this process: the voice of organizations advocating for cross-border exchange of accessible publications and equitable access to information for by people with a print disability – the WBU, the DAISY Consortium and their memberships, Knowledge Ecology International (KEI), International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions, Libraries Serving Persons with Print Disabilities Section (IFLA/LPD), and others.

Hiroshi Kawamura, President of the DAISY Consortium, attended the first three days of the meetings and delivered his intervention on June 16 on behalf of the DAISY Consortium:

"The DAISY Consortium wishes to state that it fully supports a binding legal framework to address the issue of cross-border exchange of accessible versions of copyrighted materials. Only through a binding legal framework, people with print disabilities worldwide may have equal access to copyrighted works in a sustainable and cost effective way. We sincerely request all delegations of this meeting [at 22nd SCCR] to reach rapid agreement on the binding legal framework needed to meet the obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities."

The complete document, Statement on behalf of the DAISY Consortium by Hiroshi Kawamura 16 June 2011 at SCCR 22nd, is available on the DAISY website. The DAISY Consortium has ongoing Ad Hoc Accreditation to SCCR.

The Proposal

During the week of June 20 the delegates worked with the non-paper. The outcome of the 22nd session of WIPO/SCCR is a "Proposal on an international instrument on limitations and exceptions for persons with print disabilities". This document appears on the WIPO website as it was presented by Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, the European Union and its Member States, Mexico, Norway, Paraguay, the Russian Federation, the United States of America and Uruguay on June 22, as SCCR/22/15 Rev. 1. An updated version of the Proposal, prepared by the Chair of the Standing Committee, is posted on the KEI website as SCCR/22/16 Provision 1. The file name clearly indicates that the document has moved from a revision of document SCCR22/15, to become a new document SCCR22/16, Provision 1. For the most part the content and meaning is completely unchanged. The primary difference is that concerns and requests for clarification expressed by some WIPO/SCCR delegates are noted in Provision 1.

Provision Preamble

Some of the noteworthy statements presented in the Preamble are:

"Desiring to provide full and equal access to information, culture and communication for the visually impaired persons/persons with a print disability and, towards that end, considering the need both to expand the number of works in accessible formats and to improve access to those works,"
"Taking into account the importance of an international legal instrument/joint recommendation/treaty both to increase the number and range of accessible format works available to visually impaired persons/persons with a print disability in the world and to provide the necessary minimum flexibilities in copyright laws that are needed to ensure full and equal access to information and communication for persons who are visually impaired/have a print disability in order to support their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others and to ensure the opportunity to develop and utilize their creative, artistic and intellectual potential, for their own benefit and for the enrichment of society,"

Articles D and E deal specifically with cross border exchange/import of accessible formatted works.

The Conclusions

Some of the SCCR/22 activities as well as outcomes are highlighted in the Session Conclusions which are available on the WIPO website. The key points that address moving forward are:

"5. The Committee agreed to recommend to the WIPO General Assembly that Members of the Committee continue discussions regarding the Chair's document SCCR/22/16 with the aim to agree and finalize a proposal on an international instrument on limitations and exceptions for persons with print disabilities in the 23rd session of the SCCR, in accordance with the timetable adopted at the 21st session of the SCCR."
"8. The Committee agreed that the item of limitations and exceptions will be maintained on the agenda of the 23rd session of the SCCR."

Both the Proposal and Conclusions are available on the WIPO website (near the bottom of the page). The Proposal is provided in English, French, Spanish, Arabic and Chinese. At this time the Conclusion is provided in English only.

Unresolved Issues

Although agreement on the wording of the Proposal has been almost reached, there are still issues to be resolved. Some of the WIPO Members are proposing a two-step process rather than a WIPO Diplomatic Conference (as requested by WBU). There is opposition to the two-step process as it is believed that the delay caused by this would reduce the possibility of the adoption of a legally binding treaty. In addition it has not yet been agreed to or determined if the result of this long and intense process will be a legally binding treaty rather than a 'soft' and non-binding "recommendation".

Big Breakthrough

Regardless of any outstanding issues, this SCCR session has resulted in a significant move forward: all parties are now working from a single text (rather than four proposals), very few issues remain unresolved, and support for a binding treaty rather than a soft recommendation is increasing.

"We are indeed encouraged to have achieved from the widely differing four proposals, from US, EU, Africa Group and our own, a single text which has both a strong resemblance to our own original draft Treaty and is almost sufficiently good enough to take forward to the final leg of the campaign to get the SCCR to agree the binding international instrument to take us forward to tackle the Book Famine." [Chris Friend, WBU Strategic Objective Leader, Accessibility Chair WBU Global Right to Read Campaign, Sightsavers Programme Development Advisor]

Nota Report: Our Work has a Positive Impact

Nota logo Nota, the Danish National Library for Persons with Print Disabilities, has published a report which is based on two surveys carried out by Nota in collaboration with the Epinion consultancy firm. The report Auxiliary aids and access to learning for children and young people with dyslexia/severe reading difficulties is based on the analysis of reading habits, auxiliary aids and access to learning among young people with dyslexia who use Nota's library services (the "user group") compared to a control group of young people who do not have dyslexia (the "comparison group"). The main results are based on a telephone survey of 497 Nota members aged 12 to 16 years. The comparison group was made up of 200 randomly selected children and young people in the same age group. Both groups were asked the same questions.

The report will be of interest to organizations and companies which provide services and/or products to young people with dyslexia. The reading habits of the students with dyslexia were on the same level as the control group, they show the same effort in doing their school homework and their plans for upper secondary and vocational training after concluding their lower secondary school are at a much higher level than was expected.

There has been a dramatic increase in the number of young people registered with Nota between the ages of 12 and 16 who have dyslexia:

Nota is planning on doing a follow-up, potentially looking to analyze the socio-economic impact of the results of this report.

Michael Wright, Director of Nota and DAISY Board Member Michael Wright, Director of Nota, summarized the results of the report as follows: "[The report confirms that] we have a positive impact on the reading habits, competencies and future plans of young people with dyslexia." The "we" in Michael's statement refers to organizations such as Nota which provide library and information services to young people who have dyslexia.

" just a tool that enables our users to gain knowledge and opportunities in society." (Source: Nota website) Nota is a Full Member of the DAISY Consortium.

DAISY Sets its Steps in Kerala

A one day DAISY Seminar was held in Trivandrum, the capital city of Kerala, India, which is a state of 31.8 million people. The first language of this state is Malayalam. Kerala has the distinction of becoming the first state in India to achieve 100% literacy. It is also one of the first states in the country that has adopted open source software as a state policy.

Map of India showing the state of Kerala in the far south west.Kerala, which is located in the far south west of India, has the nickname "God's Own Country". The map to the right is a locator map of the state of Kerala, India with district boundaries shown. Source: Wikimedia Commons, licensed under the creative commons share alike license; photo credit to CC-by-sa PlaneMad/Wikipedia.

Dipendra Monocha lighting the lamp to mark the inauguration of Chakshumathi, a centre for empowerment and assistive technology for people with a visual disability in Trivandrum, Kerala, India This one day seminar comes as a major milestone for persons with print disabilities in Kerala, as the first DAISY Book in the Malayalam language was released during this event. Formation of a new organisation called Chakshumathi, which has dedicated itself to promote DAISY Digital Books in the state, was also announced during the event.

Dipendra Monocha addressing the first workshop on DAISY Technologies by Chakshumathi; Also seen in the picture is Anubav Mitra, a DAISY expert from DFI The seminar was organised jointly by Chakshumathi and DAISY Forum of India. Sixty people representing NGOs, government officials, prominent technology professionals and individuals who are blind, came from all parts of Kerala to attend the seminar. A four hour presentation on various technologies related to the production, distribution and playback of DAISY Digital books was made by Mr. Dipendra Manocha, the Developing Countries Coordinator for the DAISY Consortium and President of DAISY Forum of India.

Dipendra Monocha presenting a DAISY player, a gift from Chakshumathi, to Asna Aslam at the workshop in Kerala. One of the many highlights of the workshop was the presentation of a DAISY digital talking book player to to Asna Asalam, winner of the Rajat Kamal (Golden Lotus) Award for best child actress at the 2010 National Film Festival of India. Asna, who is six years old and is blind, shot to fame last year after her heartfelt performance in the short film Kelkunnundo by Geetu Mohandas; Asna played the leading actress role. She is a student at Aluva's Keezhmadu Blind School. The young artiste was most excited to receive the DAISY player.

DAISY Forum of India is also assisting the Kerala Federation of the Blind with the conversion of their existing analogue cassette talking book library into a DAISY Digital Talking Book Library. Chakshumathi will be providing technical support and training to organisations and end users for production and playback of DAISY Digital Books in all parts of the state.

The workshop was announced in several online media services including Maha Media News Services.

Thanks go to Dipendra Manocha for providing this report on the recent workshop in Kerala, India, for publication in the DAISY Planet.

World Report on Disability: a First

The World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Bank released the World Report on Disability earlier this month. This comprehensive document is the first of its kind.

The Forward is written by Professor Stephen W. Hawking, a world-renowned scientist with a prominent career in astrophysics. Hawking has also had motor neuron disease for almost all of his adult life:

"I welcome this first World report on disability. This report makes a major contribution to our understanding of disability and its impact on individuals and society. It highlights the different barriers that people with disabilities face – attitudinal, physical, and financial. Addressing these barriers is within our reach.

In fact we have a moral duty to remove the barriers to participation, and to invest sufficient funding and expertise to unlock the vast potential of people with disabilities. Governments throughout the world can no longer overlook the hundreds of millions of people with disabilities who are denied access to health, rehabilitation, support, education and employment, and never get the chance to shine.

The report makes recommendations for action at the local, national and international levels. It will thus be an invaluable tool for policy-makers, researchers, practitioners, advocates and volunteers involved in disability. It is my hope that, beginning with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and now with the publication of the World report on disability, this century will mark a turning point for inclusion of people with disabilities in the lives of their societies."

Hawking's words are inspirational and give us pause to think about how we can work together to make this century a "turning point for inclusion of people with disabilities in the lives of their societies."

The Conclusion of the Report

"The [United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities] CRPD established an agenda for change. This World report on disability has documented the current situation for people with disabilities. It has highlighted gaps in knowledge and stressed the need for further research and policy development. It has also provided recommendations for action towards achieving a society that is inclusive and enabling, providing equal opportunities for each person with a disability to fulfil their potential."

The full Report is over 300 pages long; however summaries are available in six languages, in various formats (including DAISY) and can be downloaded from the WHO website. Videos, personal stories and podcasts are also available.

80 Years of National Library Service (NLS/BPH) – Still Going Strong

This article was written for publication in the DAISY Planet by Varju Luceno, Director of Communications for the DAISY Consortium.

2011 NLS Western Regional Conference

Photograph of people on a tour of the Colorado Talking Book Library I had the privilege of attending and presenting the keynote "Accessible eBooks: Reader Experiences and Challenges" at the 2011 NLS Western Regional Conference in Denver, Colorado. While there, I met many dedicated librarians who assist their patrons every day by providing equal access to information and by promoting literacy. Both are essential for people's inclusion, success and productivity, therefore strengthening communities all across the United States. Three days of hands-on sessions and discussions greatly helped me to put a human face on the extension of the 2002 DAISY/NISO standard that NLS uses, DTB_2002_NLS. I witnessed once again that DAISY Standard plays a crucial role in empowering people.

During her presentation, Renee West from NFB provided information about enhancements to the NFB-NEWSLINE® service which have been added over the past year, enhancements such as job listings, the ability to download newspapers and magazines to the NLS DTB Player, and more.

Sheila Winther from Idaho Talking Book Service demonstrated and demystified the process of using the APH Book Wizard Producer which is used to create digital talking books.

Keystone Library Automation System (KLAS) users had an opportunity to share their experiences at the 2011 Western Regional Conference. The KLAS Library Application from partner Keystone Systems allows more than 70 NLS network libraries to provide access to the state-of-the-art talking book catalogs.

What is NLS Talking Book program?

The NLS talking book program was first established by an Act of the U.S. Congress in 1931 – 80 years ago, to serve blind adults. It was expanded in 1952 to include children. In 1962 music materials were added, and since 1966 individuals with other physical disabilities that prevent them from reading standard print are being served. Originally there were 19 libraries – today the NLS network includes more than 100 libraries across the nation and in the U.S. territories. These libraries distribute reading materials to a readership of more than 900,000. The Talking Book and Braille Program is a collaborative arrangement between federal, state, and local libraries. NLS management has big plans for the future, and works continually to research and implement new technologies and reach new audiences.

At the 2011 Western Regional Conference, NLS librarians shared successful ways to recruit and maintain a patron advisory council or friends' group, as both play a vital role in improving library services.

NLS produces the braille and talking books and distributes them to local libraries serving blind and physically handicapped individuals. Several libraries, including the Colorado Talking Book Library, have studios where they record books of local interest. The Colorado Talking Book Library uses the LCM (low-complexity mastering) digital recording system in their book production process.

Who is eligible for the program?

Any resident of the United States or American citizen living abroad who is unable to read or use standard print materials as a result of a visual or physical limitation may receive this NLS service. There is no cost to eligible readers.

Digital Talking Books and Players

NLS Digital Talking Book players charging before being sent to patrons. In 2009 NLS introduced two versions of the high-quality NLS Digital Talking-Book player: Advanced and Standard models. The two machines look almost identical, but the Advanced player has an additional row of buttons and more features. The NLS DTB Player is provided free of charge to all eligible NLS patrons. NLS players can also play MP3 files, books from RFB&D (now Learning Ally), and podcasts. More information about these players can be found on the NLS website at

Examples of other digital players that can be authorized to play NLS digital talking books and magazines include Victor Reader Stream Library Edition, BookSense, PlexTalk Pocket, Milestone and, BookPort Plus.

The NLS digital talking books are issued on flash cartridges (one book per cartridge), which are inserted into the NLS player for reading. Reading materials in digital audio and braille formats, along with special playback equipment, are shipped directly to patrons via the U.S. Postal Service at no cost. Empty cartridges may be purchased from the American Printing House for the Blind. A 2GB blank cartridge will hold approximately 20 NLS Talking Books.

Patrons may also use the USB flash drive to download books and periodicals from the easy to navigate NLS BARD (Braille and Audio Reading Download) website and play them on their Digital Talking-Book player. To use this service NLS patrons need to complete and submit the BARD application form. Once the application is approved and processed, users may log on to the site and where they can select from a wide range of books and periodicals for immediate download. The NLS Digital Talking-Book players will also play audio files downloaded from the Internet. It is recommended that patrons use separate flash drives for audio files and Digital Talking-Book files.

NLS also offers another Internet-based service, Web-Braille, which provides access to thousands of braille books, magazines, and music scores.

I would like to extend my thanks and appreciation to the staff of the Colorado Talking Book Library, led by Deborah McLeod, the Director of Colorado Talking Book Library, who hosted the conference. I would also like to thank Joe Burkins and Theresa Kalber for their technical assistance.

Letters to the Editor

Dear Lynn,

After five and a half stimulating years at Vision Australia, I am now moving on to the next phase of my career in a corporate consulting environment.

Over the years, I have found the DAISY Planet an invaluable resource for keeping abreast of all the major developments across the DAISY Ecosystem. The DAISY Planet is a precious tool that I now intend to take to the next part of my journey to always feel connected to the space I have so enjoyed working in and contributing to.

Warmest Regards,

Editor's Note: During his time with Vision Australia, Kenny Johar has contributed to numerous DAISY Working Groups and initiatives, including DAISY Online, DAISY 4/ZedAI and Distribution, EPUB 3, and the DAISY Pipeline. I have no doubt that he will be missed by his teammates at VA and by the many people he has come to know in the DAISY Community. We wish you well in your new endeavours Kenny. Stay in touch!


Thanks a lot for the DAISY Planet. It helps me in my work at Svefi school here in Sweden.

Right now I would need Powerpoint material about the DAISY standard and DAISY history. I just emailed Talboks - och punktskriftsbibliotek here in Sweden, but an English Powerpoint would be as useful. Actually the very basic summary of DAISY would be needed.

Please, can you help?

Sverigefinska folkhögskola Svefi


Dear Matti,

I'm glad that you find the DAISY Planet useful in your work – it helps me to know that people find it beneficial.

There is a great deal of information about DAISY, including introductory articles, in DAISYpedia on the DAISY website. Please note however that they are not in PowerPoint format.

I'd like to suggest the following categories and/or articles/presentation to get you started:

• Top Level Category: Introduction to DAISY and in particular DAISY Demystified. There is also information about DAISY Online Delivery and EPUB in this group of articles. A great deal is happening in terms of DAISY development and EPUB at the moment so you may want to mention this (there have been articles in the DAISY Planet explaining this over the past 6 or so months).

• Top Level Category: Reading the DAISY Way. The presentation Seven Ways to Read a Book is at the end of the list of articles, but again, it is not a PowerPoint presentation.

DAISY 101 is a terrific article (also in DAISYpedia) that can easily be turned into a presentation.

Our DAISY Data Sheet in Microsoft Word format can fairly easily be turned into a PowerPoint presentation and can be downloaded from the Media Center on the DAISY website.

In addition, we have a DAISY Consortium channel on Slideshare where we host some of our presentations. You can download a presentation that best suits your needs.

Please do look through the articles in the DAISYpedia categories as there may be additional information that will be useful for you.

Editor's Note: Matti was preparing to travel to Minsk, Belarus to begin planning with the local people who are visually impaired about the possibility of implementing DAISY there. Following his initial inquiry he asked if there was "a kind of start-with-package for an environment where the resources from the state will be small, and where the volunteers have to do a larger part of the job". I've put Matti in touch with Dipendra Manocha who is the Developing Countries Coordinator for the DAISY Consortium and who has been involved (directly and indirectly) with implementing DAISY production centres in developing countries.

Bits & Pieces

• The Abstracts for World Congress Braille21 have been compiled and are available on the Braille21 website. The Preliminary Programme is also posted. The Congress will take place September 28 to 30 in Leipzig, Germany. Online registration for participants is open until August 31. Sessions are categorized into six topics which range from "Education and Literacy" to "Research and Development" to "Braille as a Part of Universal Design".

• HumanWare and Bookshare have just announced the availability of a new version of the HumanWare Companion Software (version 3.4) that provides a direct connection to Bookshare to facilitate the transfer of Bookshare DAISY books to devices. The software simplifies the process of finding, downloading, and transferring Bookshare books to the Victor Reader Stream digital talking book player. Victor Reader Stream users can obtain the HumanWare Companion version 3.4 from the HumanWare website; users who already have Companion version 3.3 can use the Check for Updates item of the Help Menu.

• Earlier this month the Bookshare team announced that their collection of books has reached more than 100,000 titles.

• The article The Evolution of Accessible Publishing: Revising the Z39.86 DAISY Standard by Matt Garrish and Markus Gylling (CTO for the DAISY Consortium) has been published in the NISO "Information Standards Quarterly" Spring 2011 issue.

• The TOC (Tools of Change for Publishing) Conference, Frankfurt, Call for Proposals opened this month. Information about becoming a speaker is available on the TOC Conference website. TOC takes place on Tuesday, October 11; submission deadline for all proposals is July 5.

• The proceedings of the 5th European eAccessibility Forum are now available for download. Both French and English versions are posted (except for official addresses or full papers provided by authors in their native language).

Liza Daly (Threepress Consulting Inc.) spoke about "Highly-Accessible Interactive EPUB" at the IDPF Digital Book/BEA 2011 Conference. Her presentation is available on the Threepress website. Dipendra Manocha (Developing Countries Coordinator for the DAISY Consortium) was there and summarized as follows:
"One thing that stands out is: This is not a conference for persons with disabilities and the audience is made up largely of non-disability stakeholders from the publishing industry. None of them have any specific mandate to publish books for persons with disabilities. Yet number of times screen readers and accessibility are mentioned is amazing...I am witnessing the real mainstreaming effort here. It is so good that our concerns are presented with such spirit and great understanding."

• Apple has announced that it has added a read aloud feature for children's books; they have added support for Media Overlays as specified in the EPUB3 specification to iBooks 1.3. Media Overlays are the subset of SMIL used for synchronizing audio and text content, and providing the audio/text synchronization known to users of DAISY Digital Talking Books.

• The article Access to Electronic Books, a Comparative Review by Wesley Majerus was published in the May Braille Monitor on the NFB website. It provides a detailed review of eBook resources, hardware and software.

• The slides and recording of the recent EASI Webinar about AMIS, presented June 21 by Marisa DeMeglio, Software Developer for the DAISY Consortium, are available online in the EASI archives.

Tech Tips

• The Obi 2.0 beta release has just been made available. This text release primarily addresses performance issues and bugs reported following the release of the Obi 2.0 alpha. Also included are with features introduced in the 2.0 alpha: DAISY book import, configurable keyboard shortcuts, detached pop-up recording toolbar, enhanced export, bookmark and merge section functions and many others.

The complete list of new features and bug fixes is provided in the Obi area of the DAISY website. The Obi development team is looking forward to receiving your suggestions and bug reports.

• The AMIS source code repository has recently moved to github (providing more capacity). The wiki pages on the AMIS development site will be updated with this new information in the very near future.

• Translated versions of AMIS can be downloaded as standalone language packs or as complete AMIS installers. If you already have the latest version of AMIS installed, you can add onto it by downloading a language pack (you can add as many language packs as you like. If you don't want to download a separate language pack for your own language (some users find this extra step a hassle), you can download a complete AMIS installer in your language.

Note that in addition to the local language, English is also included with each installer, but it is not set as the primary language. Translations are available on the AMIS project page on the DAISY website.