The DAISY Consortium's Newsletter - February 2012

From The Editor

Talking Newspaper Services: Accessible Newspapers Now & in the Future, which is the first article in this issue of the DAISY Planet, grew out of an email exchange on the DAISY Technical Developments list. Jesper Klein of TPB started things off with a report he'd written on the service in Sweden (I did ask Jesper for his permission to include the full report in the Planet). The information about services in other countries is gathered from the data posted by other list members and from details I was able to find online. (No comments or opinions expressed in the exchange are included.) The DAISY forums (there are 10 subject areas in all) provide a terrific communication/information alternative, but sometimes email lists still serve their purpose extremely well.

The second article EPUB 3: Fast Forward to Adoption covers three recent announcements that I think will be of interest to many of you. The IDPF and its membership are definitely in high gear, leaving no opportunity for loss of momentum to set in following the approval of the EPUB 3 standard late last year.

I came across an article in 'theguardian' (guardian.co.uk) that I think is worth the 2 or 3 minutes it takes to read it. Braille comes unbound from the book: how technology can stop a literary crisis opens with:

"On a lazy Sunday afternoon, Chancey Fleet reads the menu of Bombay Garden to four friends gathered at the back of the Chelsea-based Indian restaurant in New York City. Although she is reading aloud, there are no menus on the table. They aren't necessary, because Fleet is blind. Instead, she reads using a Braille display that sits unobtrusively on her lap..."

The advances in technology in recent years are making a difference for people who rely on accessible information. That is made very clear in this article.

I often watch the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) News program The National. Earlier this month they featured a video about a 19 year old girl by the name of Callan who has just graduated from high school and is wondering what her future holds. She has Down Syndrome. Although Callan's story is not about accessible information generally or about DAISY specifically, it is inspiring and I found it more than worth the couple of minutes it takes to watch it.

If you are not following us on Twitter – DAISY (accessibledaisy on Twitter) – you may be missing out on some interesting and potentially useful information. This week many of the tweets are about what's going on at CSUN, and Varju Luceno, our Director of Communications is there, tweeting and retweeting about the events. We now have more than 1,500 Followers - join us & stay in touch! If you are new to Twitter or are thinking about joining, you might find 10 Must-Learn Lessons For Twitter Newbies helpful (and there are also 5 bonus tips at the bottom of the page).

Part 2 of Stephen King's story is featured this month. The Consortium's new President takes us through the formation of the DAISY Consortium to the world of accessible information today. Thank you Stephen for making the time to write this and sharing it with us.

I hope you will find time to read all five of the articles as well as the columns in this issue of our newsletter. Special thanks go to Stephen King for his recollections about his trip to India and Techshare India 2012, to Varju Luceno for the article about the recent 2012 O'Reilly TOC Conference and to Romain Deltour for providing a short summary of the outcome of the DAISY Pipeline 2 Workshop. The DAISY Planet reaches people around the world, so keep it in mind when you have news to share about activities, services or products. You can get in touch with me directly by email or by using our Contact Us form. Letters to the Editor and Stories are always most welcome!

Lynn Leith
Editor

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

Talking Newspaper Services

Accessible Newspapers Now & in the Future

Information about talking newspapers exchanged in a recent discussion on the DAISY Technical Developments list provides an excellent overview of these services. This article opens with a report about the TPB talking newspaper development program by Jesper Klein, Manager R&D at the Swedish Library of Talking Books and Braille (TPB) who initiated the discussion. Additional information shared about other programs, responses to some questions raised, and relevant details from several other DAISY Member websites follow.

The future talking newspaper service in Sweden

2012-01-10

An Ongoing Development Program

TPB  logo Since the fall of 2010 TPB has been running a four year development program to reform the current talking newspaper service in Sweden and reach a higher level of accessibility to newspaper content for people with print disabilities. The pre-study phase has clarified how a new model for the service should work, requirements, technology, strategy, project plans etc.

On February 1st 2012 we started a four month long field trial with 100 end users who are testing all aspects of the new model, including:

The purpose of the field trial is to give us proof of concept, requirements and knowledge before the nationwide launch of the new service begins. The shift is scheduled for 12 months between April 2013 and May 2014 during which approximately 80 daily newspapers and 8000 users will go over to the new system.

The average age of the user group is currently 72. Many of the users are PC illiterate and do not use smart phones, iPads or other similar products. The user introduction and the training aspect of introducing new technology is therefore one of the most important (and also costly) challenges in what we are doing.

Our field trial is managed by two different project teams at TPB and a number of private enterprises:

Sweden's talking newspaper service – launched in the 1980's

After a successful political wave of lobbying for accessibility took place in the 1960's and 1970's, a political effort by the Swedish government in the mid 1970's led up to the establishment of a wide range talking newspaper service in Sweden in the early 1980's. The service used the state of the art technology which was available at the time:

In the early 1990's a second system was established but could only reach 10% of the user group:

The whole talking newspaper service currently covers 103 newspapers (Sweden has a small population but a strong tradition of local newspapers in small towns and cities) and is used by 8000 visually impaired users. Most of the newspapers are published daily or there are 3 - 6 issues per week.

Talking Newspaper Services in Finland

Finnish Federation of the Visually Impaired logo Information about the Finnish service was provided by the Finnish Federation of the Visually Impaired. Responses to the questions raised in the initial email are provided.

Scale

Approximately 35 newspapers, of which most are dailies and a couple weeklies, and 50 magazines, of which a few are weeklies, are available. The estimated number of talking newspaper/magazine offline subscribers is 7,000. The number of online users (including computers, smartphones and DAISY online players) is around 2,000. The number of DAISY player users in total is more than 14000.

Production methods and technology
Distribution methods
Distribution formats and playback systems
Organisation and business models

Celia logo

Plans for the future

National Federation of the Blind, USA

The most prominent newspaper service in the U.S. is NFB-NEWSLINE®. This service from the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) makes approximately 300 newspapers and magazines available (including 5 in Spanish) to qualified individuals who subscribe to the service. NFB-NEWSLINE® is available at no cost both by touch-tone telephone and online via NFB-NEWSLINE® Online, making it possible for people who are blind or visually impaired to read national and local newspapers at the same time as the print is published.

There is also a free NFB software application for transferring NFB-NEWSLINE® to several mobile devices, including Victor Reader Stream, BookSense and Book Port Plus. The NFB-NEWSLINE® Online FAQ provides answers to some of the more frequently asked questions about the service.

NFB-NEWSLINE® newspapers and magazines are also available from Bookshare to Bookshare members through a partnership with NFB-NEWSLINE®.

RNIB National Talking Newspapers & Magazines in the UK

RNIB logo RNIB's National Talking Newspapers & Magazines (NTNM) service has been in place since 1974. Today more than 230 top publications, including daily and weekend newspapers, features and articles from top selling magazines, and specialist publications are made available in accessible formats:

Newspapers & Magazines: Vision Australia's i-access® Online

Vision Australia logo Vision Australia provides it members with access to over 200 Australian national, state and territory newspapers through its online service, i-access® Online. In 2006 Vision Australia's i-access® newspaper service was introduced, revolutionizing the way its clients become more informed. The service automatically converts files provided by news publishers into DAISY at the same time as they are sent to print each morning. The DAISY newspapers and magazines are available to VA clients for download. A list of these newspapers and magazines is provided on the Vision Australia website.

Thailand

A brief overview of their service was sent by a list member in Thailand.

They use a touch-tone telephone-based system with DAISY 3 content that automatically gathers the news every hour throughout the day and a screen scraping technique to get content from some popular news websites. The content is converted to DAISY 3 using Thai TTS via SAPI5. This is stored into the telephone server, waiting for their members to browse and read from mobile or telephone devices. They also need to get the authorization with all newspaper companies to download their content.

They have agreement with some mobile operators for providing free access to their service number. The total access for this system is around 2,000 - 3,000 calls/24hrs (the maximum concurrent lines is 150).

EPUB 3: Fast Forward to Adoption

EPUB 3 Samples Project

EPUB  logo Earlier this month the International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF) launched an EPUB 3 Samples Project. The repository is a collection of EPUB 3.0 sample documents intended to showcase features of the EPUB 3 standard, and to provide testing materials for Reading System developers.

Information about the samples is available is provided in the Samples Listing and the Feature Matrix.

If you subscribe to the downloads feed you will be auto-notified when new samples are made available. Information about contributing to the EPUB 3 Sample Content repository is available on the EPUB Samples Wiki.

Accessible EPUB 3: Best Practices for Creating Universally Usable Content

Accessible EPUB 3 (the second installment of the book "EPUB 3 Best Practices") was published earlier this month on the O'Reilly website and can be downloaded at no cost. The practices put forth in these guidelines focus on 'universal usability'; if an e-book is universally usable, it is usable by anyone and everyone. It is therefore, by definition, accessible. The first installment, What is EPUB 3? which was published in September 2011, introduced and explained the new EPUB 3 standard.

Matt Garrish, the author of both installments, is the editor of the EPUB 3 specification and was also involved in the area of accessible information as the Manager of Electronic Publishing for the CNIB. These two quotes from Accessible EPUB 3 illustrate the stance taken in the installment:

"Accessibility is critical for some and universally beneficial for all."
"Without semantically rich data, only the most rudimentary actions are possible. With it, the possibilities for all readers are endless."

The DAISY Consortium has been a long time proponent of semantics ('meaning' rather than 'how it looks') and the importance of worldwide standards for accessible content. These were also major considerations for the International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF) as it revised the EPUB standard and approved the EPUB 3 standard. This is also illustrated in Accessible EPUB 3:

"...semantics and structure have to be applied in harmony to get the most value from your data. The accessibility of your ebook is very much a reflection of the effort you put into it. The reading system may be where the magic unfolds for the reader, but all data magic starts with the quality of the source."
"Standards and conventions are the friend of accessibility."

Readium™ Project

Readium is a new open source initiative for the development of a comprehensive reference implementation of the EPUB 3 standard based on WebKit (the widely adopted open source HTML5 rendering engine). Launched by the IDPF on February 13, this project is intended to accelerate the worldwide adoption of EPUB 3. Readium is a project of the IDPF and its supporters. This test application for content developers will also benefit commercial reading system developers.

The first result of Readium is an initial beta release of an extension that adds EPUB support to Google Chrome. A preliminary beta is available on Github (online project hosting that is free for public open-source code). Note: this is a 'proof of concept prototype' and is not yet ready for 'general consumption'.

Additional information about Readium, including how to participate and links to downloads and source code, is available on the Readium website.

EPUB 3 & DAISY

The DAISY Consortium will advocate for EPUB 3 content which has the features and functions necessary to make publications fully accessible. The following DAISY Planet articles contain information about DAISY and EPUB 3 and the relationship between these standards:

A captioned video of the presentation EPUB 3, A Foundation for Accessible Publishing given by Markus Gylling, Chief Technology Officer for both the DAISY Consortium and the International Digital Publishing Forum, is available on the DAISY Consortium YouTube channel.

Techshare India 2012

An Up Close & Personal Recollection

This article was written by Stephen King, President of the DAISY Consortium, who has agreed to share his recent experiences in India.

Just escaping the Heathrow snow on Saturday 4 February, I flew to Delhi, India to attend Techshare India 2012 and the DAISY Forum of India board meeting. Well it might be snowing in the UK, but it's sunny and 28 degrees here. Phew.

DAISY Forum of India

Photograph of Dipendra Manocha speaking at Techshare India 2012 Arriving at 3 am I got a few hours fitful sleep before going to a local school for the blind that was hosting the DAISY Forum board, drawn from our 80 members there. I recognised some old friends who run exemplar services every bit as good as in the UK – Dr. Sam Taraporevala who runs the student support service at Xavier University in Mumbai, as well as being a lecturer and academic; and Rohit Trevidi who chairs the Arushi centre in Bohpal, which hugely impressed me when I visited in 2010. And of course there was Dipendra Manocha, our DAISY Consortium Developing Countries Coordinator, who was confidently chairing the meeting of some 20 people along with as many again on the phone. I'm not sure I could do that. The themes are familiar: What's next after CD for Talking Books and what's the reading technology of the future?

They are making interesting decisions. With IVONA quality speech for English they are close to a decision to move completely to text distribution for textbooks, and would do so for local languages if the technology was there. We had an interesting discussion about a partnership for a Hindi synthesiser and voices.

Wow, these guys are leading the field in getting low cost technology into peoples' hands. I saw the current Netbook computer, fully equipped with Samarth tools which sells for just R13,000, and the upcoming replacement based on a fully loaded Android tablet with keyboard which was scheduled to sell at R8,500. Then there is of course the stunning Aakash tablet being given to all school children in India, and again fully loaded with keyboard, speech, DAISY readers etc., costs just R4,000. It did not stop there, they had free software for Nokia and Android phones and I saw my first (Alpha) EPUB 3 reader handling MathML on a mobile phone. We need to find ways of getting these products from India to the rest of the world.

Techshare 2012

Photograph of Javed Abidi, chairman of Disabled Peoples' International After Dinner with Dipendra and colleagues, I retired to prepare to open Techshare with a keynote speech on solving the book famine alongside Rob Sinclair of Microsoft and Javed Abidi newly elected chair of Disabled Peoples' International.

Oh disaster! When I woke, all was not well. Almost for the first time in 30 years of global travel I was struck down with virulent traveller's tummy. This was not going to be fun! Would I make it? Even in the taxi through Delhi's alarming traffic. Or be able to stay on stage for the allotted hour and a half ceremony?

DAISY Stand at Techshare India 2012 Well, someone said I was animated about ending the book famine. I certainly was! Sprinting for privacy just as soon as the lamp lighting, balloon releasing and tour round the exhibition with government officials would decently allow. But I was delighted that Javed echoed the particular urgency of solving the schoolbook famine and the crucial role of e-books. The director from the ICT Ministry was suitably impressed. I gathered we are just about to see Indian legislation something like the US section 508 requiring accessibility of any ICT systems procured with public funds; and more besides. Signed off by all but one ministry, and that was imminent! Good to hear the progress, as this was just an idea when I was last here in 2010.

Group of school children gathered around a stand at Techshare 2012 Techshare India continues to grow. They had a great 3 track programme over the two days and a big and popular exhibition. The thing that delighted me most was the "Games and entertainment zone". Disabled people having fun? Surely not? Well the squeals of delight from the party of school children proved that one wrong as they got to grips with Xbox Kinect gesture "Shoot the baddies" games, which recognise you even when you are sitting in a wheelchair and have some co-ordination problems. Plus some amazing stereo sound audio games. Shilpi Kapoor, Managing Director, BarrierBreak Technologies, Net Systems Informatics, the Techshare India organisers, certainly knows how to break new ground and provide an impelling reason to attend.

Stephen King and the DAISY staff team in India, Techshare 2012 Rummi from Saksham Trust, RNIB's new distributer in India, was doing roaring trade with the Penfriend, and the DAISY stand was 3 deep with people every time I visited. It was great to talk with all the DAISY staff based in India and hear about their work as developers and as DAISY evangelists. They are the team behind Obi and Tobi production tools and some of the great YouTube training materials for these that are now appearing on the DAISY YouTube channel. Take a look! We are really lucky to have such a highly qualified team of professionals supporting us. I was very proud of the part both RNIB and the DAISY Consortium were playing in India. This bodes well for the future as India emerges as a world super power.

It was good to catch up with Kiran Kaja, accessibility engineer at Adobe (and ex NAB and RNIB) and talk about the strides Adobe is making to improve accessibility and support e-books. His message was very clear though. We have to get publishers to ask for these improvements, Adobe cannot force them to have or use them, and in the end, customers count. And Rob Sinclair of Microsoft was very encouraging and talked about the need for global standards and professionalization of the accessibility industry. A global curriculum and academy. Very interesting though with some risks.

And my most enduring memory? Well it has to be the shoe based GPS navigation system. No, seriously, the blind people there were crowding out the stand to get a look. Coupled with RNIB's sonic glasses to stop you bashing into things, we now potentially have the perfect 'hands and ears free' system to get around. Your days are numbered Guide Dogs! Now if only I could work out how to contact the developer. He said "I don't do e-mail or websites' Facebook me". Can anyone lend me a teenager?

Many thanks to Stephen for sharing his recent experiences in India with us. Two news articles have been posted about Techshare India 2012. For additional information please refer to India Times, February 21, "How entrepreneurs like Shilpi Kapoor, Ferdinand Rodricks are making technology, information more accessible to differently-abled" and The Sunday Indian, February 21 "Tech gap for disabled people".

Photo credit: The photograph of Javed Abidi is from the Disabled Peoples' International website.

DAISY Pipeline 2: New Release & Hands-on Workshop

Pipeline 2 – V1.1

DAISY Pipeline logo A new release of DAISY Pipeline 2 – version 1.1, was released earlier this month. The DAISY Pipeline 2 is an ongoing project developing an open source, cross-platform framework for the efficient, economic and automated processing of digital formats. This DAISY Consortium project facilitates the production and maintenance of accessible content for people with print disabilities.

V1.1 features a completely revamped command-line tool. The major change in processing functionality is a new "DTBook to EPUB 3" script based on a combination of the existing "DTBook to DAISY AI" and "DAISY AI to EPUB 3" functionality. DTBook is DAISY XML, which means that this new functionality supports the transformation of DAISY 3 text content to EPUB 3.

In addition a more complete user guide is now available on the Pipeline 2 Wiki.

Pipeline 2 Version 1.1 is available for download. Full details, including improvements to the Web Service API, framework and modules are posted in the Release Notes. DAISY Pipeline 2 is a work in progress and will be improved and enriched over time – updates will be provided by the development team on the Pipeline 2 blog and the Pipeline 2 Forum. The development team welcomes feedback and input, which can be posted to the Forum.

Pipeline 2 Workshop Offered Hands-on Experience

On February 16th and 17th a DAISY Pipeline 2 workshop was held at RNIB in Peterborough, UK. More than 15 people from Europe and even from as far away as Australia were present to attend various the presentations and tutorials on the Pipeline 2 project and the new EPUB 3 and DAISY Authoring & Interchange standards.

It was a wonderful opportunity for participants to overcome a possibly daunting introduction of new technologies and standards by meeting Pipeline 2 developers and having hands-on experience with the Pipeline 2 tools. Everyone benefitted, including the Pipeline 2 developers who received great feedback (and bug reports too!).

The agenda and list of participants are available on the Pipeline Wiki. The workshop material will be posted online in the near future – an announcement about this will be made on the Pipeline 2 blog.

The DAISY Consortium and the Pipeline 2 developers would like to thank RNIB for hosting this workshop. In particular, the developers and participants extend thanks to RNIB for a wonderful dinner on the Thursday evening with Stephen King, the Consortium's President, joining the group.

Increasing Pace of Change in Publishing

2012 O'Reilly Tools of Change for Publishing Conference

This report on the 2012 TOC Conference recently held in New York was prepared by Varju Luceno, Director of Communications for the DAISY Consortium.

Overview: So Much is Changing, So Much to Do

Conference Participants at TOC 2012 The 2012 O'Reilly Tools of Change for Publishing Conference, held in New York February 13-15 was inspiring. The main focus was on the uncertain future of publishing, especially digital publishing. Videos from the conference, available on the O'Reilly YouTube Channel feature many interviews and interesting discussions.

It was apparent at the conference that the emerging global market for e-books is continuously stirring up legal questions concerning copyright and digital publishing rights for authors and publishers. Existing laws are slowly being adapted to new media platforms.

Digital publishing requires continuous technical education for everyone from publishers to readers. The increase in the use of mobile devices is now driving the development of next generation publishing tools. There is a growing need for easy-to-use authoring tools that enable content creation and distribution. The 'techies' are the main movers and shakers in the digital publishing domain.

During the conference it became clear that publishers need to get serious about data and analysis if they want to develop future-proof business models. For example, they need to look at the effectiveness of their day-to-day marketing strategies and determine when they should send out a tweet to get maximum re-tweets on their social networks. They need to make quantitative assessments of the number of books a "library power patron" will buy based on known reading habits (one bought for every two borrowed, based on research). It is also increasingly important for publishers to test the relevance of new digital content (e-books) by releasing early, roughly edited versions to their audiences. And of course, publishers should not ignore readers who have a print disability.

Accessibility in Multimedia World – TOC 2012 Panel

Niels Thogersen and the xml-tekst crew at TOC 2012 There was noticeable increased interest as more people attended this year's session than the accessibility related session held last year. It was great to see the xml-tekst team there – these DAISY Friends were the first to arrive actually.

The Panel members were:

Accessibility Panel: Betsy Beaumon, Larry Goldberg, Adam Witwer and George Kerscher - and Mikie, George's guide dog Adam Witwer (O'Reilly) stated that it is quite simple – publishers need help to make their publications accessible – they can then reach new audiences and sell more books. Larry Goldberg showed videos that demonstrated how students with print disabilities use assistive technologies and reminded the audience that accessibility should not be an afterthought. In an O'Reilly interview with Larry, his response to the final question "What are the basic things that publishers can and should be doing to address accessibility" was 'structure, metadata, and image description' [summarized].

The panel members stated that ALT-text and captions are not sufficient, that other solutions are needed. Issues with ALT-text include:

DIAGRAM Center

The panel members described both the major activities and Working Groups of the DIAGRAM Center (Digital Image and Graphic Resources for Accessible Materials).

Major Activities:

Working Groups:

George Kerscher explained that the DIAGRAM Center aspires to dramatically change the way in which images and graphical content for accessible instructional materials (AIM) are produced and accessed. The Center strives to deliver open source tools and standards, and training for schools, publishers and accessible media producers. The DIAGRAM Content model goals are to meet a wide range of needs, and to develop a comprehensive, yet simple solution.

Diagram of the water cycle used at TOC 2012 to demonstrate image complexity A diagram of the Hydrologic (water) Cycle was shown as an example to demonstrate the complexity of images and their descriptions.

Panelists also shared information about Poet, a web-based tool that was created to make it easier and more efficient to create image descriptions for DAISY books, and to allow crowd sourcing of image descriptions to reduce cost. It is intended for use by authors, publishers, and accessibility providers. Poet is designed to:

Tobi, the open source interactive authoring tool from the DAISY Consortium supports this content model.

Panel discussion returned to ALT-text and the need to identify a better solution to replace the deprecated LONGDESC (long description), the need to address the challenges that plagued LONGDESC usage. It will be necessary to lower the cost of producing descriptions and alternative images, to education producers as to when to go beyond ALT-text, and to provide support for rich descriptions in EPUB 3 authoring tools and readers.

EPUB 3 currently lacks a mechanism to support external descriptions of graphic visual representations of data ("infographics"). While the work on specifying technologies and conventions for intrinsic accessibility progresses, the need for a well-defined external description mechanism remains. The epub:describedAt attribute is likely to provide the interim solution.

EPUB 3 support will be added to Poet this year.

Additional future plans for the DAISY Consortium include an automated accessibility checking tool and comprehensive reading system accessibility in all major platforms. One long term objective that will have a significant impact worldwide, particularly in developing countries, is the development of low cost refreshable braille displays.

Thank you signage displayed at TOC 2012 - the DAISY logo is in the center And yes, DAISY was once again an O'Reilly Media Partner.

Letters to the Editor

Dear Lynn,

Thank you so much for keeping me on the DAISY Planet mailing list. It's a great reminder of the engaging work I got to be part of for 7 years, and of the dedicated people who make access happen -- I was especially moved by Hiroshi's piece.

Susan Ewing,
Toronto, Canada

---------------------------

Editor's Note: The article Susan is referring to is Tackling the Disasters in Japan with DAISY & EPUB which was published in the January DAISY Planet.

Dear DAISY

How do I request a book to be put into the DAISY format?

Peggy S.,
USA

---------------------------

Dear Peggy,

It depends on your needs and the nature of your materials. Universities have departments (Student Disability Services) that convert textbooks into digital formats for example. If you need to scan a book first to get a digital version, then you need to work with the digital version to add DAISY formatting (mark up the text). The DAISY Structure Guidelines can provide you with information about this.

You also need to make sure you don't violate any copyright laws.

If you have a well-structured Microsoft Word document, you could convert your well-structured publication into DAISY format yourself using the Save as DAISY add-in. Instructions on how to download and install the add-in and how to convert the Word document into DAISY format are available on the DAISY Consortium tutorial on the Save As DAISY add-in for Microsoft Word 2010.

You could also contact one of our member organizations to have your publications converted into DAISY format or use one of the tools (products) developed by them. Please refer to the list of conversion tools and services available on our website

The DAISY Consortium develops and maintains international, open DAISY standards, and provides support for its membership, however we don't provide conversion or DAISY book creation services.

Hope this information is helpful.

Bits & Pieces

Karen A. Keninger has been appointed to the position of director of the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS), in the USA. From 2000 to 2008 she served as director of the Iowa Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, and since 2008, has been the director of the Iowa Department for the Blind.

When she was young Ms. Keninger was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa; she was blind by the age of 20. She is a daily user of information technologies including Web-Braille, digital talking book machines and books, and online download services.

Ms. Keninger's appointment becomes effective March 26, 2012. She succeeds Frank Kurt Cylke who retired on February 28, 2011.

Mainstreaming Accessibility: A Practical Session for Publishers to Reach More Readers – This seminar, organized by EDItEUR , the Publishers' Licensing Society and RNIB "will be a highly practical session showcasing the latest EPUB3 Accessibility Guidance, with demonstrations showing how publisher's content can be accessed by readers with print impairments..." Daniel Weck, Software Architect and Programmer for the DAISY Consortium, will be giving a presentation at this event which will be held in London, UK, on April 16.

Bookshare International Now Serves Thirty Countries (Beneblog) – In his blog post of February 7, Jim Fruchertman provides an update on this service. "Bookshare International members now have access to more than 50,000 titles, including books in Spanish, German, French, Hindi, and Tamil, and a collection of textbooks in Afrikaans." Bookshare is also working on a project with Qatar's Mada Assistive Technology Center to add Arabic language books to the collection.

The Bookshare Read2Go podcast can be listened to or downloaded from the Blind Access Journal. In the podcast Allison Hilliker and Darrell Shandrow demonstrate finding, downloading and reading with Bookshare's Read2Go iOS app.

Learning Ally has prepared a set of simple and helpful audio tutorials for using the Learning Ally Audiobook Manager. Learning Ally Audiobook Manager - screen reader audio instructions is designed to assist Learning Ally members who are blind or visually impaired.

ViewPoints Plus is a half-hour weekly podcast that covers topics such as products, services and daily living tips for people with vision loss. The programs which are hosted by Nancy Goodman Torpey and Peter Torpey include interviews, some of which are prerecorded and some which are live via Skype. Correspondence and comments were received from people in almost 40 countries and 42 US states last year. Links to all previous podcasts are provided (the files are large and take a few minutes to open). There are also text-based "Show Notes" for each podcast which provide links to additional resources, contact information, etc.

ViewPoints 1206 2-8-12 " American Printing House for the Blind Product Development" includes an interview with Larry Skutchan, a software engineer at APH, about some current and upcoming products including the Braille Plus 18 and upgrades to BookPort Plus.

• The archived recording and slides of the EASI webinar Overview of the Accessibility of Mainstream E-Readers by Ken Petri is available online. (Note: the main focus is on higher education in the USA.)

• Gizmo's Freeware website includes a listing of 90 resources for Free Audio Books Online (some can be downloaded, some can be streamed).

Tech Tips

Revision of the DAISY Standard – A number of recent changes have been made as part of the standardization process. Note that the specification number is now Z39.98. As a result, all of the namespaces and other identifiers have been changed. The renumbering is only in relation to the previous use of Z39.86 in the Authoring and Interchange specification and profiles (namespaces, resource locations, etc.). This new specification is not intended to supersede Z39.86 which is why it has received a new number.

The current version of the schemas can now be found on the user portal from the Z39.98-2012 Specification Document Working area. Note that ANSI/NISO Z39.86-2005 (DAISY 3) remains an active specification and is supported by the DAISY Consortium.

The final draft of the revised Standard is officially known as the NISO Z39.98-2012, Authoring and Interchange Framework for Adaptive XML Publishing Specification. The pre-release schemas should no longer be referenced.