July and August are often not particularly busy months in the DAISY and related communities, however this year that has not been the case. This issue of the DAISY Planet is therefore rather long, but I hope you will find the time to read through the articles and regular columns. My issue now is where to start with this 'letter'…
Perhaps first, congratulations should go to Benetech for receiving the 5 year 'Bookshare and Innovation for Education' award. This is a federal award from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP). Full details about the exciting things this will enable Benetech to do (including doubling the Bookshare student membership from 200,000 to 400,000, increasing the number of educational titles in its library to more than 200,000, and addressing the challenges posed by accessible math and graphics) are available in the press release.
While I'm on the topic of awards, in July the DAISY Consortium received the Dr. Jacob Bolotin Award. Five cash awards totaling $80,000 were presented at the National Federation of the Blind annual convention in Dallas, honouring five innovators (individuals and groups) in the blindness field. The DAISY Consortium was awarded $20,000 for its solid record of accomplishment in making reading accessible to the blind. Details are provided in the PR Newswire press release.
The 'Story' in June was from Nancy and Peter Torpey who host the online interview show ViewPoints. The show this week is an interview about the DAISY Consortium. The first 4 or 5 minutes of these programs are usually an introduction to the person being interviewed – as I'm the one being interviewed, the first few minutes are about me. However, once the introduction is over, the remainder of the program is indeed about the DAISY Consortium: "We'll learn how DAISY was started and where it might be going in the future." (program summary from Nancy & Peter). All of the shows and show notes are available on the ViewPoints website.
Those of you who are following the Transforming Braille Project will be pleased to know that the project now has an area DAISY website and we have also set up a Forum for discussion and Q&A on the subject. Please also read the PR Web press release on the project for additional information.
Translations for the DAISY Consortium's software tools are a primary subject in the Tech Tips and Dear DAISY columns this month. I'd like to again thank Association Valentin Haüy for providing the translations for Obi, the Taiwan Digital Talking Books Association (TDTB) and all of the organizations and individuals who have taken the time to produce translations for DAISY software and of DAISY publications.
The Planet HOT off the Press! column is rarely used, but in the June issue it was about the complaint filed with the Office of Civil Rights for the US Department of State about the purchase & deployment of 35K Amazon Kindles worldwide. I'm pleased to let you know that the solicitation was cancelled. Details of the notice are available online on the Federal Business Opportunities website. The efforts of the National Federation of the Blind in this change cannot be overstated.
I'm particularly excited about the Story this month. Christine Ha is among the last three finalists in the FOX television program "MasterChef". This amazingly talented young woman is an inspiration and an example of what can be done when you set your mind to it. She prepares food by taste, smell and feel and is competing against fully sighted aspiring chefs. You can be sure that I'll be watching the show this Tuesday with fingers crossed. (The program is shown in many countries, not just in North America.) Many thanks to Christine for making the time to answer my questions.
Thanks also to those of you who contacted me about the DAISY Planet and to those who submitted content and ideas for articles. Input for the article New DAISY/NISO Standard Published: Authoring & Interchange Framework was contributed by Matt Garrish, author of Accessible EPUB 3, and, What is EPUB 3.
The DAISY Planet is read by people around the world – please remember that you can share news and information about activities, services, developments and awards with our readers by simply getting in touch with me directly by email or by using our Contact Us form. If you know someone who has a story to tell, please let me know.
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.
July 9 marked a major milestone in the evolution of the DAISY standard – ANSI/NISO Z39.98-2012 (known within the DAISY community as DAISY Authoring & Interchange) was formally approved by NISO. Earlier this month NISO and the DAISY Consortium announced the publication of the standard, the new American National Standard Authoring and Interchange Framework which is a revision, extension, and enhancement of the DAISY 3 Standard (officially ANSI/NISO Z39.86-2005). This new flexible framework is designed to meet the varying regional accessible content authoring needs of DAISY producers around the world.
The new standard fosters a common approach while at the same time encouraging the shared development of new document formats and components. Many organizations require defined content models (profiles) that can used to mark up common document types such as books, periodicals and generic documents. These are available for use now. Leading edge organizations are encouraged to share their developments with the broader community to avoid duplication of effort and divergent work. Varying levels of expertise in document preparation are therefore supported by the new standard.
Todd Carpenter, NISO Executive Director, explained in the press release that feedback received during trial use indicated that due to the significant changes in the standard both content providers and device manufacturers would require a transition period. The existing DAISY 3 Standard (ANSI/NISO Z39.86) has therefore been reaffirmed for another five years and the A&I Framework was assigned a new standard number (ANSI/NISO Z39.98). The DAISY Consortium is the Maintenance Agency for both.
"Organizations in the DAISY community and in the mainstream of publishing have been looking for an XML framework that is powerful and flexible. The Authoring and Interchange Framework not only meets this need, it expands the possibility of what can be produced for the existing community of users of DAISY books and also enlarges the potential audience of both developers and users of resources that conform to this standard. New applications using this standard could include electronic magazines as well as digital books, text to speech rendering for e-readers, and multimedia publications." (George Kerscher, Secretary General for the DAISY Consortium and Administrative Chair of the DAISY Revision Working Group, August 7 press release)
In an email sent to the DAISY Board, Staff and Working Group members, Todd Carpenter wrote:
I would like to extend my thanks to you all on behalf of the NISO community for the amazing work that the DAISY community, the many volunteers, and the DAISY staff have contributed to this project. We have been getting some good feedback about the release since its announcement and I'm certain that it will help improve access to content for everyone in the many years to come. In particular, great appreciation is due to George [Kerscher] and Markus [Gylling] for their leadership and commitment to driving this initiative forward. You all have done a tremendous job in advancing the state of the art for accessibility and you should be proud of your latest accomplishment.
One notable content model that has been developed in parallel with the Authoring & Interchange standard is the DIAGRAM content model for accessible descriptions. With this model all descriptions can be compiled into a single document for distribution; individual descriptions can also be stored in a content repository. The DIAGRAM content model is available for all DAISY producers to use directly in their production as they migrate to the new standard.
Going forward, the DIAGRAM content model Working Group will continue to evolve it as new cases and needs become apparent.
The 24th Session of the WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization) SCCR (Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights) took place in late July. As there was no July issue of the DAISY Planet, and as there has been considerable interest in the progress and outcome of these sessions, the relevant conclusions are provided in this article.
On the final day of the meeting, Knowledge Ecology International (KEI) conducted interviews with some of those awaiting the conclusions. In the interview with Maryanne Diamond, President of the World Blind Union, Ms. Diamond said that there was an air of enthusiasm and willingness by all "to work collaboratively to reach agreement on the final text of the treaty. In the interventions from the member states all but two, the EU and the USA, said that the hope for the meeting is to reach agreement on the text and a call for a diplomatic conference for a treaty". At that point, the final day, there was a "single text with a lot of brackets, there is good stuff in the text, but it isn't ready yet and there isn't agreement on it". As she was interviewed the conclusions were being developed. She was still hopeful that "sense would prevail and that in the conclusions there would be a recommendation to the general assembly of WIPO in 2012, a call for diplomatic conference in 2013 for a treaty for the blind and print disabled community".
Interviews with both Maryanne Diamond and Dan Pescod, Vice Chair of the WBU's Right to Read Campaign, that were conducted in the early days of the meeting are also on YouTube and may be of interest to those following the progress of the proposed treaty that would enable the cross-border exchange of accessible information for those who are blind or have a print disability.
Although it does appear that things are moving in the right direction, and that while some viewed the outcome optimistically, others were less positive. The Conclusions specific to 'Limitations and Exceptions: visually impaired persons/persons with print disabilities' as posted on the SCCR 24 area of the WIPO website are as follows. All of the documents referenced in the Conclusions are available in multiple languages from the WIPO/SCCR 24 page:
"12. The Committee took note of the Fifth Interim Report of the Stakeholders' Platform (document SCCR/24/2) and encouraged the stakeholders to continue the work of the Stakeholders' Platform.
13. The Committee moved forward with text-based work based on the "Working document on an international instrument on limitations and exceptions for visually impaired persons/persons with print disabilities" (document SCCR/23/7), and adopted a revised version contained in document SCCR/24/9.
14. The Committee noted: [a] that substantial progress had been made on the substantive provisions of a draft legal instrument on appropriate exceptions and limitations for persons with visual impairment and/or print disabilities, [b] that further work on substantive provisions still remains to be done, and [c] that the SCCR is committed to resolution of outstanding questions at its next session. In this connection, the Committee agreed on the following recommendations to the WIPO General Assembly:
a) that an inter-sessional meeting of the SCCR be held in Geneva between the 2012 General Assembly and the 25th session of the SCCR, and that funding be provided, according to the usual formula, for experts from developing countries to participate in the meeting. The exact dates will be determined by the WIPO Secretariat.
b) that the item of limitations and exceptions for visually impaired persons/persons with print disabilities will continue in the 25th session of the SCCR with a view to conclude or advance substantially the text-based work on limitations and exceptions for visually impaired persons/persons with print disabilities.
c) that the General Assembly convene an extraordinary session to be held in December 2012 to evaluate the text from SCCR/25 and to make a decision on whether to convene a diplomatic conference in 2013.
15. The Committee requested the Secretariat to explore the question of funding options for representatives from developing countries to participate in the extraordinary session of the General Assembly."
The 2012 IFLA World Library and Information Congress Pre-conference "Let's Read! Reading and Print Disabilities in Young People" was organized by IFLA Libraries Serving Persons with Print Disabilities Section in cooperation with the Estonian Reading Association and the Estonian Library for the Blind. This informative event took place on August 8-9 in beautiful, medieval and yet modern Tallinn, the capital of Estonia. In addition to sharing their knowledge and learning how to improve the lives of people with print disabilities, participants were able to tour the Estonian Library for the Blind and get a glimpse of Estonian culture by tasting the local food and witnessing (and even participating in) Estonian national folk-dancing.
The conference highlighted the importance of delivering special library services to young people with print disabilities (e.g. visual impairments and reading difficulties). In-depth research papers demonstrated how collaboration among schools, libraries, technology companies and advocacy organizations can improve these services.
Representatives of numerous DAISY Consortium Members and Friends, including Celia Library, CNIB, Dedicon, Flemish Library for Audiobooks and Braille, Handicap Cultural Center, HumanWare, Icelandic Library for the Blind, JSPRD, Norwegian Library of Talking Books and Braille, Nota, ONCE PLEXTALK, Pyxima, RNIB, Synscenter Refsnaes (RoboBraille), South African Library for the Blind, and TPB participated and/or presented at this event.
In addition to having an exhibit and presenting, Pyxima was one of the main supporters of the conference. Pyxima has developed the talking newspaper production software and the Online DAISY platform for audiobook distribution in Belgium; they are currently working on introducing the benefits of EPUB 3 to a wider audience of readers through the development of VEP, the Flemish e-book platform. Marc Van der Aa presented and demonstrated PLEXTALK Linio, their Online DAISY player.
Annemie Desoete, professor at Ghent University, researcher and writer, gave the keynote on day two. One of her slides included the following quote: "Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid. (Albert Einstein)". The DAISY Consortium and its membership must ensure that children with disabilities do not feel like that fish, unable to reach the top of that tree, unable to reach their full potential and contribute fully to society, because they are not equipped to do so.
Take a look at the article about different DAISY player options on DAISYpedia.
Slides of the keynotes and presentations (tagged PDF files) are available on the IFLA website.
Emerging technologies, including mobile devices and e-readers, are changing the way we interact with the information that is all around us. We need to ensure that young people with print disabilities are not excluded from these evolving technologies, programs and resources.
Thanks go to Varju Luceno, the DAISY Consortium's Director of Communications for providing this article. She will also be preparing an article on Libraries Now! - Inspiring, Surprising, Empowering, the 78th IFLA General Conference and Assembly for the September DAISY Planet.
The third annual NCPEDP MphasiS Universal Design Awards were presented August 14, on the eve of India's Independence Day. The list of the Awardees in each of the 3 categories is available on the Disability News and Information Service (DNIS) website. Shri Mukul Wasnik, Honorable Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment, presented the awards to the winners at a simple ceremony in New Delhi. Manocha, Developing Countries Coordinator and Lead of Training & Technical Support for the DAISY Consortium, and Managing Founder Trustee of Saksham Trust, received the award in Category A: Persons with Disabilities.
"Awards in this category are given to people with disabilities who have created an impact in accessibility and universal design in any of the areas such as built environment, transport infrastructure, service provision, information and communication technology (ICT), universally designed consumer products, mobility & independent living aids, or assistive technology in their personal/professional capacity."
The awards emphasize the need for universal accessibility in the areas such as:
In the early 1990's Dipendra Manocha was working on a PhD in Hindi classical music at the Delhi University. However he was dependent upon others for assistance with his reading materials. There were almost no accessible text and reference books and basic assistive technology such as screen reading software was not available in the local language. In 1993 his frustration reached its peak. As a result he left his academic career, realizing that self-sufficiency rather that dependence on others was the key. He changed the course of his life, deciding to not only help himself but to help others as well. It became his mission to explore, teach and implement new IT solutions that would empower people who are blind in India.
In 1999 Dipendra was introduced to the world of DAISY digital books. He was immediately drawn toward these feature-rich digital books, viewing them as a revolution that was enabling people with a print disability to read and access information. The DAISY for All Project was begun in 2003 – Dipendra was brought on as the Assistant Project Manager. Today, in addition to his roles with the DAISY Consortium and Saksham Trust, Dipendra is on the executive committee of the World Blind Union.
Information about and the purpose of this award are outlined in the Design Award Brochure:
"Accessibility not only means access to physical spaces but also means access to information, technology, transport, services, aids and appliances, etc.
Access, therefore, is an issue that cuts across disabilities and sectors and forms the very basis of empowerment of disabled people. A concept that is intrinsic to any kind of access is 'Universal Design', which means a design that is usable to the greatest extent possible by everyone, regardless of age, ability, or situation."
National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (NCPEDP), in association with AccessAbility and BarrierBreak Technologies, and supported by MphasiS, instituted The NCPEDP MphasiS Universal Design Awards in 2010. These Awards are presented to individuals for their exemplary efforts in promoting accessibility for persons with disabilities.
D.N.I.S. News Network, India reported that: "Despite having at least 100 million persons with disabilities in India, only a minuscule percentage of the population is seen in the mainstream of any aspect of life in the country. A major reason for this is the lack of access." The NCPEDP MphasiS Universal Design Awards have been developed to change this.
Additional information about this year's NCPEDP MphasiS Awards is available in The Times of India Article/Delhi Disability made him innovate for all published August 21. A second article is to be published in the monthly magazine Civil Society.
One of the three winners of the 2011 NCPEDP MphasiS Awards in Category A was Prashant Verma, a consultant with the DAISY Consortium.
The MathML Structure Guidelines have been updated to reference MathML 3 and are available on the DAISY website in the DAISY Structure Guidelines, Part II(g): Mathematics. MathML is an XML application for describing mathematical notation and capturing both its structure and content.
"This section of the guidelines explains how to use elements to mark up mathematical expressions in DAISY books. The elements described here come from the W3C MathML Standard. MathML forms the basis of DAISY's Modular Extension for Mathematics, which is the normative reference upon which these guidelines are based.
A mathematical expression is a collection of symbols representing a mathematical idea. A mathematical expression may be as simple as a single variable or it may be a complex expression that spans many lines. It may occur either inline or in a block context.
All content that represents mathematical expressions should be marked up using MathML; images (pictures) alone should not be used to represent mathematical expression because these can not be rendered with synthetic speech or converted to braille." (Source: Introduction: MathML Structure Guidelines)
"Because the audience of DAISY books is broader, including readers with visual or learning impairments, MathML content must be suitable to be rendered intelligibly via speech processing and braille translation software in addition to the content's usual visual rendering. This means that the appropriateness of the underlying markup is just as important as its visual rendering."(Source: Benefits of Accessible MathML: MathML Structure Guidelines)
The Guidelines include many examples with the corresponding MathML markup; the examples are typical of what might be published in a textbook. Many highly skilled people, a number of whom are NIMAS Board members, have devoted a great deal of time and effort to the revision of the MathML Guidelines.
In a Dear Colleague letter from the US Department of Education to Special Education Directors, a letter from The National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard Center transmitting the updated guidelines is quoted as follows: "The MathML3 Structure Guidelines will provide the community of stakeholders responsible for the production of NIMAS filesets with essential guidance in best practice markup of mathematics and science content..."
Organizations and publishing houses that produce math and/or science textbooks are urged to use the revised MathML Structure Guidelines.
The L V Prasad Eye Institute (LVPEI) is a comprehensive eye health facility and a World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for the Prevention of Blindness. The Institute offers comprehensive patient care, sight enhancement & rehabilitation services, and high-impact rural eye health programs. In addition, LVPEI also pursues cutting edge research and offers training in human resources for all levels of ophthalmic personnel. The main campus is located in Hyderabad, India.
Establishment in 1987, LVPEI now works out of 107 locations. Their mission is "to provide equitable and efficient eye care to all sections of society". Approximately one third of their rehabilitation training clients use their digital library services. And now, through DAISY production training conducted by Prashant Verma, LVPEI will begin DAISY production.
"Perhaps LVPEI is the only eye institute that has incorporated rehabilitation of persons with visual impairment among its other components. The training program conducted by you was very useful to us. The additional knowledge will certainly help us produce books in more accessible DAISY format for the end users. Our immediate plan following this training is to begin DAISY production at our main campus in Hyderabad (where our digital studio is located) and in our tertiary level centres in Vijayawada, Vishakapatnam and Bhubaneswar. As of now LVPEI is located in more than 100 areas, eventually, we will be taking the digital book services even to the remotest part of rural Andhra Pradesh through our network of service centres." (Beula Christy, Consultant & Head - Vision Rehabilitation Dr., LVPEI, Hyderabad)
The training program was created to provide a holistic solution aimed at providing a better reading experience for the clients of the Institute. Thus all areas related to book production, distribution and playback were presented. The program concluded with a strategic discussion session in which a suitable production workflow, book distribution channel and players were selected for the Institute. The following broad topics were covered during the training:
DAISY content was created in English, Telugu and Hindi languages. The full report prepared by Prashant Verma will be available on the DAISY website in the Training and Technical Support area for Training Course Reports.
At the end of this month a "train the trainers" program designed for people with some knowledge of DAISY and who can already use Obi to create DAISY content will take place in Dehradun, India. The goal of the program will be for the participants to acquire the necessary skills to become trainers or resource persons for their respective regions. One of the key tools that will be taught is Tobi. Prashant Verma, a Consultant with the DAISY Consortium, will also lead this training program.
If your organization or group is interested in finding out more about training offered by the DAISY Consortium, details are provided on the T&TS Consulting Services page on the DAISY website. You can also contact Prashant Verma by email at pverma[at]daisy(dot)org with any questions you may have about DAISY training.
I'm writing with feedback on your newsletter. I have only been a subscriber for a little bit, but I really enjoy it. Access for all is so important. I especially enjoyed the interview you did with the Torpeys in this most recent issue of "The DAISY Planet." I listen to their podcast each week and thoroughly enjoy it. Thanks for a great newsletter and keep up the nice work.
Thanks for another DAISY Planet, packed full of good reading. I appreciate so much your quick response in adding the Printer Friendly Version tab. I did notice though that the Your Story was not included in the printed out copy of the Planet. I guess only the link title printed. I am not sure if all the other info in the left sidebar was printed either.
Thanks again for all your work to keep us all updated on DAISY and publishing.
Resources for the Blind,
Editor's Note: There is a separate "Printer Friendly Version" link at the bottom of the Story. The Stories are in a separate area of the DAISY website, linked to from the DAISY Planet, which means if you'd like to print the story as well as the actual newsletter, you would need to print it separately.---------------------------
If you have ideas or suggestions as to how the DAISY Planet might be improved, please let me know. If there is an article that you find particularly helpful or that you disagree with for whatever reason, again, please let me know.
We have translated the article Tobi 1.7: You Can Make Images 'Speak' from DAISY Planet, April 2012, and posted it to our TDTB Blog. I would be pleased if you can include the link in the DAISY Planet – there may be other people who would like to read the Chinese translation.
Taiwan Digital Talking Books Association (TDTB)
Many thanks for the link to the translation of the article about Tobi that was in the April 2012 DAISY Planet. I will of course include the information in the August issue. I'm sure the other translations TDTB has done previously are read by many, many people around the world and that the Chinese translation of AMIS done by your organization is downloaded and used often.
The DAISY Consortium is truly an international organization, and although the official language is English, there are a great many people in the DAISY community whose first language is not English. If you, your organization or company translate information from the DAISY website, including articles in the DAISY Planet, please get in touch with me so that the translations can be shared with others.
The Consortium's open source tools can also be translated into other languages. There is a "TRANSLATE" button at top of each of the project areas:
• Pipeline 2
The list of translations already available for AMIS is on the AMIS download page. Credit to the translators is given for each.
• The NISO Forum "The E-Book Renaissance, Part II: Challenges and Opportunities" will be held in Boston, MA, October 18-19. Early bird registration discount is available through October 5. Full details, including the agenda and registration information are provided on the E-Book Renaissance Forum website.
• The Learning Ally Audio app is compatible with for iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. It is now available for free.
• The focus of Load2Learn is providing educators with resources to support secondary school pupils, including digital curriculum materials, accessible images and guidance on making materials accessible to learners with print disabilities. The project was awarded to RNIB and Dyslexia Action Dyslexia Action by the Department of Education. Interest has been shown for extending the program for both older and younger age groups. At present, due largely to copyright, Load2Learn is limited to the UK.
• The National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute will present its first conference on tactile graphics providing an in-depth look at how tactile graphics can and are being made, and how tactile graphics enhance STEM education. The conference will take place November 30th to December 1, with presentations covering 3D, 2D, haptics, high tech, low tech, quick and easy tactiles, and more. The draft agenda is now available on the NFB website. Registration is free.
• The Text Customization for Readability Online Symposium, organized by the W3C WAI Research and Development Working Group (RDWG), will take place November 19. The Call for Papers is open until September 24. "This symposium brings together researchers, practitioners, and users with disabilities to explore the needs of people with low vision, dyslexia, and other conditions and situations that impact reading." Participation is free but spaces are limited.
• In the article Autism-friendly Technology posted by the Manila Bulletin Publishing Corporation (mb.com.ph), digital technologies that can benefit learners with autism are examined, including: "Digital Talking Books. The Autism Society Philippines, in cooperation with AusAid, is set to develop a series of DAISY (Digital Accessible Information System) digital talking books intended to teach children their human rights as individuals with disabilities, proclaimed by the United Nations. The project will feature social stories and will be illustrated by graphic designer Gabriel Atienza, a person with Asperger Syndrome."
• The National Federation of the Blind (NFB) blog Robo Braille: enhancing the accessibility of documents is a review of the RoboBraille service (which is free), including a description of how to use it to convert files into accessible formats, including DAISY and EPUB. (RoboBraille is developed jointly by Synscenter Refsnæs and Sensus ApS.)
• INCI (National Institute for the Blind Colombia) is hosting online chats about assistive technologies for people who are blind or have a visual disability. Time: 8 to 10 a.m. COT (Columbia Time).
• Described Video/TV Update for the USA: As of July 1 the US Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 (CVAA) came into affect. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) had adopted rules to implement the video description provisions in August 2011. Video description is audio-narrated descriptions of a television program's key visual elements. Audio descriptions are inserted into pauses in the program dialogue, making the program more accessible to individuals who are blind or visually impaired.
• Audio recordings of the highlights of the NFB National Convention held July 3 to 5 are available on the National Federation of the Blind website. International speakers include Maryanne Diamond (WBU), and Kevin Carey and Richard Orme (RNIB). NFB is a Member of the DAISY Consortium.
• RNZFB has partnered with Bookshare to make more than 40,000 electronic books available to it members to download. For the twelve months beginning 1 July 2012, the RNZFB will meet the Bookshare subscription costs for its members who join Bookshare through the Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind.
• RNZFB publishes Adaptive Technology Snippets on its website on a regular basis. You can also sign up to have them sent to you via email.
• Reading material resources from
How To Geek:
The Best Websites for Downloading, Renting, and Purchasing Audiobooks,
The Best Websites for Listening to Internet Radio and Downloading and Streaming Free Music,
The Best Websites for Finding, Downloading, Borrowing, Renting, and Purchasing eBooks
• The article For Children Who Cannot Speak, a True Voice via Technology in the New York Times online, is about the text to speech application Proloquo2Go which runs on Apple's mobile devices and is used by tens of thousands of children with disabilities such autism and cerebral palsy. Proloquo2Go 2.1 which features 4 children's voice (boy and girl American English, boy and girl British English) has been developed by AssistiveWare and its partner, Acapela Group (a Friend of the DAISY Consortium). What makes these voices different is that they were produced with real children's voices and they sound like children rather than altered adult voices.
• Tobi 2.0, the open source DAISY full-text and audio production software, entered the alpha stage on July 12 with version 220.127.116.11, followed by the release of alpha 2, version 18.104.22.168, on July 25. Text-only EPUB publications and audio Media Overlays can now be imported. Support for Media Overlay export is scheduled for alpha 3. Rendering of mathematical equations is supported; the MathML-in-DAISY specification is fully supported. The complete list of new & improved features and upgrades is provided in the Tobi Change Log. Serious users are asked to import EPUB 3 books and provide feedback and bug reports. A link to download the most recent alpha version is available on the Tobi Download page.
• The article Tobi-Accessible DAISY Book Production Using Human Voice has been added to DAISYpedia. It details the following 5 steps: Setup the project, Recording, Audio editing, Cleanup & Meta Data, and, Export to DAISY. Shortcut keys lists included.
• The 2.5 beta of Obi, the DAISY Consortium's open source audio & structure DAISY authoring tool is now available. This beta release introduces live waveform creation, and audio generation for page phrases using synthetic voice. There are also enhancements to the 2.5 alpha, including functionality for authoring skippable structures, fine navigation to make nudging simpler, extended 'go to' operation for quick and easy navigation to special phrases. Bug fixes are also included. Full details and the download link are available on the Obi 2.5 beta release page. French localization is also available with this release. Special thanks go to Association Valentin Haüy, a member of DAISY France, for providing the translations. The development team is looking forward to your feedback and bug reports.
• Pipeline 2, 1.3 beta, was released in early July. The DAISY Pipeline is a framework for document-related pipelined transformations. It is a DAISY Consortium open source development. Release notes are available on the Pipeline development site hosted on Google Code. The download link is available from the Pipeline 2 project page on the DAISY website.
• AMIS 3.1.4 beta is available and is ready for download and testing. Anyone who has reported problems with AMIS 3.1.3 is asked to test this beta and report any issues to the AMIS forum. The following has changed in this beta: 1/ Limited user accounts should now be able to run AMIS, 2/ DAISY 3 books with more than one DTBook XML file can be handled, 3/ NCX-only DAISY 3 books will now play properly.
• Elizabeth Castro has uploaded her slides from her presentation at the Tokyo Ebook Expo. The slides for Writing EPUB 3 - Samples of fixed and flowing ebooks with Japanese text are available on Ms. Castro's blog. (Note that work in this area of EPUB 3 development is ongoing.)
• VoiceOver Keyboard Shortcuts for Mac OS X are listed on AppleVis.com.
• PDF Accessibility Checker (PAC) is a freeware tool by the non-profit Swiss Foundation for Accessible Technologies. It is free to use without any restrictions.
• Key Concepts of the PDTB2 Specification (Protected Digital Talking Book 2) were posted on the DAISY Forum post "Fingerprints and Watermarks".