November was another incredibly active (that's a nice way for saying 'wickedly busy') month. This issue of the DAISY Planet is therefore once again rather packed – lots for you to read in your 'spare time'! One of the really positive pieces of news coming out of this month is the results of the IDPF election which closed on November 21 – George Kerscher, Secretary General of the DAISY Consortium, was re-elected President of the IDPF, receiving 120 of 136 votes cast. Additional details are provided in the news entry on the DAISY website. The public announcement of the new IDPF board members and new working group is posted on the IDPF website. Congratulations George!
Some of you may have noticed that the DAISY homepage has been redesigned. It has been 'cleaned up' to make it easier for people to find the information they want and also easier for first time visitors to understand what DAISY and the DAISY Consortium are all about. Two things dealing with the DAISY Planet have changed: there is a link to the current issue and a link to previous issues, but links to the individual articles are no longer given; there is a link to the "DAISY Stories" but the link to and photograph for the current story are not included. Your thoughts and comments on our new homepage are most welcome (please use the Contact Us form, website category).
The DAISY Consortium's new Vision and Mission have been posted on our website. This document was developed by our Board of Directors and has changed considerably from the previous version. The Key Activities that will be undertaken to achieve our mission, vision and goals are listed, as are outlines of what the Consortium will do to achieve this. It actually makes for very interesting reading – I recommend it highly.
And now to the lead article in this issue – Proposed Treaty Moves Forward, But... – which is of course about the very recent 25th Session of WIPO/SCCR. Over the past four years as sister organizations and groups focused on making published information accessible and available to everyone, everywhere, there has always been a "but" in the outcome of the WIPO/SCCR meetings. This time however there was a greater level of flexibility and cooperation than ever before. Most importantly, it was agreed that a WIPO extraordinary session will take place on December 17 and 18 this year to evaluate the text of the proposed treaty and to decide whether to convene a diplomatic conference in 2013 to adopt a legal instrument/treaty. Progress, at last!
Stephen King's presentation DAISY Consortium and Global Partnership given at the National Convention of the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) is available in the November 2012 Braille Monitor. In the closing paragraph he said "My job is to make sure that people can read what they want, when they want, and how they want, and I think it's deliverable...Thank you for that really steadfast support, and please help continue your support of the DAISY Consortium, because together we can actually end the book famine." Stephen, as many of you know, is President of the DAISY Consortium. His presentation is well worth the 3 or 4 minutes it takes to read it.
I want to say a personal 'farewell & enjoy your retirement' to Kjell Hansson who received the Culture of Sharing Award at the recent DAISY Board meeting in Bangkok. Although he is not retiring from the Swedish Library of Talking Books and Braille (TPB) until some time next year, this was his final DAISY Board meeting. I first met Kjell in 1995 in Toronto, Canada. He has been a steadfast member of the DAISY Board from the beginning of the Consortium. Kjell, your warm smile and engaging laugh will be missed by everyone who has worked with you over the years.
I recently read the article Parent Determination Leads to Son's Success with Assistive Technology posted on the National Center for Learning Disabilities website in October. It was written by Kathy Thompson, a "Parent Contributor" whose son is dyslexic. It is an excellent article but the thing that really caught my attention and has stayed with me is this quote from the Governor of Connecticut, Mr. Dannel Malloy, who is also dyslexic: "Maximize your strengths and move forward". It's sort of a 'take away' message that I wanted to share with you.
The 'DAISY Story' this month is from Mayu Hamada, who first heard about DAISY ten years ago. Her initial involvement was working with Hiroshi Kawamura and Misako Nomura in the DAISY For All Project (DFA). She is a Researcher and Trainer with the Assistive Technology Development Organization (ATDO) which is a member of the Japanese DAISY Consortium. Thank you Mayu for sharing your story with us.
Thanks to everyone who contacted me about the DAISY Planet and to those who submitted content and ideas for articles. 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 or put them in touch with me.
The December issue of the DAISY Planet will be published earlier in the month than is the norm in the hopes that it will reach most of you before people begin to take time from work to celebrate the holiday season with family and friends.
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 EPUB 3 Full QA Checklist is now available at EPUB 3 Accessibility Guidelines on the International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF) website.
• Bernhard Heinser of the DAISY Consortium gave the Keynote "Inclusive Publishing in the Educational Environment" this week in Dublin at the seminar Universal Design for Digital Document Creation and Publication presented by The Centre for Excellence in Universal Design (CEUD). His slides which are available on the DAISY Consortium's SlideShare page provide information about inclusive publishing and explain why and how publishers should consider and build in accessibility at the beginning of the publishing process. The presentation slides include three pages of useful resources.
• The video of Bill McCoy's Presentation Teaching the browser EPUB 3 (and learning on the way) is online at Books in Browsers. It includes a demonstration of Media Overlays and Readium, an open source reference system and rendering engine for EPUB publications.
• epubtest.com provides lists of EPUB devices, tools, and applications with links to each. Authoring and conversion tools are included (following "Places to go" and Reader applications). Items marked with [EPUB3] claim to provide some level of support for EPUB 3. Tobi, the DAISY Consortium's open source DAISY and EPUB authoring tool is in the "Desktop authoring tools that export to EPUB" list. DAISY Pipeline 2 is expected to be added to the list of EPUB 3 conversion tools. Prices or "free" are indicated. The list was last updated November 21.
• Dante's Comedy with commentary is available in EPUB 3 with Media Overlays and human narration as sample EPUB 3 content and also simply for reading pleasure. This edition is available from the Smuuks website for free and has no DRM; the publication is in Italian. The three eBooks, Inferno (Hell), Purgatorio (Purgatory) and Paradiso (Heaven) in this electronic edition of the Divine Comedy are released under the terms of the Creative Commons Licence Attribution, NonCommercial, ShareAlike 3.0. The EPUB files are in EPUB 3 format, but they have been tested on EPUB 2 eReaders and should be backward compatible. Information about and links to eReaders to use are also provided. An EPUB 3, SMIL-capable reader, such as Readium for Google Chrome (Windows, Mac OS, Linux), version 0.5.5.2 or greater is required to enable the synchronization between the audio narration and verse highlighting (Media Overlays).
It was understood that the outcome of this meeting would determine if WIPO would call for a WIPO diplomatic conference in 2013, and what provisions a treaty on copyright exceptions for people who are blind or have other disabilities would include. Prior to the meeting, agreement on the nature of the instrument had not been reached – should it be a binding treaty or something 'softer'? And, if agreement on the text of the document could not be reached, the diplomatic conference would likely have been delayed another year, with momentum quite possibly lost.
The 25th Session of the World Intellectual Property Organization, Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights took place November 19 to 23, with the first three days devoted to finalizing the document text and agreement on the way forward. Francis Gurry, WIPO Director General stated on the first day that visually impaired and print-disabled persons had high expectations for the outcome of this meeting. He made a plea to delegates "to rise sufficiently above your national positions to see the common good that can be achieved for the international community through the conclusion of a new treaty in this area and to see the improvement that you are able to actually deliver for the visually impaired and the print disabled...I cannot overemphasise the importance of the task that you have before you this week to be able to demonstrate sufficient flexibility". He added that the treaty would "be applauded and greeted with a great deal of enthusiasm all around the world." (Source: Intellectual Property Watch, November 19)
It was reported initially that tensions were high. The committee work was done in small groups, regional coordinators plus five, with the plenary (all participants) reconvening each morning for the presentation of the work of the small group discussions. The statement made by the European Union on the first day of the session indicated that progress had been and could be made:
"...only a balanced approach will allow the Standing Committee to recommend that the General Assembly convenes a diplomatic conference in 2013.
Our goal is clear. We want to ensure that visually impaired and print disabled persons anywhere in the world have the same access to books than any other person. We believe this goal we can reach if we stay on course and target these programmes we have set ourselves to address while being mindful of the need to have effective protection of the rights of creators. Mr. Chairman, the EU and its Member States are now also in the position to negotiate the conclusion of an instrument including a binding treaty." (Source: Unedited rough copies of the transcripts on the Centre for the Internet & Society (CIS) website, day 1; the EU statement is available on the November 19 Knowledge Ecology International (KEI) post)
This was the first time the EU had indicated it would support a binding treaty, and it was a pivotal change.
On the opening of the 3rd day the Assistant Director General addressed the full group of participants:
"The objective of these three days is for you to advance the negotiations on this visually impaired instrument in the interest of these millions of visually impaired persons around the world...I am asking you to bear in mind the objective of this treaty is to do something in the interest of the visually impaired persons...We are running out of time...We have an opportunity to do something good for the visually impaired. And the only way we are going to achieve that is if we bear in mind the need for flexibility and compromise." (Source: Unedited rough copies of the transcripts on the Centre for the Internet & Society (CIS) website, day 3
On the third day the NGOs had an opportunity to speak; speakers represented International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA), Library Copyright Alliance (LCA), National Federation of the Blind (NFB), International Publishers Association (IPA), Knowledge Ecology International (KEI), American Council of the Blind (ACB), World Blind Union (WBU), Latin American Blind Union and other organizations and groups, representing both rights holders and end users.
The representative for the International Publishers Association (IPA) stated "We need a clear statement in this text that incentivizes publishers to provide accessible formats from the outset, at the same time, same place, and same price." He also spoke in a supportive way about the issue of availability of accessible formats in developing countries.
Maryanne Diamond, leader of the World Blind Union (WBU) delegation was the last NGO representative to speak:
"...I want to let you know about a major issue for us as a practical means for working a treaty. And that is the fear of overregulation in regard to import/export. What is included in the treaty must work practically. The exporters are not in a position to know, to verify who is a bona if Ied [bona fide] recipient and to verify if a book is available in a country...I would like to comment on something that my colleagues from IPA stated and that is the same book same day, same price and we look forward to that being routinely the situation by publishers and I would like to also comment on the statement made that the research in the UK last year saying 76% of the top 1,000 books were accessible. That is totally true. But the overall number of books produced in the UK in accessible format was 7%. So the top popular 1,000 yes, it is terrific but overall it is not much better than it has been for many years...I wish you good luck for the rest of the week. And please I urge you to make it work, make us get to the situation, the timetable that we agreed to in SCCR 24 so that we could have the extraordinary general meeting in December calling for a diplomatic conference in 2013 to adopt this long awaited important treaty for the blind visually impaired and print disabled community around the world."
In a statement provided by the DAISY Consortium submitted for the WIPO/SCCR 25 session, the Consortium outlined its position:
"The DAISY Consortium considers that responsibility for distribution and compliance with national law and local licences with authors, RRO's [Reproduction Rights Organisations] and publishers etc must lie with the importing organisation. It is not practical and is beyond the capacity of even the largest TI [Trusted Intermediary] to keep track of laws, licences and agreements in 160+ countries...
In effect the local TI is using importation as an efficient means of production of a publication with enhanced accessibility; and thus should be governed by the same laws and regulations that would control local production.
To have the exporting TI responsible for importing country use, or the local TI managing in accordance with exporting country laws and licences would defeat the entire aim of this treaty, as it would mean little or no sharing of materials."
Although significant progress was made, and support from the European Union and its Member States for a binding treat was announced on the first day, a positive outcome is still not yet 100% certain, as illustrated in the final point in the WIPO/SCCR 25 Conclusions which are posted on the WIPO website. The highlights are:
The draft treaty, as finished on Friday, November 23, is available on the KEI website. It has been reported that work on the text is still required. This may or may not affect the outcome of the Extraordinary General Assembly in December, just a few weeks away. Efforts to bring about a treaty that supports the cross-border exchange of accessible information for people who are blind or have a print disability have been ongoing for a number of years. The hope is that the WIPO Extraordinary General Assembly will decide to convene a diplomatic conference in 2013.
Jim Fruchterman Jim Fruchterman, President and CEO of Benetech, participated in a small meeting of experts convened by the WBU to take a close look at the treaty draft from an operational and technical standpoint. The meeting took place in Geneva following the WIPO/SCCR 25 meeting. Jim has provided a detailed, clear overview of that meeting of experts on his November 27 blog post, Getting Close to a Treaty!
"They [WBU] wanted a fresh perspective on the treaty text from the point of view of the people (authorized entities like Bookshare and its peers) that would be taking advantage of the treaty to do more to help people with print disabilities access the information they need for education, employment, health and everything else needed for full inclusion in society."
In the blog Jim looks at the some of the critical details in the draft treaty and explains the 'what' and 'why' behind some of the text of the treaty.
The concept of Project LIA was written in 2007 and the work began in 2011. The goal of the project is to provide a service that will increase the availability of digital publications which are accessible for individuals who are blind or have a visual disability. Respect for both authors' and publishers' rights is inherent in the work of the project. LIA will create an online accessible bookshelf with an initial selection of 3,000 accessible fiction and non-fiction eBooks that will be integrated with a number of major Italian online bookstores. The guiding principle is to make accessibility part of mainstream production and distribution workflows in the publishing industry.
Project LIA is coordinated by Associazione Italiana Editori (Italian Publishers' Association), through its service company Ediser, and is funded by the Italian Ministry for Culture. There are several factors that make this project quite unique, one being that it is coordinated by a publishers' association, another being the approach taken from the onset to look at and address all of the roles involved, from content creation by publishers, to distribution, to finished eBooks in the hands of the people who will read them. However, perhaps the factor that makes Project LIA so distinctive is its primary focus on eBook accessibility and the use of technology to bring about that accessibility:
"Libri Italiani Accessibili aims at creating a service to increase the availability online of books for blind and visually impaired readers, taking advantage of the opportunities offered by technologies and promoting a cultural change in the way the publishing value chain actors deal with the issue of accessibility." (LIA homepage)
No process in the chain has been overlooked. The project deals with publishing workflows, standards for accessible publications, metadata, guidelines for publishers, distribution and reading systems for end users. In the phase 1, surveys were conducted, and it was found that readers with a vision disability read more than their sighted peers, and that they read digital formats most often. It was determined that EPUB was the most suitable format for the project, in part because publishers already knew it, but also because of its accessibility features.
"The main goal of the project is promoting a cultural change in the way all the actors involved in the publishing value chain deal with the issue of accessibility. One of the fundamental elements distinctive of the LIA project is the promotion of dialogue and collaboration among the different actors of the publishing value chain, aimed at favoring a substantial improvement of the present situation. The project foresees the collaboration of the main organization representing visually impaired people, in particular the Italian Blind Union and the Istituto per i Ciechi Cavazza.
The efforts of the LIA project are focused on the following aspects:
- The promotion all over the publishing value chain of attention to the issue of accessibility, realizing a model for production, cataloguing and distribution of accessible e-books based on the adoption of the EPUB standard and integrating accessibility as much as possible within the present production and distribution flows of traditional publishing industry;
- The creation of an online bookstore allowing blind and visually impaired readers to search a catalogue of accessible titles and purchase them through the participating online stores;
- Grant that bibliographic information of accessible titles is present in the main online bookstores, thanks to the use of the accessibility code list 196 of the Onix standard metadata and their integration in the catalogue of books in trade;
- Analyze and certify the accessibility of the e-books assigning a specific LIA label to all accessible titles to make them identifiable in the distribution channels used for ebooks
- Create awareness and knowledge on the relevance of accessibility and on the advantaged of new e-reading technologies respectively among publishing value chain and visual impaired people"
One of Project LIA's goals is that publishers' eBooks are accessible and that those titles are available at the same time and same price. They have developed an accessibility checklist and found that EPUB books submitted initially by publishers were not compliant with that checklist. After providing guidance, the second submissions were significantly improved. They have also tested reading devices and will continue to test as new devices are released. Information is made available for both publishers and end users. In phase 1 it was found that no bookstore in Italy was fully accessible.
All Italian publishers, big and small, have been approached and asked to use the LIA Guidelines; consultancy is also offered. The Project promotes the concept that everyone in the publishing workflow process should have an understanding of accessibility, and that everyone in the "value chain" needs to be involved. Reading systems and devices are viewed as a critical issue.
The catalogue will be available on the LIA website, a completely accessible site featuring information on Project LIA as well as news from the world of accessibility. It will also include information for publishers about the production of accessible versions and tips for end users about the use of devices, software and technologies for reading accessible ebooks.
Cristina Mussinelli, who has been focused on the issue of accessibility in publishing since 2007, is the LIA project coordinator and is with AIE. Ms. Mussinelli has been a member of the IDPF Board of Directors since 2010 and has recently been re-elected to that Board.
The key concept of Project LIA is to make accessibility part of mainstream publishing and distribution workflows in the publishing industry. One of the ultimate goals of LIA is the mainstream distribution of accessible EPUB 3 books in Italy.
In November the most powerful organizations and individuals involved in worldwide efforts to bring about equitable access to information met in Bangkok, Thailand. For the first time the World Blind Union (WBU) and the International Council for Education of People with Visual Impairment (ICEVI) held their General Assemblies in the same location. "WBU-ICEVI 2012", November 12 to 18, was composed of the individual assemblies and a joint program of plenary sessions and workshops. The third group that met in Bangkok was of course the DAISY Consortium Board of Directors, which held their second meeting of the year on November 18 and 19. The location and timing of this DAISY Board meeting was carefully planned to provide opportunities for information sharing and increased cooperation amongst the three groups.
On the 14th Stephen King, President of the DAISY Consortium, and WBU Chief Returning Officer, was one of three presenters who addressed the topic "The Role of National Members in a Changing World". His presentation Effective partnerships between "of" and "for" organizations is available on the DAISY Consortium's SlideShare page. A number of the DAISY Board members, including Stephen King, Michael Wright and Pedro Milliet, presented at one of the "Parallel Sessions".
Francis Gurry, Director General WIPO, gave the keynote at the November 15 Plenary Session: "The Right to Read". The objective of this session was:
To give an overview and status of the right to read campaign, the various activities underway to achieve a world where published books are accessible and available to all persons who are blind or have low vision around the world. (WBU ICEVI Joint Event Programme Book)
Mr. Gurry spoke about the role of WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization) and provided an update on the treaty progress and other WIPO initiatives. Chris Friend, Leader WBU Right to Read Campaign, and Jim Fruchterman, President/CEO, Benetech, were among the four panelists who immediately followed the keynote and spoke to this topic.
DAISY projects, EPUB 3, strategy and strategy implementation, were key topics discussed at the meeting, with a significant amount of time devoted to small group plenary discussions on topics critical to the various dimensions that make up the DAISY Consortium, its focus and activities.
A day-long workshop hosted by Thai Association of the Blind and the Assistive Technology Development Organization (ATDO) – a member of the Japanese DAISY Consortium – was held on November 17. Two of the speakers at "Future of Accessible Publications with DAISY and EPUB" were George Kerscher, Secretary General of the DAISY Consortium, and Stephen King, President. This session was well attended and provided DAISY Board Members and observers with an opportunity to meet Thai colleagues interested in accessible publishing. All of the ATDO staff team were present.
Most of the prominent names in assistive technology were present at the WBU/ICEVI Exhibition Hall; the DAISY Consortium which shared a stand with RNIB and Ambutech. In addition to the hundreds of WBU and ICEVI country representatives, people with a visual disability from Thailand visited the exhibition in large numbers. Many schools had also sent their students.
Prashant Verma Prashant Verma, a Consultant with the DAISY Consortium, worked the booth for much of the time. The ATDO team from Japan also assisted. Posters and handouts about DAISY and EPUB 3 were provided and demonstrations of both mainstream and dedicated devices (hardware and software) were given.
The archived recordings of the WBU General Assembly are available on the ACB website. Links to the complete set, organized by morning and afternoon for each day, are provided. The Thursday November 15 morning Right to Read session will be of particular interest.
The promotional photograph in this article was produced in May by the Thai Association of the Blind and is displayed on the General Assembly page of the WBU website.
It was announced at the meeting of the November DAISY Consortium Board of Directors in November that Kjell Hansson, the representative for the Swedish Library of Talking Books and Braille (TPB), would retire from the Board at the end of 2012. With the exception of 2002 and 2003 Kjell has been a member of the Board since 1996 when the Consortium was formed. I asked him if he would share a bit of his 'DAISY history' with us:
"From the beginning it was me, Hiroshi Kawamura, Chris Day (RNIB) and Koen Krikhaar (Dedicon). We were elected by the members and 'volunteered' by our organizations to work 50% of our time for the Consortium. After the election of George Kerscher as Project Manager in 1997 things really started to happen. It felt that I spent more time with the Board than with my family. Someone asked my daughter at school where her father was and she answered "I think he is in Sweden". Although it involved a lot of travel and hard work, we saw positive results each year.
No matter where in the world we traveled for our meetings I have always felt at home when I look around the table and saw all of those familiar faces – some of them, Stephen's and Hiroshi's since 1996. It has been a privilege to work on the DAISY Board during these many years."
At the close of the first day of the meeting, Stephen presented Kjell with an Inukshuk – the "Culture of Sharing Award" given by DAISY to those who have made an exceptional contribution to the Consortium. Only three individuals have received this award previously:
Inukshuks are stone figures representing the human form which were erected by the Inuit people and are unique to the Canadian Arctic. They endure as eternal symbols of leadership, the importance of friendship and reminding us of our dependence upon one another. They were created to make the way easier and safer for those who would follow. Inukshuks represent safety and nourishment, trust and reassurance; they are a symbol of the human spirit, recognizing our ability to succeed with others, where alone we would fail.
Thank you Kjell, you will be missed by those of us who have had the honour to know and work with you.
Historic and charming Budapest, the capital city of Hungary, served as the host for the RoboBraille International Conference on November 8. In addition to elegant bridges that have survived the test of time, entrepreneurial innovative spirit is well and very much alive in Hungary. Well-known, web-based services like Prezi and LogMeIn were developed there.
Tanja Stevns opened the conference at ELTE University, followed by a warm welcome from the Head of Department for Disability Affairs, Ministry of Human Resources, Mr. László Szoke, and Mr. Attila Fülöp, Deputy Minister of State for Family Affairs and Equality Policy.
RoboBraille Partners from Europe, representing organizations in Hungary, Cyprus, Italy, Austria, Ireland and the UK, gave a variety of interesting and information filled presentations. They demonstrated different ways the RoboBraille service is being used in education, foreign language learning, professional and daily life. For example, in collaboration with RoboBraille, Stanford University in the USA has created SCRIBE, its own customized conversion service with an accessible web-based user interface. Students are warned that the quality of the output is dependent upon the quality and structure of the original document. Jayme Johnson from HTCTU provided a very informative presentation, highlighting different issues with timely delivery of accessible learning materials to print disabled students.
During engaging discussions at break time it became apparent that leading e-readers so commonly used in the US, Canada and Western European countries are not affordable or available to the majority of people in the former Soviet sphere countries. More coordination and collaboration is needed to assist educators in these countries as there is a desperate need to make math and science materials more accessible. Colleagues from Bulgaria shared their very labor intensive and slow process of creating accessible math textbooks.
As one of the highlights of the conference, Lars Ballieu Christensen demonstrated RoboBraille's automation process making Word documents containing mathematics accessible, and then playing back the resulting accessible content using ReadHear software developed by gh LLC.
The conference was a success – RoboBraille's new partners including representatives from Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania were in attendance. The conference program and presentations are available online.
Since 2004, RoboBraille's service has been helping educators to level the 'information' playing field for independent learners and active members of society by making inaccessible documents accessible for people with a visual impairment or other print disability. RoboBraille can convert electronic documents that are in a variety of formats into either synthetic speech (mp3 file), contracted braille, DAISY, or e-book (.mobi and .epub) formats; it supports 16 languages. The user simply sends an e-mail request with an attached document and the resulting output, in the requested format, is returned to the user via e-mail.
The service is free of charge to all non-commercial users. RoboBraille, combining commercial text-to-speech, braille and OCR software with open source DAISY authoring and e-book conversion (DAISY Pipeline), serves approximately 20,000 to 30,000 users each month. Commercial users may order a RoboBraille license for a favourable price. Biblus, digital library for alternate media, is tightly integrated with RoboBraille and can be tested at biblus.dk or sensuslibrary.com.
On November 14, Lars Ballieu Christensen from RoboBraille accepted the WISE 2012 Award in Doha, Qatar. WISE (World Innovation Summit for Education) is an initiative of the Qatar Foundation, and in conjunction with this award, the foundation also produced a documentary about the service; it is available for viewing on YouTube. RoboBraille was selected from 400 international projects for helping transform education for people who have a visually disability and those with reading difficulties by:
Editor's Note: Thanks go to Varju Luceno, Director of Communications for the DAISY Consortium, for submitting this article for publication in the DAISY Planet. The YouTube video (link above) is both interesting and informative. RoboBraille is a service of Synscenter Refsnæs, an Associate Member of the DAISY Consortium.
On November 15 and 16, 125 participants gathered in Stockholm for the fourth annual conference arranged by the Swedish DAISY Consortium and the Swedish Library of Talking Books and Braille (TPB). The theme for the conference this year was "Publishing and Inclusion - Accessible Publishing for All".
Numerous speakers stepped onto the stage for the day and a half event. Hans von Axelson from the Swedish Agency for Disability Policy Coordination spoke about the rapid growth of information and the need of working with digital inclusion for people with disabilities. Markus Gylling from the DAISY Consortium and International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF) talked about future strategies for the DAISY Consortium, including the development and implementation of EPUB 3. Other speakers also discussed the use of EPUB 3 in different contexts such as mainstream publishing for eBooks. TPB's new, more user friendly online catalogue, Legimus, was presented. Projects about distributing books by download for end users and with online DAISY players were presented, as well as an ongoing project at TPB for new ways of producing and distributing talking newspapers.
It was announced that on January 1st, by government decision, TPB January will change its name to "Swedish Agency for Accessible Media", reflecting its present role in the public sector. Arne Kyrkjebø, from the Norwegian Library of Talking Books and Braille (a member of the Norwegian DAISY Consortium) spoke about news and priorities for Norwegian talking book readers, such as downloading and streaming talking books, and also their plans for a talking book app and Online DAISY players. Finally, the Amy Prize winner, Heidi Carlsson Asplund, introduced her work with accessible media and talked about how to reach out to people with print disabilities.
Videos of some of the presentations are posted on the Swedish DAISY Consortium YouTube page. (Note: the presentations are in Swedish.)
Following the conference, the members of the Swedish DAISY Consortium held their Annual General Meeting. Maria Lundqvist was re-elected as Chair and Jesper Klein was elected as the Board representative on the DAISY Consortium Board of Directors. Jesper will replace Kjell Hansson who will be retiring in the coming year.
Thanks go to Maria Lundqvist for submitting this article for publication in the DAISY Planet.
A partnership between the Association for the Blind of Western Australia (ABWA) and Scribe Publications has made possible the simultaneous publication of two books in an accessible format at the same time as the print was made available to the public.
"The Last Refugee" by Yemen al-Qaeda and "America's War in Arabia" by Gregory Johnsen were provided to the Association by Scribe Publications in advance of their official release. The Association's Accessible Information Service fast tracked the production of the DAISY formatted full-text, full-audio version as well as a digital braille file. Without this cooperation from the publisher accessible formatted books are not available until months after the print is published.
An additional six books provided by Scribe are in production at ABWA now. Scribe Publications, which has won the Australian Book Industry Awards, Small Publisher of the Year, for 2011, 2010, 2008 and 2006, will continue to submit books to the Association for conversion to ensure accessibility for people who are blind or have vision or a print disability.
"It's fantastic that we're able to make these books accessible at the same time as they're released...This is an important step in our pursuit of equal access to information for people who are blind or vision impaired. (Chris Whitelock, Director of Information Services, ABWA)"
Future Publishing and Accessibility will take place in central Copenhagen at the CPH Conference Center. It is anticipated that more than 400 participants from around the world will attend with the goal of learning what the road map for the future of publishing, distributing and reading accessible content will look like. The conference will encourage proactive involvement in the fast-paced evolution of accessible publications.
The Future Publishing and Accessibility Conference which will take place June 13 and 14, is presented by Nota – the Danish National Library for Persons with Print Disabilities and the DAISY Consortium, in cooperation with The Ministry of Culture Denmark.
Three breakout session tracks will offer something of interest for everyone in the accessible information and publishing fields. In fact, it may be a challenge for some to choose just one track:
The conference website was launched earlier this month and will be updated as additional details are available; even at this early stage it is very comprehensive. The lineup of keynote presenters and speakers is already most impressive – details are provided on the website.
Online registration is open and will close on May 20th, 2013. Register before March 1st 2013 and receive a 10% discount.
Discounted registration fee for the DAISY Consortium Members: EUR 375.
The area on the conference website for Sponsors and Exhibitors outlines the options available. Support inclusive publishing - come and showcase your innovations!
I think your article Kolibre: Information Systems as Tools for People with Print Disabilities in the October DAISY Planet is excellent and we really appreciate the attention! We got some funding earlier this year and building a development community will be very important when we need to present results, so this is great. We need to get the word out! :)
As you were curious about the name "Kolibre", I guess it might interest people. I might need to update our webpage with an explanation :)
Thanks and best wishes,
Your emails with comments, ideas or suggestions for the DAISY Planet are always appreciated. If there is an article that you find particularly helpful or that you disagree with for whatever reason, please let me know.
I am a student who learns most effectively when I read/listen to my textbooks simultaneously. The accommodations and services provided by my university's disability office have changed my life. The textbook conversion process is complicated and tedious, but worth it. Amazon Kindle with Whispersync would be useful and convenient (if it were bigger and affordable). What you are working on seems revolutionary compared to both of those! I can't wait to test out all your current freeware.
I would like email updates on all of your projects. And if given the opportunity, I would love to test any software you have and provide feedback.
We will add you to the DAISY Planet newsletter subscribers list as we announce all DAISY software updates in our newsletter.
You should also follow us on Twitter for more frequent updates.
DAISY Consortium Members, in the Friends category, develop commercial software that you may be interested in testing as well – free trial versions are usually available – for example ReadHear for Mac and PC by gh, LLC, EasyReader and SaySo from Dolphin. All of the tools available from the DAISY Consortium Members and Friends are described in our Tools & Services area.
We'd appreciate your feedback as feedback helps us to make improvements to our open source software.
Thank you for contacting us. Please stay in touch.
• The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) published the Report of the ARL Joint Task Force on Services to Patrons with Print Disabilities on November 2:
"The digital revolution in publishing, including electronic texts, was supposed to end that famine – as electronic texts could, in theory, be processed directly by adaptive technologies designed to serve the print disabled. But an analysis of information technology and digital publishing instead tells a mixed story of progress and regress, of decentralization, lack of industry standards, and a host of reasons why, in 2012, advocacy for technological accessibility for the print disabled is urgent."
The report is a tagged PDF file and is an important document at this time in the evolution/revolution of accessible information.
• Dyseggxia is a mobile game with word exercises that supports children with dyslexia, helping them overcome their reading and writing problems in Spanish with fun word games. All exercises in Dyseggxia have been scientifically designed to target reading and writing difficulties which children with dyslexia encounter. This app is designed for both iPhone and iPad and can be downloaded for free from iTunes. Dyseggxia is developed by Clara Bayarri, Azuki Gorriz, and Luz Rello (the Cookie Cloud team).
• AppleVis Guides, Tutorials and Tips is filled with articles with information for blind and low vision users of Apple products and related applications.
• Accessibility in Education – Electronic Text and the Law: Making Math Accessible for Students with Disabilities posted on the G3ict (The Global Initiative for Inclusive ICTs) website by Lucy Greco deals with the need for accessible mathematics and science and also explains why there is no longer any excuse for not using the tools now available. The MathDaisy by Design Science is featured. DAISY books and two players are also highlighted: "DAISY books present audible math in a much more understandable way. By using one of two DAISY players, ReadHear by GH systems or EasyReader by Dolphin Computer Access, mathematical formulas can be presented audibly in a more easy-to-follow and understandable form."
• The article Best 10 Android Apps for the Visually Impaired which lists and describes the apps is on the IDEAL Group website.
• The iTunes Tutorial Series is available from AppleVis at AppleVis Podcast which offers short walk-throughs and reviews of iOS features and 3rd party apps.
• The Braille Authority of North America (BANA) adopted the Unified English Braille (UEB) for United States on November 2. The motion, which passed decisively, specifies that UEB will eventually replace the current English Braille American Edition and that the U.S. will retain the Nemeth Code for Mathematics and Science Notation. Full details are in the BANA press release (The UK Association for Accessible Formats (UKAAF) adopted UEB as the braille code for the UK in the last quarter of 2011. It had previously been adopted by Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Nigeria and South Africa.)
• A new study, Accessible Communications: Tapping the Potential in Public ICT Procurement Policy, supported by the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN), collects some best practices from around the world and supplements them with sensible recommendations. (The report is a tagged PDF file.)
• IDEAL Reader is an accessible eBook Reader for Android. The app is in beta now, and supports books in EPUB 2 and EPUB 3 formats, with support for DAISY 2 and DAISY 3 coming. A YouTube video demonstration of IDEAL Reader was posted in August 2012; the most recent version may be different from the version in the video.
• With the holiday season not far off, The Best Websites for Creating and Sending Free eCards, posted on the How-To Geek website, may be helpful. One of the sources, Care2 donates 5 percent of advertising revenues in cash and services to leading non-profit organizations.
• National Federation of the Blind (NFB) a first impression review of Microsoft Surface RT, including an official Unboxing Video, the Specs, "The Good", "The Bad", "The Ugly" and Conclusion. The post closes with a caveat that "a lot has yet to be tested, such as the accessibility of the Office Suite, or general accessibility of downloadable applications". Updates will be posted as they learn more.
• How-To Geek on Windows 8:
· What You Can (and Can't) Do on the Desktop in Windows RT: "Windows RT and Windows 8 aren't the same thing. While Windows RT has a desktop that looks just like Windows 8's, Windows RT's desktop is very limited. The difference doesn't just matter to geeks; it matters to all Windows users...you can't install your own software on it. You can only run the preinstalled Microsoft applications on the desktop." (Source: How to Geek, November 9)
· 10 Awesome Improvements For Desktop Users in Windows 8
• More about Windows 8 from
Top Tech Tidbits for Thursday, November 22, 2012 - Volume 380:
· Windows 8 – Disappointing Usability for Both Novice and Power Users in Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox post;
· Windows 8 – Disappointing Usability for Both Novice and Power Users
• Still more about Windows 8:
· Windows 8 Accessibility Tutorial Guide available on the Microsoft Download Center;
· This post by Matthew Starkie has a link to download Windows 8 Shortcut Keys and a few tips on creating your own. It is a tagged PDF file.
• American Printing House for the Blind (APH) Large Print books are going digital, with over 200 large print digital files available for download by the end of 2012. The files, saved as PDF documents, can be used on iPads or iPods, laptops, and various accessible devices. The same great features are available. Note: printing of the files is not permitted. Full details and contact information are provided in the November issue of APH News (search for "large print" to get to the article).
• A list of Scholarships and Grants for Students who are Blind or Visually Impaired is posted on the American Foundation for the Blind website. It also includes a list of Colleges and Universities Offering Scholarships and Additional Resources.
• All of the books in a series of 'chapter' books about Hank Zipzer, the world's greatest underachiever are available from Bookshare. Through Hank's everyday adventures, the series deals with learning differences in a kind and humorous way. Information is in the Bookshare blog post A Book Series for, and about, Students with Learning Differences
• ViewPoints Plus programs in November that will be of interest to some include:
· Demo and talk about basic accessibility in the iPhone using either VoiceOver with speech input or low vision features, (program number 1245, 11-7-12 "iPhone - Accessibility")
· Accessible iPhone Apps plus a demonstration of how one can customize the rotor functions as well as how to use SIRI for more advanced dictation. (program number 1246, 11-14-12 "iPhone - Accessibility")
· Narrating Audio Books (program number 1247, 11-21-12 )
ViewPoints programs are available for download from the ViewPoints website (To find a show quickly from the top of the page, search for the program numbers which are listed from most recent at the top of the list.)
• The table on the MathJax Resources page gives an overview of MathML support in EPUB reading systems. Comments with additional information about the systems listed in the table or other systems that are suggested are used to improve the table.
• In Q1 2013 Kolibre will release the remaining three components required to build a full-fledged DAISY Online-client. Additional information and links are available in the DAISY news entry New Open Source Code Releases From Kolibre and in the DAISY Planet article Kolibre: Information Systems as Tools for People with Print Disabilities.
• Tobi, the DAISY Consortium's open source authoring tool for DAISY and EPUB 3 talking books now includes improved support for
EPUB 3 Media Overlays. Tobi RC 2.0 V126.96.36.199 and V188.8.131.52 were released this month.
· In Tobi RC 2.0 V184.108.40.206 the audio phrases displayed within the waveform editor can now be resized using the mouse (easy text/audio synchronization adjustments).
· Tobi RC 2.0 V220.127.116.11 now automatically makes a project XML backup (using copy/paste) each time a project gets saved. The backup filename contains a time stamp to help users delete redundant backups.
· For full details about the changes in the new releases, visit the Tobi Change Log. Download Tobi from the Tobi Project Download page. Please also visit the Tobi Project page and Tobi Forum for additional information. Feedback is essential to the DAISY Consortium's development of Tobi.
· IMPORTANT NOTE: You must first uninstall your current version of Tobi before you can update to v1.9+ due to a major change in ClickOnce deployment signature. Use Control Panel -> Uninstall Programs to uninstall Tobi. If you have already installed 18.104.22.168, it is not necessary to uninstall it before installing 22.214.171.124. If you haven't yet installed 126.96.36.199, you will need to uninstall any previous version to install 188.8.131.52.
· When you invoke the "cleanup" function, the audio files in the project's "data" folder are reorganized, so old project XML backups are likely to reference non-existing files (and therefore fail to open properly). The cleanup function also makes undo-redo impossible, so take extra care, copy/paste the whole data folder somewhere safe if you are unsure. After cleanup, once your project is verified and opens fine, you can manually delete your backup to save hard disc space.
· As part of your workflow, make backups of your Tobi projects at regular intervals.
· If an error message box appears as soon as Tobi starts up, there is a simple solution to this Windows audio settings problem: Check your Windows – audio preferences the Windows settings must enable the audio recording / capture device, otherwise Tobi cannot "see" it.
• A recent overview of EPUB readers is posted on ghacks.net. It includes web browser extensions, software, and EPUB creation applications and services.
• From How-To Geek in November: 4 Places To Find Up-To-Date Antivirus Test Results Online – "Do you know how effective your antivirus programs is? A variety of organizations regularly compare antivirus programs, throwing a large amount of malware samples at them, seeing how they perform, and ranking them in comparison to each other." Links to complete test results and some summary reports are provided.