Before getting into this issue and other things that I want to share with you, I'd like to mention that the December issue of the DAISY Planet will be published early. I hope that it will reach you before the holiday season begins for some of us.
In this issue of the DAISY Planet the Bits & Pieces column is somewhat longer than it often is, but there were many interesting and relevant things that took place in November that I wanted to bring to your attention. The four feature articles cover a range of topics, including the first Arabic and English bilingual Assistive Technology Portal in the Arabic world developed by Mada, an Associate Member of the DAISY Consortium. In the third article International Day of Disabled Persons: December 3 I look at a bit of the history of this important day and include links that you may find helpful for becoming involved locally.
There were two articles published this month that I think may be of interest to many of you…
…The article Accessibility Makes Incremental Gains | Reinventing Libraries by Char Booth was published on the Library Journal website on October 9. In the opening paragraph Ms. Booth writes "Accessibility is the principle that the fullest use of any resource should be given to the greatest number of individuals. More than compliance with laws and guidelines, accessibility is a form of social justice." This article is US focused but the shifts in attitudes and gains made illustrate that access by individuals with a disability is improving – libraries are at the heart of what Ms. Booth writes. This is a good read and well worth a few minutes of your time.
…In the article
To Marrakech – and beyond! What next for the WIPO treaty? in the EBU September/October newsletter, Dan Pescod explains the importance of rapid ratification of the Marrakesh Treaty. Pescod, who is Campaigns Manager, Europe, International and Accessibility, with the
Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), has played a key role in this WIPO Treaty process.
"A treaty is only as good as the use to which it is put. The Marrakech Treaty is an historic milestone in copyright law and in disability rights. It must, though, be more than a symbol. It must enter into force without delay, so that we can share accessible format books and alleviate the 'book famine'."
Until the Treaty is ratified by 20 countries in order for it to come into force. I closed the article From Marrakesh on the Road to Ratification in the September DAISY Planet with this statement:
"How much the world will change, how many people who do not now have accessible information will have equal access remains in the hands of the countries who have an opportunity to change the world by ratifying and implementing the Marrakesh Treaty…".
You can be heard, you can make a statement that can help. There is a list of the WBU Officers and contact information for the various regions around the world on the WBU website.
Congratulations go to Benetech this month for several reasons. Bookshare, their online accessible library, has surpassed 200,000 titles and they have added accessibility metadata to existing and newly added content. This metadata makes it easier to find online accessible resources, in this case Bookshare content. And, this year, Benetech has committed to expanding its Bookshare program in India, where it will provide accessible books and periodicals to 5,000 adults and students with print disabilities. This commitment by Benetech, partnered with DAISY Forum of India, the Lavelle Fund for the Blind, and Google Inc., was made through the Clinton Global Initiative. Part of the work to be completed will be the addition of 1,000 new locally-relevant titles in Hindi, Tamil, and English to the Bookshare collection. I remember when Bookshare was a 'seed in the creative mind' of Jim Fruchertman, Benetech CEO. My personal congratulations go to you Jim for planting that seed and making it grow around the world. (More details about these and other Benetech achievements are available in the Benetech monthly update for November).
The 10th Anniversary of the Swedish DAISY Consortium was celebrated this month, with Stephen King, President of the DAISY Consortium, there to give the keynote. The original DAISY Consortium agreement was signed in Stockholm in 1996 and Ingar Beckman Hirschfeldt was the first President of the Consortium. Sweden has played a key role in the developments and growth of the Consortium – this cannot be overstated. The slides of Stephen's presentation Ending the Book Famine: How Does the WIPO Treaty Help are available online and will be posted to DAISY Slideshare. I hope to include an article about the Swedish DC's 10th Anniversary in the December issue of the DAISY Planet.
If you are looking for information about upcoming events, just go to the DAISY Calendar on our website. If you have a DAISY or related event coming up that you wish to have included in our Calendar, please use our DAISY Contact Us Form to let us know about it (please select the Calendar/Event/News category from the dropdown list).
Part 2 of Birkir Gunnarsson's story is featured this month. Birkir begins Part 2 with the heading "Going global!". He then takes us through his university days, his search for employment, challenges he faced with getting accessible study materials, and his battle with cancer. How many people do you know who have won two Paralympic bronze medals for swimming? Birkir has. If you have not yet read Part 1 it is certainly worth reading.
Thanks to everyone who has written to me with ideas, articles and suggestions for this issue of the DAISY Planet. Your input helps me keep our community up to date on what is going on in the world of information, access and publishing. DAISY stories provide insight into the lives of people we might not otherwise have ever come to know. You can reach me by email (you will have my address if you receive the DAISY Planet email notice) or you can use the DAISY Contact Us Form (DAISY Planet Newsletter Category).
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.
• Digital Book World Conference & Expo will take place January 13 - 15 in New York City. "Digital Book World's sessions strive to offer you the most practical, relevant and actionable programming on everything from eBook publishing and internet marketing to digital solutions for selling and marketing your books." The Conference Schedule is available online.
• The free Book Business webinar Bridging the Digital Revenue Gap: Semantic Strategies for Fueling Sales and Marketing will take place Monday, December 9 at 2:00 p.m. Eastern Time. Pavan Arora, Chief Innovation Officer with Aptara will examine strategies and technologies for achieving the next level of discoverability and analytics that can be used to fuel marketing reach and drive sales. Book Business webinars are 60 minutes long and include time for audience Q&A. Archived webinars are available if registrants are unable to attend. The online registration form is on the Book Business website.
• The article Death By Irrelevance by Joe Wikert is posted on "Joe Wikert's Digital Content Strategies: An industry critic's view of our rich content future". Wikert makes some interesting observations and forward-looking suggestions.
• EDUPUB2 Workshop on Digital Publishing for Education will take place February 12 - 13, 2014 in Salt Lake City, USA. Those wishing to participate are asked to complete a form to indicate qualifications and/or a willingness to provide a demonstration, present a position paper or serve on a topical panel. Information and the form are available on the IMS Global website. This workshop is hosted by IMS Global and co-sponsored by the IDPF and the W3C.
• The EPUB 3 Accessibility Guidelines were updated on November 25. There is link to download these guidelines as an EPUB 3 eBook at the bottom of the Guidelines page.
EDUPUB: Getting It Together for Digital Education by Bill Kasdorf provides a summary of this workshop which was convened by
IDPF in Boston on October 29 - 30. The event brought together a broad range of key industry players, including publishers, aggregators, technology companies, and standards organizations. The result was a high level of commitment to working together to create real, practical, implementable standards and solutions by the end of 2014. George Kerscher, Madeleine Rothberg and Mark Hakkinen were on a panel discussing critical goals for accessibility in educational eBooks. Agreed to goals included integrating accessibility metadata into EPUB3, creating a repository of accessible open-source widgets, and improving accessibility for assessments embedded in eBooks.
A draft of the EDUPUB Workshop Report is available on the IDPF website. A cross-organization EDUPUB Alliance is forming to address global needs and a wide variety of stakeholder requirements, and to help foster the collaboration necessary to execute the next steps identified at the workshop and to advance the EDUPUB vision.
• The audio recording of A Collaboration That Enhances Opportunity: The Association of American Publishers and the National Federation of the Blind Change Possibilities for Literacy given by Thomas H. Allen, President and CEO, Association of American Publishers (AAP) at the NFB 2013 National Convention is available with the Convention highlights.
The copyright infringement lawsuit brought against Google by the Authors Guild that has lasted eight years was dismissed this month by a U.S. Judge Denny Chin. This ruling means that the Google Books project is protected by U.S. fair use doctrine.
Chen stated that the Google Books project "provides significant benefits to the public", that it is "an essential research tool", that it "expands access to books", and "provides print-disabled individuals with the potential to search for books and read them in a format that is compatible with text enlargement software, text-to-speech screen access software, and Braille devices." He also wrote that it benefits "traditionally underserved populations [who] will benefit as they gain knowledge of and access to far more books…"
Only "snippets" (small portions) of scanned Google Books can be read without permission, filling a function similar to that of "a card catalog for the digital age – giving users the ability to find books to buy or borrow." However, the full text of the scanned books is available to individuals who have a print disability. The judge wrote that "all society benefits" from Google Books and that "respectful consideration" for authors' rights is maintained.
The decision which Chin said constituted "fair use" under U.S. copyright law was applauded by Google, however, the Authors Guild plans to appeal it. "The Authors Guild is separately appealing, on fair use grounds, an October 2012 dismissal … of its copyright case against the HathiTrust digital library, a partnership between five major university libraries to create a shared digital repository."
Many, many millions of books have been scanned by the Google Book Project. Some publishers and authors have given Google permission to make the complete text of their books available.
Mada (Qatar Assistive Technology Center) which is a non-profit organization that strives to empower and enable people with disabilities through Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has released an Arabic Language Assistive Technology Portal, the first of its kind in the Arab world.
The Mada Assistive Technology Portal which is fully bilingual in Arabic and English has been developed and is maintained by the Mada Qatar Assistive Technology Center. The Portal offers people with disabilities, parents and professionals a wide range of information about Assistive Technology in both languages, and is designed to better serve the needs of people with disabilities in Qatar and throughout the Arabic speaking world. Detailed information about a wide range of technologies that help connect people with learning, physical, visual and hearing disabilities to the world of ICT is provided on this digital platform. The expectation is that it will help people to make better, more informed choices about Assistive Technology.
The portal includes a searchable database that provides product information, availability and approximate price, a wide range of factsheets, video training materials, a glossary of Assistive Technology terms (in both Arabic and English), a blog, and more. In addition to providing assessment, training and technology provision services that are available at no cost in Qatar, Mada also works closely with e-Accessibility experts in the region to develop platforms that are accessible to people with different abilities. The portal, which also has a functional mobile version, has been built according to the guidelines set out by the World Accessibility Initiative (WAI).
Mada which was established in 2010 by the Ministry of Telecommunications and Information Technology (ictQATAR) is an Associate Member of the DAISY Consortium.
We've come a long way, much has improved in many parts of the world, but there's much, much more to be done.
In 1992 the General Assembly of the United Nations proclaimed that December 3 be observed annually as the International Day of Disabled Persons to promote increased awareness and understanding of disability issues and trends. It also aims to mobilize support for practical action at all levels by, with and for persons with disabilities to improve their well-being and livelihoods on the basis of equality.
Each year this day is given a different theme. Perhaps the best known is the theme for 2004, Nothing about Us, Without Us, which focused on the active involvement of persons with disabilities in the planning of strategies and policies that affect their lives and relied on this principle of participation and equalization of opportunities for, by and with persons with disabilities. In 2006 E-Accessibility was the theme: "Access to information and communication technologies creates opportunities to everyone in society, but perhaps no-more so than for persons with disabilities." The theme of the Day this year is Break Barriers, Open Doors: for an inclusive society and development for all.
The program for the December 3 activities at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, USA, is available online. One of several panel discussions will be "WIPO Marrakesh VIP Treaty on Access, Intellectual Property and the Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities" which is co-organized by UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs(DESA) and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).
This panel will discuss the new treaty and how its implementation will enable inclusive and equitable development. Focus will be on opportunities for persons with disabilities to have access to information, communication and knowledge, thereby facilitating their participation in all aspects of development and society in a meaningful way. [IDPD Program]
Details including background information and things you can do to observe the Day are on the UN Enable website. The Message of the Secretary-General of the United Nations and the UN Press Release will be posted on this page. Links for these and also for the webcast are in place ready for the content to be made available.
The UN Enable logo is from the UN Enable website.
Readium Foundation is a non-profit membership corporation established in 2013 to develop commercial-grade open source components to advance digital publishing for EPUB and the Open Web Platform. It was announced in late October 10 that new members had joined the consortium, an increase from 30 to 40 members. The primary focus of this open source project primary focus is a reference system for rendering EPUB 3 publications (Readium Project Goals).
The 10 new Readium Foundation members are Google, IBM, Ingram Content Group / Vital Source Technologies, New York Public Library, Courseload, KERIS (Korea Education and Research Information Service), Learning Ally, Ciber Netherlands, Nord Compo, and VersaPub. Learning Ally (a Full Member) and Google (a Friend) are part of the DAISY Consortium membership.
Courseload, a very recent addition, has joined the Readium Foundation to help advance digital content development. It will work with fellow members of the Foundation from the global digital publishing industry to develop solutions, such as technologies for the production and delivery of interoperable and accessible digital publications, and incorporate this technology more quickly to accelerate the broad adoption of EPUB and the Open Web Platform.
In the Courseload press release, George Kerscher, Secretary General of the DAISY Consortium who has worked with Courseload on its Accessibility Advisory Board it states "He sees this membership as further evidence of a commitment to an all-inclusive digital future." Kerscher is quoted as follows:
"Courseload's mission aligns with that of the Readium Foundation, which brings together participants from the publishing and technology industries to meet end-user needs, as well as national disability legislation and obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities."
Bill McCoy, President of the Readium Foundation and Executive Director of the International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF) is also quoted in the press release:
"Courseload's membership–also helps to shine a broader spotlight on accessibility as an essential component of the next generation of digital content in education."
In this edition of the DAISY Planet newsletter [October], in the article about the results from the usability survey, you say:
"Another respondent asked that the link to the DAISY Planet in the email notice be placed on a line by itself – I have done that for this issue."
I am that respondent and I thank you for doing this and responding so quickly. It is only a small thing but by putting the URL on its own line just makes it that bit faster and easier as a screen reader user using a keyboard to get to the start of the URL and to highlight and paste it to my clipboard – it does not come out as a hyperlink in my email text.
I also thank you for the clear and concise summary of the usability survey results to date and am pleased to learn that serious consideration will be given to some of the suggestions for improvement.
I'm an Australian author interested in getting some (or, ideally, all) of my books in a format the good folks at Vision Australia can use. Is it best to discuss with you, or them directly?
And, if yourselves, how does this process start?
It is wonderful to read that you are interested in publishing your books in accessible format. Talking to helpful people at Vision Australia would be a great start. They have several pages on their website dedicated to explaining the DAISY format, for example DAISY Playback Devices and eBook Readers and DAISY.
You may already know this, but you can read DAISY books from Vision Australia collection on specialized devices supporting DAISY 2.02 format or using an app on a mainstream device such as an iPod or iPad. This You Tube video explains how.
Please talk with Vision Australia people also, just to make sure that the content you might create will meet their requirements. There is a Contact Us page on the Vision Australia website. Books by authors who have given copyright permission to have their work made available in an accessible format may be produced as DAISY books by the organization.
The DAISY Consortium has developed Obi, an open source, free structured audio book production tool that can be used for creating books in accessible DAISY 2.02 and DAISY 3 formats. You can get additional information on our website in the Obi Project area. With this software you could create a DAISY book yourself.
We also have tutorials available in DAISYpedia. The section Publishing the DAISY Way is a resource for everyone interested in publishing material in DAISY format. It includes numerous articles on using Obi – Get started with Obi is the first in the list of Obi links.
I have copied one of our trainers, Prashant Verma, who will be able to help with any technical questions you may have and who can provide you with additional information.
Hope this helps.
• In April 2014 Flemish public libraries will offer eBooks for loan on tablet computers and smart phones. Pyxima Online Daisy e-book distribution service and e-book reading apps will provide the technology. "Online Daisy" was first introduced as a service for DAISY audio books for readers with a visual disability, but the platform is equally suited for mainstream eBooks. Flemish library eBooks will also be accessible to library members who have a visual disability. Belgium is the first country to use the DAISY Online Delivery Protocol in public libraries. Additional information is available on the Pyxima website.
The Technology, Equality, and Accessibility in College and Higher Education (TEACH) Act was introduced this month by U.S. Representative Tom Petri, a senior member of the House Education and the Workforce Committee. This Bill which is the result of collaboration between the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) and the Association of American Publishers (AAP) has been endorsed by 10 other organizations of and for people with disabilities, and will create accessibility guidelines for electronic instructional materials and related information technologies used by institutions of higher education. Additional details are available in the press release posted on Congressman Petri's website, in the AAP press release and the NFB press release.
• November is RNIB's Switch on to technology month highlighting products and providing answers to the common questions that technology beginners have. Free "technology taster events" were held across the UK and free guides and video tutorials have been made available. The main three topics covered were: "Making sense of mobile phones", "Getting online with computers and tablets", and, "Options for reading with eBooks and download audio books". Free guides on these three topics can be downloaded from the Switch on to technology month page of the RNIB website in Word and PDF formats. The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) is a Full Member of the DAISY Consortium.
• A free EASI webinar Accessible Digital Images will be held December 19, at 2 PM Eastern Time. Emerging tools, standards, and research designed to ensure that images are accessible to all online will be discussed; the webinar will be presented by Julie Noblitt, Community Manager with the DIAGRAM Center. Register online on the EASI website.
• NVDA is a free, open source screen reader for Microsoft Windows. NVDA 2013.3rc1 has recently been released. This is a release candidate – unless critical issues are found, it will be identical to the final 2013.3 release. NVDA is developed by NV Access in collaboration with a global community of contributors. NV Access Podcast Episode 7 provides details about the upcoming 2013.3 release, and news about OpenOffice accessibility.
• Acapela Group has been selected by Sami Parliament of Norway to develop North Sami language text-to-speech. Both male and female voices will be developed and will contribute to the preservation of this minority language. Sami is spoken in the north of Norway, Finland and Sweden; Acapela will develop North Sami which is the most widespread and is spoken by 20,000 people. The finished product will be launched in October 2014. More details are provided in the Acapela Group announcement.
• Wikipedia has introduced the Accessibility WikiProject. "This project aims to make Wikipedia accessible for users with disabilities … accessibility means that people with disabilities can perceive, understand, navigate, and interact with Wikipedia, and that they can contribute to Wikipedia. Accessibility also benefits others, including older people with changing abilities due to aging." Participants are welcome to join the group.
• The Braille Authority of North America (BANA) has this month affirmed January 4, 2016, as the date by which the United States will implement the general use of Unified English Braille (UEB). The Current (2013) UEB Rulebook is available on the International Council on English Braille (ICEB) website. Details are provided in the BANA press release of November 26. UEB has been widely adopted by ICEB member nations.
• Once again the DAISY Consortium is a supporting organization of the M-Enabling Summit. The 2014 Conference and Showcase will take place in Washington DC, June 9 - 10. The Summit is exclusively dedicated to promoting mobile accessible and assistive applications and services for senior citizens and users of all abilities, a market of more than one billion users worldwide.
• The Study on Assessing and Promoting E-Accessibility is available as a PDF file for download from the Access for All website. The main aims of the study were to take stock of the extent of e-accessibility across the EU27 countries and some third countries, as well as related policy efforts. The focus was on e-accessibility in three key domains: web, telecoms and TV.
• The New Victor Reader Stream: In Many Ways Better Than the Original is a review of the most recent release of HumanWare's Stream by Curtis Chong (November 2013, Braille Monitor).
• The disability movement (European Disability Forum - EDF) met with Viviane Reding, Vice President of the European Commission, to discuss the actions that the Commission is taking on the implementation of the rights of persons with disabilities and the upcoming European Accessibility Act. Ms. Reding expressed the European Commission's commitment to the preparation of the legislative proposal of the Act. Details are available in the EDF press release.
• Nominations for the APH 2014 Hall of Fame are now open. Information about nominee eligibility and criteria, and about the nomination process is available on the APH (American Printing House for the Blind) website. Nomination will be accepted until Friday, March 28, 2014. APH is a long standing Member of the DAISY Consortium.
auDA Foundation is funding the development of a digital literacy hub for Indigenous Australians. Curtin University has received funding for "Streaming Digital Talking Books to the Print Disabled via a modified DAISY Online Delivery Protocol – an extension to the DAISY Online Delivery protocol to allow streaming of digital talking books to users with vision and print disabilities.
This project will develop an integrated system for the delivery and playback of DAISY Digital Talking Books via a streaming protocol. It will utilise the existing online catalogue at the Association for the Blind of Western Australia (ABWA), with the added functionality to allow streaming of Digital Talking Books selected by the user to a device of their choice…."
• Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD): Preliminary findings of the 3RD edition of the CRPD Progress Report on ICT Accessibility will be released this week by G3ict (the Global Initiative for Inclusive Information and Communication Technologies), in cooperation with DPI (Disabled People's International). Information is provided in the G3ict press release. The full report, with detailed data analysis, was scheduled to be available for download from the G3ict and DPI websites this month.
• A new test release of Obi,
Obi 3.0 beta 2 is now available and is targeted towards serious users. This is the second
feature-specific test release for Obi 3.0. (Obi is the DAISY Consortium's open source DAISY 3 and DAISY 2.02 authoring software for audio books with structure.)
Features added include:
° Option to merge several Obi projects, allowing projects to be worked on at multiple workstations and later merged into a single project
° Metadata of the current project can be saved as the default metadata for use across projects
° A new 'recording options' button in the transport bar provides easy access to advanced recording operations
Improvements in functionality introduced in the previous test release (Obi 3.0 beta 1) are included, for example, Zoomed Waveform view, option to disable waveforms in Content view for improved in response time, adjustable phrase boundaries, and other bug fixes.
Suggestions and bug reports are most welcome and can be posted to the Obi Forum. The Obi team thanks everyone who has contributed to Obi development with testing, input and bug reporting.
• A TPAC Update on Accessibility in Digital Publishing was recently published on the W3C Digital Publishing Activity News website. Topics covered in this article about the TPAC (W3C Technical Plenary and Advisory Committee) meeting include accessibility metadata, digital publishing, and Scalable Vector Graphic format (SVG).
• A new Obi tutorial Obi: Live Recording has been posted on You Tube. Obi is open source software developed by the DAISY Consortium to produce digital talking books (DTBs) conforming to DAISY 3 Standard (officially, the ANSI/NISO Z39.86 Specifications). It is also possible to create DAISY 2.02 DTBs. DAISY books produced with Obi are structured DTBs with audio (the full text of the book is not part of the content).
• From How-To Geek this month:
° The 20 Most Important Keyboard Shortcuts For Windows PCs
° Do Non-Windows Platforms Like Mac, Android, iOS, and Linux Get Viruses?
° How Do I Kill a "Not Responding" Program When Task Manager Fails Me?