The DAISY Consortium's Newsletter - March 2017

From The Editor

For the first time, we are making the DAISY Planet translations available in Spanish and French. Please provide your feedback and forward to those who may benefit. Relevant articles in Spanish and French for publishing in the DAISY Planet are welcome.

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DAISY Marketplace

The following links are to new or recently updated DAISY Products and Services from our Members and Friends. Marketplace entries also appear on our home page.

Publishers' Corner

Charles LaPierre slides from ebookcraft 2017, In the Trenches with Accessible EPUB 3 have been posted to SlideShare.

Richard Orme's slides from the London Book Fair, The Inclusive Publishing Initiative: Practicalities of Accessibility for the Industry are available on SlideShare.

Videos of the first day of the EPUB Summit 2017 are now online.

The Way Forward for an Egyptian Ratification of the Marrakesh Treaty

Throughout the world, libraries have a long track record assisting people with print disabilities. Only organizations serving the blind and visually impaired people, libraries and other "authorized entities" can send copies of books in accessible formats to other countries.

The Marrakesh Treaty provides countries with policy options. Librarians need to participate in the development and implementation of national legislation to ensure the maximum possible benefit. They are vital in meeting the objective of the treaty - to end the book famine for people with print disabilities.

Open Discussions in Alexandria

The Bibliotheca Alexandrina held the "On the Way Forward for an Egyptian Ratification of the Marrakesh Treaty" Symposium on February 12th. As known worldwide, the Bibliotheca Alexandrina is a vast complex where the arts, history, philosophy, and science all come together. The myriad of activities it offers has made it a place for open discussion, dialogue, and understanding.

Karen Keninger speaking

The symposium was organized by the Digital Talking Book Section (BA Library Sector) in cooperation with the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) Section on Libraries Serving Persons with Print Disabilities (LPD) and the World Blind Union.

Accordingly, several IFLA/LPD representatives from various countries were among the attendees, including Karen Keninger, Chair of IFLA/LPD and director of National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped at the Library of Congress, USA; Christopher Friend, WBU Technical Advisor on the Marrakesh Treaty; Richard Orme, CEO, DAISY Consortium; as well as directors of libraries specialized in providing services for the blind and visually impaired from Europe, North America, and Australia.

The symposium brought together stakeholders from the Egyptian library and visually impaired communities with appropriate government, parliamentary, and legislative leaders. The goal was to find a solution to the lack of accessible books and educational resources for the blind and visually impaired people in Egypt.

Current challenges in Egypt

The main obstacle print disabled persons face in Egypt is the lack of exception in the copyright law that would allow to produce and distribute accessible copies of books for the print disabled. For example, when Taha Hussein Library for Visually Impaired produces a digital talking book (DTB), patrons can read the copy of DTB only inside the library if the title is not free of copyright.

Flag of Egypt

Also, the number of libraries that serve the print disabled is very limited. Most if not all, have very limited resources, another obstacle in serving the blind patrons. This consequently affects their education, especially at the university level, and postgraduate studies.

The production of accessible material is limited to a few institutions. Only one institution publishes braille material for both educational titles and leisure reading books. There is an urgent need to share information about the accessible books and production between visually impaired people and relevant organizations in Egypt.

Things are slowly getting better, and new stakeholders are present on the scene of accessible material production.

Outcomes of the Symposium

Two working groups were formed. One group discussed ways to accelerate the efforts for Egypt to ratify the Marrakesh Treaty. Another group identified how organizations could work together to expand the capacity for Egypt to create and use accessible books.

View of the Symposium Hall

Group sessions were well-attended, lively and highly interactive. Each group created an action plan and provided input to the declaration issued by the symposium. Declaration was read during the closing session. The closing statement is available in English and Arabic.

The Development of Accessible Title Satellite Networks in Egypt

The idea of creating a unified catalogue of accessible titles in Egypt was explored, which will mean that fewer resources will be wasted due to duplication of effort. It may be beneficial to reach out to other disability groups.

Richard Orme, DAISY Consortium

It was decided to identify technical solutions for production and circulation with help from DAISY Consortium, IFLA and other organizations. Symposium participants agreed to create a forum to discuss the challenges and share knowledge in regards to the technicalities of the production of materials in accessible formats.

Participants also discussed exploring EPUB 3.1 as a technical solution that may address language issues and the challenge with complex materials including tables, mathematics, and graphics.

The Symposium in Alexandria was successful as it provided a place for the visually impaired to meet the appropriate government, parliamentary, and legislative leaders as well as international experts to discuss matters face-to-face.

See also:

Thank you, Yasmine Youssef, Kirsi Ylanne and Richard Orme for your help with gathering information for this article.

CELA: Expanding Access to Knowledge and Information

Canadians with print disabilities now have unprecedented access to magazine content in DAISY format thanks to an agreement between CELA (Centre for Equitable Library Access) and Recorded Books. CELA, CNIB’s trusted partner in library service delivery, now offers patrons access to DAISY files for magazines such as Canadian Living, The Economist and The Hockey News on the same day these magazines are published.

CELA Logo, coloured star

“We are thrilled to be the first organization in Canada, and we believe the world, to offer this level of access to popular magazines to those with print disabilities,” said Michael Ciccone, executive director of CELA. “We’ve been developing this DAISY project for the past year as part of our mandate to support public libraries in bringing a full range of accessible reading materials to this community.”

CELA, launched in 2014, now provides all library-related services to CNIB clients and other Canadians with print disabilities. CNIB continues to work with CELA producing hundreds of new accessible titles each year in DAISY, braille and audio for distribution by CELA through the public library system.

New agreements like the one between CELA and Recorded Books which leverage DAISY technology bring a huge benefit to patrons. Joanne Richter, Director of Production, CNIB says “Magazines allow people to keep up with current affairs, explore interests and engage in social activities on a more equal playing field. And yet, until this agreement between CELA and Recorded Books, access to this sort of content on the day of publication has been out of reach for the blind and low-vision community.

The new magazines are available in DAISY text format. They include the full text of articles as well as images. The magazines can be easily downloaded and transferred to a DAISY device. They can also be read with a variety of apps including Voice Dream Reader for iOS/Android. Ongoing testing is underway for additional apps and reading devices.

“Technology has eliminated one of the biggest barriers we’ve faced in getting those with print disabilities timely access to our catalogue,” said Tom MacIsaac, CEO of Recorded Books. “These magazines are available in many public libraries through the Zinio for Libraries service. Now, because of the partnership with CELA to facilitate centralized distribution, all Canadians will be able to read and enjoy magazines without barriers.”

“The project is in the user-testing phase now, with a limited number of magazines, and CELA will be actively soliciting feedback from our patrons to help us create the service that meets their needs," said Ciccone.

While similar to the Zinio for Libraries service, CELA’s service is the only one that provides accessible DAISY files. Patrons need to access these files using their CELA account and an accessible app rather than the Zinio for Libraries app.

For more information on this new service, please visit CELA website.

A big thank you to Joanne Richter, Karen McKay and Becky Wyatt for their help with this article.

EPUB Summit 2017 Summary

Written by Laurent Le Meur

Abbreviated version. The full report is available on the EDRLab website.

The second EPUB Summit, held in Brussels March 9-10, was a successful event to showcase the latest technological developments. With more than 150 attendees from many countries, it has already become the major European rendez-vous for the Digital Publishing Industry.

European Digital Reading Lab logo

The event is organized by EDRLab to promote EPUB, the innovative publishing standard used all around the world.

Interoperability as the central thread

EPUB format guarantees access to the largest diversity of content. It lets readers freely choose where they want to buy their ebooks and provides them the best reading experience.

Following the recent combination of the IDPF (International Digital Publishing Forum) with the W3C (World Wide Web Consortium), work is now starting at the W3C on an evolution of the EPUB format, code name PWP. This will make EPUB a first-class citizen of the Web; in parallel with the maintenance of the current version 3 of the EPUB format. EPUB 3 Community Group is open to all interested parties.

The EPUB 3 profile EPUB for Education, was also part of the discussion. It suffers from a limited adoption, especially in Europe. Several interesting proposals were made during the EPUB Summit, advocating a close collaboration between the W3C and a relaunched EDUPUB Alliance around a new profile based on EPUB 3.1.

Readium projects

The Readium community which develops open-source software for the EPUB format, is actively maintaining the current ReadiumJS and Readium SDK codebase. Annotations will soon be added to ReadiumJS via the Hypothesis annotation extension, thanks to a partnership involving several companies. Readium has also started a new agile project called Readium-2, a new approach to the development of reading systems.

Readium-2 software will allow access to EPUB and PWP publications on mobile devices and desktop. It can be easily adapted to specific formats for audiobooks and comics.

The EPUB Summit was a perfect opportunity to describe and showcase Readium LCP, the vendor-neutral DRM technology developed by the Readium Foundation and EDRLab.

This interoperable and cost saving solution is strongly supported by major publishers, e-distributors, solution developers and e-lending libraries. Eden Livres, DeMarque, Dilicom, ePagine, TEA and DRM Inside from Korea successfully achieved the first public demonstration of the interoperability of the Readium LCP solution and its use for retail and library lending, using ebooks from major French and Dutch publishers. The public launch of Readium LCP in Belgium and France, as part of the e-lending solution called PNB (Prêt Numérique en Bibliothèque) should happen before summer.

Accessible EPUB

A roundtable dedicated to ebook accessibility for disabled and visually impaired people demonstrated that EPUB 3 is now ready to be used by publishers to produce “born accessible” black and white ebooks. As advocated by the DAISY Consortium, EPUB 3, which has standardized baseline accessibility requirements, should become the publishing format shared by publishers and organizations dedicated to the adaptation of books for persons with “print disabilities”.

In Italy, EPUB 3 ebooks adapted by the Fondazione LIA are distributed as part of mainstream distribution channels. There are also innovations in the field of accessible devices: InsideVision, from France demonstrated a tactile Braille tablet, aiming at bridging the visible and invisible world gap.

The second day of the EPUB Summit started with talks about current European innovations. Representatives from Germany, the Netherlands, Italy and France demonstrated that innovation is not only about content, but also about distribution, commercial offers, data analysis and user interactions. Bokbasen from Norway presented the “explosion” of audiobooks on European market, with a transparency about their data which was deeply appreciated by the audience.

EU and the future of digital publishing

The representatives of both the Federation of European Publishers and European and International Booksellers Federation put forward that the promotion of interoperability as a commercial offer could be reinforced by a legal approach in the directive on the Contracts for the supply of digital content.

This is needed to prevent the commercial strategies of some operators locking consumers in their own proprietary environments. When an accessible ebook is commercially available, they requested that such offer should be taken into account before using the benefit of the exception defined by the Marrakech Treaty.

This second EPUB Summit confirmed that a vibrant international EPUB community is actively working, exploring and innovating. And with EPUB becoming “first-class citizen of the web”, it will be more convenient for books and e-books to fully play their role, i.e. make people first class citizens of the world.

Immediate Access: RNIB ‘In Your Pocket’

Blind and partially sighted people want easy access to the same magazines, newspapers, and books as their peers. Immediate access to information wherever you are can make a world of difference, which is why RNIB has launched “RNIB In Your Pocket.”

An older man holding a white Samsung mobile devices

Samsung media player - a dedicated reading device brings digital content to the customer’s pocket. With a monthly payment of £20, over a 24-month contract customer will receive the device, 3 GB monthly data allowance, access to Wi-Fi as well as a subscription to RNIB Newsagent and Talking Books.

RNIB Newsagent has almost 200 titles, from daily newspapers to monthly magazines that are all available in addition to over 25,000 Talking Books. Customers can access digital content using voice commands. RealSAM interactive speech system enables finding and reading titles and news and speeding up and slowing down speech.

Customers will also have access to libraries such as Project Gutenberg (almost 53,000 titles) and LibriVox, along with the podcasts from the BBC and other sources.

Steve Tyler, Head of Strategy and Accessibility at RNIB, said: “Customers who tested ‘In Your Pocket’ found it really simple to use straight out of the box. There is no need for computers or downloads, as it connects directly over the O2 mobile network and provides access to all the latest news and entertainment.”

Hilary Leacock was born prematurely. She has had low vision since birth. Hilary has been testing the new product.

She said: “'In Your Pocket’ is so easy and so immediate. It is like having a person reading to you. You just press a button and ask for what you want!”

To find out more, or purchase RNIB’s ‘In Your Pocket’, please call the RNIB Helpline on 0303 123 9999, or email helpline@rnib.org.uk.

Thank you, Alison Long and the RNIB marketing team for your input!

Better Together: Improving access for people with low vision

Bart Vroom (Dedicon) provided an update on the Better Together Team conference preparations.

The Dutch low vision community is busy preparing to impress international colleagues with amazing innovation, great hospitality, and first class facilities.

The Better Together Conference in the Hague, Netherlands on June 28th is part of the Vision 2017 Congress but focused entirely on cutting-edge technologies.

Who will be there to share what they know?

Below please find a selection of speakers and tracks.

New, just confirmed:

Track: Accessible content

The importance of creating accessible content is not always evident for everyone. In this track, the possibilities for transferring access from the boardroom to a platform will be presented. Using examples from successful applications, we outline the support available for publishers and demonstrate the possibilities universally designed textbooks offer.

Speakers:

Track: Accessible images

Since the arrival of the written word, we have been describing images using text. But in recent years, we have increasingly been sharing information in the form of images. In everyday life, both online and offline. This track looks at different ways of making visual information accessible to people with visual impairments.

How do you describe a video? Which measures can an organization adopt? How do you recognize an image? How do you describe an image to someone who has never seen it? And how can technology help us? This track includes creative ways to tickle all your senses!

Speakers:

Track: Sharing Information

Making information available is one thing, but if potential users can’t get at it, there’s little point!  In this track, different organizations take to the stage and show the different ways they have found to distribute accessible information.

Is one method better than the other? Or do they go hand-in-hand? During a panel discussion, we put the experts on the spot. We also proudly present the world’s first interactive, voice-activated, accessible books. Spread the word!

Track: Exciting Technologies

Speakers:

Conference organizers are finalising the Better Together programme. The list of speakers is being updated constantly.

The World Forum Lobby

We look forward to seeing you at the Better Together Conference organised by Dedicon. Venue: The World Forum.

The registration fee for delegates for the whole day is 242 euros. This fee also includes full access to the Vision 2017 Congress (28 June).

Register today.

CSUN 2017: Focus on the Inclusive Reading and Publishing Ecosystem

Ginny Grant and Amaya Webster

As usual, CSUN Assistive Technology Conference provided many opportunities to see new technologies and learn from other participants. A big thank you to Ginny Grant (Bookshare) and Mattias Karlsson (Dolphin Computer Access) for their time, expertise and demos.

George Kerscher (DAISY Consortium and Benetech), Richard Orme (DAISY Consortium) and Amaya Webster (Benetech) presented Accessible Reading Solutions from Mainstream Publishers.

What makes an accessible reading system (app, device or platform)?

Reading System Testing working group’s first goal is to ensure that the mainstream reading systems support essential accessibility features.

When evaluating how well a reading system and assistive technology combination addresses the needs of a user, there are four essential feature categories that are tested:

Testers also evaluate how the system allows making visual adjustments.

Accordingly, when using an app or a combination of a reading system and assistive technology, is the user able to launch the system, find a title, read the title, navigate through the publication, take notes or add bookmarks.

A score of 100% indicates that all essential features are supported.

All accessibility evaluations are available on epubtest.org. Additional information can be found on inclusivepublishing.org.

The same combination will not guarantee the best reading experience for everyone. The results will also change, as the reading system, and assistive technology developers improve the accessibility features of their products.

The working group strives to get to a place where they can summarize the best options for a reader using Windows, or trying to read math, etc.

With help from the wider DAISY community, it’s possible.

You can contact the Community Manager, Amaya Webster amayaw[at]Benetech[dot]org for more information on ways you can contribute.

CSUN 2017 presentation slides have been posted to SlideShare.

Finally, Certified Accessible Educational Materials from Publishers

 

During this presentation, George Kerscher (DAISY Consortium and Benetech), Charles LaPierre (Benetech) and Rachel Comerford (Macmillan Learning) shared the latest developments in evaluating ebooks for accessibility. Macmilian Learning has been participating in Benetech’s Certification Program Beta.

George Kerscher, Rachel Comerford, Charles LaPierre

It's evident that evaluations can be eye-opening and sometimes challenging, making publishers to rethink and change their workflows.

Increasingly more states and school districts are mandating the procurement of textbooks and instructional materials in accessible formats.

This allows students with various disabilities get access to materials using formats, devices, and platforms that work for them. Formats may include audio, braille, large font, EPUB 3 or DAISY, making books accessible to people with different learning needs.

How can you make sure that ebooks that you purchase are accessible?

Now you can look for the Accessible Ebook Certification from Benetech, a leader in ebook accessibility. The certification program is currently in beta and provides:

The focus of Benetech’s Born Accessible initiative is to ensure that all digital materials are created accessibly from the very beginning.

Benetech partners with other accessibility leaders including the DAISY Consortium with funding from a Google Impact Challenge Award. Benetech works directly with leading publishers and conversion houses to evaluate ebooks.

Benetech’s Certification Program helps publishers create ebooks with full confidence that they meet state and school district purchasing requirements. For educators, it provides peace of mind as they are not only meeting procurement requirements but also supporting students in ways that help them learn and comprehend material better.

Benetech invites all publishers and conversion houses to participate in their beta certification program and evaluate the accessibility of their ebooks. To learn more about participation, publishers should go to Benetech’s website and contact their certification team.

Presentation slides have been posted to SlideShare.

We thank all DAISY Members and Friends for engaging conversations and product demos at CSUN!

M-Enabling Summit: Promoting Accessible Technologies and Environments

The M-Enabling Summit promotes accessible technologies and environments for seniors and users of all abilities. It will be held June 13-14, 2017 at the Renaissance Arlington Capital View Hotel in Washington, D.C.

 

The 2017 theme is Making Connected Things and Services Accessible for All. Sessions in the Spotlight: Accessibility for better branding, innovation in robotics, wearables, virtual and augmented reality, artificial intelligence, IoT, smart homes, refreshed Section 508 and WCAG 2.1, as well as scaling up accessibility in higher education, businesses and government.

 

The 6th edition of the M-Enabling Summit is organized in cooperation with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

M-Enabling Summit Banner

To view the complete agenda please visit the M-Enabling Summit website. Get the early bird rate through April 28th - register on the M-Enabling Summit website.