The DAISY Consortium's Newsletter - June 2017

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Publishers' Corner

The World Wide Web Consortium's (W3C) face-to-face meeting, held in New York, June 22-23, 2017, was primarily focused on digital publishing.

This was a joint meeting between:

Avneesh Singh, George Kerscher, Romain Deltour and Matt Garrish represented the DAISY Consortium.

This was also the first meeting of the new W3C Publishing Working Group, which will conduct the technical work on the future EPUB4 format.

More information can be found on the EDRLab website.

See also: Publishing @ W3C - Major Milestones.

W3C has opened registration for its first ever W3C Publishing Summit to be held November 9-10, 2017 in San Francisco, California, co-located with the W3C’s Technical Plenary and Advisory Committee meetings (TPAC 2017). Call for speakers will close July 15, 2017. More information is provided on the W3C Publishing Summit website.

EPUB and the Evolving Digital Book Ecosystem in France

Developments in the digital book ecosystem and French and European laws have led the publishing industry to integrate accessibility features into their day-to-day production of digital books in EPUB format. This results in products that are natively accessible by print-disabled people.

The standardization group of the Syndicat National de l'Édition (SNE - French Publishers’ Association) worked, in conjunction with the European Digital Reading Lab (EDRLab), the French National Library (Bnf) and the French Culture Ministry to promote accessibility in the French publishing landscape.

Blue map of France with a Book

The French Publishers Association (SNE) is France’s trade association of book publishers. It represents approximately 660 member organizations whose combined business endeavors account for the majority of French publishing.

At a workshop held on June 15th, 2017, at the SNE, the Norms and Standards Working Group, coordinated by Luc Audrain, provided a summary. Luc reported on their year of study:

“The time has come for us publishers to take a substantial share in leveraging accessible production of ebooks. It has been an enthusiastic year for me to be able to lead this group of high-level experts on this journey to natively accessible publishing. 

There are still many obstacles to be lifted, but we can affirm that part of the way is cleared for simple books.

We plan now to accompany the concrete implementation in the EPUB production workshops of the tools we have prepared so that the accessibility elements are at the heart of existing workflows and no longer an exception.”

The following resources are readily available:

Other resources on the subject are available on the SNE website: http://www.sne.fr/enjeux/ressources-pour-la-production-de-livres-nativement-accessibles/.

The documents produced by the Norms and Standards group in 2017 were designed for instructional purposes. They support publishers in producing digital books that are natively accessible to those who have reading difficulties. The referenced documents do not provide exhaustive information on the accessibility features and are not legally enforceable. 

Heartfelt thanks go to all the professionals who took part in the 2016-2017 study:

 

Luc Audrain (Hachette Livre); Sébastien Cretin (FENIXX); Juliette Dutour (BnF); Sophie Fortier (Editis-SEJER); Johann Gillium (French Ministry of Culture); Flore Grainger-Piacentino (SNE); Catherine Kempeneers (Hatier); Mehdi Lekehal (Eden); Claire Leymonerie (French Ministry of Culture); Louis Marle (Albin Michel); Jean-Philippe Moreux (BnF); Hélène Patrelle (La Martinière); Fernando Pinto da Silva (EDRLab); Vincent Poulvélarie (Dilicom); David Queffélec (Albin Michel); Edern Rio (Sofedis); Jane Rivière (Delcourt); Nina Stavisky (SLF); Laurence Zaysser (Editis-Sejer).

Thank you, Fernando Pinto da Silva for this update.

What is Global Certified Accessible?

Everyone should be able to access information. That’s why DAISY Consortium Full Member Benetech created Global Certified Accessible, a revolutionary program to evaluate the accessibility of ebooks. This program grew out of Benetech’s extensive experience building Bookshare, the world’s largest library of accessible ebooks.

Benetech logo

Benetech/Bookshare currently works with over 850 publishers to transform content into accessible formats. They have remediated over 550,000 titles.

Global Certified Accessible offers publishers a comprehensive authoritative assessment of how their files include the accessibility features critical in educational materials. The program awards a “stamp of approval” on digital content that meets accessibility requirements. Consequently, publishers can market their products to purchasers and procurement officers at both K-12 and higher education institutions.

Global Certified Accessible offers decision makers confidence that the books they are purchasing meet procurement requirements. Benetech strives to ensure that all content is born digital and accessible.

By making accessibility transparent from content creation through content purchasing, Global Certified Accessible supports everyone involved in creating, distributing, retailing, purchasing and reading accessible books.

The program has a global footprint in order to serve students around the world. Benetech developed the certification standards and serves as the lead certification provider for North America. Dedicon provides certification for mainland Europe, Royal National Institute of Blind People for the United Kingdom, and Vision Australia for Australasia.

Benetech’s certification program is based on the following standards:

The evaluation also reviews extended image descriptions and MathML using industry best practice guidelines.

Ingram Content Group’s VitalSource® and CoreSource® will incorporate the results of Benetech's Global Certified Accessible program into their service offerings.

Early supporters of Global Certified Accessible include Elsevier, HarperCollins Publishers, Harvard Business Publishing, Macmillan Learning, Penguin Random House, Amnet Conversion Services and Apex CoVantage.

More information is available on the Benetech website.

Thank you, Sara Gebhardt for sharing this information!

Happy 30th Birthday, Dolphin Computer Access!

Dolphin Computer Access celebrated their 30th anniversary in June 2017 by launching a FREE accessible EasyReader app for readers who are blind, have low vision or dyslexia.

“As a thank you to our customers and partners worldwide from the last 30 years, we’re delighted to release EasyReader – bringing our free accessible reading app to a global audience,” said Noel Duffy, Managing Director at Dolphin Computer Access.

Early Dolphin innovations included Hal for DOS and the Apollo synthesizer – a screen reader that ‘spoke’ through a hardware synthesizer. Available in more than 30 languages, this popular combination quickly became established as the industry leader around the globe.

1998 saw the launch of SuperNova, the first fully integrated magnifier and screen reader delivering accessibility for every visual impairment – developed at Dolphin’s headquarters in Worcester, UK. SuperNova USB followed in 2005 and heralded the first portable assistive technology on a USB thumb drive. Dolphin Publisher, developed in Dolphin’s Swedish development offices, remains the industry’s preferred DAISY book creation tool, making millions of accessible talking books available around the world.

The launch of the EasyReader app for iOS brings together the world’s largest collection of accessible books and newspaper services. Unique in offering direct access to 21 digital libraries serving print impaired people across 70 countries, EasyReader supports library services including Bookshare®, NFB-NEWSLINE®, RNIB Bookshare, Legimus, NLB and Vision Australia. The full list of supported online libraries and newspaper services is provided on the Dolphin Computer Access website. Review also: The embedded YouTube video featuring the EasyReader app below.

EasyReader for iOS is available to download from the iTunes in English, French, German, Italian, Norwegian, and Swedish with other languages due to follow shortly.

EasyReader is fully compatible with VoiceOver and iOS supported braille displays. Currently, users cannot side load their collections outside library services, but this feature is planned for a future update.

EasyReader for Android is set for release late Summer 2017. For accessible book libraries looking to tailor and deliver their own iOS, Android and Windows reading apps, EasyReader is also available as an app platform.

One example is the recently launched SBS (Swiss Library for the Blind, Visually Impaired and Print Disabled) Leser Plus app. Under Dolphin’s “Your library app, powered by Dolphin EasyReader” program, SBS patrons can read books in DAISY 2.02 and DAISY 3 formats. Available on iTunes.

Thank you goes to Kelly Goulding. Happy Birthday to Dolphin Computer Access!

Gathering Data to Better Support People with Dyslexia

The European Digital Reading Lab (EDRLab), in conjunction with its work to provide more options for reading to people with visual impairments, has started to explore the impact of the EPUB standard on the reading practices of those with dyslexia.

Publishers specializing in accessible books for dyslexic readers are producing EPUB with specific enhancements. Mobidys, an EDRLab member, is one of the most active in this field.

European Digital Reading Lab logo

Various reading solutions to dyslexic readers without EPUB support are also available. In order to discover the extent of the efforts to support people with dyslexia, Luc Maumet has begun to map digital solutions already on the market including software, browsers, and apps.

EDRLab goals are:

You may have seen a solution which is not presented on the EDRLab list. A simple e-mail or Twitter message (@lucmaumet) with a link to related resources can help. Any digital resource, addressing the needs of those with dyslexia, whether or not it’s supporting/using EPUB is of interest to EDRLab.

Below please find a selection of browsers/apps/readers already included in the EDRLab list. For more information, please visit the EDRLab website.

Browsers:

Readers/apps:

No EPUB support:

With EPUB support:

Responding to the Need for Talking Books in Arabic

In the Nordic countries, the need for talking books in other languages than European languages has increased during the last few years. The collaboration concerning the production of talking books in Arabic and Sámi languages started in 2015.

The participating libraries are:

Celia in Finland, Nota in Denmark, NLB in Norway, Hljodbokasafn in Iceland and MTM in Sweden.

All these libraries are focused on accessible literature and publishing. As a result of two different projects, 25 talking books in Arabic and 6 in Sámi were produced by June 2017.

According to Statistics for the Northern Countries, up to 20% of the population in each country have a foreign background.  Approx. 6-8 % of the total population in the Nordic countries have some kind of reading impairment. This indicates that a large group of the population with a foreign background need accessible media. Many refugees coming to the Nordic Countries have Arabic as their native language.

These facts made it clear that there was a need to find ways to increase the production of talking books in other languages. The idea to cooperate with the other Nordic libraries was discussed among the libraries and was soon decided upon.

After analyzing the demand for information in various foreign languages, it was decided that the project should focus on producing titles in Arabic. This resulted in an agreement to produce a total of 25 talking books in Arabic, both for adults and children, by spring 2017. The great advantage of this project, besides satisfying the users´ needs, is that the libraries share the cost of production. Each library produced 5 titles and gained 25 titles.

In addition to the Arabic titles, 6 new titles in the Northern Sámi language were produced by Celia, NLB, and MTM. Sámi is a minority language. It is important to make Sámi titles available for persons with print disabilities.

MTM (Swedish Agency for Accessible Media), Nota (the Danish Library and Expertise Center for People with Print Disabilities) and NLB (Norsk lyd-og blindeskriftbibliotek) are also part of the Accessible Books Consortium (ABC) Global Book Service.

This service makes it easier for participating institutions to search internationally for books in accessible formats, and to exchange them across national borders. It currently contains titles in accessible formats in about 55 languages. Participation is free of charge; there is no membership fee or financial contribution required from a participating institution or end user.

See also: Reading by Listening [Multilingual Month].

M-Enabling Summit 2017: Accessibility is a Journey

Accessibility is a journey – and it’s important to have dedicated co-travelers who help each other stay focused. Travelers with different skill sets and expertise make the journey interesting and worthwhile. Sometimes due to circumstances, the travel itinerary changes, but with joint efforts and adjustments, the journey can continue.

The M-Enabling Summit 2017 session Accessibility Progress in Digital Publishing (Washington D.C., June 14th, 2017) featured passionate speakers – accessibility experts and fellow travelers who have been on the accessibility journey for a while.

Peter Korn, Steve Tyler, Rick Johnson, Betsy Beaumon

After session chair’s (Varju Luceno) short introduction of the DAISY Consortium’s Inclusive Publishing Hub, Betsy Beaumon (President, Benetech) shared Benetech’s initiatives including the work done at the DIAGRAM Center, Buy Accessible and Born Accessible. She also explained the principles of the Global Certified Accessible Program that has now been launched with involvement of DAISY Consortium members.

Rick Johnson (VP of Product Strategy, VitalSource) highlighted VitalSource’s recent efforts of making educational materials and reading platforms accessible through continuous testing and improvements. He also invited session attendees to join the EPUB 3 Community Group.

Steve Tyler (Head, Innovation and Development, Royal National Institute of Blind People – RNIB) took attendees back to the beginning of the era of Talking Books and covered the long journey to the implementation of the Marrakesh Treaty. After thinking of all the efforts over the years it has taken from developing standards and countless hours of narrating and recording, it is amazing that now it is possible to put RNIB library in your pocket, using the modern powerful device.

Peter Korn (Accessibility Architect, Amazon) shared with the audience that Kindle accessibility improvements continue. New technologies including Amazon Echo enable voice-activated hands-off approach to digital reading. Amazon has quite ambitious plans for further improving the accessibility of their devices. Collaboration with various organizations including RNIB and the National Federation of the Blind continues.

The accessible publishing, reading, and discovery go on. Thank you for traveling with us.

Dear DAISY

Ivan Icin, the developer of Speech Central app contacted us and requested DAISY Community feedback as he has recently added support for DAISY 2 and 3. Read more about the Speech Central app below and send your comments to office@labsii.com.

Speech Central app users can read aloud web pages, documents, and e-books. This app can create a speech or audio file from any page that you browse inside the app. It has been tested to be accessible to visually impaired users.

Latest iOS features including 3D Touch, Spotlight Search, Dynamic Type and Apple Watch are fully supported. The app has been tested to work on iOS 9 and 10.

English, Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, Italian, Chinese, Russian, Japanese, Swedish, Dutch, Norwegian and Danish language can be auto-detected inside the app. The app can be used with any of the 27 languages supported by text to speech for iOS.

The free version has a daily limitation in the number of articles that you can add to it.

In the latest version, he added support for DAISY 2 and 3 books. Now, Speech Central brings DAISY books to Windows 10 S, Windows 10 Mobile, and Xbox One.

Ivan said: “I see that you have various parts of the site where you list or review apps like this. I would highly appreciate if you would take a look at my app and include it in your site. I believe it would also add value to your users.”

Below please find links to get the app:

  • iOS: iTunes - the app is free, and you can always read one book for free. To add another, just delete the previously imported book.
  • Mac - you can use this promo code: PTPW7LE9NWNK
  • Windows: use this link
  • Android - it is free like on iOS. This app has the full DAISY support. Few of the options available on the other platforms are yet to come.

Bits & Pieces

Australia signed the Marrakesh Treaty, an international agreement that will help an estimated 285 million people worldwide have greater access to books published in accessible formats, in June 2014.

Disability advocates in Australia are now celebrating the passage of the Copyright Amendment (Disability Access and Other Measures) Bill.

This bill removed the final barrier to implementing the Marrakesh Treaty as it removes restrictions on the ability of Australians to import legally-produced audio and braille books without the specific permission from the publishers.

More information is provided on the Vision Australia website.

As of June 28th, 2017, 30 countries have ratified the Marrakesh Treaty. Kenya is the latest addition (June 2nd, 2017).