Dedicon (formerly known as FNB Netherlands) is a non-profit organization in the Netherlands which provides access to information for persons with a visual or other print impairment. Dedicon co-ordinates and is responsible for numerous functions for the Dutch Libraries for the Blind. Dedicon's responsibilities include:
- Marketing activities
- International innovation activities (Research and Development)
- National branch ICT activities
- National branch public relations and information
- International representation
- Supervision of all national technical facilities (production, reproduction and distribution) of all reading formats (audio, large print, digital and braille) for all products (books, magazines, newspapers, material for educational and professional use, sheet music, internet)
Dedicon services include:
- Production of 1,200 talking book titles and 450 braille book titles per year (fiction)
- Production of CD-ROM copies and distribution of these to all registered clients of the Dutch Libraries for the Blind. Approximately 1.5 million CD-ROMs are duplicated each year (fiction and periodicals)
- Duplication and distribution of Braille books. Approximately 75,000 Braille volumes are produced each year
- Publishing talking newspapers and magazines on CD in DAISY or audio CD formats. There is currently a selection of over 300 different newspapers and magazines. Dedicon also produces under contract with companies (profit and non-profit) and governments (local, national)
- Production of electronically readable newspapers and magazines in XML format. The texts of these issues can be read by means of a Personal Computer in combination with special aids. At present there are over 200 electronically readable newspapers and magazines. These electronic publications are accessed via the Internet.
- Creation of the Dedicon web portal for people with a reading disability. In addition to digital distribution of daily newspapers, magazines, educational and professional books Anderslezen.nl enables people with a visual impairment to communicate with each other over the network. Approximately 2000 people use this service in closed interest groups and open discussion forums.
- Production of educational, independent study and work related materials for students and professionals with a reading impairment. Dedicon produces on demand, any book or other manuscript needed for study or occupational use. Educational materials range from primary school to university level materials. Services are in braille, audio (DAISY), large print or in digital format.
Production of accessible sheet music in braille, in audio (using a specially developed method) and in large print, for individuals with a visual impairment. Dedicon initiated and/or participates in several national and international projects in this field, promoting and using advanced technologies to produce, catalogue and distribute sheet music in multiple accessible formats:
- i-Maestro: i-Maestro, Interactive Multimedia Environment for technology enhanced music education and creative collaborative composition and performance, is a research project for the support of music education for people with a print impairment. i-Maestro is an international project which is supported by the European Commission in the IST Sixth Framework Programme.
- Wedelmusic: A technology developed for distributing digital sheet music from the publisher to the users, including producing the software that enables them to edit and study the materials.
- Finale Plug-ins: Finale is the international standard for conserving sheet music in a digital form. Dedicon developed the software that helps to automatically generate talking and braille sheet music from Finale-files (using Solfège). This software is now used in Dedicon sheet music production, but can also be made available to users, music schools and other producers.
- Music Network: Music Network is a European network of parties from the music industry. In a working committee, research will be done into coding digitized sheet music, for accessibility and usability for individuals with a print impairment.
Innovation is paramount to Dedicon, with continual involvement in exploring new technologies in order to bridge the information gap:
- EUAIN, European Accessible Information Network: EUAINs aim is to bring together the stakeholders in the information processing chain. The partners of EUAIN believe that accessibility for individuals with a print disability can be an increasingly integrated component in document management and publishing processes and should not be a specialized, additional service. EUAIN will take the broadest definition of content creators and will provide the support, tools and expertise to enable them to provide accessible information. Dedicon is the coordinator of this European project.
- The DAISY Consortium: Dedicon is a full partner in the DAISY Consortium and is committed to this world-wide DAISY Digital Talking Book standard. Since 1 January 2004 all Dedicon audio products have been produced in DAISY format. All master production is digital, and the complete analogue archives have been converted into DAISY format. The collection of DAISY books in the Netherlands consists of approximately 60.000 titles. All four Dutch libraries for the blind participated in this project to create one national digital archive: DAISY-NL. The project DAISY-NL started on October 1, 2001 and was completed on January 1, 2004. The project focused on all aspects of the implementation of DTB-service, including the development and implementation of production, archiving and distribution processes. Other components of the project DAISY-NL were the introduction of DAISY Talking Book (DTB) service for clients and marketing and availability of affordable players. To keep the project manageable it was divided into relatively small subprojects; working packages. The activities for each working package were carried out by a team. Employees of the Dutch Libraries for the Blind formed these teams. The overall conversion and related processes were a project of major proportions. The sub-project comprising the overall project were: Management and Co-ordination, Production, Training and Support (of technicians and volunteers), Analogue to Digital Conversion, Archiving, Reproduction and Distribution, Availability of Players (hard and software), Marketing, Evaluation.
- Accessible Television: A research project which resulted in a new national television service called "Talking Subtitles".
- Radio-distributed regional daily newspapers.