This year’s historic high level meeting on disabilities at the UN General Assembly on September 23rd demanded international action to invest in children with disabilities and to include people with disabilities in the global development agenda. The UN meeting attracted diverse participants: those with and without disabilities.
Stevie Wonder made a plea for technology to be made available to all people with disabilities: “I am really going to push everyone to join our world of inclusion,” said Mr. Wonder who is a UN Messenger of Peace focusing on Persons with Disabilities. “The more people who are doing things that make a difference and are part of this world of inclusion, the smaller the world gets of people who are not committed and ultimately we will end up with a world of inclusion."
More information is provided on the Look to the Stars website.
Join HumanWare product managers Matthew Janusauskas and Greg Stilson for a webinar to learn about how recent software updates to both the popular Victor Reader Stream, and BrailleNote Apex make access to books and classroom materials simpler than ever before. Start off the school year on the right foot.
Date: Thursday, September 26
Time: 11:00 AM EST (8:00 AM PST), UK: 4:00 PM
Register now at:
The High-level meeting of the 68th Session of the UN General Assembly on Disability and Development, "The way forward: a disability inclusive development agenda towards 2015 and beyond", will take place on September 23rd, 2013 in New York.
The High-level Meeting will comprise:
An opening plenary meeting, which will feature statements by the President of the General Assembly, the Secretary-General, the Chair of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, eminent persons actively engaged in disability issues and a representative of non-governmental organizations in consultative status with the Economic and Social Council.
Two consecutive informal interactive round tables. The themes for the informal interactive round tables will be as follows:
- Round Table 1: International and regional cooperation and partnerships for disability-inclusive development.
- Round Table 2: Post-2015 development agenda and inclusive development for persons with disabilities.
A closing plenary meeting.
The essence of the National Library of Portugal (Biblioteca Nacional de Portugal) lies in its heritage. As an important mission they keep alive and inspiring, the resources of their language, history and identity.
Conservation, access and internationalization, alongside increasing its social value by promoting initiatives convergent with the world of research - remain the most important tasks. More information is provided on the National Library of Portugal website.
Readium.org announced that Adobe Systems Incorporated is joining as a member of the Readium Foundation, with the intention to make a significant contribution to the development of the Readium SDK project, a full-featured EPUB 3 rendering engine optimized for native apps on tablets and other mobile devices.
"Adobe has been a strong supporter of EPUB since its inception" said Tridib Roy Chowdhury, General Manager and Sr. Director of Products at Adobe. "We are delighted to be taking another important step in promoting this important open standard by joining the Readium Foundation and collaborating with other key industry stakeholders in development of the Readium SDK project."
It is anticipated that through Adobe’s contribution, in the near future it will be possible for any client application built with Readium SDK to directly incorporate support for handling EPUB 2 and EPUB 3 content protected via Adobe Content Server 4, the most pervasive Digital Rights Management (DRM) solution for eBooks and other digital publications, which is available from a number of Adobe resellers (see: http://www.adobe.com/products/content-server/resellers.html).
On September 05, 2013, Shinano Kenshi Co., Ltd. announced a new firmware for the PLEXTALK Pocket, Version 6.00.
The Center on Disabilities at California State University, Northridge is pleased to announce that the Call for Papers for the 29th Annual International Technology and Persons with Disabilities Conference opens on Monday, September 9, 2013 and will close on Friday, October 11, 2013.
The Call for Papers is open for 6 weeks to provide presenters ample time to prepare and submit proposals by the deadline. Please support us by adhering to this timeline. Your cooperation in reading, reviewing and adhering to the policies of the Procedures and Instructions is also appreciated and is necessary to ensure that you understand and agree to the submission process.
Please Note: The Scientific/Research Track Call for Papers has been open since July 24 and will close on September 30. Proposals submitted for this track are considered for presentation at the conference and publication in our on-line journal, The Journal on Technology and Persons with Disabilities. You may submit papers to either the Scientific/Research Track or the General Sessions Track. Please visit our Journal page for more information on the Scientific/Research Track Call for Papers.
Visit the CSUN 2014 Conference website for more information about the Call for Papers and the 2014 CSUN Conference. The 2014 CSUN Conference will be held March 17-22 at the Manchester Grand Hyatt Hotel in San Diego, California.
Each year, the U.S. Department of Education seeks input from vision professionals on the effectiveness of products and services provided through the Federal Quota Program, which is administered by the American Printing House for the Blind (APH). To collect your input, APH is conducting a 10-question online survey, which is now available on the APH website. We encourage you to respond based on your experience with products provided through Federal Quota funds.
The 2013 APH Customer Satisfaction Survey 10 is available at http://www.aph.org/products/gpra.html through Friday, September 20, 2013.
If you have questions or require assistance with the survey, feel free to email Mary Nelle McLennan at aphsurvey(at)earthlink.net.
30th Pacific Rim International Conference on Disability and Diversity will take place at the Hawaii Convention Center, Honolulu, Hawaii on May 19 & 20, 2014.
Pacific Rim International Forum on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities will take place on May 17, 2014, Hilton Hawaiian Village, Honolulu, Hawaii. For more information, please email email@example.com, or visit www.pacrim.hawaii.edu. Proposal submission starts on September 1, 2013.
David Sloan, PhD, Principal User Experience Engineer with The Paciello Group, will speak on Teaching Universal Design - the Dundee Approach at the upcoming Accessing Higher Ground Conference in Colorado (November 4-8, 2013).
Before joining TPG in May 2013, David spent over 10 years as project lead of the Digital Media Access Group, an accessibility and research consultancy unit based at the University of Dundee in Scotland.
Early Registration discount ends September 6. Conference fees rise 10 to 12% (depending on package) on September 7. Register now to save.
The disability sector is rapidly evolving in India. It is time for the governments, corporate sector, education institutes and NGOs to think of how to innovate and adapt to meet the needs of people with disabilities and how society needs to evolve to create an inclusive environment.
BarrierBreak brings Techshare India 2014 in partnership with National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (NCPEDP) and Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB),UK. Techshare India 2014, held February 13-14, 2014 in New Delhi, is a conference and exhibition discussing accessibility and assistive technology at a national level with international participation.
Techshare India 2014 will focus on the implementation of existing and new technologies and will work towards closing the gap that exists today. Call for papers is now open. More information is provided on the Techshare India website.
Tobi, the DAISY / EPUB multimedia production tool, recently gained new features for upgrading publications in DAISY 3 format to EPUB 3.
Tobi 2.1.1 enables user-friendly processes for upgrading books created in DAISY 3 format to EPUB 3. Thanks to improved interface and support for the latest version of Pipeline 2 (Version 1.6), users can upgrade DAISY XML to EPUB 3 text-only and DAISY 3 full-text, full-audio books to EPUB 3 content with media overlays directly through Tobi.
Tobi is also available in French. A special thank you goes to Association Valentin Haüy & Institut National des Jeunes Aveugles, France for their French translations.
Other improvements include:
- More reliable text navigation in both EPUB and DAISY projects (which also benefits operations like "record continue", "split continue" and text-to-speech generation)
- Fixed rounding off errors during export
- Fixed occasional video display related error
- Improved file saving format for EPUB projects (this may require re-importing some of the EPUB projects)
- Miscellaneous bug fixes.
Please visit the Tobi project page to download version 2.1.1:
The change log, describing all changes in this release is available at:
Feedback, queries & suggestions are most welcome, please use the Tobi forum: http://www.daisy.org/forums/tobi
HIMS Inc. released an update for their Braille Notetakers that includes apps and productivity tools never before seen in a product of this type. For the first time in history, blind notetaker computer users have access to YouTube, DropBox, Excel, and more using software specifically designed for use with Braille input and voice navigation.
More information is provided in the HIMS, Inc. official press release.
The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) announced an invitation for nominations for the 2014 Migel Medals, the highest honor in the blindness field. The Migel Medal was established in 1937 by the late M.C. Migel, the first chairperson of AFB, to honor professionals and volunteers whose dedication and achievements have significantly improved the lives of people who are blind or visually impaired. The Migel Medal Awards consists of two categories, the Professional Award and the Lay/Volunteer Award.
Professional Award nominees should be those whose career work significantly affects services to people with vision loss on a national level. Prospective candidates include, but are not limited to, professionals with specific training and expertise in education, rehabilitation, assistive technology, vision rehabilitation, personnel preparation, administration or related fields. They may work in the public or private sector and their work should span several years.
Lay/Volunteer Award nominees can be volunteers or professionals not employed within the blindness and visual impairment field whose efforts have supported or extended service to people with vision loss. Professionals from these disciplines may include, but are not limited to, those who develop assistive technology equipment and software, health care devices, and improved medical services.
Nominations for AFB's Migel Medals are due by Friday, October 4, 2013, and should be e-mailed to Scott Truax, Program Manager FamilyConnect at struax(at)afb.net. More information is provided in the press release.
The National Federation of the Blind, advocate for full access to higher education by the blind, praised a settlement reached by the United States Department of Justice with Louisiana Tech University and the Board of Supervisors for the University of Louisiana System. The settlement requires Louisiana Tech to ensure that course materials, including those made available online, and other technologies used by the university are fully accessible to students with disabilities, including blind students who require nonvisual access.
Dr. Marc Maurer, president of the National Federation of the Blind, said: “Online course materials and course management systems are a critical part of education today, and these technologies must be accessible to blind students in order for them to receive an equal education. This groundbreaking settlement not only ensures full access to all of Louisiana Tech University’s courses and programs for its blind students, but also makes it clear that the Americans with Disabilities Act requires all institutions of higher education to procure and deploy technology that is fully accessible to their blind students. Moreover, the settlement puts in place policies and procedures that emphasize the accountability of university personnel, including members of the faculty, to ensure that courses and materials offered by the university are fully accessible to blind students. As we mark the anniversary of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, we commend the Department of Justice for this outstanding result and for its commitment to protecting the right of blind students to an equal education.” More information is provided on the National Federation of the Blind website.
With the release of a Russian Female Voice Tatyana, IVONA Software, an Amazon company, has expanded its growing portfolio to 45 high-quality voices in 18 languages. Each additional natural sounding voice and language improves text-to-speech user experience for developers, businesses, OEMs and IVONA partners, allowing them to reach new customers.
IVONA Text–to-Speech (TTS) comes in different configurations and footprints for a variety of mobile devices, desktop, network and server applications or TTS cloud. IVONA TTS solutions are used to enhance e-reading experiences on smartphones and tablets. Over 2 million mobile users have downloaded IVONA voices and IVONA TTS HQ for Android from Google Play to replace the standard Voice User Interfaces (VUI) on their mobile devices and apps.
IVONA also partners with assistive technology developers to make digital media accessible to people who are blind or visually impaired. All added voices such as ”Tatyana“ bring new opportunities for these individuals to actively participate in society and find new educational and employment opportunities. More information is provided on the IVONA Software website.
The Association of American Publishers (AAP) supports the establishment of EPUB 3 as the standard global distribution format for eBooks and has embarked on a new initiative designed to rapidly advance the format’s implementation in the marketplace.
The EPUB 3 Implementation Project is being developed in a partnership with retailers, digital content distributors, device makers, reading systems providers, assistive technology experts and standards organizations, with the support and engagement of leading advocates for people with disabilities.
Publishers have set an ambitious six-month goal to rapidly advance implementation of EPUB 3 through the initiative. Although each individual publisher will make decisions about introducing EPUB 3 titles on its own timeline, many anticipate introducing large numbers of EPUB 3 files into the marketplace beginning First Quarter 2014.
Convening this summer: A working group to identify baseline accessibility features for the EPUB 3 files and for metadata, and to plan the program for the September workshop September 10, 2013: A daylong workshop for all participants in New York City is planned to define and prioritize actionable projects. More information is provided on the AAP website.
Springer, the leading global scientific publisher, has signed an agreement to provide Bookshare, an international leader in providing copyrighted digital accessible books to people with print disabilities, with world rights to its titles. Springer is home to the world’s largest Scientific, Technical and Medical (STM) eBook collection and published more than 7,500 in 2012.
The first major STM publisher to commit to making their books accessible at this scale, Springer has taken a leading role to ensure that students have access to critical scientific resources. By contributing their digital files directly to Bookshare, they make it possible for students with disabilities to receive accessible books in a timely fashion and significantly reduce the costs of making these books available.
“This agreement dramatically expands the volume of research-based STM content available to individuals with print disabilities and ensures a continuing flow of new scientific content annually,” said Betsy Beaumon, Vice President and General Manager of the Benetech Global Literacy Program, at Benetech. “We applaud Springer for recognizing that individuals with print disabilities badly need more access to scientific and technical content.”
More information is provided in the official press release.
What tools are available for making math accessible online? Geoff Freed and Bryan Gould of WGBH’s National Center on Accessible Media will be joined by math accessibility researcher Steve Noble to demonstrate the latest and greatest tools for creating and reading accessible math. Register now to attend this brand-new live webinar entitled “Tools for Creating Accessible Math” on Thursday July 18 at 12:00pm Pacific time (3:00 p.m. Eastern).
- learn what MathML is and how to use it to make math expressions accessible
- see demos of how assistive technologies interact with Web browsers and reading systems to read MathML expressions
- learn about tools such as Math Helper (part of the Poet image-description tool), MathJax, MathType and MathPlayer that help you create and display accessible math
- Don’t miss this opportunity to hear the discussion and ask questions of this expert panel!
DIAGRAM webinars are free and open to anyone. Please feel free to forward this message to anyone who may be interested in participating. Register online.
History was made in Marrakesh last week as ten days of hard negotiations resulted in consensus on the text of a WIPO treaty that should remove legal barriers to equal access to text for the print disabled. Benetech’s CEO Jim Fruchterman was a key participant in the negotiations.
Fruchterman said, "We are extremely excited about the treaty. We have the technology and we have the content, now we have a legal regime to make it possible for every person with print disabilities on the planet to get access to the books they need for education, employment, and social inclusion." [Intellectual Property Watch]
A heartfelt thanks to everyone who worked tirelessly to make this happen. Stevie Wonder stated: "Today my heart is at peace and my faith in humanity has been renewed…Today we all are brothers and sisters in the struggle to make this life and the future better, not for one, but for all…This victory is most significant for many reasons. Most obviously, the positive impact for the blind and the visually impaired. But also it sends a message to all world leaders, that it is possible to do business, and to do good at the same time." [Watch the YouTube video].
More information is provided in the June 2013 issue of the DAISY Planet newsletter.
MTM, Swedish Agency for Accessible Media, has signed with Polarprint, Humanware’s Swedish retailer, to provide Victor Reader Stratus M 4/12 players in the nationwide launch of DAISY online delivery based services in Sweden. Over 6000 elderly and novice IT users, consumers of talking newspapers and talking books, will benefit from the new online services and reading devices. The transition to new devices will continue throughout 2014.
The agreement was signed on June 13th by MTM and Polarprint at the DAISY Conference in Copenhagen.
Please pass the following message from the DAISY Consortium to ministers and delegates involved in finalising the text of the proposed copyright treaty.
"The DAISY Consortium represents the world's leading libraries and agencies providing services and developing technical standards supporting access to books and publications by people with print disabilities. Our organisations are agencies that work with governments to support them in implementing their responsibilities under the UN convention of the rights of people with disabilities in relation to access to information. We are organisations that have long maintained trusted status as responsible custodians of rights holders works and the special privileges conveyed under national copyright legislation and other international treaties such as the International freepost convention.
Our organisations have long called for a clarification of the legal provisions that govern cross-border transactions of publications that have been enhanced to provide access to people with print disabilities. This is so we may improve the service we can provide people with print disabilities worldwide and provide a service which is more efficient and economic for governments and other funding agencies. We therefore applaud the initiative of WIPO member states to develop a new copyright treaty to facilitate access to published works by visually impaired persons and persons with print disabilities.
At our board meeting on 12 June 2013 in Copenhagen we agreed to ask governments involved in the WIPO diplomatic treaty in Morocco to make a special effort to negotiate a final text that is simple to understand and to operate, does not impose unnecessary administrative delay and costs and does not contain restrictions and burdens that would defeat the goal of enabling people with a print disability to be able to access the same book as their neighbour, with the same ease and cost, and in a way that is affordable by society. We can then play our part, alongside rights-holder colleague organisations to ensure the privileges granted are exercised and managed in a responsible manner.
We applaud the simplicity of the World Blind Union text and echo IFLA request for a simple treaty.
We thank you for your hard work to deliver this treaty which will play a key part in helping to end the book famine."
The National Federation of the Blind commended the Department of Education for guidelines on Braille instruction issued in a Dear Colleague Letter. This letter clarifies the provisions of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) regarding Braille instruction.
Dr. Marc Maurer, President of the National Federation of the Blind, said: “We commend the Department of Education for recognizing that every blind child needs to be given the opportunity to learn Braille. Knowing how to read and write Braille is critical to the ultimate success of blind children. The department’s action today puts school administrators on notice that Braille instruction must be provided to blind children unless a thorough and rigorous evaluation demonstrates that Braille is not appropriate. The guidelines also make it clear that Braille is appropriate for blind children who have some vision, especially if their eye condition is degenerative and they are therefore likely to continue to lose vision. Finally, the guidelines emphasize that external factors like the expense of providing Braille instruction or the availability of audio or other alternative formats cannot be used as an excuse to deny Braille instruction to blind children. We hope and believe that these clarifications will reverse the harmful decline in Braille instruction that has left too many blind people functionally illiterate, and will restore Braille to its proper place as the most effective reading and writing medium for blind people.”
“The U.S. Department of Education is committed to ensuring that children who are blind and visually impaired have access to Braille instruction and Braille materials,” said Michael Yudin, Acting Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services at the Department of Education. “The ability to read and write Braille competently and efficiently is critical to ensuring students who are blind and visually impaired graduate from high school college and career ready.”
On May 1, 2012, Senator Patty Murray of Washington, along with twenty-five Senate cosigners, wrote to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to express concern that blind students in America were not receiving adequate instruction in Braille, the recognized reading and writing medium for the blind, and were therefore falling behind their sighted peers in school. More information is provided on the National Federation of the Blind website.
Advances in technology have helped to open up new markets for publishers, and also offer vast new opportunities for published works to become more accessible to a wider variety of people.
The growing availability of eBooks provides an opportunity for people with print impairments – whether blind or partially sighted, dyslexic, or without sufficient dexterity to handle printed materials – to become customers for mainstream published products. Until now, special versions such as large print or braille have been required, often at great cost and after considerable delay.
Following practical guidelines, publishers can work towards ensuring that all their eBooks have added features that assist accessibility (such as enhanced navigation); and that their eBooks do not have accessibility features unnecessarily disabled. In this respect, the UK Publishers Association, working with the Society of Authors and the Association of Authors' Agents, has led the way in encouraging its members not to disable text-to-speech capabilities unless they harbour concerns about having been granted the appropriate rights.
However, publishers can achieve only so much on their own. The mechanisms by which an eBook is made accessible involve all the actors in the supply chain from author to reader including eBook device manufacturers, platform developers, eBook wholesalers and retailers, and of course consumers themselves all have their part to play.
The joint statement on Accessibility and eBooks: International Endorsement is supported by The Publishers Association, EDItEUR, RNIB, The Society of Authors, Dyslexia Action and JISC TechDis; they encourage others to join. For more information on how to contribute to this ambition and contact these organisations, follow the link for more information, provided on the Publisher's Association website.
More than 600 negotiators from WIPO’s 186 member states began work on finalizing a new international treaty to ease access to books for blind, visually impaired, and other print disabled people. The Diplomatic Conference to Conclude a Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works by Visually Impaired Persons and Persons with Print Disabilities, convened by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and hosted by the Kingdom of Morocco, is meeting in Marrakesh from June 18 to 28, 2013.
A signed treaty would be the culmination of years of discussions on improving access for the blind, visually impaired, and print disabled to published works in formats such as Braille, large print text and audio books. The beneficiaries will have better access to novels, textbooks and other material that they can use for education and enjoyment. More information is provided on the WIPO website.
Danish software house Hindenburg Systems has been helping broadcast journalists tell stories using sound since 2009. The clean, user-friendly design has won the hearts of broadcast radio journalists all over the world.
Sound quality is just as vital for broadcast radio as it is for audio books for the visually impaired. Hindenburg’s advanced DSP technology, automatic level-setting and Voice Profiling system ensure high quality audio for journalists with little technical know-how.
Now Hindenburg Audio Book Creator (HABC) brings the same Scandinavian design and advanced audio technology to the production of audio books. HABC will allow libraries and e-book publishers to combine the highest possible quality with the most efficient production workflow for DAISY and EPUB3 audio book production.
“Hindenburg Systems bring great technology and usability to the audio book field. Their product will dramatically improve our efficiency and audio quality, while ensuring that we can keep providing the most advanced products to our users, now and in the future.”- Ole Holst Andersen, Head of IT and Production, NOTA
The Hindenburg Audio Book Creator is developed in cooperation with DAISY members, NLB and NOTA with input from multiple DAISY book producers. Their feedback has resulted in a user-friendly tool. DAISY 3.0 support is on its way.
- Import: DTBook, DAISY & EPUB
- Export DAISY 2.02 & EPUB 3
- Automated levels based on Loudness
- Automated EQ & Compression - Windows 7 & 8
For more info or trial contact: Chris Mottes, CEO, Hindenburg Systems ApS
Mobile: +45 31 39 24 70
- Skype: chrismottes
The Society of Scholarly Publishing is holding their 35th Annual meeting in San Francisco (June 5-7, 2013). The attendees (approximately 700) are about 89% publishers and 20% librarians. They range from STM publishers to societies and university presses.
Bill McCoy (IDPF) will moderate “Accessibility Challenges and Possibilities: No File Left Behind!” on Thursday, June 6th. The panel will include George Kerscher (DAISY Consortium); Rick Johnson (VitalSource Technologies Inc.) and Anh Bui (Benetech). More information is provided on the SSP website.
The 2013 edition of The State of the World’s Children is dedicated to the situation of children with disabilities. This report examines the barriers – from inaccessible buildings to dismissive attitudes, from invisibility in official statistics to vicious discrimination – that deprive children with disabilities of their rights and keep them from participating fully in society. It also lays out some of the key elements of inclusive societies that respect and protect the rights of children with disabilities, adequately support them and their families, and nurture their abilities – so that they may take advantage of opportunities to flourish and make their contribution to the world. This report can also be downloaded in DAISY format - created using the open source tools (DAISY Pipeline, Tobi) developed by the DAISY Consortium.
The programs and systems Textalk AB has created for the visually impaired population, are always based on specific user requirements. From their almost 30 years of experience they know that user friendliness is extremely important. Using Textalk's software, visually impaired user can access newspapers, magazines, books, Text-TV, email and other digital texts. More information is provided in the Member entry on the DAISY Consortium website.
The 2013 M-Enabling Global Summit is a program exclusively dedicated to promoting mobile accessible and assistive applications and services for senior citizens and users of all abilities.
The second edition of the M-Enabling Summit in 2013 (June 6-7, 2013) is expected to draw more than 600 participants from at least 40 countries. Convening in Washington, D.C., the M-Enabling Summit is organized in cooperation with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), ensuring substantial participation for leading international mobile service providers, policy makers, apps developers and manufacturers.
Representatives of the DAISY Consortium Full Members Hiroshi Kawamura (Japanese DAISY Consortium), Richard Orme (RNIB) and Betsy Beaumon (Benetech/Bookshare) are among distinguished speakers. Register now!