Geneva: The UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) opened its 13th session (25 March – 17 April 2015) during which it will review Germany, Croatia, Czech Republic, Turkmenistan, Dominican Republic, Mongolia and the Cook Islands, as well as adopt the list of issues on the European Union.
For the first time during its session, the CRPD Committee is including private meetings with DPOs [representative organizations or groups of persons with disabilities] and civil society within its official meeting time in the lead up to country reviews. This reflects the value which the CRPD Committee places on receiving information from DPOs and exchanging with them about the experiences of persons with disabilities and the challenges of CRPD implementation on the ground.
These meetings are only open to UN agencies, NHRIs, DPOs and civil society and are not webcast. More information is provided on the Global Accessibility News website.
The shortlist for the 2015 ABC International Excellence Award for Accessible Publishing has been announced. Nominations were judged on their achievements in improving the accessibility of e-books and other digital publications for people with print disabilities.
IPA Secretary General Jens Bammel stated: "Due to the range and quality of applicants, the Jury has decided to give two awards: one to publishers and one for NGO initiatives and other services. These shortlisted organisations merit recognition for their successes in making e-books accessible to people with print disabilities. Let's give them the applause they deserve."
Four publishers have been shortlisted:
- Cambridge University Press
- Elsevier B.V.
- HarperCollins Inc.
- SAGE Publications Ltd.
Four initiatives were also shortlisted:
- Icontact (Netherlands) for its BooXtream watermarking technology
- Libri Italiani Accessibili Foundation (Italy)
- Syndicat national de l’édition (France) for "rentrée littéraire accessible"
- Young Power in Social Action (Bangladesh) for accessible e-book production
The winners in each category will be announced at the LBF International Excellence awards on Tuesday, April 14th at the London Book Fair.
Obi is an open source navigable audiobook creation tool that is used to produce digital books conforming to the accessible EPUB 3, DAISY 3 or DAISY 2.02 specifications. Obi's source code is available for anyone to run, modify and redistribute.
Obi 3.7 beta release enhances the ease of adapting Obi for workflows of different organizations. It introduces the capability of preserving preferences as a profile. Profiles can be loaded to configure Obi in a single step across workstations and different Obi versions.
This latest version enables simultaneous export to multiple formats. It also enhances the functionality of Recording Toolbar with two new buttons along with other enhancements and important fixes.
New features and enhancements in the Obi 3.7 beta release include:
The ability to preserve preferences, providing portability across workstations and Obi versions.
Users can save the current preference settings as a custom profile. Preferences in Obi can be configured by importing the saved profile and loading it. This eliminates the need for manual configuration of preferences. It also allows production houses to port settings across computers and Obi versions. Users access this functionality via the Advanced tab of the Preferences dialog.
Exporting projects to multiple formats.
The Standards Selection dialog contains check boxes instead of radio buttons enabling multiple selections. This ability extends to the configuration file based export. Users can specify the export standards for the project in the configuration XML file.
This release is for power users, please provide feedback and comments. Additional information is provided on the Obi 3.7 beta release page.
Open Education Week is an annual celebration of the global open education movement to share ideas, new open education projects and to raise awareness about open education and its impact on teaching and learning worldwide. Open education encompasses resources, tools and practices that employ a framework of open sharing to improve education access, affordability and effectiveness. Participation in all events and use of all resources are free and open to everyone. Go to openeducationweek.org to learn more.
After successful introduction in Europe, especially in the UK as well as the Netherlands, customers in the USA will also benefit from the new features and additional new content on the Webbox2.
Computer is not needed as Webbox2 is a stand-alone web-enabled multimedia (DAISY) player offering access to more than talking books, magazines or newspapers. Audible prompts guide the user through a playlist of books, podcasts, radio stations, newsletters, plays, newspapers, website pages, current news and more.
For the US market, access to the NLS BARD reading services is enabled. Spotify and Wikipedia are also in reach. With the rotator dial, users can scroll through the alphabet and “type” a topic they are searching for in Wikipedia. Public information such as newsletters and reports from NFB, ACB and AFB are now made available with one touch of a button.
In addition, customers can now have a Webbox2 dedicated email address so that emails sent to the listener can be read out. Once again, access to a computer is not required.
Thanks to the built in text-to-speech (TTS) engine, setting up the Webbox2 is simple. Selecting a wireless network and adding a password is now supported by audible prompts. Numerous networks can be stored so if users change their location, they can add a new network and password.
Interested individuals were able to see a live demo of Webbox2 at CSUN 2015 (March 4-6) Solutions Radio at stand #121.
The host company's server running DAISY mailing lists is down. They are working on fixing the problem.
Dolphin Guide allows numbered menus to be enlarged on screen and spoken out loud enabling computer novices to independently scan mail, download and read books from accessible libraries as well as stay in touch with family and friends.
Dolphin SuperNova instantly magnifies, speaks and Brailles titles from a growing list of accessible libraries around the world. With built-in scan and read from paper or PDF, blind and low vision Windows users are never short of something to read. Ask Dolphin about the SuperNova family.
Produce audio, Braille and large print from a single source document with Dolphin EasyConverter to improve learning outcomes amongst blind and low vision students. Bringing your alt format production in-house or optimising your transcription workflow is easier than you may think. Ask Dolphin about EasyConverter.
Learn how to simplify alternative format production to Support Learning at session EDU-074, Friday, March 6, 2015 - 4:20 PM PST, Gaslamp CD, 2nd Floor, Seaport Tower. More information is provided on the Dolphin Computer Access website.
Once again, each part of the CSUN program is available for download as a navigable DAISY 2.02 publication in addition to the HTML and EPUB files. An extensive list of software and hardware players for reading DAISY content is provided in the Tools and Services section of the DAISY Consortium website.
On February 18, 2015, the United States Access Board released a proposed rule updating the 508 Standards and the 255 Guidelines which is available for public comment for 90 days. The Board will hold public hearings on the rule in San Diego on March 5 and in Washington, DC on March 11. It will also conduct a public webinar to review the proposal on March 31. More information is provided on the Access Board website.
A new project team aiming to develop Arabic Text-to-Speech is seeking two Arabic speaking individuals in Doha with a good grasp of grammar and Arabic phonetics and phonology. Experience in speech technologies is preferred.
Responsibilities include the annotation and segmentation of recorded material to create the corpus for a speech segmentation system. This system will be used to create an open source commercial Arabic Voice for text-to-speech.
Applicants must be fluent in the Arabic language and able to adequately communicate in English with a project team in the UK.
If interested please contact Gabriel Swatzell [Gabriel.swatzell(at)microlinkpc.com].
Benetech, a Full Member of the DAISY Consortium, has won a 2015 grant to improve literacy for primary school students who are blind. The new grant, awarded by All Children Reading: A Grand Challenge for Development literacy innovations competition, funded a project to provide Indian students who are blind with mother tongue instruction and reading materials through Bookshare, digital library of accessible books. This supports Benetech’s commitment to extend the benefits of Bookshare across borders to empower individuals with disabilities around the world, especially in developing countries, to live fuller lives. More information is provided on the Benetech website.
Today the Accessible Books Consortium issued a public call for nominations for the International Excellence Award for Accessible Publishing 2015.
Criteria: This award recognizes outstanding leadership or achievements in advancing the accessibility of commercial e-books or other digital publications to persons with print disabilities. You may nominate either your own organization/company or a third party anywhere in the world and we encourage nominations of companies, organizations or individuals based in developing or least developed countries.
Process: The selection process will be overseen by a selection jury under the auspices of the UK Publishers Association’s Accessibility Action Group and representatives of the International Publishers’ Association, the International Authors’ Forum and the Accessible Books Consortium.
The deadline for submissions is Monday, February 23, 2015, 12:00 noon, London, UK time. An extension of this deadline may be granted at the discretion of the jury.
The awards shortlist will be published by March 31, 2015. The award will be presented at the London Book Fair (LBF) on Tuesday, April 14, 2015, during the scheduled LBF International Excellence Awards.
Submission:Please send the following information to email@example.com
- Your name, title and contact details.
- Name of the nominated company, organisation or individual, address, and web site.
- Using no more than 400 words please describe how this company/organization has demonstrated outstanding leadership or achievements in advancing the accessibility of commercial e-books or other digital publications to persons with print disabilities.
More information is provided on the Accessible Books Consortium website.
The Book Industry Study Group (BISG) and the American Library Association (ALA) have announced a partnership to produce a major survey of public library patrons’ use of digital content. The project, Digital Content in Public Libraries, was announced on Sunday, February 1 at ALA's 2015 Midwinter Meeting in Chicago.
“We are delighted to partner with ALA on this study,” said Len Vlahos, BISG's Executive Director. “With BISG’s research expertise and ALA’s reach into the library community, this survey will provide the publishing industry and library administrators alike with invaluable insight into how readers interact with e-books in a library environment.”
Keith Fiels, Executive Director of ALA, said, "ALA is particularly pleased to work with BISG on this project. This will be the first study to establish a benchmark - and usage trends - related to the digital reading experience of library patrons.”
The survey seeks to understand the behavior of library patrons, including their use of digital resources and other services offered by public libraries.
Results from the survey will be first announced at the American Library Association’s Annual Conference in San Francisco, CA, June 25-30, 2015, and a report available for purchase will be published on September 8, 2015, which coincides with National Library Card Sign-Up Month. More information is provided on the BISG website.
Have you ever wondered what having a learning disability is really like for a child?
Learning Ally is offering a free 90-minute webinar on Tuesday, February 10, 2015 at 1:00 – 2:30 p.m. EDT with Kristin Barbour, Executive Director for the National Institute for Learning Development (NILD). She presents participants with a unique exploration of the characteristics of learning disabilities such as dyslexia. Participants will engage in tasks that explore learning activities based on auditory and visual perceptual skills.
Research has indicated that auditory and visual discrimination, memory, figure-ground, and attention significantly impact learning. When perceptual vulnerabilities are present students can appear disinterested in learning or worse, choose to engage in inappropriate behaviors in order to shift the focus from their learning challenges.
The information attendees will learn in this webinar includes:
- Identifying three phases of the learning process
- Recognizing auditory and visual processing skills needed to learn and their impact on classroom performance
- Differentiating classroom behavioral problems, low motivation, and learning disabilities
- Learning classroom strategies and home activities to develop processing skills
Register now to attend this free webinar.
The DAISY Online Delivery Protocol is a web service Application Programming Interface (API) that facilitates the delivery of digital content (Digital Talking Books) from service providers to end users. Links to use cases (articles) are posted to the DAISY Online Delivery Protocol page on the DAISY Consortium website.
Version 2.0 of the DAISY Online Delivery Protocol is now available for public review. Comments and questions on the updated protocol are welcome, and details of the process can be found on the project site at https://github.com/daisy/DAISY-Online-Refresh/wiki/DAISY-Online-Protocol-V2.0-Public-Review. The public review is open for 30 days and closes on Saturday, February 28th 2015.
The Assistive Technology Industry Association's (ATIA) 2015 Conference is taking place January 27-31, 2015 in Orlando, Florida. The following DAISY Consortium Members and Friends are presenting or have exhibits at the ATIA 2015 Conference:
- American Printing House for the Blind
- Benetech / Bookshare
- DIAGRAM Center
- Dolphin Computer Access
- Learning Ally
- ViewPlus Technologies
Conference schedule is available on the ATIA 2015 website.
The DAISY Pipeline 2 is an ongoing project to develop a framework for automated production of accessible materials for people with print disabilities. It is the follow-up and total redesign of the original DAISY Pipeline 1 conversion tool. Version 1.9 of the DAISY Pipeline 2 is now available for download. The following alternative packages are proposed:
- for Windows users, an installer for the "Desktop Web UI" distribution (.exe file, 89 MB)
- for Mac OS X users, the "Desktop Web UI" distribution (ZIP, 89 MB)
- for Linux users, the "Desktop Web UI" distribution (ZIP, 89 MB)
All distributions include the command line tool, all conversion scripts, a native command line tool, and a version of the web user interface that can be run locally as a standalone application.
This release features:
- a new command line tool, with native executables
- new schema-based DAISY 2.02 validation script
- new DTBook to ODT script
- new EPUB 3 to DAISY 2.02 script (experimental)
- TTS-narration support in DTBook to EPUB 3
- audio-only DAISY 2.02 to EPUB 3 conversion aligned with the TIES guidelines
- and many other bug fixes and improvements
For details, please refer to the full release notes on GitHub.
The Swiss Foundation Access-for-All was established in 2000. The “Access for All” foundation is involved in various projects in order to promote the use of assistive technologies for people with disabilities. The “Access for All” foundation staff give presentations, conduct interviews and write for professional journals. More information is provided in their member profile on the DAISY Consortium website.
Now you can download free evaluation versions of Acapela text-to-speech (TTS) Voices for NVDA.
The evaluation version is fully functional and provides access to all voices and all functionalities for 15 days. As soon as a license is activated, the evaluation version will turn into a complete version.
First, users need to install the Acapela NVDA Speech Companion and then they can install the voices. More information and downloads are available on the Acapela TTS Voices for NVDA website.
Knowledge is a key driver of social and economic development. It helps shape individual and collective identity and can be a tool for empowerment and inclusion. In this context, disparities in capacity to access and use knowledge can greatly hinder the development of an inclusive society and become a significant source of inequality. While significant progress has been made through assistive technologies and accessibility standards, persons with disabilities are still at risk of exclusion from education.
Access to production, distribution and acquisition tools is therefore of crucial importance in modern society. It is also indicative of how we are able to address the need for access to knowledge for all.
if used appropriately, emerging ICTs can help overcome these disparities and greatly enhance access to knowledge for all. The 9th European e-Accessibility Forum: e-Accessible Knowledge on June 8th, 2015 in Paris aims to provide a concrete demonstration of technologies, tools and methods that can improve access to education.
The conference is organized in conjunction with the DAISY Consortium Board Meeting and registration is now open. Please go to the 9th European e-Accessibility Forum website to register.
The Slovenian Library of the Blind and Partially Sighted has been serving people with sight loss since 1918. In 2013, the Union of the Blind and Partially Sighted of Slovenia received funding from the European Social Fund for the renovation project of the library.
This project brings a number of benefits for the people with visual impairments and other social groups in Slovenia: new adopted library materials in accessible formats including DAISY, the introduction of modern technologies and equipment, a number of training courses for users, cultural programs and new premises enabling blind, partially sighted and print disabled citizens to be informed, empowered and equally able to participate in society.
Shortly after the opening, the Union of the Blind and Partially Sighted of Slovenia received an important national prize for excellence in communication programs, PRIZMA 2014, which is the highest recognition of this kind in Slovenia. The prize was awarded by Slovenian Association for Public Relations. More information is provided in the European Blind Union newsletter.
Presenters at the M-Enabling Summit (June 1-2, 2015, Washington, DC) include individuals, companies or nonprofit organizations who participate in the Summit and wish to share their solutions for seniors and users of all abilities. Applicants from all countries are welcome. The M-Enabling Summit Program Committee selects presentations featuring applications, mobile web sites, devices, peripherals or services that leverage new mobile technologies, have demonstrated benefits for seniors and users of all abilities and are currently available with documented user experience.
92% of the M-Enabling Summit’s participants rate sessions that include hands-on demos and exchange of experiences among the most useful. The Summit is the largest global conference exclusively dedicated to accessible and assistive solutions with participants from more than 32 countries.
How to submit? Send a description describing the solution, its benefits, the type of technology, platform, how it is distributed, links to web pages or app stores, media reviews or articles, references from individual customers, educational institutions or organizations serving seniors and users of all abilities who benefit from the solution and any other information including details on user feedback and adoption. More information is provided on the M-Enabling Summit website.
EPUB 3.0 was recently published by the International Standards Organization as ISO/IEC TS 30135 (parts 1-7). EPUB 3.0 was submitted to ISOi/IEC JTC 1 SC34 (Joint Technical Committee 1, Subcommittee 34, Document description and processing languages) by the government of South Korea, in cooperation with the IDPF. During the by-country voting and subsequent ballot resolution process, several dozen minor specification issues with EPUB 3.0 reported by ISO experts have been resolved in the latest revision of EPUB, EPUB 3.0.1, which recently became the current version of the EPUB Standard.
"IDPF is delighted with the active collaboration with ISO that has led to publication of EPUB 3.0 as ISO TS 30135, as well as improvements in EPUB 3.0.1" said George Kerscher, President of IDPF and Secretary General of the DAISY Consortium. "An ISO designation for the EPUB Standard will further aid global adoption of EPUB, which is designed to deliver on key accessibility mandates". More information is provided on the IDPF website.
DAISY Consortium is pleased to announce the release of the latest version of Tobi, the next generation open source multimedia / book production tool. Tobi can be used to produce full text and audio books compliant with both DAISY 3 specifications as well as the mainstream EPUB 3 (Media Overlays) specifications. It also possesses the unique capability of adding accessibility enhancements, such as image descriptions, to mainstream EPUB 3 publications.
The new release introduces one of the most demanded features by DAISY members - structure editing. Users can now edit the structure of the publication during the production workflow. Version 2.4.3 is a test release that marks the first phase of support for structure editing. It is for power users who are familiar with the DTBook and HTML 5 markup.
The following structure editing operations are available in this version:
- inserting page breaks
- deleting the selected fragments
- cutting, copying & pasting fragments
- creating elements such as sentences, paragraphs etc.
The new version also presents the improved project cleanup command that now allows for creation of sequenced audio data files with customizable file sizes to reduce response time when the project is loaded from a network, along with regular bug fixes.
To learn more about Tobi, please visit the Tobi project area.
To download Tobi test builds and learn more about the structure editing feature, please go to http://www.daisy.org/tobi/structure-editing.
For more information about what’s new in this release, please visit the change log at http://www.daisy.org/tobi/change-log.
This release will be followed by commencement of Phase 2 of structure editing, which will include more advanced commands, and application of constraints to prevent the creation of invalid structure.
The Tobi team would like to thank all Tobi project contributors and supporters. We are looking forward to your suggestions and bug reports which can be submitted at http://www.daisy.org/forums/tobi.
The DAISY Consortium is pleased to announce the latest release of Obi, the popular open source navigable audiobook creation tool that is used to produce books conforming to the accessible EPUB 3, DAISY 3 and DAISY 2.02 specifications. Obi's source code is available for anyone to run, modify and redistribute.
Obi 3.6 brings an incremental release that includes advanced features requested by DAISY members. It introduces the capability to export books in newer audio formats (MP4, AMR, and 3GP). Updated Obi enables integration with the existing production management software of DAISY Consortium members via the configuration file.
Other enhancements include the ability to perform operations on multiple sections simultaneously and create sequenced audio data files with customizable file sizes during project cleanup to reduce response time when the project is loaded from a network. Other miscellaneous improvements and bug fixes are also included in this release.
New Obi comes with Chinese (Traditional) language pack. Thanks goes to The Hong Kong Society for the Blind and Keny Yuen for the translation. We would also like to thank Hannu Tiihonen for updating the Finnish language pack.
Please visit the Obi project area to check out the full list of features and improvements: http://www.daisy.org/obi/.
Download Version 3.6 at http://www.daisy.org/obi/download/.
The Obi-Tobi team is committed to enriching Obi with new features, bringing it in sync with the upcoming technologies. First and foremost, we want to serve DAISY members by incorporating the features requested by them to make working with Obi more and more efficient.
The DAISY Consortium would like to extend a special thanks to all contributors for their valuable feedback and support.
The Marrakesh Treaty was adopted on June 27, 2013. Uruguay has become the 4th country to ratify the Treaty after El Salvador, India and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
The Treaty has a humanitarian and social development aspect, critical for the establishment of a legal framework to allow the production and distribution and cross-border sharing of books in accessible formats. The Accessible Books Consortium supports the objectives of the Marrakesh Treaty. Through its three main activities, ABC aims to increase the worldwide availability of accessible books. More information about the work of the Accessible Book Consortium will be provided in the December issue of the DAISY Planet newsletter.
The Victor Reader line of talking book players offers new wireless Internet connectivity features for both the Victor Reader Stratus and Victor Reader Stream models. Users can get navigable DAISY audiobooks directly on their Victor Reader without having to use a computer or wait for a CD in the mail.
In 1999, the first Victor Reader played digital books on CDs distributed to users by free postal delivery. Now, with wireless connectivity, libraries for the blind are delivering digital talking books, magazines, and newspapers directly to the newest Victor Reader players over the Internet. Never in the 70 years of talking books for the blind has the published content been delivered so quickly and easily.
With over 15 years in the global marketplace and over 500,000 players in use, HumanWare continues to innovate with Victor Reader. Now, Victor Reader extends its talking book, document, and music playback features to the wireless world where downloaded books and newspapers, streaming radio stations and online Wikipedia reference tools become part of Victor Reader’s access to digital content. Users continue to navigate the new online content through the player’s easy to use bookshelf interface.
The newspaper download services in various countries use the DAISY Online Delivery web service developed by the DAISY Consortium.
A free webinar was held on December 3rd for International Day of Persons with Disabilities featuring the work to improve literacy for children with disabilities. Save the Children shared the challenges and successes of targeting a reading program for children with learning disabilities in Sri Lanka.
Attendees heard from grantee, Perkins International, whose innovation has directly impacted the lives of children who are blind and those with low vision through four key areas:
- training of teachers in three schools practicing inclusive education for the blind and those with low vision
- family and community engagement
- distribution of assistive devices
- repair of Perkins Braillers.
Webinar recording will be posted to the All Children Reading website.
Over 1 billion people in the world live with some form of disability. Persons with disabilities not only face physical barriers but also social, economic and attitudinal barriers. Furthermore, disability is associated with twenty per cent of global poverty, of which the majority live in developing countries. In spite of being the world’s largest minority group, persons with disabilities and the issue of disability has remained largely invisible in the mainstream development frameworks and its processes.
Since 1992, the annual observance of the International Day of Disabled Persons aims to promote an understanding of disability issues and mobilize support for the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities.
The observance of this year’s International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD) provides an opportunity to further raise awareness of disability as a cross-cutting development issue. The theme of this year's commemoration, “Sustainable Development: The promise of technology” marks the conclusion of the period of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGS) in 2015 and the launching of the new development framework of sustainable development goals (SDGs). More information is provided on the United Nations: Enable website.
The UNESCO International Conference on the Role of ICTs for Persons with Disabilities in New Delhi seeks to harness the opportunities that ICTs offer for empowering persons with disabilities by sharing best practices, solutions and knowledge. Across the world, there are over one billion women and men with disabilities, with 80 percent living in rural areas of developing countries. These individuals are more likely to experience poverty and unemployment, to suffer from illiteracy and social exclusion.
In a video message, Professor Stephen Hawking, author of “A Brief History of Time,” appealed for the “need to make sure technology becomes available to those who need it so that no one lives in silence. I speak for people who cannot hear. Without technology, I would not be able to ask for a cup of tea, let alone speak about my theory of the universe.”
Opening the conference, Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad, Minister of Communications and Information Technology, affirmed that the Digital India program is a priority of the Indian Government. More information is provided on the UNESCO website.