The DAISY Consortium is pleased to announce the latest release of Obi, an easy to learn, yet powerful open source software tool for creating DAISY compliant audio books with rich navigable structure.
The latest release, Version 2.6, makes Obi more advanced, backward compatible and even easier to learn. It introduces the capability to import DAISY 2.02 books in addition to the existing export functionality, making it fully backward compatible with the DAISY 2.02 standard. Therefore, both audio-ncx (audio with structure) and full-text, full-audio DAISY 2.02 books can be imported, modified, and exported as either DAISY 2.02 or DAISY 3 audio books, which will also enable quick upgrades of the existing DAISY 2.02 books to the newer DAISY 3 standard.
This release of Obi integrates the context-sensitive help system within the Obi application, providing immediate help on relevant topics to its users with a push of a button. Other significant enhancements include pitch preservation while using the fast play feature resulting in smooth feel to the users and automatic saving of the project after recording to ensure that narration is not lost due to unknown circumstances. The Recording Toolbar and Graphical Peak Meter are now constantly visible even if the focus is on another window.
Please visit the Obi project area on the DAISY Consortium website to check out the full list of new features and bug fixes http://www.daisy.org/obi/.
The DAISY Consortium would like to extend a special thanks to all contributors for their valuable feedback and continued support to the Obi project. Obi continues to fill in the gaps and enable accessible publication production worldwide, becoming one of the DAISY production tool chosen by diverse range of users, from large production houses to home users.
The Digital Publishing Forum "Raising Standards with EPUB 3" in London [May 1st, 2013: Anatomy G04, Gavin de Beer Lecture Theatre, UCL] presented an overview of the enhancements that EPUB 3 provides over EPUB 2, and the challenges and opportunities the revised standard offers to publishers and readers. The accessibility features of the new standard were also covered.
As well as gaining a better grasp of the technical aspects of EPUB 3, attendees saw demonstrations of new products using EPUB 3, with a narrative around lessons learned from building the products.
Speakers at this seminar included Daniel Weck, software engineer with the DAISY Consortium; Graham Bell, Chief Data Architect, EDItEUR, and KoKo Ekong, e-Book Production & Design Specialist at Random House, who oversees maintenance and implementation of standards-compliant code. Koko demonstrated two books: The Dinosaur that Pooped Christmas, and Tree Fu Tom.
All attendees received a copy of the PA guidelines to EPUB 3. Daniel Weck's slides are available online.
The DAISY Consortium gets one step closer to enabling enterprise-grade production system for accessible content - Pipeline 2 Version 1.5 is now available for download. The DAISY Pipeline 2 project is an ongoing collaborative effort with a goal to develop the next generation framework for automated production of accessible materials for people with print disabilities. Testers can choose between three alternative packages:
- the "CLI" distribution: includes the command line tool and all the conversion scripts: http://daisy-pipeline.googlecode.com/files/pipeline2-1.5.zip (ZIP, 40 MB)
- the "Desktop Web UI" distribution: includes the command line tool, all the conversion scripts, and a version of the Web User Interface that can be run locally as a standalone application: http://daisy-pipeline.googlecode.com/files/pipeline2-1.5-webui-desktop.zip (ZIP, 80 MB)
- the "Server Web UI" distribution: includes a version of the Pipeline 2 Web User Interface for installation on a server. It does not include the Pipeline 2 engine and conversion scripts: http://daisy-pipeline.googlecode.com/files/pipeline2-1.5-webui-server.zip (ZIP, 40 MB).
This release introduces the following new scripts:
- HTML to EPUB 3
- NIMAS Fileset Validator
Please note that this release brings several bug fixes and improvements. Specific details are provided in the release notes: http://code.google.com/p/daisy-pipeline/wiki/ReleaseNotes.
Your comments and suggestions are always welcome.
Accessibility expert George Kerscher (DAISY Consortium) will discuss on April 23rd at 12 pm CDT why making your company's printed materials and online forms accessible is good business practice and necessary to meet compliance requirements. Learning Ally has over 60 years of experience in the accessibility field and can help your company achieve 504/508 and other requirements. Register now.
DRT4All 2013 conference offers a window into the future. Its main goal is to inform and educate attendees about the latest advances in Accessibility and ICT supporting independent living of people with disabilities, and to demonstrate how these technologies can work together in order to provide everyone with a better life, and to achieve a full integration into society for people with disabilities and the elderly.
Conference topics: Information and Communication Technologies and Access Services, Accessibility, Usability, User experience and Design for All, Human–computer interaction, Assistive Technologies, Telecare, Domotics, Digital Homes and independent living, Applied robotics for personal autonomy, Transport for all, Accessible collaborative learning technologies, Inclusive social networks.
Call for papers is open until May 15th, 2013. More information is provided on the DRT4All conference website.
The Educational Leadership Program offers advanced training to teachers and related professionals from around the world with the ultimate goal of strengthening services available in their respective organizations, communities and countries to children who are blind with multiple disabilities, including deaf-blindness. More information is provided on the Perkins International website.
The Educational Leadership Program Commencement will take place on Thursday, May 23, 2013 at 11:30 AM.
Location: 175 North Beacon Street, Watertown, MA
Remarks by Dr. Penny Hartin, CEO, World Blind Union.
It is hard to find a better place to learn best practices in the education of children who are blind and have additional disabilities than on Perkins’ 38-acre campus in Watertown, Massachusetts. Program participants attend lectures in Perkins' historic buildings, observe and teach in their classrooms and assist students in their residences for a unique training experience that provides a comprehensive understanding of education and services for students who are blind with additional disabilities, including those who are deaf-blind. Curriculum for all participants include academic courses led by Perkins’ experts and other noted professionals in the field, as well as hands-on learning in classrooms and living quarters, where they can put theory into practice.
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, President Barack Obama announced his intent to appoint the following individuals to key Administration posts:
- Tammie Kahn – Member, National Museum and Library Services Board
- George Kerscher – Member, National Museum and Library Services Board
- Jacquelyn K. Sundstrand – Member, National Museum and Library Services Board
- Rabbi Samuel N. Gordon – Member, United States Holocaust Memorial Council
- Maureen Schulman – Member, United States Holocaust Memorial Council
- Melanie N. Roussell – Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs, Department of Housing and Urban Development
President Obama said, “I am grateful that these impressive individuals have chosen to dedicate their talents to serving the American people at this important time for our country. I look forward to working with them in the months and years ahead.”
More information is provided in the official press release.
During the next couple of months, Bookshare has several webinars to help get students prepared for summer reading projects, their transitions, and fall planning. Register for the webinars that are of interest to you, and note that there are dates in April and May for each webinar. If you can’t attend, but are interested in the content, please go ahead and register anyway. You will be sent a link to the recording after the webinar.
New Bookshare Tools for Summer Reading! (a 30-minute webinar)
Date: Thursday, April 11, 2013
Time: 4:00 PM ET, 3:00 PM CT, 2:00 PM MT, 1:00 PM PT
Date: Thursday, May 9, 2013
Time: 1:30 PM ET, 12:30 PM CT, 11:30 AM MT, 10:30 AM PT
Bookshare for Students in Transition (a 30-minute webinar)
Date: Thursday, April 18, 2013
Time: 4:00 PM ET, 3:00 PM CT, 2:00 PM MT, 1:00 PM PT
Date: Thursday, May 16, 2013
Time: 1:30 PM ET, 12:30 PM CT, 11:30 AM MT, 10:30 AM PT
Fall Planning with Bookshare (a 30-minute webinar)
Date: Thursday, April 25, 2013
Time: 4:00 PM ET, 3:00 PM CT, 2:00 PM MT, 1:00 PM PT
Date: Thursday, May 23, 2013
Time: 1:30 PM ET, 12:30 PM CT, 11:30 AM MT, 10:30 AM PT
On May 9, we invite you to participate in Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD). The purpose of the day is to get people talking, thinking and learning about digital (web, software, mobile, etc.) accessibility and users with different disabilities. The target audience of GAAD is the design, development, usability, and related communities who build, shape, fund and influence technology and its use. While people may be interested in the topic of making technology accessible and usable by persons with disabilities, the reality is that they often do not know how or where to start. Awareness comes first. Check out the the page for the Global Accessibiliy Day event that will take place in Los Angeles.
Following the success of last year’s accessibility seminar, Great Expectations of e-books: Are they accessible? An interactive e-book club session at the London Book Fair (April 15th, 2013) is promising to be a practical demonstration of The Joint Statement on Accessibility issued by the Publishers Association in April 2012 and will give attendees the opportunity to witness and experience how Dickens' Great Expectations can be enjoyed by all readers, including those who can't read standard print.
Participants will gain an appreciation of the various barriers to achieving full access and how to provide an enhanced user experience for everyone. They can expect an innovative combination of a book club format with invited readers, followed by an interactive session and hands-on opportunities for the audience to try out e-book reading devices will make this one of the not-to-be-missed sessions for 2013.
This seminar is organized by the Publishers Licensing Society (PLS), EDItEUR, the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) and the Right to Read Alliance with the support of the Publishers Association (PA). More information is provided on the London Book Fair website.
This week, President Obama signed his third Presidential Proclamation to commemorate this year's World Autism Awareness Day, which stated in part:
"Today, public health officials estimate that 1 in every 88 children in America is growing up on the autism spectrum. It is a reality that affects millions of families every day, from the classroom to the job market. And while our country has made progress in supporting Americans with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs), we are only beginning to understand the factors behind the challenges they face. On World Autism Awareness Day, we recommit to helping individuals on the autism spectrum reach their full potential."
Read the full text of the proclamation at the following link: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2013/04/01/presidential-proclamation-world-autism-awareness-day-2013.
One of the exciting aspects of e-books and the newer standards for them is the ability to create publications in a format that provides access to information for everyone.
Join the National Information Standards Organization (NISO) on Wednesday, April 10th from 1:00-2:30 PM EDT (GMT-4) for their webinar Universal Accessibility: Creating E-Books Anyone Can Read. In this webinar you will learn about new emerging technologies that can provide universal accessibility. Participants will also learn about e-book design and e-readers that contain accessibility features.
Topics and Speakers:
- Emerging Technologies for the Visually Impaired – Anne Taylor, Director of Access Technology, National Federation for the Blind
- Built-in Access for Digital Textbooks – Michele Bruno, Program Manager, Accessibility, Cengage Learning
- An Introduction to the Readium-based Accessible Bookshare Web Reader – Ginny Grant, Product Manager, Benetech.
Registration for this paid webinar is per site (access for one computer) and closes at Noon EDT (GMT-4) on April 10th, 2013 (the day of the webinar). Visit the event webpage to register and get more information.
Planman Technologies, a provider of integrated content transformation solutions, has announced the renaming of the company as Contentra Technologies. The new name represents the company’s focus on content transformation services and the broadening of its service lines.
Over the past 10 years, Planman Technologies has been a trusted partner in the book publishing, library, and news industries. Now the company is taking its content transformation expertise to new markets and to new industries. Each publisher has its own unique content life cycle. An extraordinary amount of content is created, repurposed, and distributed every day. As Planman Technologies reached out to new industries and new markets, the company decided to take on a new name - Contentra Technologies, to reflect its growth and plans for the future. This new name reflects their expanding expertise, new markets, and their specialized offerings in transforming content for publishers around the world. More information is provided on the Contentra Technologies website.
Readium.org open source initiative today announced its evolution into a formal consortium of member companies fostering a community of open source projects, including a new Readium™ SDK project developing a commercial-grade rendering engine for EPUB® 3, optimized for native applications.
Initial members of the new Readium Foundation include ACCESS, Aldiko, Bluefire Productions, Baker & Taylor, Benetech, Bokbasen, DAISY Consortium, Datalogics, De Marque, DILICOM, eBook.de, Eden Livres (a joint venture of Gallimard, La Martinière and Flammarion), Editis, Evident Point, Feedbooks, Firebrand Technologies, Hachette Livre, IDPF, Izneo, Kobo, LIA (by Italian Publishers Association), Mantano, Numilog, Rakuten, Sony Corporation, TXTR, and Vibal Publishing House.
Readium.org was launched by the International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF) and supporters in 2012 to develop a browser-based reference implementation of the EPUB 3 standard. Its initial project has matured into a popular Chrome browser extension (available on the Chrome Web Store), which supports all EPUB 3 functionality. The codebase has been adopted by several third parties as the nucleus of browser-based “cloud” readers, including the new Benetech Bookshare service, and the project will continue on that vector as “Readium Web”.
More information is provided in the official press release.
The Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) has awarded HumanWare the 2013 Winston Gordon Award of Excellence in Accessible Technology. The cash prize award of $10,000 CAD is given for significant technological advancements or applications of technology that provide practical benefit to people with vision loss.
The Accessing Higher Ground 2013 Conference will focus on the implementation and benefits of Accessible Media, Universal Design and Assistive Technology in the university, business and public setting. Other topic areas cover legal and policy issues, including ADA and 508 compliance. The creation of accessible media and information resources, including Web pages and library resources are a particular focus of the event.
For institutions of Higher Education, there is a strong focus on campus accommodation. For businesses and other audiences, there are numerous sessions on best practices for web design, reaching untapped audiences through accessible design, and compliance with new Department of Justice rules regarding Section 508 and the ADA.
Call for Papers is Now Open. The online proposal form can be accessed at (http://accessinghigherground.org/wp/proposalform.php). The due date for submissions is April 10, 2013.
The International Publishers Association (IPA) today announced that its Board has endorsed EPUB 3. Jens Bammel, IPA’s Secretary General, said: “Digital publishing is now truly global. IPA strongly urges all publishing industry stakeholders to adopt EPUB 3 so that the publishing industry can achieve an interoperable and fully accessible global standard for e-books and other digital publications." Full text of the release is available via Library Journal (INFODocket).
The release states: "EPUB 3 is semantically enhanced, reliably navigable, and enables publishers to progress from producing static documents to creating interactive experiences... encoded into a distributable publication file that is interoperable across devices and can adapt smoothly to different sized displays. EPUB 3 ... fullfils the requirements of publishers around the world, including supporting global language requirements, such as vertical layout, alternative writing, and page progression directions, as well as other typographic capabilities needed to express the wide range of world languages. Furthermore, EPUB 3 can be made fully accessible to print disabled readers."
The Perkins Assistive Technology Prize provides $25 thousand in incentive grants to entrepreneurs who focus on improving opportunities and quality of life for people with disabilities as part of MassChallenge 2013. Perkins is offering the grants, drawn from a donation earmarked for technological solutions, to promote their global mission to empower individuals with disabilities to reach their personal potential.
Applicants to MassChallenge, the world's largest accelerator program and startup competition, receive a $100 refund against the $199 entry fee when they apply by this Wednesday, March 6, 2013. All entries are due by April 3, 2013.
Founded in 1829 as the first school for the blind in the United States, the Perkins now touches the lives of more than 600,000 individuals in 67 countries – far beyond the historic Watertown, Massachusetts, campus. Notably, MassChallenge draws entrants from around the world and has gone global this year.
Administered through MassChallenge, Perkins Assistive Technology Prize encourages the development of new, low- and high-technology devices or software that could significantly enhance the quality of life for individuals with disabilities. Such assistive technology could apply to any sector of life (education, transportation, recreation, communications, vocational, etc.). The designed could address a certain group of individuals with a disability (vision loss, hearing loss, mobility, etc.), or have a more universal market application. Details and application are available at www.MassChallenge.org.
At the CSUN International Technology and Persons with Disabilities Conference this week, Google announced that it has added a number of accessibility features to Chrome, Chrome OS, Gmail and Google Drive that should make using Google suites of web apps a bit easier to use for blind and low-vision users. In addition, Google also launched a new sign language interpreter app and keyboard shortcuts for Hangouts for the deaf and hard of hearing, as well as those who can’t or don’t want to use a mouse while using Hangouts.
ChromeOS now features a new high-quality text-to-speech voice - only available in English, as well as screen magnification and a high-contrast mode. Gmail now features a new navigation interface and keyboard shortcuts that use the HTML5 ARIA standard that is meant to make rich Internet applications more accessible.
According to Google, Drive is also now much easier to access using a keyboard. In Docs, Google you can access features using the keyboard, with a new way to search menu and toolbar options. New keyboard shortcuts and verbalization improvements also make it easier to use Docs, Sheets and Slides with a screenreader. The stable version of Chrome now includes support for the Web Speech API, so developers can integrate speech recognition in their apps. Benetech / Bookshare demonstrated a version of its ReadNow ebook reader at the CSUN conference that uses the Speech API. More information is provided on the official Google blog.
HumanWare proudly begins celebrating its 25th anniversary at the 2013 CSUN Conference in San Diego this week.
"From the very beginning in 1988, our goal has always been to help people with visual impairment and learning disabilities by giving them the independence to participate effectively in the sighted world. Our technology has always maintained its human touch," says Gilles Pepin, CEO of HumanWare.
Over the years, HumanWare has been recognized worldwide as a pioneer in mastering rapid advancements in digital technology to create and deliver humanized solutions for people with blindness, low vision, and learning disabilities. From advanced Braille products and electronic magnifiers to digital talking book players and beyond, HumanWare tools have helped thousands of end-users to live independently and compete effectively in today's world.
HumanWare is especially committed to innovation. For Yves Boisioli, Vice-president, it's a necessity, "We are looking constantly to distance ourselves from the competition, looking for the WOW factor, so we push our people and our products to go further with every innovation."
The company's reputation for constant innovation is highlighted by the recent launch of a new generation of its signature product, the Victor Reader Stream. The latest version is 28% smaller with wireless capabilities that provide users with greater independence everywhere they go. It's a multimedia library that fits in your pocket. More information is provided on the HumanWare website.
The World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) +10 review Meeting is taking place in Paris, France, February 25-27, followed by an Internet Governance Forum (IGF) consultation meeting on February 28th and March 1st.
IFLA will be hosting two panel sessions during the WSIS +10 meeting. These sessions will address the ownership and licensing of digital information, and public access to the Internet. IFLA will represent the international library community - resulting recommendations will have a direct influence on the WSIS +10 process and the next steps.
Interested parties can participate in the meeting through the remote participation mechanism.
The CSUN 2013 conference program will be available on a CD-ROM for conference attendees. The program is also available for download in HTML and EPUB formats or as a DAISY 2.02 book from the DAISY Consortium website. The menus of the restaurants are also included.
The American Printing House for the Blind (APH) has announced their implementation of DAISY Online. This service utilizes the features of the new Book Port DT and provides users the ability to find, download and play DAISY content without the need for a computer. The debut of DAISY Online brings Newsweek and Readers Digest which APH has provided in braille and audio formats free of charge for many decades, to the Book Port DT.
In addition, DAISY Online makes available, to those Book Port DT users who are registered with Bookshare, access to Bookshare collection of accessible books, newspapers, and more. Bookshare currently provides access to more than 175,600 titles.
The Migel Library has now made over 1,000 books from its research collection available free of charge in DAISY format. The Migel is one of the largest historical collections of non-medical books and magazines related to blindness in the world. Those titles, which already are available on the web through the Migel website, will be made available via Book Port DT soon.
To see how to use the Book Port DT with these services, please go to http://tech.aph.org/bpdt_online.htm.
- For more information on the Book Port DT, please visit APH at http://shop.aph.org
- For more information on Newsweek and Readers Digest, visit APH at http://www.aph.org/products/magsubsc.htm
- For more information on DAISY, visit the DAISY Consortium website: http://www.daisy.org/
- For more information on Bookshare, visit their website: http://www.bookshare.org/
- For more information on the Migel, visit APH at http://migel.aph.org.
On February 13th at 1:40 pm, O'Reilly Tools of Change for Publishing conference session End To End Accessibility: A Journey Through The Supply Chain, will highlight the challenges faced by people and organizations at each part of the supply chain. Practical examples will be provided to demonstrate ways accessibility can and should be embedded.
Everyone involved in digital publishing will benefit from understanding accessibility. From content origination at one end, through those involved in the creation of reading systems (both devices and software), to the user experience and content discovery of eBooks from retailers or for loan, all parties need to understand the implications of their decisions for accessibility.
Accessibility experts from RNIB, EDItEUR, Ingram and Nook Media will share examples of accessibility considerations, applications and implications from across the publishing supply chain.
O'Reilly Tools of Change for Publishing Conference in New York starts today with the Author Revolution Day. In addition to the keynotes, all of Author (R)evolution Day on Tuesday will be live streamed. Access to this content will be from an exclusive player on the Author (R)evolution Day information page: http://www.toccon.com/toc2013/public/content/author-revolution-day.
Accessible Publishing Practices will also be discussed during the workshop Born Accessible: An up-to-the minute update on the tools, standards, techniques and developments that support 'Inclusive Publishing' practices.
Keynote presentations taking place on Wednesday and Thursday will be streamed live and recorded. Starting on Tuesday, the live stream schedule can be found at http://www.toccon.com/live.
The W3C, in partnership with IDPF and BISG, is holding a workshop on February 11th and 12th in New York on Electronic Books and the Open Web, to bring together major players of the eBooks market, including publishers, standardization organizations, booksellers, accessibility organizations, etc. The discussions ignited at this workshop are a part of an ongoing effort to bring eBook publishing to its full potential through standardization. More information is provided on the W3C workshop website. The list of submitted position papers is also available.
The 7th European e-Accessibility Forum will be held March 18, 2013 at Cité des Sciences, Paris, under the high patronage of Mr. François HOLLANDE, President of the French Republic and two ministers. "Developing e-Accessibility as a Professional Skill" will be the main topic of the conference and "Accessible Publishing" will be one important concern presented and discussed by professional experts.
The first speakers have been announced and information about their presentations is available on the 7th European e-Accessibility Forum website.
Register online to attend and participate.
UK Primary and Secondary students who have dyslexia, are partially sighted or blind now have access to thousands of free accessible text books and images, through Load2Learn, a service delivered by Dyslexia Action and RNIB.
Dolphin Computer Access has recently become a corporate partner of Load2Learn to support the service help reach more dyslexic and blind or partially sighted students.
Schools can register with Load2Learn to access national curriculum texts in a range of formats: structured Microsoft Word, PDF, EPUB and audio. It enables staff to support learners who cannot access standard print to read the same books, at the same time as classmates, giving them the same educational opportunities as everyone else.
University of Southampton & Department for Education (DfE) research* clearly shows that over two thirds of students with dyslexia improve their: reading, writing and level of achievement when they have access to electronic learning materials and appropriate assistive technologies. Visually impaired students also benefit. Confidence, homework completion and attendance increase for all groups.
ATIA (Assistive Technology Industry Association) 2013 Conference in Orlando provides an opportunity for people with disabilities, and those who support, work with, employ or educate people with disabilities, to meet annual professional development requirements, get more out of existing Assistive Technologies or learn about the latest innovations.
The following DAISY Consortium Members and Friends are showcasing their products and services in Orlando:
- American Printing House for the Blind, Inc.
- Benetech / Bookshare
- Dolphin Computer Access
- Duxbury Systems
- gh, LLC
- Learning Ally
More information is provided on the 2013 Orlando conference website.
Dolphin EasyConverter, a flexible alternative format creation tool for providing accessible documents for people who experience difficulties reading, can now recognize and convert a wide range of documents written in Arabic.
The new Arabic language support in Dolphin EasyConverter can be used to analyse the text in Arabic PDFs, images, Microsoft Word documents or Rich Text files. A single button then converts this material into customizable large print, Braille or audio formats suitable for Arabic readers who experience dyslexia or sight loss. More information is provided on the Dolphin Computer Access website.