DAISY Consortium's News Brief - # 2013-11b
Enjoy a concise selection of digital publishing news. Our main goal is to inform DAISY Members and Supporters about new e-reading technologies and related developments.

Upcoming Events: International Day for Persons with Disabilities, Free EASI Webinar, M-Enabling Summit

International Day for Persons with Disabilities: December 3rd, 2013. Break barriers, open doors: for an inclusive society for all.

DIAGRAM Community Manager Julie Noblitt will present an overview of the emerging ecosystem of tools, standards, and research for accessible images underway at DIAGRAM in a free EASI webinar on December 19, 2013 at 11 a.m. Pacific (2:00 p.m. Eastern). More information about all upcoming EASI webinars is provided on their website.

The M-Enabling Global Summit: June 9-10, 2014, Washington DC. The only program exclusively dedicated to promoting mobile accessible and assistive applications and services for senior citizens and users of all abilities. This market segment represents more than one billion users worldwide, and is still largely untapped. More information is available on the M-Enabling Summit website. Call for presentations is open.

What's New?: Links to News Articles

Featured Tool: AppWriter Cloud

Primarily designed for users with learning disabilities such as dyslexia, AppWriter Cloud (developed by LingApps ApS) provides them with assistive reading and writing tools. It is closely integrated with Google Docs / Google Drive and the Google Chrome browser. AppWriter Cloud can be installed as a Google Chrome extension from the Chrome Web Store. Fully functional free trial is available.

AppWriter Cloud offers assistive speech and language components in the cloud. Context based word suggestions and text-to-speech are the key features of AppWriter Cloud. Users also benefit from visual tools that highlight text as it is read aloud using high quality lifelike synthetic voices. In addition, words and letters are read aloud as they are typed. When users install the AppWriter Cloud, they also get a web reader (small toolbar) that allows them to listen to the text that has been selected on any website.

AppWriter Cloud supports all major languages, including American and British English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Dutch and Swedish. More than 75,000 students in Scandinavia use AppWriter Cloud.

A demonstration video is available in Swedish [YouTube]. To learn more, you can also watch a screencast in English.

AppWriter for iPad, also developed by LingApps is an accessible text editor as well as reading and writing application that combines text-to-speech, word prediction, OCR scanning, and the Dyslexie-typeface. Watch AppWriter US demo on YouTube.

Audience Award for Yoleo: Support for Struggling Readers

Schools and parents often face the fact that it is hard to encourage some children to read children’s books. Special education teachers know that it is very important to offer some kind of support in order to awaken the talents that these children possess. Yoleo supports teachers and parents by making reading easier and more fun.

Improving the quality of reading in educational setting and at home

Yoleo is an online reading game. It helps readers between 8 and 12 years old to read without help and with more fun. The reading game is a useful tool that can be used to encourage struggling young readers read more often and for a longer period of time. When reading with support by Yoleo, children will understand better what they are reading. This is an important condition for success at school and for a full participation in our current society in which written communication plays such an important part.

Recently, Yoleo was awarded with the Audience Award of the European Language Label for Innovative Education. The theme of the most recent contest was “Language for Everybody”. The innovative value and the contribution to improvement of education were the main criteria for participating in this contest. In addition, the value for teachers had to be demonstrated.

The Dedicon management team announced that the prize money will be spent on further development of Yoleo.

Hybrid reading

Using the Yoleo website or an iPad, young readers earn points which can then be used to buy items for their virtual bedroom. They can earn points by reading the well-designed books from Yoleo’s online bookcase. The text of the book is visible on the screen of their device but it is also being read aloud by a human voice.

Readers are supported by the text tracking feature on the page that provides a highlighting function. It is based on the "Karaoke" concept. This form of hybrid reading is unique in the Netherlands and makes reading not only easier, but a lot more fun. Thousands of children have tried Yoleo this year and they enjoy using these hybrid books and the game.

Need for Support

“The number of children with reading difficulties is increasing. These children do not like reading or they encounter problems when reading, for example because of their dyslexia. As a result, they don't spend enough time reading and enter a downward spiral. This means they are falling behind and have no access or only limited access to books and other texts. They are also less motivated to read. All this is happening in a world where reading and writing are very important for the development of creativity, imagination, knowledge and various talents. Therefore it is essential to read on a daily basis. With all this in mind, our literacy specialists have developed Yoleo,” said Edwin Meijering, Manager Customer, Market & Innovation at Dedicon. “Yoleo allows young readers to enjoy reading by playing a special online game. We expect that many children - as well as parents - will have a very positive reading experience, especially when you consider that Yoleo supports children by encouraging comprehensive reading and the expansion of their vocabulary”.

The Yoleo website can be accessed without any cost, and it is commercial-free. Yoleo books can be obtained at a truly fair price. The first chapter every book can be read for free, so readers can try and decide they like the book before purchasing. Schools receive special rates in order to allow any school to have their students read the Yoleo books. Yoleo has been developed with support of the Dutch Sector Institute for Public Libraries (SIOB), the VSB trust (United Savings Bank) and Dedicon. Please take a look at the video (in Dutch) below or on YouTube.

About Dedicon

Dedicon offers alternative ways of reading which enable anyone to read whatever he or she likes, in the way they like. Dedicon supplies newspapers, (school)books and magazines, being read by professional readers. In addition Dedicon offers digital texts for special needs software and hybrid books which offer the combination of reading and listening (to a human voice).

For educational use, Dedicon offers an extensive collection of manuals and textbooks which have been adapted for users with a print disability. Their collection consists of 65.000 talking books and about three hundred newspapers and magazines which are at the disposal of readers through the Foundation for Adapted Reading. Dedicon also supplies the public with information from civil services and companies, which has been made accessible. This is a free service for individuals with a print disability. Information about Dedicon is available at http://www.dedicon.nl/.

Thank you, Geerhard Huising for sharing Dedicon's press release and Yoleo with us. Congratulations to your team!