The DAISY Consortium's Newsletter - June 2016


HOT off the Press!

Marrakesh Treaty Reaches 20 Ratifications

Canada became the key 20th nation to accede to the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired or Otherwise Print Disabled, which will bring the Treaty into force by September 30th, 2016. CNIB congratulated the Government of Canada on eagerly-anticipated ratification of the Marrakesh Treaty.

Detailed information on which countries have ratified the Treaty can be found on the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) website.

The World Blind Union (WBU) led the international campaign to achieve the development of an international treaty that would put an end to the global “book famine,” which refers to the less than ten percent of published materials being available in accessible formats and often less than one percent in developing countries. “After many years of hard work by countless people in the blindness community and partners from a range of sectors, we are now at the start of a new phase of our work,” said Maryanne Diamond, WBU Chair of the Right to Read campaign and a leader in the fight for the Marrakesh Treaty.

Several DAISY member organizations have been advocating for the Treaty over the years. The great achievement today offers many reasons for celebration.

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DAISY Marketplace

The following links are to new or recently updated DAISY Products and Services from our Members and Friends. Marketplace entries also appear on our home page.

Publishers' Corner

The EPUB working group has introduced the new EPUB Accessibility specification.

This specification addresses two key needs in the EPUB ecosystem:

  • evaluation and certification of accessible EPUB publications
  • discovery of the accessible qualities of EPUB publications

The specification leverages the work done in WCAG 2.0 to establish benchmarks for accessible content. The same four content principles: Perceivable, Operable, Understandable and Robust, are central to creating accessible EPUB publications.

Feedback about this new specification can be provided as comments on GitHub.

To find out more about the DAISY Consortium's participation, please review the Accessibilty Baseline page on the DAISY Consortium website.

20 years of advocacy, innovation and collaboration

Take Part Conference delegates at Stockholm City Hall

The DAISY Consortium’s May 2016 Board meeting along with the Annual General Meeting took place in Stockholm, Sweden. Many thanks to the Swedish DAISY Consortium and especially to the Swedish Agency for Accessible Media (MTM) team for hosting the meetings, organizing the Take Part 2016 conference and holding the DAISY Consortium’s 20th Anniversary celebrations.

In Stockholm, the DAISY Consortium presented its highest honor, the Culture of Sharing Award for 2016 to Lynn Leith for her contributions. The DAISY Consortium selected an Inuksuk sculpture as the symbol for the Culture of Sharing Award. The Inuksuk or Inukshuk are lifelike figures of stone erected by the Inuit people along the most northern shores of the Canadian Arctic. They encourage us to remember the importance of friendship and our dependence upon one another to achieve what one person alone could not possibly achieve.

Bernhard Heinser, the CFO of DAISY, was also recognized for his long-time service to the DAISY Consortium. In his acceptance speech Bernhard mentioned the importance of passion in doing work that changes the world.

Take Part: Human Perspectives on Inclusive Publishing

The international Take Part conference in Stockholm was aimed at anyone involved in the creation, publishing and distribution of digital content. The main focus was on moving towards a society where all information is accessible and everyone can take part.

HRH Swedish Prince Carl Philip, the Patron of Dyslexiförbundet FMLS, opened the conference, visited various exhibits and attended several sessions on May 17th.

Conference moderators, speakers and participants shared their excitement about the availability of new accessible technologies as well as practical, sometimes painful realities related to user habits, changes in workflows and available resources.

Fredrik Schill

The creation of accessible digital publications that can be transferred and used across several devices presents challenges for both content developers and device manufacturers. The importance of gathering and paying attention to user data - human perspectives on reading and publishing, was highlighted throughout the conference.

The promise of a consistent, accessible reading experience that is the same on multiple reading devices and platforms can only be achieved by following standards and guidelines that facilitate openness and interoperability.

Several organizations and companies, including DAISY Members and Friends demonstrated accessible reading and publishing related products and services. The recordings of the Take Part 2016 conference sessions and vendor presentations are available on the Swedish Agency for Accessible Media (MTM) YouTube Channel.

DAISY Consortium’s 20th Anniversary

DAISY 20th Anniversary logo

Since 1996, the DAISY Consortium and its members have gained a remarkable amount of expertise.

Jesper Klein, the Chairman of the Board of the DAISY Consortium stated in his 20th Anniversary dinner speech:

“A few organizations started the Consortium, more jumped in – and twenty years later, here we are:

My own personal interpretation of what it takes to form and run an international standards organization:

All of these have been present in the formation, implementation and ongoing work of the DAISY Consortium.

I would like to quote Henry Ford: “Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.”

IDPF and W3C Considering Combining Forces

Update by George Kerscher

The DAISY Consortium has participated in the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) since 1997. The Consortium is also one of the founding members of the International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF), established in 1999. The DAISY Consortium’s mission supports open standards and collaboration. The possible merger between the IDPF and the W3C is at the core of what the DAISY Consortium is all about.

The potential merger was officially announced in Chicago on May 9th at Book Expo America and DigiPub, the IDPF flagship conference. The IDPF recently held board elections for eight seats of the fourteen member board. All six incumbent board members were re-elected. Tzviya Siegman, Information Standards Lead from Wiley and Mike Baker, Technical Director, Content Strategy for HMH are the two new board members.

There is still much to be discussed and explained before the impending vote by the IDPF Membership. One thing is for sure, the proposed merger will certainly impact the digital publishing community. More information is provided on the IDPF website.

DAISY Mission to Burkina Faso

By Richard Orme

Burkina Faso is a French speaking landlocked country in West Africa with a population of just over 17 million. Inspired by new information provided by the DAISY Consortium at the Africa Forum in October 2015, representatives from the Burkinabe National Union of Associations for the Promotion of Blind and Partially Sighted (UN-ABPAM) are determined to improve access to education for children and young people in their country.

UN-ABPAM works together with Light For The World, an Austrian based international disability and development organization with projects in 15 countries. Light for the World and the DAISY Consortium are now supporting UN-ABPAM in developing a multi-stakeholder programme to improve access to books and education for blind and low vision people in Burkina Faso.

Three speakers and participants in the meeting room

In this context, four-day visit was made in June 2016 to meet with key stakeholders, take stock of the publishing scene and highlight current experiences in other countries. The three-person team consisted of Gautièr Chomel from DAISY France, Dipendra Manocha and Richard Orme, both representing the DAISY Consortium. In addition to meetings with government departments, private publishers and booksellers, two workshops were conducted with decision-makers and end users. This allowed for the demonstration of accessible production and reading solutions, and the chance to discuss options that might best suit the circumstances of the country.

The World Blind Union uses the term ‘book famine’ to describe the lack of access to accessible publications, and this is very evident in many African countries. There is very little access to audio or digital text. Braille paper is expensive and in short supply, and the braille embossers are frequently not functioning. The students and teachers described their limited access to books for study or leisure and were excited about what was possible.

Fingers on Orbit Reader braille display

They were particularly delighted to have a chance to experience the Orbit Reader, the low-cost braille display emerging from the Transforming Braille initiative. As far as we could determine, this was the first braille display to reach Burkina Faso.

An intensive planning session was held on the final morning, drawing together the input that had been received into the bold vision of what should be achieved, and concrete next steps.

The determination of the leaders at UN-ABPAM to move the situation forward comes at an exciting and most relevant time. The government of Burkina Faso is working on ratification of the Marrakech Treaty. The education departments are considering putting their school books online. State and private publishers are keen to explore modern production techniques and are excited by the potential of inclusive publishing. Accessible reading technologies are becoming more affordable, even for the world’s least developed countries.

The visit to Burkina Faso was part of the DAISY Consortium’s work to bring accessible reading to print disabled people who are under-served. Technologies and tools developed by the DAISY community can enable practical solutions that can transform the experience and chances of blind and low vision people in these countries. With strong partnerships with the local organisations much can be achieved, together with international support. In this regard, we are grateful to Light for the World for funding this visit, and for the collaboration with DAISY France.

DAISY Training in South Africa

Blind South Africa ( is an agency of the Department of Arts and Culture. Its mission is "To do whatever is necessary or conducive to improve the quality of life of blind South Africans so that they, in turn, may play their full part in the socio-economic life of the country".

Blind SA expressed interest in a training workshop to produce different types of DAISY books. They expected participants to gain:

Mr. Moodley assisting two participants in the computer lab

Prashant Ranjan Verma and Deenadayalan Moodley conducted the training June 7-10 in Johannesburg. Mr. Verma is a Training & Technical Support Consultant for the DAISY Consortium. Mr. Moodley is the Chairperson of DAISY SA and has a vast experience with accessible formats conversion at the University of South Africa.

Six people from Blind SA participated in the training. Some of the participants had extensive experience with Braille printing.

Trainers provided a digital folder containing training materials and tools to each participant. They also gave a text formatting checklist, keyboard shortcuts list, and DAISY audio book production workflow in printed form.

Included in the folder were:

Workshop attendees and trainers

During the training, each participant built 5-6 DAISY books. They indicated that the word processing techniques they learned during the program would also lead to improvements in their Braille printing work - saving time and money. The participants gave positive feedback on all aspects of the training.

Thank you for the report, Prashant Ranjan Verma.

Learning Ally Honored Remarkable Teachers

Learning Ally, DAISY Consortium’s Full Member serving individuals with visual, physical and learning disabilities across the U.S., honored two remarkable teachers on April 9th during its Student Success and Achievement celebration in Denver, Colorado.

Complementing the National Achievement Awards that Learning Ally has presented for decades to outstanding students with print and reading disabilities, in 2016, the organization launched awards honoring educators teaching those types of students.

This year’s top awards were presented to:

Erika said: “For the dyslexic children I work with, I don’t call it disability. They think differently. They show me things that I never considered.”

“Teachers like Erika and Cindy are on the front lines of a movement driving change in the mainstream educational system to help ALL students succeed,” said Andrew Friedman, Learning Ally President and CEO.

More information is provided in the Learning Ally press release.

Thank you very much, Doug Sprei for providing information for this summary.

10th European e-Accessibility Forum: e-Accessibility in a connected world

By Katie Durand

The 10th European e-Accessibility Forum, organised by BrailleNet and Universcience, was held at the Cité des Sciences in Paris on May 30th, 2016.

Dominique Burger from BrailleNet

This year’s event was marked by the announcement that Dominique Burger, Founder and President of BrailleNet for over 18 years, will be retiring at the end of June.

The Forum is just one of the many initiatives that Dominique has instigated during his outstanding career at BrailleNet, and over the course of the day many of the speakers expressed their appreciation for his invaluable contribution to the field of e-Accessibility. Following a welcoming address in which Bruno Maquart, President of Universcience, spoke of the strong partnership that had developed between the Cité des Sciences and BrailleNet over the years, delegates were greeted by the new President, Bruno Marmol – no stranger to the Forum – who reiterated BrailleNet’s commitment to the advancement of digital accessibility both in France and in the international arena.

Dominique chaired the first session of the day entitled The Internet of Things: Scope and Challenges. Nathalie Mitton of the French Institute for Research in Computer Science and Automation (INRIA) began by offering an overview of Internet of Things (IoT) technology. Jean-Christophe Coiffier of Nokia then explained why his company believes that the IoT represents a major revolution in the field of ICT, and is working hard to ensure that the infrastructure is robust, interoperable and accessible to all. Jean-Christophe gave some examples of IoT solutions that are already improving the lives of people with disabilities.

Steve Tyler from RNIB

Further examples were given by Steve Tyler of the RNIB who went on to describe the strategies employed by the RNIB to make the big players such as Google and Samsung sit up, take note and – most importantly – take action to ensure their IoT solutions are accessible out of the box.

The second session of the day opened with a panel discussion in which three users with disabilities were invited to share their hopes and fears for a fully connected world. All participants demonstrated that, to varying degrees, IoT devices have already become a staple feature in the day-to-day lives of many people with disabilities. The need to take affordability, interoperability, and security into consideration when designing and building new solutions was also clearly expressed. This focus on usage and requirements provided a useful backdrop for the subsequent papers from Shadi Abou-Zahra of W3C-WAI and Marco Marsella of the European Commission on normative responses to this emerging technology.

Shadi made the case for using existing standards relating to Web technologies to build a robust, interoperable and accessible IoT, supported by real-life use cases that detail how solutions work in practice for people with disabilities. Marco Marsella explained how his unit is pushing forward the accessibility agenda with the web accessibility directive and through financial support for projects that improve social inclusion for EU citizens. A selection of EU-funded IoT projects was presented, and details of the next call for proposals were provided. The morning session closed with a presentation by designer Ross Atkin on an inspiring project involving the deployment of “smart” street signs and furniture that respond to the needs and preferences of disabled users through their connected devices.

During the extended lunchbreak, an interactive workshop presenting innovative connected objects for people with disabilities proved very popular with delegates. The afternoon kicked off with a very engaging session on security, privacy and trust. Mathieu Cunche of the Institut National des Sciences Appliquées reminded us that smart devices are powerful tools which can and are being used to track and monitor people to various degrees and for a multitude of ends, a great many commercial. Stéphane Petitcolas of the Commission Nationale de l'Informatique et des Libertés (CNIL), the national data protection authority for France, gave further examples of the means by which third parties collect data on geolocation, name and address, application downloads, health, mobility, social network activity, etc. and some of the measures being taken to safeguard this data.

In the penultimate session, Alexis Normand of Withings, Marie-Christine Jaulent of the French Institute of Health and Medical Research, and Imad Abdallah of Aeron presented existing IoT solutions in the health and wellbeing sector. While some solutions, such as Withings’ connected scales, blood pressure monitor, and activity-tracking watches, have been successfully launched and are widely available on the high street, other solutions are still struggling for recognition as they do not yet have the clinical weight to be deployed by public health services. An interesting prototype for a microsystem of smart home and communication technologies designed to help the elderly stay on in their homes for longer, developed as part of the European-funded istay@home project, was presented by Imad Abdallah, but again the business model for the large-scale deployment of such solutions remains to be found.

In the final session a selection of speakers were invited to imagine how the Internet of Things might look in 5 years’ time. Some technical challenges were discussed, including ill-adapted electronic sensors, connectivity blackspots, limited battery life for connected devices and communication protocols that are ill-suited to this technology. It was felt, however, that new developments will improve the performance of IoT solutions, with advances in smart surfaces, nanotechnology, and user profiling introducing new possibilities for people with disabilities. Given the harsh competition, the reality is that manufacturers are tripping over themselves to launch new IoT products on the market as soon as they can and often only consider accessibility, if at all, as an afterthought. It was agreed that designing inclusive (as opposed to universal) solutions out of the box is very much to everyone’s advantage as it will improve the overall take-up of these products.

In his closing speech, Dominique concluded that the Internet of Things is still very much in its infancy, and its impact as a force for change in the day-to-day lives of people with disabilities will rely on the ability of researchers, businesses, charities and above all consumers to work together to ensure that IoT solutions are accessible to all.

For conference proceedings and more information on the event, please visit

Big thank you goes to Dominique Burger for his support to the DAISY Community over the years, his commitment to accessibility and accessible standards! We are grateful to Katie Durand for this article.

New Proposed ADA laws in the USA Impacting Publishing

By Robin Seaman and George Kerscher

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has had a tremendous impact in the USA and the effects have rippled throughout the world. The Department of Justice (DOJ) is seeking input for their new proposed rules that will impact public and educational materials. The Web Accessibility Content Guidelines (WCAG 2.0) will not only extend to websites, but to published materials linked from the Web, including digitally published materials.

It is clear that the DOJ believes access to information is a civil right. It is also clear accessibility is not a barrier to innovations in emerging technology as accessibility is innovation itself.

The deadline for public comments is August 8, 2016 and the link is:

DAISY Production: Follow-up training in Hanoi

By Mayu Hamada, Assistive Technology Development Organization (ATDO)

As a part of the project called "Building Capacity and Removing Barriers for People with Disabilities in Disaster Risk Management through Accessible Digital Information System in Vietnam," funded by UPS, DAISY follow-up training was conducted in Hanoi at the end of March.

Four trainees from Lift You Up (LYU) including two visually impaired individuals and one from Malteser International (MI) attended the training. After the DAISY training in January, they have been converting MI's Disability Inclusive Community-based Disaster Risk Management (DiCBDRM) manual into full-text full-audio DAISY book using the Save as DAISY add-in and Tobi.

Editors note: Nguyen Van Dung has asked DAISY Community members to review the above-mentioned manual, the deadline is July 5th, 2016. You can access the manual by following this link.

The manual has around 100 pages with complex tables and images. At the follow-up training, participants mainly solved problems with those items.

The leader of LYU, a blind young woman, Ms. Dao Huong said "Different from the previous training in which participants mainly learned from the trainers, during the follow-up training they gained a lot from their own experience and mistakes. Trainees worked closely with the trainer to devise solutions for complex objects in DAISY books such as tables with merged and split cells.

Four trainees with laptops around the table

The participants were also more aware of strengths and limitations of each DAISY playback and production software. LYU learned that DAISY production is a chain production which requires good teamwork spirit. However, as more producers are involved in the process, more mistakes might occur. How to improve the production methods and how to increase the productivity remain questions for the group."

By the end of the training, the English version of DAISY DiCBDRM manual had been completed, and Vietnamese version was ready for recording. The English version uses two text-to-speech voices (male and female). A narrator recorded the Vietnamese version as there is no good quality Vietnamese text-to-speech. By early June, both English and Vietnamese versions were completed.

Ms. Dao Huong shared her plans: "In the product launching workshop, LYU can build ties and network with governmental or non-governmental organizations who are concerned about information accessibility to implement more projects on DAISY's use, production, and replication in Vietnam.

Moreover, during the workshop, LYU may display several books on essential skills for people with visual impairments to fund the conversion of those books into DAISY format for this community. LYU is planning to write a proposal to find funding for the printer, photocopier, scanner and laptop for LYU office. LYU also needs funding for the translation into Vietnamese and conversion into DAISY format of a book on rehabilitation skills for young adults with vision loss by the American Foundation for the Blind. In cooperation with ATDO, LYU is planning to convert academic materials for students with print disabilities into DAISY format, support their use, and establish the first disability support center at a university in Hanoi."

Thank you, Mayu for sharing your work with the DAISY Community.

Bits & Pieces

Accessible Books Consortium (ABC) is celebrating two years of growth. Read the summary of what has been accomplished so far.

ABC has produced two guides on inclusive publishing in 2016: the Accessibility Guidelines for Self-Publishing Authors and the Books For All Starter Kit for Accessible Publishing in Developing and Least Developed Countries.

Join the committee on Libraries Serving People with Print Disabilities (LPD), the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA), and the American Printing House for the Blind (APH) for the 2016 LPD Satellite Conference, August 11-12, 2016. Register online today.

NFB National Convention Starts June 30th, 2016. Find all the details on the National Federation of the Blind website.

HathiTrust at the University of Michigan and NFB will make 14M+ books accessible to blind and print-disabled users.

Benetech Partners With Georgia Libraries to Bring Accessible Books to Patrons With Print Disabilities. More information is provided on the Benetech website.

As part of the Library Advocacy for EU Project, together with the Latvian Library Association (LLA), European Bureau of Library Information and Documentation Associations (EBLIDA) are now surveying public libraries to collect data on non-formal and informal learning activities in libraries. They will use the results when advocating on the role of public libraries in non-formal education and the contribution of libraries to the EU Education and Training Strategy 2020. Go to the survey.

Tech Tips

The following "how-to" articles have been updated or added to DAISYpedia:

As a test release, Obi 3.9 alpha is for power users and testers. Additional information is provided on the Obi 3.9 test releases page.