So much has happened and there has been such a great deal of exciting news since the April issue of the Planet. In a 'dead heat' for top of the list are "Save As DAISY XML" from Microsoft and the DAISY Consortium receiving the World Telecommunication and Information Society Award.
The collaborative development with Microsoft Corp., the DAISY Consortium and Sonata, working together to create a freely available tool that would help to make DAISY content available everywhere, culminated in the release of the add-in for Microsoft Office Word. There are references to Microsoft's "Save As DAISY XML" throughout the May Planet. Information is available from numerous sources including the "DAISY Virtual Pressroom". From that site, press materials in DAISY format can be downloaded, and links to some videos that are definitely worth watching are provided.
The award bestowed upon the DAISY Consortium was announced by ITU Secretary-General Dr. Hamadoun I. Touré who stated: "ITU has decided to honor DAISY Consortium with the prestigious World Telecommunication and Information Society Award 2008, in recognition of your work in accessibility issues and your efforts to bridge the digital divide by ensuring access to information for those who have previously had severely limited or no access to information..." We have received dozens and dozens of letters of congratulation from around the world. Everyone who is a part of the DAISY community should be proud of the role he or she has had in providing and advocating for DAISY enriched accessible information and tools.
In June we are going to bring you a special issue of the DAISY Planet. Very recently there were three important events in Beijing, China, and several DAISY staff team members were fortunate enough to be there. The next issue of the DAISY Planet will feature these conferences and the DAISY Workshop held in Beijing. June's "Your Stories" may give you a glimpse of life from a somewhat different perspective. Some of the regular features may not be included. You will get a "bird's eye view" of the events through the articles in the "Letter from the Editor", written by our guest editor who was there to experience it all!
The DAISY General and Board Meetings, and the DAISY Conference on Accessible Literature are fast approaching. It will be a time to renew old friendships and meet new people who share the DAISY commitment.
The April Quiz Question was: How many languages does AMIS now support?
The answer is number 3, AMIS currently supports 19 languages, and the number is growing. An impressive 50% of those who responded had the answer right.
QUESTION: In what year was the World Blind Union founded?
Be sure to read next month's issue of
The DAISY Planet
for the answer.
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.
The following links are to announcements of recently updated DAISY Products and Services from our Members and Friends. Marketplace entries also appear on our home page.
Your Stories is your opportunity to share with the DAISY community, to tell us how DAISY (books, tools, developments, implementation, or involvement) has had an impact on your life. Upcoming profiles include stories from members of the DAISY community around the world. Please contact us if you'd like to share Your Story in a future issue of the DAISY Planet.
A new release of the DAISY Pipeline, a transformation suite that turns documents into accessible multimedia formats was made available on May 7, 2008. On that same day the first release of "Save As DAISY XML", the add-in for Microsoft Office Word, was also announced. Both tools are free and available for download. Support for conversion of the output from Microsoft's add-in is included in this release of the DAISY Pipeline. There are numerous other features in this Pipeline release, including usability improvements such as a new Windows installer. For those who have not yet read it, details about the new Pipeline features are provided in the DAISY Pipeline Press Release.
Output from "Save As DAISY XML" is not a complete DAISY book; it is the XML file that can then be used to create a full DAISY book. The DAISY Consortium's Pipeline is one of the conversion tools available that can do just that. There are other software tools that convert DAISY XML (DTBook) into a complete DAISY book.
Book Wizard Producer helps to make the process of creating a structured text only DAISY book from a DAISY XML file simple and efficient. The four simple steps are:
EasyConverter allows you to convert DAISY XML files created with the add-in for Microsoft Office Word into fully synchronised text and audio DAISY books. EasyConverter quickly and efficiently converts the DAISY XML file into a DAISY Digital Talking Book, ready for playback on a DAISY player, such as EasyReader.
The eClipseWriter tools from IRTI are now compatible with XML documents, including the DAISY XML output produced with Microsoft's "Save As DAISY XML" add-in. When processed through eClipseWriter's word processor DAISY XML easily converts into the file into a full text and audio, or text only DAISY book.
The gh PLAYER Premium edition can be used to directly open any DAISY XML file produced with the "Save As DAISY XML" add-in. The XML file can be brought into the gh PLAYER using "drag and drop", and it is immediately ready to read. In addition, any text file can be imported into the gh PLAYER which will convert it into a "bare-bones" DAISY book. If the XML file that is imported is well structured, the output DAISY book will also be well structured. In the gh PLAYER, the "Save As" feature is used to produce a full text only DAISY book.
The DAISY Pipeline is an open source software suite made up of multiple transformers that perform a variety of conversions. As such it can be used by DAISY Friends in two very positive ways:
In late May, the DAISY Consortium in collaboration with NLB (Norwegian Library for the Blind), will begin work on the "Pipeline Online" Project. The outcome of this project will enable the deployment of the DAISY Pipeline as a Web service. The first internal version that will be tested at NLB is scheduled for September, with Pipeline Online available publicly toward the end of 2008. NLB will provide beta testing for the project.
The next major release of the DAISY Pipeline, scheduled for September/October will support the creation of DAISY 3 books using the MathML extension. It will be built upon a combination of commercial tools and freely available Pipeline Transformers. More information will be provided as it becomes available.
The ODT to DTBook project, lead by Vincent Spiewak and Dominique Archambault from Université Pierre et Marie Curie in Paris, is about to release the first version of the OpenDocument to DAISY DTBook Translator. This open source tool will output DAISY XML (DTBook) with support for the DAISY MathML extension. The resulting DAISY XML file can be used to produce a complete DAISY book in the same way that the DAISY XML output from Microsoft's "Save As DAISY XML" add-in can be used to create a DAISY book with tools such as those noted in this article. The addition of support for the DAISY MathML extension will enable creation of DAISY XML files of mathematics and scientific publications.
Further development of the ODT to DTBook project, is planned to bundle the DAISY Pipeline inside Open Office. The resulting software will make it possible to create, for example, a complete full text and audio DAISY book or an EPUB book, directly from within "Writer" (the Open Office equivalent of Microsoft Word).
The number of DAISY production and conversion tools available continues to grow. People and organizations want to be able to select the tool or tools that are best for them, in their situation or environment. The DAISY Consortium endeavours to support the development of new tools and the enhancement of existing tools to ensure that there are choices. The transformers that make up the Pipeline offer developers effective, 'ready made' options to improve their existing products or create new products that will further increase the tool selections already available. Additional information about the DAISY Pipeline is available in the DAISY Pipeline Project area of the DAISY Web site.
The World Blind Union (WBU) International Right to Read Campaign, which advocates globally for accessible books, was launched April 23 in Amsterdam. The event was organized in close collaboration with the Secretariat of the Amsterdam 2008 World Book Capital (WBC) which celebrates reading this year with the theme "open book". At the launch Dr. William Rowland, President of the World Blind Union, stated, "For far too long the book has been closed for blind people. The International Right to Read Campaign aims to open it".
Maarten Verboom, Dedicon's Managing Director and member of the DAISY Consortium Board of Directors, expressed the Consortium's support for the Right to Read Campaign on behalf of Hiroshi Kawamura, President of the DAISY Consortium. Mr. Verboom stressed the long felt need of the DAISY Consortium membership to be able to exchange accessible materials across borders for use by individuals who are blind or have a print disability.
"Libraries exist to serve ALL members of the public. However, we need more books to be published in braille, audio and large print in order to fully achieve our mission." said Bente Dahl Rathje, Chair of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions Libraries for the Blind Section. IFLA/LBS works actively toward the realization of a global library of accessible materials. At the same time it raises awareness of and advocates for accessibility.
Anne Bergman-Tahon, Director of the Federation of European Publishers (FEP), also spoke, underlining the will of publishers to work with individuals who are blind or visually impaired to publish more accessible books. The Federation also works with organizations which produce and deliver accessible content to encourage accessibility among publishers. FEP participates in projects which are targeted at the publishing industry and which promote accessibility, and provides instruction on how to make accessible content. Mrs. Bergman-Tahon promotes collaboration between publishers and agencies such as Dedicon as examples of best practice. Excellent examples of this type of cooperation can be found in countries such as the Netherlands, Germany, the UK, France and Italy.
The production of accessible content by content providers and publishers will be a central theme at the Accessible Content Processing Conference to be held November 6 and 7, 2008 in Amsterdam.
The International Right to Read Alliance is a partnership between the World Blind Union and the Libraries for the Blind Section of the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA/LBS), and it will work with publishers, booksellers, libraries and many others to create a world where those who are blind or have a visual disability can read the same book at the same time and for the same price as those who read standard print.
Additional information about the launch of the Right to Read Campaign is available on the WBU Web site.
Shakila Maharaj, Coordinator for the South African DAISY For All Project reports enthusiastically that the DAISY Workshop held in Johannesburg South Africa May 5 to 9 was "a phenomenal training experience". Participants initially felt somewhat intimidated and ill-equipped to deal with DAISY, despite their good computer literacy backgrounds. However, as the training progressed this feeling rapidly transformed to enthusiasm, excitement and total commitment to DAISY for all People with Disabilities. They are now calling themselves the "DAISY Disciples", committed to disseminating information and sharing the DAISY skills they have learnt. All participants coped well with the training and some excelled, already demonstrating potential to be trainers themselves.
There is a great deal of enthusiasm for DAISY in the South African disability community; 27 participants registered for this workshop. Hiroshi Kawamura and 6 DAISY experts from India, Switzerland and Japan conducted the workshop, providing training and support during the five days. Participants from across South Africa represented 20 disability organizations, including the dyslexia, autism, intellectual disability, mental health and the blindness communities, the QuadPara Association of South Africa, the Deaf Community of South Africa. Six of the participants were screen reader users and 2 were accompanied by care givers. Universities, the assistive technology industry, and, the International Labour Organization (ILO) also participated in this 5 day intensive DAISY production workshop which included training in the use of Microsoft's "Save As DAISY XML" and the DAISY Pipeline.
Some of the challenges faced resulted from the variety, configuration of and software on the laptops brought by the participants to use for the workshop. Challenges were resolved with the support of DAISY experts, Sonata and the South African colleagues who were also present.
The text chosen as a production sample for the workshop was a training manual on HIV/AIDS edited by Disabled People South Africa (DPSA). An agreement between the DAISY Consortium and DPSA has been made to translate this manual into the 10 official languages of South Africa (it is already available in English). The 11 language editions will be produced in DAISY format and will be used for AIDS prevention and treatment training in South Africa. Distribution of the multi-language DAISY formatted manuals will be shared by the DAISY Consortium and DPSA. This joint activity will contribute to the entire disability community and to the wider community in South Africa.
Some of the comments from workshop participants were:
The DAISY Workshop was sponsored by the DAISY Consortium, funded by the Nippon Foundation, and, supported by SIDA and TPB (the Swedish Library of Talking Books and Braille). Microsoft provided generous technical support; appreciation goes to Paulo Ferreira, the Johannesburg representative and Michael Thatcher, Regional Technical Officer, Africa and Middle East, who facilitated this support. The disability sector in South Africa is overwhelmed by the generosity of the Nippon Foundation in supporting this ground breaking event.
The South African media gave prominent attention to the event. Radio, TV and press interviews were conducted. It was an interesting experience for the trainers and participants when the DTV camera crew and interviewers were recording and interviewing. DTV is Deaf TV, and the entire TV crew and the interviewer were deaf and communicate using sign language.
Shakila Maharaj states, "In going forward, a formal DAISY Forum will be constituted to ensure multiple projects with each disability group are initiated and implemented and that advocacy is continuous." "We have truly been touched by the 'Hiroshi Magic'. Hiroshi Kawamura has succeeded in making 'DAISY For All' a reality in South Africa."
I enjoy the "DAISY Planet" newsletter, and your organization is certainly on the right track. Your side bar article on simultaneous publication of DAISY with print editions of books was quite interesting. One of the problems for publishers is that if they do not mark up their texts in XML from the beginning, then going back and converting the file of a book to a DAISY compatible format is a tedious and expensive process. Our firm has a technology to convert a book file into our own XML version. Publishers usually give us an unlocked PDF, which is easy for them to produce, and we do the conversion from that. We can convert a book that is all text almost entirely automatically. Books with charts or illustration and books in multiple column layouts still require human editing (our editorial staff handles this). We then simultaneously produce a DAISY edition, a Braille file edition, and a variety of large print format editions for use by people with vision impairments and reading disabilities.
We are working with publishers toward doing simultaneous release of all editions (formats) at the same time that the trade book editions launch, but meanwhile we are going through a backlog of already published titles and converting them to DAISY and other formats.
We don't yet have a mechanism in place to sell the DAISY editions. However, we are in the process of revamping our Web site which should be completed within the next few months. At that time, anyone will be able to go to the ReadHowYouWant Web site and purchase a DAISY edition of any of the books we handle (now including over 1,500 titles).
Please let me know if I may be of any service, and keep up the good work! DAISY is a major advance not only for persons with vision problems but for everyone else as well. Personally, I look forward to the day when I can get any book in DAISY format and listen to it while commuting or on a plane, or read it on my phone. DAISY is going to open up the whole world of published materials not only to people who cannot read trade editions, but to anyone who prefers audio or ebook formatted books.
Peyton Stafford is Director of Global Library & Institutional Services with ReadHowYouWant
Upon reading the information about DAISY XML I can see that it has some great potential. I am hoping that in the next few days I can find someone with a copy of Microsoft Word where I can try it out, as I haven't had that software on my computer for many years. Are there plans to place this programme into the real world with word processing packages such as WordPerfect, Lotus Write and OpenOffice Writer (just to name a few). I feel that if the real potential is going to be achieved that will be essential, because the world is rapidly moving beyond Microsoft.
We hope that the "Save As DAISY XML" add-in for Microsoft Office Word is the first in a series of transformers/translators that will output DAISY books or DAISY XML (DTBook); preferably the former so that no further processing is required to get a complete DAISY book out of the transformation process. George Kerscher, Secretary General of the DAISY Consortium states: "What is needed is a 'Save As DAISY' output option in every publishing tool out there, and this is what we are working toward and promoting." In the feature article DAISY Pipeline Forges Forward in this issue of the DAISY Planet, plans for a project to develop "Save As DAISY" support in Open Office "Writer" are introduced.
You can help!
"Save As DAISY XML" from Open Office with MathML support - Feedback Needed
The OpenDocument to DAISY DTBook Translator project on SourceForge is being run from Université Pierre et Marie Curie in Paris. The project leads, Vincent Spiewak and Dominique Archambault, are looking for early testing and feedback from the DAISY community.
The downloadable installer and the installation instructions are available on SourceForge.