The DAISY Consortium's Monthly Newsletter - May 2009

From The Editor

We have been waiting anxiously for the results of the discussion of agenda item 5, Exceptions and Limitations at the 18th WIPO SCCR meeting. It was during this portion of the meeting that the proposed treaty initially proposed by the WBU was raised. Chris Friend, WBU Strategic Objective Leader - Accessibility Chair WBU Global Right to Read Campaign, was at the meeting in Geneva. His presence ensured that the affirmative voices of the DAISY Consortium, IFLA Libraries Serving Persons with Print Disabilities Section (IFLA LPD), the International Council for Education of People with Visual Impairment (ICEVI), and of course WBU would be heard.

Details regarding the outcome of the meeting and the agreed conclusions regarding the Treaty are provided in the article WIPO SCCR: Treaty Discussion Conclusions in this issue of the DAISY Planet. There is no country in the world where accessible publications are as readily available as print publications, and in the developing world, where the greatest majority of people with a print disability live, the number of accessible books is in many instances almost negligible.

Without information and knowledge it is almost impossible to gain ground or compete in a world where knowledge 'rules'. We are once again dealing with the haves and the have-nots, but this time it is information that is lacking, lacking because accessible formats cannot be shared across borders. It is time to take a stand to ensure that everyone everywhere has access to information in a format that they can use in a meaningful and useful way.

I would personally like to thank Chris Friend and all of those attending the WIPO SCCR meeting who have spoken, sometimes passionately, in support of the proposed treaty. The WBU was the last of the NGOs to speak on the 3rd day of the meeting. It is reported that Chris Friend gave an impassioned intervention, providing explanation and urging action in support of the treaty.

This month's Your Story is from Chris Friend. He has touched the lives of people around the world, and his story should be on your reading list this month.

George Kerscher is quoted in the article TTS, Kindle, & Accessibility as follows: anybody should be able to buy a book at the same time, at the same price as anybody else. For those who prefer to use a library or do not have the resources to purchase books, accessible formats also need to be available to borrow from a library, whether it be a public library or library which specializes in providing publications in an accessible format.

The launch of the Free Chapter Download Program was announced in the May issue of the ReadHowYouWant newsletter. This collaborative, innovative project between ReadHowYouWant and HumanWare allows you to download and read the first chapter of books in braille or DAISY formats. You then have the option to purchase and download the complete book. HumanWare and ReadHowYouWant are both Friends of the DAISY Consortium.

Please send your ideas for articles for the DAISY Planet using the Contact Us form (Newsletter category) so that they can be shared with other DAISY Planet readers. You can also use the Contact Us form to tell us about Your Story, or submit a letter to the editor.

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.

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 DAISY Marketplace

WIPO SCCR: Treaty Discussion Conclusions

Efforts Reap Positive Outcome

The eighteenth session of the WIPO Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR) was held this week in Geneva. The conclusions regarding the discussions covered in agenda item 5, "Exceptions and Limitations" (often referred to as "Limitations and Exceptions" or "L&E") have just been released. Much of the final day of the meeting, May 29, focused on determining if the proposed treaty should be discussed at the next WIPO SCCR meeting.

The "Draft Conclusions of the SCCR" prepared by the Chair were released at 8:00 p.m. Geneva time. The Conclusions relating to Limitations and Exceptions comprise eight of the total eighteen final conclusions. The first two conclusions illustrate the overall positive tone, and are as follows:

1. The Committee reconfirmed its commitment to work on the outstanding issues of the limitations and exceptions, as decided at the seventeenth session of the SCCR, taking into account development-related concerns and the need to establish timely and practical result-oriented solutions. Likewise, the Committee reaffirmed its commitment to continue without delay its work in a global and inclusive approach, including the multifaceted issues affecting access of the blind, visually impaired and other reading-disabled persons to protected works.

2. The Committee expressed its appreciation for the Proposal by Brazil, Ecuador and Paraguay Relating to Limitations and Exceptions: Treaty Proposed by the World Blind Union (WBU). Views were expressed: supporting the proposal for a binding instrument; expressing the wish for more time to analyze it; expressing the desire to continue the work on the basis of a global and inclusive framework; and expressing that deliberations regarding any instrument would be premature. Member States will continue to consult on these issues at national level and report on the activities and views on possible solutions. This proposal, together with other possible proposals and contributions by the Members of the Committee, will be discussed at the nineteenth session of the SCCR.

The complete document "Draft Conclusions of the SCCR" is published on the WIPO website.

The governments of Brazil, Ecuador and Paraguay put forward the WBU proposed treaty distributed to WIPO last November as a "Proposal by Brazil, Ecuador and Paraguay, relating to Limitations and Exceptions: Treaty Proposed by the World Blind Union (WBU)", a clear statement of their support. The cover letter submitted by Brazil, Ecuador and Paraguay precedes the proposed WBU treaty, which remains intact as initially submitted to WIPO in November 2008. This proposal and the other WIPO SCCR meeting documents are available on the WIPO website.

The WIPO SCCR Stakeholder's Platform Interim Report, prepared by the Secretariat, dated May 11/09, provides "an update of the work carried out by the platform so far, as per the mandate of the Member States. It also outlines the further steps required to continue to pursue the objectives already mandated." Information regarding the proposals, possible solutions and agreed to points are relayed, as are the names of the stakeholders and the organization or company they represent.

The primary goal of the treaty is to allow cross-border exchange of digital publications in formats that are accessible to those who are blind, visually impaired, dyslexic or have other reading disabilities. At present there is very little exchange of copyrighted books and other materials between countries. Differences in copyright laws are currently among the primary issues restraining international exchange of accessible publications.

AMIS 3: Final Release

AMIS Logo The final release of AMIS 3, the DAISY Consortium's open source DAISY software player, was announced earlier this month and is available for download from the AMIS Project page on the DAISY Website. What's new in AMIS 3?

AMIS in the Making

AMIS has been more than five years in the making and many dozens of dedicated people around the world have contributed to its development.

In 2002, the Japanese Society for Rehabilitation of Persons with Disabilities (JSRPD) initiated the AMIS Project in order to have a DAISY book player for users with needs outside what is usually addressed by software vendors. The first prototypes of AMIS had a range of add-ons which supported refreshable braille, large font, and joysticks. This served as a platform for demonstration and experimentation. There was also a small community of end-users who used AMIS on their home computers to read DAISY books. Some of them liked it but others complained that it was too different from 'regular' computer applications. This was true. Due to its origins as a demonstration vehicle, it was very graphical and didn't have many standard features (main menu, collapsible list of sections, dialogues, etc.) to allow screen-reader users to quickly familiarize themselves with it.

The following year the DAISY-for-All Project (DFA) was initiated; the lead developer of AMIS was brought onto the DFA team. The needs of DFA drove AMIS down a path previously touched upon but not on a large scale: internationalization. As DFA worked in Southeast Asia, its target users' first languages were written in scripts not used in mainstream software. They needed a DAISY player capable of playing books produced in their region, in their own languages, as well as a player with translated screen items (menus, dialogs, etc).

These experiences led to the development of AMIS 2.0. It became a traditional piece of software with menus, dialogs, and a standard layout, but with complete support for many Southeast Asian languages in the visual and self-voicing interface of AMIS itself. Each year, DFA held a workshop to work with translators who made new "language packs" for AMIS.

AMIS 3 was a complete rewrite based on an experimental version of AMIS 2.6 that incorporated the Ambulant SMIL player. Key architectural changes for AMIS 3 are:

  1. A completely refactored backend which is simpler and more straightforward to use. AMIS 3 remains a cross-platform application for those wishing to incorporate it in their own projects.
  2. Embedding of the Ambulant SMIL player, a mainstream multimedia application which supports full SMIL, including video, images, captions, and more.

A web-based translation tool often used in AMIS localization workshops has been formalized and released under the name "DAISY Lion". Translators can work remotely to create language packs for AMIS. They can also maintain pre-existing translations using the "Lion".

AMIS Licensing

AMIS has always been an open source development effort. The source code used to create AMIS is available to everyone for free, as is the AMIS 3 DAISY playback software.

The Team and Contributors

The core DAISY staff behind the creation of AMIS 3.0 are: Marisa DeMeglio (lead), Daniel Weck (audio work), and Avneesh Singh (Jaws scripts).

Notable contributors for version 3.0 are: Jack Jansen and Dick Bulterman at CWI for an incredible amount of hands-on support in embedding Ambulant; all testers from DAISY Member organizations and the user community (particularly Lars Sönnebo and Aaron Howell).

Notable contributors for this and prior versions:

Colleagues contributing to previous versions:

Marisa DeMeglio

Special thanks go to Marisa DeMeglio, AMIS Project lead for her ongoing efforts in the development of AMIS and for providing the historic details explaining how AMIS came to be.

TTS, Kindle, & Accessibility

On May 15th, Susan Hall, Associate Editor, IT Business Edge, interviewed George Kerscher, Secretary General of the DAISY Consortium. The primary topics were Kindle, TTS (Text to Speech) and ebooks - please see the articles Kindle 2 TTS Update and E-book Access Threatened in previous issues of the DAISY Planet for background information on the Kindle and TTS. One of George's statements hit home in terms of both the need for standards and the need for accessible information: "The DAISY Consortium is to publishing what the WAI [The World Wide Web Consortium's Web Accessibility Initiative] is to the Internet. Our vision is that anybody should be able to buy a book at the same time, at the same price as anybody else, whether they're blind, whether they're dyslexic -- any disability. The mission is to develop the standards and the technology to make that happen. While the W3C builds standards, we build standards, but we also build the tools for the implementation of the standards. We have some fabulous tools – it's all open source -- that we've developed to assist the publishing arena in making their books accessible."

"DearAuthor.com" posted a FAQ on TTS for authors on May 24. Questions such as "What exactly is the legal argument that Authors Guild is making?" are raised and addressed. This Author FAQ about TTS and Kindle provides clarification and additional information about these issues.

 

NLS Digital Transition Underway

The National Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS), a Full Member of the DAISY Consortium, is entering the first phase of its transition to a digital playback system and upgrading its pilot download website. NLS is a division of the Library of Congress in the United States.

Highlights include:

Gilles Pepin, CEO of HumanWare has commented as follows: With BARD, NLS brings its library into the home of its patrons. Not only do NLS patrons now have access to thousands of digital books but they can find their book of interest and download it in minutes independently and from the comfort of their home computer. NLS patrons may request a BARD account or login at the NLS BARD website. HumanWare was a member of the consortium led by Battelle and involving the National Federation of the Blind and the Trace Center, which designed the NLS digital talking book player.

HumanWare logo Additional information is provided in the HumanWare press release.

Letters to the Editor

It is not the first time I received the Planet newsletter but I always enjoy reading it. Someone gave me your link a couple of years ago when I began editing DAISY textbooks for our university students with print disabilities. Thank you!
From:
Sandra Eargle Sanders
Assistive Technology Center Supervisor
Counseling Center and Disability Services University of South Carolina Aiken
USA

Thanks again for your help, and thanks for the beautiful article about BrailleNet in the last edition of DAISY Planet.
From:
Sébastien Hinderer
BrailleNet Association
France

Dear DAISY

Dear DAISY,

I'm an accessibility consultant. Many of my clients are in the publishing industry. Their web sites allow subscribers, library patrons, and students to login and read books, textbooks, dissertations, and other types of publications in HTML, PDF, Flash, Microsoft Reader, Adobe Digital Editions, Vital Source, JPEG, and other formats. Some books are downloadable, but typically, all reading is done online via a web browser.

My job is to help my clients make their interfaces accessible. All too often, however, their content (the books themselves vs. just the storefront) are NOT accessible, which defeats the purpose of going to their sites. By far, the biggest challenge is making books published in Flash accessible to assistive technology. How can I help my clients publish accessible content? How can they push back on their publishing partners to create books in accessible formats? How can I make it easy for them to use the same software they do today to publish for EVERYONE? I know students would certainly prefer instant online access to books vs. their current situation of having to wait months for the publisher to supply an accessible copy or being forced to tear the binding off a textbook and have it scanned and OCR'd. There's a business opportunity here and a real need to fill. Help.

Kutcher, Sylvania, OH

 

Many Thanks,   
Hanna (USA)

Dear Hanna

The development of accessible ebooks and digital publishing is based on standards.

  1. The Web site (store front) must be accessible. Using the W3C Web Accessibility Content Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 is recommended. Helpful technique documents and the specs are available on the W3C WAI website.
  2. The content itself must be accessible, which is why the DAISY Consortium has played a leading role in the International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF) and the EPUB specification. There are two vocabularies that can be used in EPUB, one is a sub-set of XHTML and the other is the DAISY XML. The DAISY XML is defined in dtbook which is the XML DTD for the content. While exploring the DTD itself, you should check out the Structure Guidelines, which provide sample page images and the markup for those pages. A link to the Structure Guidelines is provided in the sidebar on the DAISY/NISO Standard area on the DAISY website.
  3. There must be a handshake between the content and the user interface used to access them. If the interface of a reader/player is inaccessible, even though the content inside is perfectly fine, it can't be access on that e-reader.

DAISY XML (DTBook) is being adopted around the world for preparation of master documents which can then be archived with meaningful mark-up which in turn ensures that reading systems can render the content in a meaningful way.

In addition to markup tools or transformers that can be used to create DAISY XML or to convert existing documents into DTBook XML documents, tools such as the Save As DAISY add-on for Microsoft Word, Save As DTBook in Adobe InDesign CS4 and Save As DAISY from Open Office (Odt2dtbook) are also available.

The major screen readers (Jaws For Windows - JFW) and WindowEyes have demo versions available that could be used for testing. There is also an open source screen reader called Non Visual Desktop Access (NVDA), which is getting better all the time. However, the far better approach is to have a disability expert on the team to provide guidance. Consulting with a tech-savvy blind user could be highly beneficial.

You can participate and post questions on the DAISY forums on the DAISY Consortium website

Now that the digital book is catching on, we need to ensure that this evolves in a way that works for everybody.

Tech Tips

If you would like to start with a fresh install of the Save As DAISY add-in for Microsoft Word, but are having problems completely removing the version currently installed, try the following for Word 2003 (shortcut keys are included):

  1. Launch Word
  2. Select the Tool/Customize ... menu item (Press/Hold Alt then T, C, release Alt, Enter)
  3. You will see a Customize dialog box. Select the File item in the first list box (labeled Categories)
  4. Click the Rearrange Commands ... pushbutton (Alt+R)
  5. You will see the contents of the File menu in a Rearrange Commands dialog
  6. Select the Save as DAISY menu item and delete it (TAB to list control, UP/DOWN ARROW to Save as DAISY, Alt+D to delete)
  7. Close the Rearrange Commands and Customize dialogs (Esc, Esc)

This procedure may vary depending on the version of Word being used.

This month's tip is courtesy of Dennis Leas who is with gh, LLC (gh), a Friend of the DAISY Consortium.