The DAISY Consortium's Monthly Newsletter - November 2009

From The Editor

Some months are more packed with information and announcements about DAISY and things of interest to the DAISY community. Over the past several months there has been a great deal of activity related to the proposed WIPO Treaty for Improved Access for Blind, Visually Impaired and other Reading Disabled Persons. November has brought intensified efforts in preparation for the WIPO SCCR 19 (Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights) meeting to be held in Geneva, Switzerland from December 14 to 18. Europe and USA Get Ready for WIPO SCCR 19, the first feature article in this month's DAISY Planet, brings you details of these activities and provides links to additional information. The outcome of this meeting is of great importance. Even though it will finish just prior to the holiday season, I hope to be able to bring you a report of at least the highlights in the December DAISY Planet. Many thanks to Francisco Martínez Calvo and Chris Friend for their input on the meeting in Brussels.

In some months there are many 'bits' of information that I think will be of interest to the Planet readers. November has been one of those months. We've therefore introduced Bits & Pieces which I hope will keep the "Letter From the Editor" from growing into a 'short story' (as it sometimes does). Bits & Pieces will be included in the DAISY Planet in months such as this, when there is so much to relay. Please let us know if you find it useful and/or interesting or if you think it is not helpful at all. (Use our Contact Us form, Newsletter Category.)

Preparations for two conferences of interest to many in the DAISY community are underway: Techshare India 2010, February 15-16, 2010, New Delhi, India, registration opened November 20, and, the Round Table on Information Access for People with Print Disabilities, May 23-25, 2010, Auckland, New Zealand. The Round Table Call for Papers ends December 4, 2009.

Varju Luceno, Communications & Marketing Specialist for the DAISY Consortium, has been incredibly busy adding new (and very useful) pages to the DAISY website. Learning with DAISY for example, provides a list of case studies, presentations, webinars and pilots with links to these information resources. And, thanks to Varju, DAISY is "tweeting". For those into Twitter, you will find DAISY at twitter.com/accessibledaisy.

Still on the topic of communication, DAISY made it into BCC online news this month in the article Intel debuts text reading device. DAISY is one of three supported formats mentioned. However, perhaps the most interesting statement is about access technology generally: "The development is unusual because so-called 'assistive technologies' are normally manufactured by specialist companies rather than global giants."...DAISY moves closer to the mainstream

Molly Stockdale who as been the DAISY Consortium Grant Writer for several years is leaving the DAISY team at the end of this month to focus on family. Molly has been a great asset to the Consortium, and we will miss her terribly. Few people today can write and edit as well as she does. I wish you well Molly and hope that one day you will return to the DAISY team.

If you have news about your organization or company, or about issues relevant to the DAISY community, please use the Contact Us form (Newsletter category) to tell us about it. Letters to the Editor (supportive or critical) as well as stories for our "Your Story" monthly feature are always welcome. Your input helps us to keep the DAISY Planet alive and well.

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 DAISY Marketplace

Europe and USA Get Ready for WIPO SCCR 19

"The future is already here..."

... it is just unevenly distributed." (William Gibson)

Global Information Access Promoted at EP

Earlier this month at the European Parliament workshop "Tackling Orphan Works and Improving Access to Works for Visually Impaired Persons", held in Brussels, Francisco Martínez Calvo - Spanish National Organization of the Blind (ONCE) and DAISY Board member, and Christopher Friend, - World Blind Union (WBU) and Global Right to Read (R2R) Campaign urgently and eloquently expressed the need for global information access and the adoption of the proposed WIPO Treaty for Improved Access for Blind, Visually Impaired and other Reading Disabled Persons.

The two presentations complemented each other, with Friend energetically describing the impact the current lack of international accessible materials exchange has on him personally. Martínez focused on the possible solutions and how they need to be implemented as a whole; none of them applied in isolation, could solve the problem completely. Anne Bergman-Tahon, Director of the Federation of European Publishers, also made a short presentation, agreeing without reserve that the final objective is the same - that publishers produce and distribute all their books in a format that everyone can use. The Abstracts which open Friend's and Martínez' presentations set the stage:

Blind, partially sighted and other print disabled people face a "book famine". International legislation is needed to complement cooperation between specialist agencies and rights holders in order to increase the amount of accessible format books such as audio, large print and braille, from the current level of five per cent. [Abstract Christopher Friend]
Works available in a format that blind and visually impaired persons can read represent five per cent of the total amount of books published. In the short term, improving this situation requires both an extensive cooperation with content producers, and an inclusive legislation that allows for cross-border interchange and promotes the implementation of exceptions in the law of the country. In the long term, in order to guarantee full access to information, accessibility needs to be part of the standard publication workflows. [Abstract Francisco Martínez Calvo]

Those present looked upon the situation and possible solutions as a "common sense" matter, promising to try to influence the European Commission when the votes are cast for the proposed WIPO treaty in December. They repeated several times that the European Union needs to show a different and far more 'social face' in this matter, and that the EU should spearhead this initiative. Those present also mentioned the EU commitment to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and how important it is to show that it really matters. Overall the Committee Members were very supportive, recognising that the multi-pronged approach is necessary, rather than simply accepting the Stakeholder Platform idea that market forces alone are the solution.

From Better to Full Access to Works for Print-Disabled Persons, and Improving access to works for visually impaired persons, the papers presented by Martínez and Friend respectively, are available on the European Parliament website. The final remarks from the Committee on Legal Affairs which had organized the workshop were in full support of the position presented.

US Seeks Input on Proposed WIPO Treaty

On October 13 the Copyright Office, Library of Congress issued a " Notice of Inquiry and Request for Comments on the Topic of Facilitating Access to Copyrighted Works for the Blind or Other Persons With Disabilities":

SUMMARY: The United States Copyright Office (Copyright Office) and the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) seek comment on possible solutions to enhance the accessibility of copyrighted works for the benefit of the blind or other persons with disabilities, including specifically the objectives and text of a draft treaty prepared under the auspices of the World Blind Union and proposed formally at the May 2009 session of the World Intellectual Property Organization's Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights.

Twenty comments in response to the Notice were received and posted, including submissions from Jim Fruchterman (President and CEO of Benetech), George Kerscher (Secretary General of the DAISY Consortium), and James Love (Knowledge Ecology International - KEI). There are comments both in support of, and opposed to, the proposed treaty. An example of each follows.

Comments from the Library Copyright Alliance (LCA) (consisting of the American Library Association, the Association of College and Research Libraries, and the Association of Research Libraries) are supportive, thorough and worthy of the time it takes to read the submission. The response to the third question, "What benefits or concerns would the treaty proposal create?" is representative of the tone set in the LCA comments:

Visually impaired people around the world suffer from profound social, economic, and educational inequities, in part due to lack of access to knowledge. Fewer than half of the member nations of WIPO have exceptions specifically for the visually impaired in their national copyright laws, indicating a wide gap in the divide between those countries that offer some access to information for the visually impaired and those countries that offer nothing at all. The treaty proposal's purpose is leveling the playing field so that all persons with reading disabilities can fully enjoy human rights and fundamental freedoms.
The key benefit of the treaty proposal is facilitating the cross-border sharing of accessible content...
If WIPO seeks to address the inequities that exist between developed and developing countries as suggested by the Development Agenda, a top priority of WIPO, access to knowledge in order to fully participate in society is required. The treaty proposal can help to address part of this gap...
The treaty proposal would expand access to works in three ways. The audience for accessible copies would expand to include all of the reading impaired, such as those persons who have physical disabilities that prevent them from using a book. The treaty proposal would apply to all categories of works, expanding the range of creative works available. Lastly, the treaty proposal would expand the types of accessible copies beyond 'specialized formats.' These expansions are required if the visually impaired are to enjoy the same levels of access as sighted persons."

The submission made jointly by five organizations, including the Association of American Publishers (AAP) and the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), strongly oppose the proposed treaty:

The signatory organizations urge the U.S. Government to oppose consideration of this draft treaty by the SCCR, and to encourage other WIPO Member States to do so as well. We strongly endorse and support reasonable efforts to increase the practical and functional access of blind and visually impaired persons to works protected by copyright. But among the strategies least likely to advance the goal of increased access by the blind and visually impaired is the path down which the draft treaty points...

Reply comments are due on or before December 4, 2009 and can be made through the main U.S. Copyright Office Notice of Inquiry and Request for Comments page.

Other Related WIPO SCCR Activities

A meeting of the WIPO Stakeholders' Platform was held November 2 at the Library of Alexandria in Egypt. A minor change was made to the "Trusted Intermediary Guidelines" which were then approved to be moved forward to WIPO as a document from the Stakeholders' Platform. The Trusted Intermediary Guidelines now state at the beginning of the document that it is not legally binding. The previous version of these Guidelines, dated July 31, 2009, is available on the WIPO VISION IP website. However the recently added disclaimer is not present in this posted version. The change is as follows:

These guidelines are not intended to be legally binding. Nothing in these guidelines changes anything in national or international law at any given time.

At a meeting held in New Delhi, India, WIPO Director General Pledged Support for India's Visually Impaired Community:

WIPO Director General Francis Gurry met representatives of India's visually impaired (VIP) community at a conference on the "Right to Read of persons with print disabilities and copyright challenges" organized by the VIP community in cooperation with the Government of India in New Delhi on November 11, 2009, and reaffirmed WIPO's commitment to supporting international attempts to improve access to copyright protected works by visually impaired persons (VIPs). "Let me assure you that this is a priority area for the World Intellectual Property Organization," Mr. Gurry said.

WIPO SCCR 19: 'Required Reading'

The WIPO SCCR 19 meeting documents, including the draft agenda, the Second Draft Questionnaire on Limitations and Exceptions, and the "Analytical Document on Limitations and Exceptions" are available in English, French and Spanish on the WIPO SCCR website.

Although the Analytical Document on Limitations and Exceptions, prepared by the WIPO Secretariat, can be somewhat complex, some of the information is helpful in understanding the issues being addressed. Items 9, 57 - 59, 65 - 66, 69, 79 - 80 and 86 are of particular interest as background information in relation to the proposed treaty. The data presented in the graph in item 10 reinforces the William Gibson quote - it is "...unevenly distributed." The graph presents the breakdown of the 57 countries with national copyright statutes relating to the needs of visually impaired persons as follows (numbers are approximate): Europe - 29, Asia 12, America 10, Africa 3, Oceania 3.

The Proposal by Brazil, Ecuador and Paraguay, Relating to Limitations and Exceptions: Treaty Proposed by the World Blind Union (WBU) is also available in English, French and Spanish. Translations of the proposed treaty into Arabic, Chinese and Russian are in progress. The Chinese and Russian translations are being done courtesy of the Open Society Institute. Plans to make them available for download on the KEI website are being considered. If you are interested in receiving the draft treaty in one of these three languages, please use the DAISY Contact Us form to request a copy indicating the required language and your request will be forwarded to Christopher Friend.

Information about the outcome of the WIPO SCCR 19 meeting will be published in a future issue of the DAISY Planet.

Odt2DAISY Officially Launched

Odt2DAISY logo In January 2008 Vincent Spiewak released Odt2dtbook. Now, less than two years later, he has released Odt2DAISY, the software add-on that makes it easier to create DAISY digital talking books with free, open-source software. Odt2DAISY replaces Odt2dtbook and enables the export of documents into DAISY 3 digital talking book format, including support of mathematical content conforming to the MathML standard. Users have the option of exporting to DAISY XML (text only) or DAISY books (XML) with audio. Odt2DAISY is designed for OpenOffice.org™ 3.0 or higher and runs on Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, Solaris™ and OpenSolaris™.

Both ease of use by people with little or no knowledge of DAISY content creation and valid output were considered in the development process. To ensure both ease of use and validity the 'Export As DAISY XML' feature includes a DAISY 3.0 DTD validation process and the 'Export As Full DAISY' feature includes a ZedVal validation process.

Odt2DAISY uses the TTS engine installed on the workstation. Additional information about TTS engines and multilingual content creation with this add-on are provided in the Odt2DAISY press release.

The Instruction Manual (available in ODT, PDF, DAISY 3.0 XML, DAISY 2.02 - Full Audio, and DAISY 3 - Full Audio formats), links to instructional screencasts and other information are provided on the Odt2DAISY Documentation page. Sample output is also available for download.

The DAISY Pipeline Lite is incorporated into Odt2DAISY, and Vincent Spiewak in turn, has submitted Odt2DAISY (transformer and transcript) to be added into the DAISY Pipeline.

AEGIS logoFinancial contribution for the odt2DAISY project is from the European Commission in the context of the ÆGIS Project

Odt2DAISY Call for Localization

People who can assist with localizing the software (and perhaps the documentation as well) are needed. Information about localization is also provided on the Odt2DAISY Documentation page.

Editor's Note: Vincent Spiewak is an enterprising young man inspired to develop software that would improve the reading experience for people unable to read standard print. His "Story" will be published in an upcoming issue of the DAISY Planet.

Corporate Cooperation Yields New Opportunities

PLEXTALK® and its parent company Shinano Kenshi Corporation-LLC (SKC) unveiled two innovative partnerships during the month of November.

PLEXTALK® logoOn November 2nd it was announced that through the PLEXTALK® Pocket partnership with ReadHowYouWant, five books from the ReadHowYouWant "Classics" collection would be available in DAISY format for free download each month. The November titles are:

ReadHowYouWant logoBooks offered in the joint 'Monthly Giveaway of Literary Classics in DAISY' can be downloaded from the PLEXTALK® /ReadHowYouWant Free Book Download page. Additional information is available in the press release

Serotek logo Also announced in November was the alliance of Shinano Kenshi Corporation-LLC (SKC) with Serotek Corporation. The alignment allows content from the System Access Mobile Network (SAMNet™) to be transferred to the PLEXTALK® Pocket (PTP1) Digital Talking Book Player. SAMNet™, Serotek's Internet Community, provides access to email, news, described video service, streaming radio and much more. It is just one of Serotek's System Access branded products that is now compatible with the PLEXTALK® Pocket. Full details are provided in the press release.

Bookshare Receives Funding to Convert Open Content Textbooks

Accessible Formats - For All

Bookshare logo Bookshare has been awarded $100K in supplemental funding to create the first accessible versions of open content digital textbooks. The planned conversion begins with 16 mathematics and science textbooks approved for K-12 students in California.

The converted texts will be available in two formats: DAISY format, providing "multi-modal" reading with combined highlighted text with high-quality synthetic voice, and BRF, a digital braille format that can be used with an electronic braille display or to produced hard copy embossed braille.

Bookshare's open content books will become part of the freely distributable books in the Bookshare collection and can be used by anybody without proof of disability. These accessible books will not only help disabled students throughout the U.S. and globally, but provide parents, teachers and assistive technology developers with free access to real talking textbooks. [Benetech CEO Jim Fruchterman]

Bookshare is the largest converter of digital textbooks from the US National Instructional Materials Access Center (NIMAC) into accessible formats for students in K-12 public schools. Additional information about the Bookshare open content digital textbook project is available in the press release and on the Bookshare and Benetech websites.

Bits & Pieces

• The Library of Alexandria in Alexandria Egypt has recently published Bibliotheca Alexandria: Access to Knowledge Toolkit II: "This second BA A2K toolkit is intended to showcase the achievements of the A2k movement up till now; highlight the barriers hindering its progress; envisage its future; and suggest the steps that need to be taken."

• Scriptures of various faiths are available for download (at no cost) in DAISY 2.02, DAISY 3 and Text only DAISY 2.02 formats from the CUCAT website. CUCAT is a multi disciplinary research group which develops hardware and software solutions and methods of their application with emphasis on eLearning and educational requirements, techniques and curriculum development.

• Marisa DeMeglio, one of the DAISY Consortium's developers participated in and presented at the W3C Accessibility of Media Elements in HTML 5 Gathering on November 1. She introduced DAISY with a demonstration and explained that DAISY uses SMIL to synchronize the audio with text. A slide presentation which provides an introduction to DAISY and which was prepared by DeMeglio is available on the W3C website.

• The video interview with Ben Foss, creator of the Intel Mobile Reader, provides insight into how the device helps people who have a print or learning disability (Ben has dyslexia). The Intel Reader is featured in this month's Marketplace

• The DAISY Consortium Draft Specification for the DAISY Online Delivery Protocol is highlighted in the November issue of NISO Newsline.

The International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF) IDPF logo reports that Trade eBook sales statistics for September 2009, increased 170.1% over September 2008 and that Calendar Year to Date sales are up by 176.1%. Note that these figures are for the United States only.

Barnes & Noble recently announced it is standardizing on the open EPUB and PDF formats, embedded with "social" digital rights management (DRM) content protection. The International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF) is the standards and trade association for digital publishing. EPUB which is rapidly being adopted by publishers is the IDPF trio of standards for digital publishing. The DAISY Consortium is playing a lead role in the maintenance of the EPUB standards.

Letters to the Editor

Dear Lynn Leith,

I am very happy to receive your email [the October DAISY Planet]...I am looking forward to your suggestions.

Kind regards to all,
Member of the DAISY Training and Technical Support list

Editor's Note: We are always happy to receive news about your organization's or company's DAISY activities. Letters to the Editor as well as stories for "Your Story" are most welcome. Please use the DAISY Contact Us form (Newsletter category) to get your news and stories to us.

Dear DAISY

Dear DAISY

I am having the most difficult time with Victor Reader Stream recordings. They are in format 3GP which actually is a video format and I want to know how to convert them into MP3 or other formats.

Many thanks,
Einar,
Iceland

----------------------------

Dear Einar

3GP is a container format designed to decrease storage and bandwidth requirements for use with mobile phones. It is used for a variety of both audio and video formats.

In the Victor Stream a very high quality voice audio codec called AMR-WB+ is used. The HumanWare Stream Companion software, which is available for download at no cost from the HumanWare website, will allow you to convert 3GP files to WAV files. An audio tutorial on how to convert these files is also provided.

Note: This question was posted to the DAISY Training and Technical Support list. Several people responded, including Dominic R. Labbé of HumanWare. He suggested that people with technical questions regarding HumanWare products go to the HumanWare support page on their website.

Tech Tips

DAISY Online Specification, WSDL and XSD:

WSDL (Web Services Definition Language) toolkits often contain a tool for generating stub code from a WSDL file. Some groups have noticed difficulty generating clean code with their toolkits, and have worked around this by internally modifying the WSDL or XSD (XML Schema Definition) files used as input to those tools. To be conformant, however, the messages sent by Services and Reading Systems must be valid to the schemata provided in the specification. Service must publish WSDLs in accordance with Appendix A of the specification, i.e. the operations and types published must be identical to those in the provided WSDL and its dependencies.