The DAISY Consortium's Monthly Newsletter - August 2011

From The Editor

If you have been reading the DAISY Planet for some time you will notice that we have added a new heading at the bottom of the Planet Index – "Stay in Touch". The first three links are to our social media communication tools. They are: DAISY on Twitter, DAISY on Facebook and DAISY YouTube Channel. There are 11 recent additions to our Facebook page, including a number of videos. Those of you who are into social media (and I'm sure many of you are) can stay in touch with what is going on in the DAISY community and with related activities by visiting these sites on a regular basis. The fourth link is to the DAISY News RSS. Our news feed mirrors the news entries posted on the DAISY homepage. If you would like to sign up for the DAISY News RSS and have the news 'delivered to you', there is a link to subscribe to our News Feed near the top of the RSS page.

Still on the topic of communications, the DAISY Consortium document Crazy for DAISY: Accessible Reading and Publishing for All has been featured on the SlideShare "Pro box" (an area reserved for great content from SlideShare Pro users). "Crazy for DAISY" was chosen from the thousands of documents that are uploaded to SlideShare every day. These slides provide a lot of information and basics about DAISY, including a slide entitled "Where do I get DAISY books" which lists resources around the world. There are also other presentations posted on the DAISY SlideShare page.

You may notice from time to time that topics covered in DAISY News on our homepage (and the News RSS) are also included in the Planet Bits and Pieces column and occasionally also expanded upon in a Feature Article. As not everyone who reads the DAISY Planet subscribes to our News Feed or visits our home page News regularly, information that is of particular interest or importance is also included in the DAISY Planet. I want to be sure that everyone who may be interested has an opportunity to stay on top of what is going on in our community.

Our 15th Anniversary Series continues this month with the article MediBuS (Media Association for Blind and Vision Impaired People, our Full Member in Germany). MediBuS has more than 20 members and has been with the DAISY Consortium since 1997. The article is not only interesting and informative, it is fun to read!

The DAISY logo has recently been updated. By and large it has the same look, but the word "daisy" in lower case has been changed to "DAISY" (all caps) to reflect the actual name of the Consortium. Please read the article DAISY Consortium's Logo Revised for full details. Both logos, with and without the word "Consortium", can now be downloaded from our website.

There is a significant amount of interest in DAISY mobile applications. One of the articles in this issue, Era of Mobility: DAISY on the Go, looks at some mobile applications for reading DAISY books. If you know of other mobile applications for DAISY content I would be more than happy to receive the information or articles to include in a future issue of the Planet. You can get in touch with me by email or by using the DAISY Contact Us form and selecting the DAISY Planet Newsletter Category.

In his August 16 Beneblog post, Jim Fruchterman (President & CEO of Benetech) provides a very informative update on the DIAGRAM Center (Digital Image and Graphic Resources for Accessible Materials). In the overview he explains that "The goal of the DIAGRAM R&D Center is to greatly improve access to graphical information for students with print disabilities". The detailed survey which is the outcome of the first part of the project examines current support for accessible graphics and will serve as a resource for organizations and individuals in this field. The compiled results of the DIAGRAM Research and Development Survey provide a comprehensive comparison of DAISY Digital Talking Book (DTB) and e-book hardware and software. The tables present the features and functional testing results for the devices or applications in these categories: DTB Hardware, DTB Software, DTB Authoring, Software e-book, Hardware e-book, and Software Image Authoring Software. The data can be reviewed by category or the complete set of matrices can be viewed on a single page.

An overview of the EPUB 3 specification Breaking it Down: the ePub 3 Spec by Eric Freese is posted on the "digital book world" website. Freese examines the specification by its features, providing a relatively easy-to-understand description of each. The EPUB 3 spec is expected to be approved by the IDPF Board of Directors in September. Watch for updates in News on our homepage and in the September DAISY Planet (note that this link will not work until after the September Planet is published).

There are eight Feature Articles in this issue of the DAISY Planet and the Bits and Pieces column is packed with information. I won't mention all of the Features here, but I do hope you find the time to read them. However, please make time to read the Tech Tips column this month for updates on AMIS, Pipeline 2 and Tobi. The long awaited support in AMIS for right to left script is in this new release. (The column is not terribly technical this month, so if you sometimes skip over it, make an exception this month).

Thank you for the ideas and suggestions you have sent for the DAISY Planet over the past two months. Special thanks to Dipendra Manocha for writing the article DAISY Start-up Projects in Developing Countries. Thanks also to Marie Kouthoofd for sharing her story with us – Marie is a teacher, she is also blind.

Please keep our newsletter in mind when you, your organization or company have news to share. You can get in touch with me directly by email or by using the DAISY Contact Us form (Newsletter category). Articles and suggestions for articles are always welcome, as are Letters to the Editor and Stories.

Lynn Leith
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 DAISY Marketplace

MediBuS

DAISY Consortium 15th Anniversary Series

MediBuS logoMedia Association for Blind and Vision Impaired People (in German: Mediengemeinschaft für blinde und sehbehinderte Menschen e.V.)

Let's begin with a few facts about Germany.

Map of Germany showing the 16 federal states Historically Germany has been called "Das Land der Dichter und Denker" (the land of poets and thinkers). There is only one official language: German. The federated states are in charge of the cultural institutions including 15,000 libraries of all kinds. Seven are Libraries for the Blind, the first of which was founded 1894, in Leipzig. Hamburg (1905), Marburg (1916) and Bonn (1918) followed. The production and lending of braille books began and it was clear, even then, that it is necessary to know who was producing which book, to prevent duplicate production of the same title by more than one library. A centralized catalogue which would allow people to find braille books was requested.

Black and white photograph of 3 women packaging large braille booksToday a catalogue listing all of the accessible books (in a variety of formats, including DAISY) is online, on the MediBuS website. 50,000 braille books and 35,000 DAISY books are in this database. Most of the DAISY books are converted talking books created from analogue tapes which were produced by these libraries which had added talking book production to their services in the late 1950's. After two world wars, the demand for talking book was high so that three additional talking books libraries – which still exist today – were founded in Münster, München and Berlin.

Melted cassettes and container that had been left on a stove The political system of today was established at that time and the government made it clear that funding would not come from them because the federal states are responsible for libraries. Even though most states still finance the libraries, a great deal of funding from donors is required to keep the libraries operational and providing service to its users. Over decades the libraries have cooperated in a network and legal bodies were established to organize this work in a structured way. The association which was originally called the "Association of Talking Book Libraries in German Speaking Libraries" became MediBuS.

Print and DAISY CD versions of a book with DAISY player We heard about DAISY and the DAISY Consortium. Fortunately we already had an association in place which could join the Consortium and represent all of its members. In 1997, after we found ways to finance the membership fee with the support of the "Associations of the Blind in Germany", the "Association of Talking Book Libraries in German Speaking Libraries" joined the DAISY Consortium as a Full Member. Elke Dittmer, who was chair of the Association at that time, became the DAISY Board representative; she still holds that position today.

The copyright law in Germany was changed in 2003 and for the first time there is an exception for the rights of people with a disability. The law includes the exception so that we can produce accessible books from printed books without requesting permission from the rights holders; however, we have to pay a fee. In 2004 there was a merger of the "Association of Talking Book Libraries" and the "Association of Braille Book Libraries and Producers". This was a result of the "Reproduction Rights Organization" requesting that there be only one legal body they would need to deal with for contract negotiations. All of this is reflected in a contract between MediBuS and the Reproduction Rights Organization. Another reason for a merger was that braille book production and DAISY book production are no longer a completely separate workflow in the libraries. In the digital world, the text, audio and later on braille can be included in a single DAISY book. The third reason is political: it's always more effective to speak with "one voice". This is illustrated, for example, in the discussion with Ministry of Justice about the proposed WIPO Treaty for Improved Access for Blind, Visually Impaired and other Reading Disabled Persons and the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. We can now see that the abbreviation "MediBuS" is better known and is part of a wider network.

Woman with headphones reading a DAISY book - she looks very surprisedWorking in a decentralized system has both advantages and disadvantages, but the way in which we cooperate functions well for all MediBuS members. In 2009 MediBuS produced a set of guidelines for its member organizations to ensure that all DAISY books in Germany would be produced in a consistent manner. This means that every MediBuS DAISY book has the same quality and approach to structuring. The guidelines "Leitfaden für Medibus-ok-Bücher" (Guidelines for Medibus-ok-books) are for DAISY books with audio and structure (NCC). Information about dealing with print book structure and 'transferring' that into the DAISY version, about metadata, and general information for producers is also included.

MediBuS also has an established partnership with the Swiss and Austrian libraries for the blind because we share the same language. Our collaboration extends beyond our physical borders.

Era of Mobility: DAISY on the Go

Readers' needs are unique and they are not static, they change. Whether we are going to class, an appointment, to work or the library, our time spent in one place has become increasingly limited. Evolving technologies are turning all of us into students and/or lifelong learners. Productivity is becoming more and more dependant upon our ability to function regardless of where we might be. It is necessary for us to carry our information resources and tools with us wherever we go – owning a mobile device that we can take with us to whatever part of the world we travel is no longer a luxury for many of us, it is a necessity.

An example of the increasing importance of mobile technology is Africa, where mobile phone penetration is higher than electricity penetration. Access to the Internet is still not common in some parts of Africa and high-speed connectivity is rare. Please read the article 5th Africa Forum for additional information about the impact of mobile technology in Africa and around the world. In addition, mobile phones can be used to communicate critical information to populations with special needs. Further information about mobile technology and communications with this group of people is provided in the paper Communicating Critical Information using Mobile Phones to Populations with Special Needs by Helen T. Sullivan, Markku T. Häkkinen and Kate Deblois.

We can also do more than ever on the go, right from our cell phone or other portable device. People need the added flexibility and anywhere-productivity that this new technology provides, and developers of new technologies are more focused on the accessibility features of their products than ever before.

This article features DAISY readers / applications for iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad which have been developed by the DAISY Consortium membership, or that play DAISY content produced by DAISY Member organizations.

DaisyWorm

DaisyWorm  logo The DaisyWorm application was developed by the Association for the Blind of Western Australia (ABWA) and can be used to play books from their library as well as DAISY books from other talking book libraries worldwide. It supports the playback of non-encrypted DAISY 2.02, DAISY/NISO Z3986 'audio only' and 'full text full audio books'. The large, easy to use, intuitive interface makes moving around in the book content easy. Full navigation of the book structure is available, but, as with all DAISY reading systems, the level of navigation depends on book markup. The bookmarking feature with 'automatic save' and 'resume of playback position' is very helpful. Readers can also fast-forward and rewind through the audio content with user-specified time intervals. Transfer of books takes place via built-in FTP server. DaisyWorm is fully VoiceOver accessible. Book size is limited only by device capacity. "I purchased a book in DAISY format from American Braille Press 'Social Networking and You: Twitter, Facebook, and Linkedin for Blind Users' by Anna Dresner and enjoyed reading it/listening to it on my iPad while driving to one of my appointments. After having read it I appreciated being able to navigate back and forth between parts of the book to refresh my memory." [Varju Luceno]

InDaisy Reader

The InDaisy Reader app supports all combinations of text and/or audio unprotected DAISY 2.02 and DAISY 3 content. According to Levelware, the app developer, users can read digital content from DAISY Consortium Members and Friends such as Bookshare (Benetech), Celia (Finnish DAISY Consortium), CNIB (Canadian DAISY Consortium), JSRPD (Japanese DAISY Consortium), National Federation of the Blind – NFB, Norwegian Library of Talking Books and Braille – NLB (Norwegian DAISY Consortium), ReadHowYouWant, Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind – RNZFB, Swedish Library of Talking Books and Braille – TPB (Swedish DAISY Consortium), Huseby, National Resource Centre for Special Education of the Visually Impaired (Norwegian DAISY Consortium), and Vision Australia. Students of all ages can take advantage of a multi-modal reading experience as they read through highlighted text synchronized with audio.

For VoiceOver screen reader users: on iPhone and iPod Touch, the title of every screen is spoken first by VoiceOver.

You can navigate to the various levels within DAISY books. InDaisy remembers the book you were last reading and opens it when you start the application. Multiple bookmarks can be added for each book; playback speed is adjustable. It is possible to switch between Bright interface (Black on White) and Dark interface (White on Black). Font type and font size are adjustable. Books can be transferred from computer to InDaisy Reader using the iTunes File Sharing feature or any FTP client. You should also be able to automatically perform any encoding conversion needed for DAISY books generated on a Windows platform using different types of language encoding.

Learning Ally Audio App

Learning Ally Audio App icon To use the Learning Ally Audio app you must be a Learning Ally (formerly RFB&D) member in good standing. To download Learning Ally DAISY books you will need to install the latest version of the Download Manager for use with the app. (This product does not work with Learning Ally downloadable WMA [AudioAccess] books.) Once installed, you will be able to navigate through structured DAISY audio books using chapters and page numbers and can also go to a specific page number within the book. The app will remember the place in the book where you stopped reading. You can create and edit bookmarks to mark important passages. Audio playback speed is adjustable. This application is fully VoiceOver accessible. A Quick User Guide is available for download in Word or PDF format from the Learning Ally website. Under the Apple App Store Volume Purchase Program, educational institutions may purchase the Learning Ally Audio App for their iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch users in volume, and distribute the app to their users.

Version 1.1.0 of the Learning Ally Audiobook Player app has just recently been released. Details about the new features are provided on the Learning Ally Audio iTunes page.

Read2Go App

Read2Go logo The Read2Go app for iPhone, iPod touch and iPad was developed by Bookshare's parent nonprofit Benetech in partnership with Shinano Kenshi Co., Ltd which is known for its PLEXTALK® digital talking book players. This app lets Bookshare members browse, search and download Bookshare DAISY 3 text-only books. Most books download very quickly. The Table of Contents is displayed and full DAISY navigation through the book structure is supported as is going directly to a selected page number. Bookmarks can be added while you are reading. This application allows synchronized word-by-word highlighting. The reading experience can be customized to "text only" or "text-to-speech" mode with built-in Acapela voices. Audio speed as well as font size and screen background color can be adjusted (font size increases up to 70 pt). Books up to 4MB in size are supported. Users are advised not to run both VoiceOver and TTS voice at the same time. It is also recommended that you close all applications before starting the Read2Go app. Feedback should be posted to the Bookshare Read2Go app forum.

In order to improve everyone's reading experience, please contact the developers of these applications with your feedback and suggestions.

A new section has been added to the DAISY Tools and Services area on the DAISY website: Mobile Applications. As additional applications developed by the DAISY membership become available they will be added to this page and will also be featured on our homepage and DAISY Planet Marketplace.

Information and input for this article were provided by Varju Luceno, Director of Communications for the DAISY Consortium.

NCPEDP MphasiS Universal Design Awards for 2011

MphasiS Universal Design Award logo On August 14 (the eve of Independence Day in India) Prashant Verma received the NCPEDP MphasiS Universal Design Award, now in its second year. This award, the first of its kind in India, recognizes and acknowledges organizations, companies and individuals who play a pivotal role in making life more accessible for people with disabilities. The awards emphasize the need for universal accessibility in the areas such as:

The NCPEDP MphasiS Universal Design Awards were instituted by the National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (NCPEDP) in association with AccessAbility and BarrierBreak Technologies and supported by MphasiS. Although the concept of Universal Design and its implementation have gained ground in the developed world, in developing countries it is far less known or understood. One of the purposes of this award is to bring Universal Design to the forefront in India.

The award is organized into three distinct categories:

The awards honour individuals, organisations and companies for their exemplary efforts in promoting accessibility for persons with disabilities. The winners serve as examples and models for others. It is also hoped that the award and the work of those who have won will encourage others to promote accessibility and/or potentially work in the field of Universal Design.

Prashant Verma (on the right) receiving the 2011 MphasiS Universal Design Award Prashant Verma is one of three winners in Category A. Verma is a freelance access consultant and an ICT Trainer for people who are blind or have a visual disability. In addition to working as a Consultant in Technical Support and Software Testing for the DAISY Consortium, he is also Head, Capacity building Committee with DAISY Forum of India, ICT Course Coordinator and Guest Faculty with the University of Delhi, Web Accessibility Trainer for the Centre for Internet & Society , and, a consultant and Master Trainer with the NAB Centre for Blind Women (Ernet Project).

Prashant and his wife Veena's story will be published with the September DAISY Planet. It would be an understatement to say that their story is an inspiration.

DAISY Consortium's Logo Revised

New DAISY Consortium logo If you are on one of the primary DAISY lists you will have received most of this information about the revised DAISY Consortium logo in an email sent by Varju Luceno, Director of Communications for the Consortium, on August 10, and already have most of the details provided below. In addition to the details provided in that email, the DAISY logo (without the word "consortium") is also now on our website for download. Similar file types and resolutions are provided for both.

"We have updated the DAISY Consortium logo while maintaining our core visual identity. The acronym 'DAISY' is now spelled all in capital letters. However our old logo registration is still active.

New DAISY logo Please use the updated logo on your website and in any of your upcoming communications and/or presentations. [If you have been using the DAISY logo without the word "consortium" on your DAISY books on CD, on players, etc.) or in communications, please replace it on newly created products with the revised logo.]

You may choose from a variety of file types, file sizes and resolutions. The updated logos can be downloaded from our website logos page at: www.daisy.org/logos. The DAISY logo and trademark policy is also provided on our website in the Policy area.

Today, around the globe, the DAISY Consortium and its members are making a difference in three key areas:

If none of the file formats or resolutions will meet your requirements or if you have any questions about the revised logos or usage policy, please get in touch with us using the Contact Us Form on the DAISY website or write to us directly by email.

Thank you all for your support and continued efforts!"

DAISY Start-up Projects in Developing Countries

Implementing DAISY in the Developing World

The DAISY Consortium developed standards and processes that enabled the shift from analogue to Digital Talking Books (DTBs). This transition also brought many enhancements and new exciting features in talking books, e-text based text-only books and full-text/full-audio synchronized, universally accessible DTBs. In light of the importance of worldwide DAISY Standards for accessible books for persons who are blind or have another print disability, the DAISY Consortium has provided support services and assistance to developing countries to enable them to introduce DAISY DTBs so that this revolutionary technology could reach people in every part of the world.

One of the most significant efforts in this direction was the DAISY For All Project (DFA), in place from 2003 to 2008. Many Members of the DAISY Consortium have also provided financial and technical support to organizations in developing countries to help them implement DAISY DTB production. In some cases these efforts were not to assist with the transition from analogue to digital DAISY books, but for the introduction of the library service for persons with print disabilities where library services did not already exist. To bring coordination to the work of all stakeholders involved in the process of providing accessible books to persons with print disabilities in developing countries, the DAISY Consortium established a group called the Developing Countries Alliance.

Some of the key issues that have been addressed in these efforts are:

  1. Low cost solutions: Income levels among potential DTB users in developing countries are most often very low. There is a lack of well-funded centralised organisation in most developing countries, and services are often provided by small not-for-profit organisations. Thus to introduce digital book services, there is a need for low cost solutions for production, playback and distribution of DAISY DTBs. The DAISY Consortium has developed open source tools such as Obi and Tobi and collaborated in the development of Microsoft's Save As DAISY for production, AMIS for reading books, and the DAISY Pipeline for conversion processes.
  2. Local language support: All of the open source software developed by the DAISY Consortium can be adapted for local languages ("localised") – this is essential for implementation in any developing country. It is also essential to provide training to produce local language content. In many issues such as local language fonts, screen reading software and braille conversion software must also be addressed.
  3. Awareness: It is essential to plan for "awareness creation" programmes among all stake holders including: end users, organisations, technical university/ies for technical support for the local language, relevant government departments, local funding agencies, etc.
  4. Local infrastructure development: Infrastructure for production, distribution and common reading centres need to be put in place. Without this infrastructure training and support efforts will be futile.
  5. Networking among multiple local organisations: Often different organisations serve different regions of the country. Creating a network among organisations is necessary to avoid duplication of book production and to ensure the availability of accessible, rich content to all end users.
  6. Training – human resources: It is extremely important that the people who will be involved in the DAISY production and service provision be trained and at least one "DAISY Champion" is identified to increase the chances of successful establishment of meaningful library service for persons with print disabilities. Training can be provided onsite or trainees can be invited to an existing DAISY production centre. When a DFA Project team went to Kazakhstan, we did not have resource persons or trainers who could speak the Russian or Kazak languages. Kazakhstan is a non-English speaking country and Russian and Kazak languages are the most commonly spoken. We were fortunate to be in contact with two young blind and low vision people from Kazakhstan who could speak or understand English. Both of them spent 15 days in New Delhi, India at the National Association for the Blind (NAB) to be trained in DAISY production and to observe a digital library in action. We provide training in Kazakhstan with our regular trainers along with the two people from Kazakhstan who were trained at NAB.
  7. Technical support: Ongoing technical support is important for the success of newly established DAISY digital library services. The DAISY Consortium provides support through its forums, email lists, the collection of articles in DAISYpedia, and by voice over the Internet or onsite technical support. It is best to plan for DAISY Consortium membership so that a full support mechanism is available to recently involved organisations in developing countries. DAISY Consortium trainers are experienced and well equipped for providing onsite and distance training. Online training using voice over the Internet reduces the cost of training.

Models/Examples

Group photograph of the DFA Project training in Sri Lanka Under the DFA Project several models of DAISY Digital Talking Book Production and distribution were implemented. These models were established to be in line with the local circumstances and infrastructure.

  1. Kazakhstan and Laos Model: Blind students at the university were trained in the use of Plextalk PTR2 DAISY playback and recording machines. These students were part of a self-help group and were also connected to a local talking book library. The students received recordings of the books they required from volunteer readers. They then edited and finalised the books and submitted them (now DAISY DTB's) to the library so that they could be used by other students then and in the future.
  2. Sri Lanka and Nepal Model: Many small not-for-profit organisations formed a forum. Representatives from all these organisations were trained in the production of DAISY Books. Each organisation started production and a common collection was created to avoid duplication.
  3. Home recording Model: One technical person manages the production and distribution of the books. Saksham in New Delhi, India also has a team of trained proofreaders and technical staff. The narration is done by readers at home using noise cancelling microphones on their own computers. Books are brought to the library and given to the proofreaders and editors for finalisation.
  4. University resource centre Model: A university library with a resource centre builds booths for recording books. Students are required to complete approximate 50 hours of social service during each year. Time credits are given to students for producing the DAISY books at the university resource centre. Technical staff for managing production, technical support and post-recording processes are employed on contract by the university resource centre.
  5. Typical soundproof recording studio-based talking book production Model – government or non-government institution: This model can be implemented at places in developing countries where a soundproof recording facility is installed. The narrators control the recording process themselves and the technician does not "monitor" the recordings as they are being produced. The editor does one round of proofreading when the recording process is complete.

Steps typically taken in order to establish a DAISY Focal Point in a developing country were as follows:

  1. DAISY Awareness Seminars were held.
  2. An organization which would serve as the focal point and a focal person (DAISY Champion) were identified (these tasks could typically be achieved over a three to four day visit in the country).
  3. Financial support to build the basic infrastructure for production and distribution was essential. This could normally be achieved in instances where the basic infrastructure such as the building etc. was organized by the local partner and the DFA Project provided funds for the required equipment.
  4. DAISY Production Training was provided with five to ten people being trained in DAISY Book production.
  5. Follow-up training was provided if required.
  6. International Trainer's Training was provided with some of the most promising trainees given advanced training so that technical support could be provided by qualified people within the country itself.
  7. DAISY production and playback tools – Local Language adaptation: Workshops were conducted to produce local language versions of AMIS, the open source DAISY Playback software developed by the DAISY Consortium.
  8. Technical Support: Various trouble shooting services were put in place to provide ongoing technical support to the producers of DAISY Books.

Some key features for start-up DAISY projects in developing countries:

  1. Identification and empowerment of DAISY Focal Point Person who can drive the project forward in the country
  2. Identification of specific user group/s in need of DAISY accessible books and for whom books could be produced and DAISY reading devices could be provided
  3. Identification and/or establishment of a library services system required for the distribution of accessible materials
  4. Involvement of government and other potential local funding partners so that the facility and operation is self sustaining
  5. Identification and/or establishment of local language and low cost solutions suitable for developing countries

This article was written by Dipendra Manocha who was the Assistant Project Manager of the DFA Project and who is currently the Developing Countries Coordinator for the DAISY Consortium.

5th Africa Forum

Largest African Gathering in the Blindness Field

The theme of the 5th African Forum was "Access Africa – Exploiting the Full Benefit of Social Inclusion of all Persons", and technology played a major role in the week long event.

Almost 400 delegates from 43 countries attended – over half of the program participants were blind or partially sighted, making it the largest gathering of this group of individuals ever in Africa. Eye care professionals, government officials, non-profit organizations and for-profit companies came together for the Forum at the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration. Issues such as service delivery, education, development and technology were discussed and presented.

The Africa Forum is a program of the Institutional Development Program (IDP) which is supported by Perkins International, SightSavers (a Member of the DAISY Consortium), the World Blind Union (WBU) and the Norwegian Association of the Blind and Partially Sighted. The Ghana Blind Union and IDP hosted the Forum.

TechShare Africa

Techshare Africa 2011 logoOne of the many highlights and milestones of the Forum was the launch of TechShare Africa, an international technology initiative providing a platform for the sharing information about assistive technology for people who are blind or partially sighted. In the UK, TechShare has been held for at least a decade and it was introduced to India in 2008. In Africa it was decided that TechShare would be embedded into the already successful Africa Forum. It was the first technology exhibition which had, according to Aubrey Webson, a founder of the Africa Forum "...gone splendidly - beyond all our expectations in terms of the numbers of participants, the numbers of exhibitors and the high interest in the exhibition from participants and government ministers." Major assistive technology companies such as HumanWare, Dolphin Access UK (both long time Friends of the DAISY Consortium), Freedom Scientific and Hilton Perkins were there.

Live Coverage

Insight Radio, the radio station of the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) was there from July 4 to 7. Dozens of interviews were streamed live during the conference. The interviews are still available and the keynote speeches will also be posted on the Insight Radio at the 5th Africa Forum page.

Interview Highlights

A few statements from the interviews provide a glimpse of the importance of technology in Africa, in developing countries generally, and to people who are blind or partially sighted around the world (the MP3 files of the interviews take a moment to open):

Pedro Paulson, CEO of HumanWare Europe: "What we're trying to do is get sustainable technology in Africa...step by step"

Noel Duffy and David Salisbury of Dolphin Access UK spoke about their company's technologies and tools, and stressed the need for affordable technology in developing countries.

Stephen King, Chair of the WBU Technology Committee, RNIB Director, and President Elect of the DAISY Consortium explained that one of the goals of the WBU Technology Committee program is to bring lower cost technology to developing countries, that technology is important for both employment and education. He speaks about assistive technology in general, and then talks specifically about mobile technology, closing off with: "mobile phones are the big change for blind and partially sighted people in this decade [particularly in developing countries]...the mobile phone has been the most enabling piece of technology we've seen for blind and partially sighted people worldwide."

Resources:

In Ghana it is estimated that over 90% of students with disabilities do not attend school, and the percentage is higher for students who are deafblind.

ITU Forum on Emergency Telecommunications

ITU Forum official group photo The ITU Asia-Pacific Regional Multi-stakeholder Forum on Emergency Telecommunications was held in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia on July 8 – 11. The Forum was organized by the ITU (International Telecommunication Union) and was hosted by the Mongolian Information, Communication Technology and Post Authority (ICTPA) with the support of the Government of Australia through the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, the Communications Regulatory Commission (CRC) of Mongolia, and the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP).

"This meeting was of great importance to ITU Member States as emergency telecommunications play a critical role in both disaster early warning and disaster response by ensuring timely flow of information needed by government agencies and other humanitarian actors involved in rescue operations and by providing medical assistance to the injured." (ITU website – the Agenda and other details about the Forum are also provided on this site.)

Hiroshi Kawamura, President of the DAISY Consortium, was invited by ITU to give a presentation on disaster preparedness. His presentation "Requirements for Life-saving Information to Trigger Right Actions to Save Lives at Severe Disasters: Lessons Learned from 11 March 2011 Disasters in Japan" was given during the session "Role of Information and Communication Technologies and Addressing the Challenge of Natural Disasters and Climate Change".

Hiroshi and group at the Ulaanbaatar Public Library DAISY Talking Book Center During his stay in Mongolia Mr. Kawamura visited and toured the DAISY Talking Book Center at the Ulaanbaatar Public Library. Information about DAISY implementation in Mongolia is available in the article Mongolia Discovers DAISY in the August 2010 issue of the DAISY Planet.

Estonian Library for the Blind: a DAISY Focus

Estonian Library for the Blind Lending Room The most common service used by Estonian Library for the Blind patrons is borrowing on-demand audio books, newspapers and journals in DAISY format. The on-demand materials are delivered to patrons by mail. Electronic newspapers and journals are also accessible through the Library's services by e-mail. All services are free of charge for the patrons. In 2010 there were nearly 15,000 loans and 1,000 visits to the library.

Several innovations have been introduced in the recent years:

The working group, including the Estonian Library for the Blind, received the "Deed of Mother Tongue 2010 Award" for developing the Estonian spoken command interfaces for various electronic devices for the blind. The purpose of this annual award which was established in 2007 is to highlight and award outstanding actions in the field of the Estonian language. As a result of this development it is easier for blind users to get information in their mother tongue when using electronic devices.

The Library's annual production is nearly 100 DAISY audio book titles and approximately 50 braille titles. The Library serves more than 500 people with a visual or other print disability from Estonia and abroad (for example, Great Britain, Spain, Canada, and Latvia).

Plans for 2011

Sources: Word Press NAPLE Blog (National Authorities on Public Libraries in Europe) written by Meeli Veskus, and Communication with media: experience of the Estonian Library for the Blind by Marja Kivihall and Priit Kasepalu presented at the Twin Cities Conference 2011 in Tallinn (the photograph in this article was originally published in this presentation). Additional information about the Estonian Library for the Blind is also available in the article Estonian Library for the Blind: Innovation Leads to DAISY published in the August 2009 DAISY Planet.

The joint seminar with the Finnish Celia Library specialists is planned for this October.

Letters to the Editor

Dear Lynn,

May I take this opportunity to let you and my other friends in the DAISY world know that after 21 wonderful years with RNIB (Royal National Institute of Blind People) in the UK, I made a decision to leave and pursue my passion for training and support.

It was just over 10 years ago that I began my involvement with DAISY on behalf of RNIB. Over the years, this has made it possible for me to meet, work with and learn from so many wonderfully talented people from all over the world. The DAISY website, forums and the DAISY Planet monthly newsletters have always been an invaluable way of keeping me informed about the technology, developments and the people involved with it.

In July, I started my own business based on training and supporting people to create accessible information. I have called the business 'David Gordon - Accessibility Training and Support'. You can find out more at my website. It will be lovely to hear from any of my friends from the world of DAISY (and of course any potential clients).

Best regards,
David

Editor's Note: David attended a DAISY training course presented by Markus Gylling, Niels Thogersen and me in 2001 in Peterborough, UK. He was already familiar with two DAISY production tools but wished to receive "formal" training. Not long afterward he moved on from DAISY production to training others at RNIB in the creation of DAISY content. Best of luck with your new business David!

Dear DAISY

[This inquiry was posted to the DAISY Pipeline Forum. There were two responses.]

Is it possible to create other types of DTB than audio-FullText? We are looking for a tool that would produce audio-NCX in case we are not allowed to distribute the textual content.

I am aware of the DTB Types specified by the DAISY Standards. We are looking for a solution that would allow us to create content with synthetic speech but without the textual content i.e. audio-NCX. We use DAISY Pipeline / TTS Narrator for this task. We have not found a way to configure Pipeline scripts/transformers to leave out the textual content. Before developing our own solution I would like to confirm whether there is no solution/workaround available.

Best Regards,
Iiro Nummela
The FFVI
Finland

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

Dear Iiro,

You can do this using the open source DAISY Book recording tool Obi. You can import the full-text full-audio book produced by the DAISY Pipeline into Obi. Obi will leave all text out and take the audio and the text of the headings. You can then save the book as DAISY 2.02 or DAISY 3 audio-NXC only book.

Bits & Pieces

• The 5 finalists for the Braille21 Award which will be presented at the World Congress Braille21 in Leipzig Germany, September 28 – 30 have been announced by the World Blind Union (WBU). There were 17 nominations from around the world. The winner will be announced at Braille21. The finalists are:
* BraillePen 12 [Harpo Sp. z o. o, Poland]
* DaCapo – Braille Music [German Central Library for the Blind in Leipzig (DZB) – a member of MediBuS, Germany]
* Embroidered Braille for textiles [Kampmann GmbH, International, Germany]
* PEF – Portable Embosser Format [Swedish Library of Braille and Talking Books (TPB) a member of the Swedish DAISY Consortium, Sweden]
* RoboBraille [ RoboBraille – Synscenter Refsnaes, Denmark]

The World Congress Braille21 programme is now available online.

AccessText Network is a membership exchange network which facilitates and supports the nationwide delivery of alternative files for post-secondary students with diagnosed print-related disabilities in the USA. The Beta version of the Accessible Textbook Finder (ATF) currently searches six accessible media producers and libraries which are sources of accessible books and provides the results in a combined format. Searches can be done by ISBN number or title. Additional sources may be added during the beta. Feedback is requested.

• Creative Scotland, the national body for the arts, screen and creative industries, announced that this year's Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust Book of the Year category winning titles are now available in accessible format. All four category winning titles have been converted into DAISY and large print formats and are now available to people who are blind or partially sighted, including over 40,000 members of RNIB Scotland.

The four titles are:
* Fiction: Leila Aboulela, Lyrics Alley (Weidenfeld & Nicolson)
* Non-Fiction: Jackie Kay, Red Dust Road (Picador)
* Poetry: Stewart Conn, The Breakfast Room (Bloodaxe)
* First Book: Sue Peebles, The Death of Lomond Friel (Vintage)

Dr. Gavin Wallace, portfolio manager for Literature, Publishing and Language at Creative Scotland, said: "We are delighted to have been able to work with the RNIB to make the titles available in DAISY and large print format. We want to encourage the public to get involved in the discussion about the four best Scottish books of the year, and having them available to the blind and partially sighted allows us to reach even bigger audiences." More information is available on the Creative Scotland website.

• The article Ebook empowerment with EPUB3 (O'Reilly Radar News & Commentary page) by Jenn Webb is an interview with Julien Simon, CEO and founder of Walrus Books, and Jérémie Gisserot, creative manager and technical consultant at Walrus Books. Simon and Gisserot discuss the advantages of EPUB3 and what they'd like to see developers do next. Questions such as "Which new features in EPUB3 are most useful for your enhanced ebooks?" and "What changes do you see EPUB3 bringing to the publishing industry?" are addressed.

• RoboBraille service now provides Arabic-language text-to-speech services on a trial basis. At present the Arabic RoboBraille service is available for converting text documents into MP3 files. Support for Braille transcription, DAISY conversion and eBook conversion may be added. Please see the DAISY news entry RoboBraille Service Now Supports Arabic posted on August 11 for additional information and links.

• The slides of the presentation given by George Kerscher, Secretary General of the DAISY Consortium and President of the International Digital Publishing Forum at the IDPF Digital Book Conference 2011 are available on the IDPF website. The presentation addressed the DAISY and EPUB 3 standards.

• EASI (Equal Access to Software and Information) has recently a short pamphlet to help computer support staff who work with students who have a disability. The 7 page pamphlet has been written to make the interaction less stressful for the staff (particularly those with minimal experience in this area) and more helpful for the students. Topics covered include:
* Your attitude can make a big difference
* Tips on dealing with people with disabilities
* Some helpful tips for dealing with specific disabilities including vision, hearing, mobility and learning disabilities
* Finding resources

The computer support staff pamphlet is available for download at no cost from the EASI website and can be freely shared.

• "NISO Forum: The E-Book Renaissance: Exploring the Possibilities Exposed by Digital Books" will be held October 24 – 25, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland. The Forum will probe platform interoperability, archiving, and preservation issues from a variety of industry, scholarly, and consumer viewpoints. Planned topics include panel discussions on publisher and content provider issues and vendors and platform providers; discussion of libraries, librarians, and e-books; presentation on users, patrons, and devices in the hands of users; a review of e-book standards; roundtable discussions on topics from the new NISO E-book Special Interest Group; and an "Ask Anything" session for participants. Additional information is available on the Forum webpage.

• The 2012 CSUN Call for Papers for the 27th Annual International Technology and Persons with Disabilities Conference begins September 6, 2011 and closes September 30, 2011 (a shorter period of 4 weeks this year). The 2012 CSUN Conference will be held February 27 to March 3 at the Manchester Grand Hyatt Hotel in San Diego, California. Visit the 2012 CSUN Conference website for additional information about the Call for Papers and the Conference.

• The July issue of AFB's Access World is "Access to Academics – Note-Taking 101: How Blind and Visually Impaired People Capture Information" by Deborah Kendrick. A friend had shared a colleague's question with her: "Could an iPhone serve all the note-taking needs of a blind student?" "As the question of the iPhone simmered in my brain, I began noticing how other blind people made notes and captured information. It became clear in short order that the methods were as many and varied as the people who employed them...I have polled several dozen blind and visually impaired people on the subject, and the results are a mini-course in note-taking itself." Ms. Kendrick covers the gambit, from slate and stylus to current technologies.

• The National Federation of the Blind in Computer Science 2011 Meeting is available for download from the Association for the Blind of Western Australia in DAISY 2.02 format/audio with navigation.

• A three-part Bookshare blog deals with topics near and dear to the hearts of students … research, note taking and other skills essential for study and learning:
* Research Over The Summer… No Way, You Say! (July 27)
* Making Research Fun With Bookshare – Part Two (August 4)
* Making Research Fun With Bookshare – Part Three (August 11).
The guest post is from Deborah Armstrong, the alternate media specialist at De Anza Community College in Cupertino CA. Ms. Armstrong talks about reading devices, taking good study notes, bookmarking, storing notes and strategies and closes the first blog with this summary: "Good note taking is essential and a learned skill that will help you in everything you do and summer is a good time to read, play and be adventurous! So, experiment with your reading system device features, understand how to be a better note taker and what strategies work best for you. Always give yourself time to explore and even time to fail..." (Even though school is about to begin in many parts of the world, the information in this series of blogs is still relevant to those of you who are students or professionals.)

• The Cootamundra Library has received 3 Plextor PTX1 Pro DAISY Players. They are a first for the Cootamundra Library and are available for loan for a four week period. Thousands of books are available on CD to chose from and with technology, books can be downloaded from the Internet and played back using the DAISY Player. Cootamundra is in the South West Slopes region of New South Wales, Australia and within the Riverina.

The Library was one of the first of 14 library branches associated with the Riverina Regional Library to learn how to use the players. The Riverina Regional Library was successful in receiving a grant from the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, which funded the rollout of 70 players which will be distributed to the 14 library branches. The initiative is also supported by Vision Australia and the Australian Library and Information Association.

• A one-day seminar on Possibilities of Information & Communication Technology (ICT) for the Differently Abled was recently held at the Kerala Federation of the Blind (KFB) headquarters in India. Sarala Ramkamal of DAISY Forum India, explained the various advantages of DAISY. More than 150 people who are blind or have a visual disability took part in the seminar.

Tech Tips

• AMIS 3.1.1 (a minor revision) has just been released with the following updates:
* Right-to-left script support in the UI. There is also a new language pack for Hebrew which demonstrates this feature.
* Better support in the installer for non-ACSII Windows users accounts
soon-to-be-ready Traditional Chinese and Hungarian translations.

System requirements are outlined on the AMIS area of the DAISY website. AMIS is open source and available for download at no cost. AMIS translations are also available for download.

• Version 1.0 of DAISY Pipeline 2 is due for release in September. The developers' discussion list is hosted on Google Groups. For information about the beta releases preceding V1.0, go to the Pipeline 2 blog.

• A Tobi Webinar will be presented in mid September. Please watch for full details in our News announcements on the DAISY homepage and in the September issue of the DAISY Planet.

• The HTML5 Accessibility website provides information about which new HTML5 user interface features are accessibility supported in browsers.