The DAISY Consortium's Monthly Newsletter - April 2012

From The Editor

It certainly seems that the need for accessible reading materials is no longer only an issue for those of us who are somehow directly involved. It's not just 'special' libraries that produce and distribute accessible formats or end users who require these materials who are aware of this need – it's publishers, authors, and commercial software and hardware developers to mention a few. The advocacy and educational efforts that have been taking around the world for years no longer feel like we are just 'talking to ourselves'. We may not be there yet, but it does seem that we are on our way to a world where information is accessible from the point of publication, or at the very least, with considerably manipulation. Kudos my friends, let's keep up the good work – our job is far from complete and the work of organizations providing accessible reading materials will likely be needed for quite some time to come.

The article Mainstreaming Accessibility closes with a link to an RNIB Insight interview with Daniel Weck. I should mention that there are actually several Insight interviews done by Leeanne Coyle during the London Book Fair, specifically the interviews dated April 17 to 20. One of the wonderful things about an audio interview is hearing the person's voice – it brings additional depth and interest.

The DAISY Consortium's Annual General Meeting will take place June 7, the afternoon prior to the Inclusive Publishing and eBook Distribution conference hosted by NFB in Baltimore. When you read the agenda which is posted on the Conference website you will notice some familiar names as well as the names of some folks you may not have seen at a previous DAISY conference. This conference is organized in cooperation with the DAISY Consortium, and will feature speakers directly and indirectly involved with accessible publishing and content distribution. We hope to meet and talk with many of in Baltimore in June.

The achievements of and success stories about young people with a reading disability never cease to amaze me. The Bookshare Blog Words of Wisdom on Transition from a College Freshman posted April 20 is about Elizabeth, one of these high achievers. And of course, there is Hoby Wedler. Part 1 of his story was published last month with the March DAISY Planet. Part 2 of Hoby's story is being published with this issue of our newsletter. If you read Part 1, you won't want to miss Part 2 – if you didn't read Part 1, you don't know what you are missing. Hoby is one amazingly gifted young man with a fascinating story to tell.

The DAISY Planet is read by people around the world – please remember that you can share news and information about activities, services, developments and awards with our readers by simply getting in touch with me directly by email or by using our Contact Us form.

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.

Tobi 1.7: You Can Make Images 'Speak'

Adding Image Descriptions Just Got Easier

Tobi logo Textbook content has become more and more graphical, making the job of accessible content producers more complex and even more time consuming. In many cases, producers and publishers of text-based digital instructional materials do not include image descriptions, leaving the student or professional with a simple "image" or "graphic" as their only clue that there is a diagram of some sort at that point on the page. The new release of Tobi, the DAISY Consortium's open source, DAISY, multimedia authoring software, enables the creation of image descriptions and descriptions of alternative image representations during the authoring process.

In 2010 the DIAGRAM Center was launched to address the problems encountered by students, particularly those studying Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM).

"In order to provide students with print disabilities equal access to the general education curriculum, the DIAGRAM Center has been created to improve the way image and graphic content for accessible instructional materials (AIM) is produced and accessed." – the goal of the DIAGRAM Center.

The DIAGRAM Content Model was developed by defining uses cases in three areas: producers, facilitators, and consumers; information requirements were developed from these use cases. Support for inclusion of accessible graphical information in Tobi 1.7 addresses the requirements of accessible content producers as identified in that Content Model. The image description workflow in Tobi 1.7 has been developed by the DAISY Consortium in collaboration with the work of the DIAGRAM Center. Tobi is the first production tool to support the full DIAGRAM content model (metadata, text, alternative images).

Tobi Audio Tab Image Description View Tobi's image description workflow allows authors and publishers to provide a variety of diagram descriptions, including short, simplified and long descriptions. Its authoring workflow supports aural descriptions (audio recording, waveform editing, etc.) – both human voice recordings of the images and synthetic speech of the text description rendered by text to speech software can be included. Descriptions of alternate versions of the original graphics, such as tactile graphics, simplified images and high contrast versions, can also be included with the image description workflow in Tobi 1.7. Image descriptions can also be added to existing DAISY 3 books using this new feature.

Tobi Basic Image Description Editor View Tobi 1.7 with image description workflow can be downloaded from the Tobi project page on the DAISY website. If you already have Tobi installed, you will receive the update automatically. Please also read the Tobi Image Description Reference Manual and Quick Start Instructions for information about this new image description feature.

DAISY Consortium Tobi Webinar hosted by EASI

The webinar Tobi: How to Make Images More Accessible Using the New Image Description Editor was hosted by EASI (Equal Access to Software and Information) on April 19. The presenters, Daniel Weck and Avneesh Singh of the DAISY Consortium, introduced Tobi 1.7 with the new integrated editor for rich, audible image descriptions. The webinar was well attended by participants serious about producing DAISY content with accessible images. Those joining in from Australia were up at 4:00 in the morning in order to participate.

Information about and links to the audio recording of the Tobi webinar and the slides presented are available in the EASI webinar archive.

Tobi Development & Support

Questions about and issues regarding Tobi can be posted to the Tobi Forum on the DAISY website. Support for EPUB 3 will be available in a Tobi release scheduled for later in 2012.

Web Library: Estonian Library for the Blind

Downloading and Streaming DAISY Service

Veebiraamatukogu or 'Web library' is the system for downloading and streaming DAISY audio books, newspapers and journals created by the Estonian Library for the Blind in cooperation with the Estonian information technology company, IceIt Teenused (IceIt Services).

Development of Veebiraamatukogu started in September 2010. In 2011 the system was tested and improved. Inserting book data and uploading audio files started at the end of the year. Since April 2012 Veebiraamatukogu has been available for the patrons of the Estonian Library for the Blind.

More than 1,700 audio titles in Estonian and foreign languages are accessible via Veebiraamatukogu. This Web Service includes materials largely produced by the Estonian Library for the Blind, but also includes materials by other producers who have given the library permission to add their books to the system.

Veebiraamatukogu enables users to:

Everyone who visits Veebiraamatukogu can browse, search for books and view book data, however downloading and streaming are available only for those who are registered users of the service. To register for Veebiraamatukogu people have to be or become patrons of the Estonian Library for the Blind.

IFLA WLIC 2012 Preconference in Tallinn Estonia

Tallinn Estonia waterfront The IFLA WLIC 2012 Preconference Program is now available online. The Preconference which will be held August 8 and 9 in Tallinn, Estonia, is organized by IFLA Libraries Serving Persons with Print Disabilities Section in cooperation with the Estonian Reading Association and the Estonian Library for the Blind. Presenters from the UK, Belgium, Iceland, Japan, China, Russia, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Estonia will take part. The registration deadline is May 18.

Target groups for the Preconference include:

Inclusive Publishing and eBook Distribution

Access for People with Print Disabilities

The National Federation of the Blind will host the conference "Inclusive Publishing and eBook Distribution" June 8-9, 2012 at their headquarters in Baltimore Maryland. NFB extends this invitation to everyone interested in accessible information:

The printed world is converging with the digital world in new ways every day. More and more publications are available in electronic formats. These formats, when they are accessible, provide blind and print-disabled users with a wealth of material which they have never had access to before. Many members of the print-disabled community have been determined and voracious readers, despite a lack of large-scale adoption of formats they can utilize. These people love the written word, and want to access it with the rest of the world, and this is where the promise of eBooks is so exciting. Unfortunately, not all eBook platforms are accessible. At this conference, the DAISY Consortium and the National Federation of the Blind are teaming up with other experts in the field to meet the challenges of eBook accessibility for everyone. Presentations will include:

Don't miss this opportunity to learn about the state of the accessible eBook market, interface with experts in the industry, and ensure that people unable to read print and some electronic publications can join the rest of the world in enjoying the convenience and power of the eBook revolution. Information about the conference, registration and accommodation are provided on the Inclusive Publishing page on the NFB website.

Mainstreaming Accessibility

Daniel Weck Targets Publishers at the London Book Fair

Earlier this month Daniel Weck, Software Architect and Programmer with the DAISY Consortium, presented "Mainstreaming Accessibility: A Practical Session for Publishers to Reach More Readers" at the London Book Fair. Two of the key premises of Weck's presentation were Accessibility benefits everyone and Accessibility can, and needs to be part of mainstream publishing.

The presentation opened with the ingredients for "A Recipe For Success":

Both DAISY and EPUB3 were featured prominently throughout, and the relationship between the two standards was made clear. EPUB3 was described as "The best ecosystem for inclusive electronic publishing". Weck explained that the specialised DAISY format was designed to cater to the reading requirements of people with a print disability and then went on to state:

"Today, we can design content for a broader audience. We can target all users, and we can have products usable out-of-the-box by a wide range of consumers. In fact, accessibility benefits everyone. We all want books with proper structure, semantics and rich navigation. Just as an example, in EPUB 3 it is possible to synchronise text with human narration, and this feature is directly inherited from the DAISY format. Over the years, the DAISY Consortium has contributed to the development of several other major building blocks for EPUB. Accessibility can, and needs to be part of mainstream publishing."

Six key aspects of best practices for creating "universally usable content" were explained, and Weck managed to deliver material that can be extremely technical in such a way that publishers and others who were not particularly technical were able to grasp the concepts and understand the principles.

Leeanne Coyle of RNIB's Insight Radio met with Daniel Weck at the London Book Fare. Coyle's interview with Daniel is available online.

Plans are in place to add the slides for Daniel Weck's presentation "Mainstreaming Accessibility" to the DAISY Consortium's Slideshare page in the near future.

ORIONWebbox Receives SCTE 2012 Award

Solutions Radio logo Following the UPC (United Pan-European Communications) nomination, ORIONWebbox, developed by Solutions Radio BV, received the best European CPE (Customer Premises Equipment) solution award. This prestigious award for technological innovations was presented by SCTE (Society for Broadband Professionals) in March in the UK.

Mick Fernhout, VP Strategy & Corporate Development at UPC explains the reasons for the nomination:

Webbox2 from Solutions Radio "The ORIONWebbox is a great resource for all visually impaired people, because you are less dependent on others for daily functioning. By introducing a special, cheap UPC-Internet connection we have made the Webbox more accessible for the visually impaired. The ORIONWebbox gives the user easy access to an impressive range of voice information and entertainment. Offering everything from talking books, newspapers and magazines and also the latest news, weather, radio stations, theme channels, podcasts, and more. For people who have difficulty reading TV subtitles the ORIONWebbox is an outcome as it speaks out the texts on the TV screen. This is of special interest to smaller countries where TV programs and films are not dubbed, but sub-titled. Users of the ORIONWebbox also have access to a (spoken) daily newspaper.

5 years after its introduction and due to its success and with feedback from users themselves, a new version was released in February 2012. This Webbox2 is smarter, faster and simpler than the first version. It still is the first device of its kind, that is a combination of an on-line DAISY player, radio receiver and TV sub-title device in one box."

Woman with Webbox2, with access to subtitles illustrated In its endeavours to promote the ORIONWebbox, one of the obstacles Solutions Radio encountered was that many elderly people do not have Internet access and are hesitant to acquire a costly Internet connection. To overcome this barrier Solutions Radio approached UPC, one of the Dutch cable TV providers, with the request to come up with a "cheap solution" for people who have a visual impairment. Within the scope of Corporate Social Responsibility, UPC came up with an inexpensive and easy Internet solution which has benefited many Webbox users.

Closeup picture of Webbox2 control panel Solutions Radio BV of the Netherlands is a manufacturer of an online player and a specialist in the delivery of online content to closed-user-groups such as people with a reading disabled and the elderly. In February Solutions Radio launched Webbox2, the successor of the ORIONWebbox. This second generation device is an online multi-media player that supports content streaming and downloading with SD-card, USB stick and USB CD-ROM drive options. Speech synthesis is used to play out text-based content. Solutions Radio BV is a Friend of the DAISY Consortium.

Letters to the Editor

Dear Lynn,

I would like to send you an article for your coming issue of the DAISY Planet on our new Webbox and a press release about the European Award for Innovation that it has received. What is the deadline for the next Planet? Please advise. Many thanks!

Best regards,
Marianne

Marianne van der Meulen,
Solutions Radio BV
The Netherlands

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Editor's Note: Dear Marianne, thank you for your email. The article about the new Webbox2 and the European Customer Premises Equipment solution award is published in this issue of the DAISY Planet.

If your organization's or company's services or products have recently received an award or special recognition, please let me know so that I can share the information with the DAISY Planet readers around the world.

Dear DAISY

I have a client who wants me to export finished documents in Adobe InDesign to DAISY books. I tried to export to an ePub (DTBook format), but the resulting file is not recognized as a DAISY book. I was able to view the file in Digital Editions, but the tables are a mess and I'm not sure how to fix them in InDesign so that they export better. Could you give me some guidance? There is very limited information on the Adobe site related to DTBook ePubs and no information about how to convert to a DAISY book that can be read by a DAISY reader like AMIS.

Thank you for any help you can provide.

Karen Ward,
American Institutes for Research,
United States

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Dear Karen,

(1) Assuming the DTBook generated by InDesign is good (i.e. valid, and with good practices for descriptions, tables, etc.), then the EPUB file can be unzipped into a folder, and the DAISY Pipeline can be used to convert the DTBook to a DAISY 3 fileset.

(2) Otherwise, a conventional XHTML-based EPUB can be exported by InDesign instead of DTBook, then unzip the EPUB and attempt conversion of the XHTML to DTBOOK / DAISY 3 using the DAISY Pipeline. In other words, the responsibility is put on the DAISY Pipeline instead of InDesign for generating the DTBook markup.

Note: the DTBook tables might not look right in Digital Editions, but this doesn't necessarily mean that the DTBook markup is buggy. The best way to test DTBook files is to open them with DAISY players, not EPUB reading systems.

You could also test your files (if they are unprotected) with EasyReader DAISY / EPUB software player (for Windows); a free trial is available.

(3) It is entirely possible that the books were created in such a fashion using InDesign that successful export is impossible. Please read this article about creating EPUB files in InDesign for more information.

There is also a fairly old blog post that may be helpful. This file with instructions and descriptions may also be helpful.

DAISY Pipeline is a free conversion tool that can be downloaded from the DAISY website.

Hope this helps.

Bits & Pieces

• The RNIB website page Choosing a DAISY Player provides an overview of some of the DAISY players available in order to help people determine which one best suits their needs. It begins with the DAISY players that are easiest to use and continues through to more advanced players with additional features and functions which are explained. Links to some of the companies and organisations which provide books, magazines and other reading material that can be read using a DAISY player are also included. This guide concludes with a section explaining some of the terminology used.

• A DAISY2go Quick Start Guide has been added to DAISYpedia. This article briefly describes basic features of this application which is a player for DAISY books for mobile phones. Daisy2go is a part of the NuanceAccessibility Suite, and it has been optimized for the Nuance TALKS screenreading software.

• The Central Washington University Center for Disability Services has made available a free Firefox plug-in designed to read DAISY 3 XML e-text files, PDF files, web pages and Word documents. P.T. Reader can be downloaded from the CWU website. Links to download Firefox are also provided on this page.

• A Joint Statement on Accessibility & E-books has been issued and published on the Publishers Association website. "Advances in technology have helped not only to open up new markets for publishers, but also to offer vast new opportunities for published works to become more accessible to a wider variety of people.

The growing availability of ebooks provides a wonderful opportunity for people with print impairment...to become customers for mainstream published products...There will soon be no good reason for people with print impairment to be excluded from the mainstream market...

eBooks should enable all readers, using whatever assistive technology they may require, to access new books as they are published in ebook form and at no additional cost." The statement is currently supported by the Publishers Association, EDItEUR, RNIB, Dyslexia Action and JISC TechDis.

Details about how to become involved and links to Accessible Publishing, Best Practice Guidelines for Publishers and the Publishers Association Recommendation on Text to Speech are provided.

• The lead article in the April Friends of ATIA Newsletter is "Taking Accessibility Mainstream". This issue focuses on the call for a "Society of Accessibility Professionals" and provides some history and analysis.

• Two Spanish language YouTube videos explain the Tobi installation process, first is for installing Tobi on Windows Vista, the second is for installing Tobi on Windows 7.

• The EASI produced a webinar, Overview of the Accessibility of Mainstream E-Readers, presented by Ken Petri from Ohio State University, is available online.

• THE U.S. Department of Education & CEO'S from the Digital Education Ecosystem have announced actions to move U.S. schools to digital textbooks. The LEAD Commission will develop a blueprint for K-12 schools to make the transition to interactive digital textbooks in five years. Details are provided in a press Release from the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) on its Leading Education by Advancing Digital (LEAD) Commission.

• The ATIA 2013 Orlando Call for Presentations is open and has a submission deadline of June 22, 2012. The conference will be held from January 30 to February 2, 2013.

• The "Digital Access Project" which is a collaborative activity of the Perkins Braille & Talking Book Library (BTBL) and the Boston Public Library, with additional involvement from the Internet Archive of San Francisco, will be presented with the ASCLA/KLAS/NOD Innovative Universal Access Award. This year the award will be presented for two projects that produced noteworthy services and programming for library users with disabilities. Through this cooperative effort patrons of the BTBL who are unable to read standard print will be able to access print books available in the Boston Public Library collection within 24 hours. The books will be scanned and provided in DAISY format.

Tech Tips

• The 2011 Working Draft area on the DAISY website for the Z39.86 Authoring and Interchange Framework Specification is no longer in use. Please refer to the new area for the Z39.98-2012 Specification (DAISY AI) Document Working area.

IDEAL Accessible ePub3 Reader Phase I [Beta] is now available for download along with the Project Plan and Documentation Outline. IDEAL Group extends thanks to Supporters including the DAISY Consortium, IDPF and RNIB.

• Directionality in Tobi: Since V1.6.5 there is much better right-to-left support for documents with dir="rtl" and lang="ar" (and other languages as well). The document renderer in Tobi should automatically right-align the text when directionality is indicated in the DTBook XML. Questions about Tobi can be posted to the Tobi Forum on the DAISY website.

• Tobi Document Translation: There is now an option to translate the documentation for Tobi, the DAISY Consortium's open source multimedia content production software, into more than 40 languages. The translation option is available on the Tobi Documentation page.