The DAISY Consortium's Monthly Newsletter - May 2012

From The Editor

The news from India as reported in the article Major Milestone: New Copyright Act Passed in India should give all of us hope for the future of accessible reading material around the world. The percentage of people who cannot read print and some electronic publications is much higher in some parts of the world than others, and unfortunately in those countries accessible information is much less abundant (not that it's particularly abundant anywhere). In the report produced by Young Power in Social Action (YPSA) as noted in the article DAISY Implementation in Developing Countries: 2012 it states that of the 150 million people who live in Bangladesh, "10% are visually disabled and over 50% are illiterate". That is a staggering number of people who need information in an accessible format. The infrastructure and resources necessary to create and distribute accessible reading material are minimal or do not exist. Open source and freely available tools help, but content sharing enabled by a copyright treaty that supports the cross-border exchange of accessible content would have an unparalleled positive impact on many millions of people around the world.

The Twenty fourth Session of the WIPO Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR) will take place in Geneva, July 16 to 25. The draft agenda is now posted. Documents from the WIPO/SCCR 23rd Session, November 21 to December 2, are also online. If you wish to contact the WIPO representative for your country, there is a complete list of WIPO Member States with information about national intellectual property (IP) legislation, contact details of IP Offices, country profile, etc. on the WIPO website. We have been hopeful before, only to be discouraged by the outcome. Perhaps this time the outcome will be positive. (Note: as there is no July issue of the DAISY Planet, I will try to bring you a report on the results of the meeting in the August issue – even though at that point it will not be 'new news'.)

The work of and major contributions made by George Kerscher, Secretary General of the DAISY Consortium, President of the International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF), have been acknowledged and rewarded twice this month. In addition to being one of 14 STEM Innovators in the Disability Community as described in the article Champions of Change: STEM Leaders, Kerscher was also one of two recipients of the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) Migel Medal. The Medal is given in recognition of outstanding achievements in the blindness and low vision field and was awarded at the AFB Leadership Conference earlier this month. Please also read the article The Future of Digital Publishing: An Optimist's View which was written by George, published in the magazine "Future Reflections" and republished with permission. It does indeed present an optimistic view and explains a bit about where we've come from, how we got to where we are today, and where we are going. On all counts, congratulations George!

And another note of congratulations – this time to Varju Luceno, the Consortium's Director of Communications: the DAISY slides and documents on SlideShare have had 10,000 views! This means that you, other folks in the DAISY community and others, possibly from the publishing and library communities are using the information being provided by the DAISY Consortium – and that is wonderful news.

Matt Garrish, author of Accessible EPUB 3 and What is EPUB 3? has a new project – to create a single location for information about authoring accessible EPUB files. The Accessible EPUB 3 Content Guidelines is a work in progress – I'm sure that Matt is working on it as I write. If you would like to contribute to this project and review these guidelines between now and mid June, Matt would appreciate your feedback. You can provide input via email to matt(at)garrish(dot)ca or post comments to the EPUB Accessibility forum. The Accessible EPUB 3 Content Guidelines will be moved to the DAISY website.

This weekend the DAISY website will be upgraded to Drupal 7. For the most part, you shouldn't notice anything different, but it will bring improvements. I'll be including an article about the conversion in the June DAISY Planet, letting you know about the improvements and what has changed. Related to this is the DAISYpedia article Screen Reader users guide for DAISY forums. This article will be updated as needed after the conversion and the updated Screen Reader users guide for DAISY forums will be published in the June Planet along with the website update.

As a follow-up to the article ORIONWebbox Receives SCTE 2012 Award published in the April Planet, I recently read that Solutions Radio designed and implemented a DAISY on-line distribution platform for the Finnish Federation of the Visually Impaired (FFVI), integrating it with their existing customer base and content server. There are now more than 7,000 clients subscribing to this online DAISY digital talking newspaper and magazine service.

One of the tools in this month's DAISY Marketplace is MyStudio PC. This DAISY production software which is from the Japanese Society for Rehabilitation of Persons with Disabilities (JSRPD) has been in use by thousands of people for many years. The system requirements for this new release, Ver.2.05, are Windows XP, Windows Vista, or Windows 7 (32bit/64bit). It is available to the Members of the DAISY Consortium at no cost: Full Members may request up to 50 licenses, Associate Members may request up to 10 licenses. Information about requesting licenses is provided in the MyStudio PC tools entry on the DAISY website. I felt I should mention this new release to thank JSRPD for its development of the software (the last release was in October 2007) and for making it available to the DAISY Members.

In addition to the Letter to the Editor published in this issue of the DAISY Planet, I also received a very supportive email from Martin Mohnhaupt of Nice Data Systems – thank you very much for your positive and supportive input Martin.

The Story this month is by Neil Jarvis, the DAISY Board representative for the Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind (RNZFB). Much has changed in terms of information access over the past couple of decades, and people such as Neil, driven by their desire to read and to have access to the same written materials as everyone else, have played an incredible role in this change. Thank you Neil, you take us back to a time when accessible information was really only a dream and then bring us to today, when for many people, the dream has almost come true.

And finally, there are two quotes I've come across this month that I would like to leave you with:
• "today's technology makes Braille even more available and portable than ever before." [In a Digital Age, Braille Is Still Important]
• "DAISY is the most accessible way to read for a person with any print disability." [The White Crocus/MaryLee Perkins]

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.

Apologies for the length of my column this month, there was just so much that I wanted to share with you.

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

Major Milestone: New Copyright Act Passed in India

What Does It Mean for People with a Print Disability in India?

There are estimated to be 40 million people with a print disability in India. Previously in order for an organization to produce an accessible format of a published work, permission from the publisher was required – it may or may not have been granted, and delays were inevitable (a major problem particularly for study material).

The new law covers a variety of formats: braille, audio, large font and digital formats. It will allow people with a print disability, including those with a visual impairment, dyslexia or other print disability, their families and friends, nonprofit organisations, libraries and educational institutions to convert any book into an accessible format without seeking the permission from the publisher. This is a huge change that will make a difference in the lives of millions of people.

The Journey

May 22nd was an historic day in India – the Copyright (Amendment) Bill 2012 was passed. Ten years ago, in 2002, the father of the movement to amend India's copyright laws, the late Vinod Sena (a professor of English from Delhi University who was himself visually impaired) initiated efforts to bring about change in the copyright law that would make it possible for people with a print disability to have access to published works.

In 2006, the Copyright Office proposed amendments to the Indian Copyright Act (1957) which included a provision for the benefit of persons with disabilities. This was the result of ongoing campaigning for change to the act, however, the amendment allowed for conversion to braille only. That wording, referencing braille as the format in the exemption, continued until 2010 when organizations of and/or for the disabled had an opportunity to present their arguments to the parliamentary committee. In November 2010 the parliamentary committee recommended that the Copyright (Amendment) Bill be rewritten to reflect the concerns expressed – the wording as it was changed is contained in the Copyright (Amendment) Bill that has just been passed.

Congratulations are in Order

Members of DAISY Forum of India (DFI), the India Right to Read (R2R) Campaign and National Access Alliance played a major role in the development of the act and the passing of the Bill through both the Upper (Rajya Sabha) & Lower (Lok Sabha) Houses of Parliament. Congratulations go to all of the DFI, R2R India and National Access Alliance team members, who along with support from many different organisations and from Ambassador Singh and Chris Friend, were able to take this forward, to turn a decade old dream into reality.

"...their success today makes a huge contribution to the on-going campaign to achieve our WIPO Treaty." (Chris FriendWBU Strategic Objective Leader - Accessibility Chair WBU Global Right to Read Campaign, Programme Development Advisor - Sightsavers

Source: In addition to information provided by Dipendra Manocha, the article Books at the fingertip by Rahul Cherian published in the Indian Express on May 23 was used as a resource.

Champions of Change: STEM Leaders

STEM Champions Of Change photo of 7 leaders, George Kerscher is seated 3rd from the right and Henry Wedler is seated 2nd from the leftEarlier this month 14 people were honoured in Washington, DC as STEM Innovators in the Disability Community:

"These leaders are proving that when the playing field is level, people with disabilities can excel in STEM, develop new products, create scientific inventions, open successful businesses, and contribute equally to the economic and educational future of our country." (Source: Champions of Change: STEM Equality For Americans With Disabilities)

George Kerscher, Secretary General of the DAISY Consortium, President of the International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF), and Senior Officer of accessible technology at Learning Ally, was one of the 14 individuals recognized as leaders in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) for people with disabilities in education and employment.

In his "Champions of Change" blog post, Kerscher wrote:

"A vast amount of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) information is usually presented visually, from graphs and tables to diagrams and math equations. Students and professionals in the STEM fields who are blind or have low vision must find ways to access this data. In many cases, they still rely on other people to read and describe images for them. This creates a dependence that can be inefficient and time consuming."

The event which took place in the White House, is part of US President Barack Obama's Winning the Future initiative through which a different sector is highlighted each week and people from various walks of life (educators, entrepreneurs, community leaders, etc.) are recognized for serving and strengthening their communities.

"The leaders we've selected as Champions of Change are proving that when the playing field is level, people with disabilities can excel in STEM, develop new products, create scientific inventions, open successful businesses, and contribute equally to the economic and educational future of our country." (Kareem Dale, Special Assistant to the President for Disability Policy)

George Kerscher with his guide dog Mikey, and Henry (Hoby) Wedler standing outside in Washington for the STEM award Joe Sullivan, John Boyer and Henry (Hoby) Wedler were also among the 14 people acknowledged for their contributions to STEM efforts. A short bio of each of the recipients is available on the Champions of Change: STEM Equality For Americans With Disabilities web page. Excerpts from Joe, John's and Henry's bios illustrate their remarkable contributions:

Joseph (Joe) Sullivan: "is president of Duxbury Systems, Inc., a small company that has specialized in software for braille since its founding in 1975...Joe believes that braille is the key to literacy for blind persons, that literacy is the key to an informed citizenry, and that an informed citizenry is essential to civilization."
Henry (Hoby) Wedler: "Henry gained the confidence to challenge and refute the mistaken belief that STEM fields are too visual and, therefore, impractical for blind people. Henry is not only following his own passion; he is working hard to develop the next generation of scientists by founding and teaching at an annual chemistry camp for blind and low-vision high school students."
John Boyer: "[John's] current project, BrailleBlaster, will allow the integration of text with Braille graphics such as maps and graphs into a format accessible to blind people. John Boyer is being honored as a Champion of Change for leading education and employment efforts in science, technology, engineering and math for Americans with disabilities."

Both Hoby's and John's stories have been published with the DAISY Planet.

DAISY Implementation in Developing Countries: 2012

DAISY Forum of India: General Body National Conference & Board Meeting

Some of the DFI Members attending the 2012 Conference The DFI Conference and meeting of the Board which was held May 15 to 17 was hosted by the Xavier's Resource Centre for the Visually Challenged (XRCVC), and sponsored by SAP as part of their corporate social responsibility program. The primary purpose of this meeting was to discuss the various DAISY initiatives and developments undertaken by the member organizations. It was extremely well attended, with 46 delegates representing 25 organizations from across the country. The proceedings were also made available through Skype.

Prashant Verma discussing strategies at the DFI Conference A personal orientation to Obi and Tobi was presented by Avneesh Singh, Country Manager – Technical Development for the DAISY Consortium. An introduction to the DAISY Pipeline and its automated production processes was remotely presented by Mr. Manish Agarwal. Holistic solutions, DAISY book distribution options and playback systems were also discussed in great detail. Dipendra Manocha and Prashant Verma of the DAISY Consortium gave presentations on various content distribution and production models. Strategies to take the DFI movement ahead were also deliberated at length.

The various committees of DFI presented reports with updates on activities and progress. A discussion on the goals, objectives and activities of the awareness committee and targets for the coming year also took place.

DAISY in Bangladesh

Young People in Social Action logo Young Power in Social Action (YPSA) was established in 1985 and became an Associate Member of the DAISY Consortium in 2006. Their efforts to bring accessible information to people who have a print disability and to those who are illiterate have been widely acknowledge (YPSA Receives Top Prize for DAISY For All)

Within the past year they have published a comprehensive report, "DAISY for All", based in part on stakeholder interviews and an extensive survey.

"Background: One hundred and fifty million people live in Bangladesh – 10 percent are visually disabled and over 50 percent are illiterate. Together, these marginalized populations comprise the print-disabled.

Young Power in Social Action (YPSA) is a social development organization based in Chittagong District of Bangladesh. Amongst numerous efforts to enhance youth participation in development programs, is YPSA's Information, Communication, Technology and Resource Centers on Disabilities (IRCD). The IRCD model was launched in 2005 and is used for improving accessibility of reading materials by printdisabled persons. It also aims to provide livelihoods for the visually impaired through employment."

The report covers areas such as methodology used, an examination of the stakeholders and their varying needs, an analysis of the technology, access, capacity building, sustainability, and closes with recommendations.

Some for the details of the current implementation of DAISY in Bangladesh are:

DAISY in Sri Lanka

Recent Major Achievements

In 2010, the school textbooks for Grades 9, 10, and 11 were produced by the DAISY Lanka Foundation as fully synchronized DTBs. The University of Peradeniya has now finished the production of a complete 'TOC plus audio' recording of the Sinhala Jataka book (550 stories of the Buddha's previous birth) to be distributed on 5 CDs or a single DVD. The project was sponsored by the Ministry of Religious Affairs, which hopes to distribute 100,000 copies on DVD throughout the country and abroad, in connection with the 2600th anniversary of the Buddha's enlightenment.

Implementation

At the present time there have been approximately 1095 DAISY DTBs have been produced in Sri Lanka – 546 in Sinhala, 538 in English, and 11 Tamil DTBs. Of these, approximately 40% are full-text. At the present time there is no good quality TTS available in either Sinhala or Tamil in Sri Lanka.

Both the PLEXTALK PTN1 and PLEXTALK PTN2 hardware DAISY players are used by people requiring information in an accessible format. The software players in use include LP/Player, AMIS, FS Reader, and the TAB player. The sector in which DAISY DTBs are most widely used is the education.

Sigtuna DAR 3, MyStudio PC and Save As DAISY are being used as the primary DAISY production tools. Although Obi has been tried it is not as yet being used widely.

Thanks go to Prashant Verma, a Consultant providing Technical Support and Software Testing with the DAISY Consortium for gathering and providing much of the information presented in this article.

Learning & 'Training the Trainers' in Baltimore

Technology that assists us in making connections and learning is constantly changing. New devices, software, and services are being introduced and implemented every day. People who are blind or have low vision need access to the same technologies in order to compete with their sighted peers. Increasingly, access technology vendors are looking for new ways to ignite conversations with consumers to meet their needs. It is essential to train and support assistive technology specialists who can then transfer their knowledge to their students.

Some of the partipants at the NFB Train the Trainers program This two-and-a-half-day National Federation of the Blind (NFB) seminar held in Baltimore, USA, was designed to provide trainers and content creators with the information they need to implement and introduce new accessible tools to ensure that their blind and low vision students can succeed in their endeavors. Discussions and shared experiences between participants were a crucial part of the learning experience.

Anne Taylor, Amy Mason and Clara Van Gerven – NFB assistive technology experts – provided practical information about new as well as time-tested devices such as Braille notetakers, iOS devices and Low Vision tools.

Amy Mason demonstrating how to use VoiceOver with the iPad Attendees learned tips and tricks on using VoiceOver with an iPad and a MacBook Pro during the hands-on sessions. There is a great resource available for those of us who are still learning the right gestures and keyboard commands to be used with VoiceOver on Apple devices: iOS VoiceOver Gesture, Keyboard & Braille Shortcuts.

Jennifer Dunnam, Manager of Braille Programs, Jernigan Institute, demonstrated how to create well-formatted Braille from many different file formats, including HTML, Word, PDF, and scanned documents using the Duxbury Braille Translator.

Invited expert Josh Boudreaux, Director of Technology, Louisiana Center for the Blind, shared tips on using PowerPoint and other well-known software tools with screen readers – very helpful for anyone trying to learn more about using screen readers in an office environment.

John Martyn, JAWS Scripting expert, provided an overview of the resources available to learn scripting for the JAWS screen access software package.

Robert Jaquiss, Access Technology Specialist, Jernigan Institute demonstrated different tactile logos as well as artifacts and maps to the audience. Robert Jaquiss also led an informative session about different OCR options available for assistive technology users.

Varju Luceno presenting at the NFB Train the Trainers program.jpg Varju Luceno, Director of Communications, DAISY Consortium, shared different DAISY content creation software options for making electronic text more navigable. Participants had a chance to convert a well-structured Word document into a DAISY digital talking book and play it back with AMIS, the free, open source, self-voicing DAISY reading system developed by the DAISY Consortium.

Training materials used during this training program are now available on the NFB website. NFB will be conducting trainings such as this again – follow the NFB blog and Twitter feed for more information. Great conversations with well-informed and outspoken attendees, as well as the informative presentations made time spent in Baltimore very valuable for participants and presenters alike.

The Future of Digital Publishing: An Optimist's View

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By George Kerscher, PhD. Republished with permission from the magazine Future Reflections, Volume 32 No. 2. Future Reflections is a magazine for parents and teachers of blind children published by the American Action Fund for Blind Children and Adults in partnership with the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children. Copyright © 2012 American Action Fund for Blind Children and Adults. Editor: Deborah Kent Stein

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At a time when print sales are flat, sales of digital books and other reading materials are soaring. A major resurgence of the digital book began in 2009. Now, in 2012, it is clear that we have reached the tipping point.

Many factors have led to the digital book revolution, but the single most important phenomenon is the growth of portable technology. Today people can choose from a dizzying array of smartphones, iPhones, tablets, iPads, Kindles, Nooks, netbooks, and laptops. These devices allow users to read everything, everywhere, at any time.

A Look Back

The traditional print publishing world gave absolutely no consideration to accessibility. No features could be added to a print book that would make it usable by a blind person. The very nature of printed books defied reuse and repurposing; the book was frozen in time, space, and format. A completely new version was required in order to serve persons who are blind and print-disabled.

In the early 1990s publishers began to use computers to create digital files which were then turned into hardcopy books. Few publishers imagined a future where the consumer would read digital books on a computer or personal device. Publishers did not think about ways that their files might be reused to create customized products, such as a collection of chapters from several books for a particular course taught by a particular professor.

The mainstream e-book movement took hold briefly in 1999. Then, in 2003, the tech bubble burst, and the digital book industry collapsed. I suspect that many publishers felt relieved; they were very comfortable in their print-based world and did not really understand the business that digital books represent.

A handful of enlightened publishers did recognize the importance of creating their content--i.e., their real intellectual property--with an eye to repurposing, reuse, and longevity. They ended up with a head start in the digital publishing race.

Accessibility Front and Center

In many respects the digital publishing world is completely different from the world of print publishing. The major difference for persons with disabilities is that full accessibility is clearly possible. Both the published content and the reading systems that present materials can be made accessible. The born digital book should be natively accessible to persons who are blind and print disabled.

Via refreshable Braille devices and computers with screen readers, blind people were among the first users of e-texts, beginning in the 1980s. It was logical to tap this rich body of experience in the development of commercial digital books. From the earliest development of commercial digital publishing, blind people and organizations that serve the blind community have been deeply involved. The Digital Accessible Information System Consortium (better known as the DAISY Consortium) participated in ongoing discussions with publishers and even drove many of the developments. Members of the consortium are the organizations throughout the world that provide blind people with library services. DAISY Full Members from the US are the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS), Learning Ally (formerly Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic), Bookshare, and the National Federation of the Blind (NFB).

In the United States, government entities have taken a strong stand on accessibility. In 2011 the US Department of Justice issued a "Dear Colleague Letter" to educational institutions, laying out the requirement that they purchase and use accessible digital books and accessible reading systems. On the international scene, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities requires nations to make their information and communication technology (ICT) accessible. A proposed treaty before the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) would enable the cross-border exchange of accessible digital books. The World Blind Union (WBU), an advocacy organization with delegates from 190 nations, is driving much of the WIPO treaty initiative. In the industrial world, persons who are blind make up only a small percentage of the population. In developing countries, however, the percentage of blind people is much higher. Eventually accessibility of the products will open a larger market and lead to larger growth in sales.

First Generation Reading Systems

The first generation of digital books simply consisted of electronic versions of trade books ported to a handheld reading device. In publishing lingo, trade books are novels or popular nonfiction titles such as memoirs and self-help books. Such books consist primarily of text. They have very basic structure and little formatting, making them easily adapted for the early reading systems. Consumers quickly discovered that these digital books had two big advantages. For one thing, they could be purchased at any time of the day or night and were immediately available as digital downloads. Furthermore, many titles could be carried at once on a single reading device.

However, the early reading systems had serious limitations. They could not handle highly stylized materials, such as textbooks, that had sidebars, illustrations, and a variety of font sizes. There was no way to produce material in languages such as Japanese that did not employ the Western alphabet. Print books still posed serious competition. After all, print books offered wonderful resolution, could be carried anywhere, and did not require batteries. Nevertheless, by the end of 2010, sales of digital trade books in the US surpassed those of print titles.

EPUB 3, the Enhanced E-Book of the Future

EPUB 3, developed by the International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF), is the open, royalty-free standard for the new generation of digital books. The file extension "epub" identifies the file format. EPUB was built from the ground up with accessibility for blind and print-disabled readers in mind. Experts in accessibility and publishing technology from the DAISY Consortium worked shoulder-to-shoulder with the large tech companies and the publishers to deliver a format with astounding capabilities.

EPUB 3 has a foundation in HTML 5, a format that is rapidly becoming incorporated into countless devices. In addition, EPUB 3 boasts support for:

I dare you to trump that with the old print book!

Fundamental Access for Persons Who Are Blind

It is essential that both the EPUB digital publication and the reading system that presents it must be accessible. A perfect EPUB document will not be accessible unless it is presented in a reading device that talks and has controls a blind person can use. There must be a handshake between the reading system and the EPUB content. Both must be accessible.

By design, the EPUB 3 document should provide high levels of accessibility. All the text, in the correct reading order, must be available to access technology (AT) or the built-in accessibility of the reader. For example, if you open an EPUB 3 on an iPhone or an iPad, using the iBooks application, VoiceOver will be able to read all of the content in that EPUB. The same is true for other reading systems that can process EPUB 3.

On October 11, 2011, EPUB 3 was officially announced as the digital publishing standard. As with all standards, it will be implemented over time. In the next year or so, those of us who worked on the standard expect to see it implemented in reading systems from many, many sources. We also expect authoring tools to build in support for the creation of EPUB 3. How long this will take is not known, but the initial response is very encouraging. I have never seen such rapid uptake of any standard before!

Cool New Features of Digital Books

It is hard to predict what features will be seen first in EPUB 3 publications. Most likely, publishers will want more control over the presentation of the pages. Typographic stylization will start to show up, making the visual reading experience more enjoyable. Textbooks, which have rich layouts even in print, will also be created using the EPUB 3 standard. Many publishers will incorporate video to make the digital book a multimedia experience. Animations and interactive exercises and quizzes using JavaScript are also expected to become commonplace.

Where are blind people in this digital future? I am an optimist. I believe the traditional digital trade books should be fully accessible directly from the commercial outlets, right now. Educational publishers will need to make sure that persons with disabilities can use the multimedia digital books they produce. To make these formats accessible, captions and descriptive video must be included. Developers of reading systems will need to design mechanisms to turn these features on and off. Of course, the full text in textbooks must be accessible, with no barriers standing in the way.

Graphics will need descriptions, and tactile materials must be made available. Methods for providing descriptions of graphics are under development. The means to provide files for tactile printing or even new 3-D model printing are in progress. All of these innovations must be incorporated without interfering with the mainstream reading experience.

The study of mathematics should get a real boost from the inclusion of MathML in the digital book. Because MathML is not a picture, interesting ways to present and manipulate the mathematical content can be developed. It should be a lot of fun to see this area evolve; we are beginning to see it already.

Finally, I can envision animations and interactions inside the digital book. Imagine a rectangle that represents a greenhouse. The reader can control the amount of sunlight and the resulting growth of the plants. The reader can vary the humidity and temperature and see the resulting changes in growth. This is a simple example, but I guarantee that such exercises will become commonplace in the digital book or related learning experiences. All of these innovations can be made fully accessible to persons who are blind and print-disabled.

I encourage everybody to purchase fabulous digital books. Insist on full accessibility of the digital book and the reading system you choose. With the books and devices we buy today, we are going to set the pattern for the future.

Letters to the Editor

Lynn,

Thanks for another great edition of the Planet. I wanted to tell you that I find the Planet to be a model publication for anyone wanting to be effective with online publications. In fact I have suggested the Planet as a model for other international organizations who want to improve their own publications and to build readerships. The only thing I might suggest is to include a "print copy" button somewhere, because I normally copy and paste into a Word document so that I can take it with me and read on the run.

But you have everything else right, in my opinion, in how to engage your readers.

Thanks,
Randy Weisser,
Resources for the Blind,
Philippines

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Editor's Note: Dear Randy, thank you so very much for your positive comments about our newsletter. Thank you also for the suggestion about adding a 'print button' to the DAISY Planet. This has been implemented for the May issue. The print button is located in the footer, at the bottom of the page (the standard location for this option).

If you have ideas or suggestions as to how the DAISY Planet might be improved, please let me know.

Dear DAISY

This inquiry was posted to the DAISY Support list.

Can we please have a DTB playback software that is compatible with Mac computers?

Waiting for your kind reply.

Vashkar Bhattacharjee,
Young Power in Social Action (YPSA),
Bangladesh

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Dear Vashkar,

ReadHear™ Mac is the most updated player for Mac and it supports all DAISY features. For more information see the GH website or the DAISY website Tools listing for this software.

More software tools are listed for Apple IOS devices in the DAISYpedia article DAISY Books on Mobile Phones and Multimedia Devices.

Vashkar, please post your queries on the DAISY forums or use the Contact Us Form as the Support mailing list is no longer the primary communication channel for support inquiries.

Bits & Pieces

• A thorough and informative product evaluation of the PLEXTALK Pocket PTP1 DAISY Book Player and Digital Recorder from Shinano Kenshi is available on AFB's AccessWorld. In the summary at the end it states: "The PLEXTALK Pocket is a delightful digital player and recorder designed specifically for people who are blind or have low vision. Whether listening with headphones or via the built-in speaker, the device produces excellent sound clarity. The PLEXTALK Pocket shines as a personal DAISY recorder. It is an extremely stable device..."

• The EASI presentation slides of the Save As DAISY Add-in Presentation given May 8 by Craig Mill for EASI have been posted to the DAISY Consortium's SlideShare area.

• There are now 6 Spanish language videos on the DAISY Consortium YouTube Channel. The videos cover Tobi, AMIS and Save As DAISY for Word.

• The Proceedings of the 6th European e-Accessibility Forum, held March 26th in Paris France, are now available online in English and French. The proceedings include the videos of all of the presentations, including the presentation given by Markus Gylling, CIO for the DAISY Consortium and the IDPF.

IFLA (International Federation of Library Associations & Institutions) has released a background paper on digital lending. Information about the paper is provided in the news section of the IFLA website. The document IFLA E-Lending Background Paper is available for download and is a tagged PDF file.

• There have been 3 ViewPointsPlus online radio interview programs this that that may be of interest: "Teaching science to visually impaired youth", "Orca, Gnome, and Accessibility in the Linux OS" and an interview Jose Tamayo shortly after he returned from a 65 mile canoe trip through the Florida jungle (for those who are adventurous). All of the ViewPointsPlus online radio programs from this year and 2011 are available for download. (Note: The interviews are recorded, MP3 files, and the files are very large. The show notes which are informative and are also at the ViewPointsPlus link, open when selected, no download is required.)

• The session e-Books for Everyone: LIA Project, Accessible Publishing Guidelines, EpubCheck and More will be co-presented by Cristina Mussinelli, Project Coordinator for Libri Italiani Accessibili, and Matt Garrish, Publishing Solutions Consultant, next week at BOOKEXPO AMERICA.

• There is a blog post article in Spanish about EPUB 3 – ¿Tiene futuro el formato de libro electrónico epub3 en la educación? – which includes a resource list is available online. It explains the virtues of EPUB 3 and HTML5 when it comes to producing educational materials, stressing that books produced using the EPUB 3 standard will improve the reading experience of "all of us". It is not overly technical and could serve as an introduction for those who know very little about these standards.

• The Hadley School for the Blind will present the seminar NLS-BARD: Downloading Done Easy on Wednesday, June 6. Space is limited – you are therefore asked to register only if you are sure you will participate. (NLS-BARD is the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS)/the Braille and Audio Reading Download (BARD) service in the USA.)

• A Bookshare Download Quick Guide (PC) has been posted on the Lakes Country Service Cooperative (LCSC) website.

• The IDPF-sponsored EPUB 3 samples open source project now includes more than two dozen sample EPUB 3 files which collectively touch on the major features of EPUB 3 including the recently approved EPUB Fixed Layout Metadata specification. The sample collection showcases all EPUB 3 accessibility features and is licensed under a Creative Commons "Share Alike" license.

• Jim Fruchterman, CEO of Benetech, the parent company for Bookshare, has written a guest post describing Bookshare's 10th anniversary party.

Tech Tips

How-To Geek has published a list of 47 keyboard shortcuts that work in all Web browsers. Also from How-To Geek: Beginner: How To Launch any Program in Windows with a Hotkey

• If you are using AMIS software for reading DAISY books, your TTS voice will only 'read out' the book content when the book is a 'text only' DAISY book.

• Apple has announced that EPUB 3 is now supported by iBooks and the iBookstore. More information about this and about how to create pop-up footnotes in EPUB 3 is available on the Pigs, Gourds and Wikis post dated May 22. Information is also posted on the EPUBsecrets blog iBooks: The Latest EPUB 3.0 Reader.

• An alpha release of Tobi with EPUB 3 support will be released in early June. This will not be a public release – it is for serious testers who will be able to provide feedback to the Tobi development team. This is a milestone for the Tobi project. A stable release of Tobi with EPUB 3 support is planned for late July or early August. Please check the Tobi Project page for information about releases and links to downloads. (Tobi is the DAISY Consortium's open source DAISY multimedia authoring tool.)

• The presentation EPUB & Accessibility given by Matt Garrish at the BOOKNET CANADA Technology Forum in March is now available online.

Part 1 of the Tobi DIAGRAM Description video has been added to the DAISY Consortium Tutorials YouTube page. Part 2 of this tutorial is planned for the near future. There are currently 17 videos posted.

OpenOffice.org made the SourceForge list of the top ten growth projects for April. OpenOffice is a multiplatform and multi-language (+170), open source office suite for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, graphics, databases, etc.

• Research In Motion (RIM) has launched BlackBerry® Screen Reader, a free software application that helps customers who are blind or visually impaired operate their BlackBerry® smartphone. BlackBerry Screen Reader provides an audible output based on visual information displayed on a BlackBerry smartphone. Details and a full list of the key features of BlackBerry Screen Reader are provided in the RIM press release of May 7.