The first article in this issue is considerably longer than I'd intended it to be, but the Inclusive Publishing Conference in Baltimore MD was information-packed and the speakers not only had new and interesting information to share, they relayed it well. I do not travel for the DAISY Consortium often any longer, but I am truly glad that I was asked to attend this conference. In the article I've tried to share with you what I thought were the main highlights and provide you with a sense of the atmosphere. This was not only a conference about and for representatives of organizations and companies representing people with a print disability, the mainstream presence was greater than it has ever been at a similar event. Thanks to Anne Taylor, Clara Van Gerven and the other NFB team members responsible for the organizing conference, and thanks to the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) for making it possible.
Immediately prior to the conference the Board of Director of the DAISY Consortium met in Washington DC at the Library of Congress, hosted by the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS). There were two "firsts" at this Board meeting that differentiated it from all previous meetings: it was Stephen King's first Board meeting as President, and, there were more observers than there were Board members. There was a great deal on the agenda to be addressed in one and half days, but Stephen kept the meeting on target. One of the main topics covered was the Consortium's strategic vision for the coming years. The Consortium's Annual General Meeting took place in Baltimore only a few hours after the Board meeting closed. Thanks to NLS for hosting the DAISY Board meeting. The venue was most interesting – until then I did not know that you cannot take scissors into the Library of Congress – they can be used to cut pages out of books (who would do such a thing?!?).
One of the decisions made by the DAISY Board was to endorse the Transforming Braille Project. For many people, braille is not a luxury, it is essential, but for many it is not available in hard copy braille or electronic braille format. Please be sure to read the article about this project submitted by the project team for the Planet.
In an effort to strongly encourage European Union Member States to give Commissioner Barnier a mandate to negotiate and agree to a binding WIPO "books for blind people" treaty, the European Blind Union has prepared an online map that identifies the countries which support, do not support, and are undecided about the proposed WIPO Treaty. The upcoming WIPO SCCR/24 meeting begins July 16. A list of WIPO member state representatives and a prepared message that can be edited as required is provided. I hope to be able to provide you with detailed information about the outcome of the SCCR/24 meeting in the August DAISY Planet – and more than that I hope that the results are positive.
Matt Garrish, author of Accessible EPUB 3, and, What is EPUB 3 posted a comment on a blog post about EPUB 3 and Accessibility that will be of interest to anyone creating or thinking of creating EPUB 3 content that is accessible: "…for the first time publishers do not have to choose between formats (DTBook or HTML4 in EPUB 2) or create separate specialized formats in order to make content accessible for all readers. EPUB 3 subsumes the accessibility features that were present in the DAISY 3 format and expands on them." It is worth reading.
The story this month is somewhat different. Nancy Goodman Torpey and Peter Torpey host ViewPoints, a weekly online audio program. They are sharing their story as an audio interview I did with them a short while ago. I've written a text introduction, but the story is in the audio. The link to the interview and their story is given near the end of the text introduction. ViewPoints programs are also available as iTunes podcasts at no cost. Interestingly enough they also decided they wanted to interview me about DAISY. That program will be aired in August, and I will of course include a link to it in the August DAISY Planet.
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.
The next issue of the DAISY Planet will be published at the end of August – there is no July issue. Until then, I hope you have a wonderful and safe summer or winter, depending upon where in the world you live.
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 Consortium and the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) together with other experts made the "Inclusive Publishing Conference" a day and a half to remember. 160 participants representing 20 countries came together to find out about the status of digital publishing and accessible content in the world today.
The commitment to accessible e-content was clear – in fact it was at the heart of all of the presentations which covered topics ranging from EPUB 3 and standards, iBooks Author, Google Books Accessibility Project, Blio, the Internet Archive, Adobe's tools and accessibility, dedicated reading systems, digital publishing, inclusive publishing workflow, textbook accessibility, STEM, DIAGRAM Project, accessible mainstream charts graphs & maps, and the AIM Report. This article will touch on some of the conference highlights.
Dr. Marc Maurer, President of NFB, opened the conference, taking participants forty or so years back in time when he and others were trying to figure out how to get information out of a computer. Moving to the world today he stated that 'if we can build these things properly we can get the same information at the same time'. Dr. Maurer set the tone for the conference, saying that this is as exciting a time as there can be.
Stephen King, President of the DAISY Consortium gave the opening keynote. In his presentation he referred to the e-book revolution as the "opportunity", and even though there are still barriers and problems to be resolved, e-books open doors to information access that have previously been closed: "This is THE opportunity to re-engineer the publishing industry, as an inclusive industry." He defined inclusive publishing as: "The total process, from author to reader, designed to embrace all, whatever their skills … reading with their eyes, ears or fingers."
A strategic approach to inclusive publishing as explained by King outlined the steps needed to allow us to achieve accessible information for everyone. He described standards as the "key enabler" and said that reform to international copyright is needed. The need for global partnerships figured prominently throughout the keynote. In his conclusion he summarized his main points:
Garth Conboy of Google opened by describing the pages of print books as "little paint chips on ground up trees". He also provided some interesting facts: there are more than 850,000 Android activations per day, Google has scanned and indexed approximately 20 million books, there are publications in over 400 languages. New features in Google Books include translation into about 100 languages and the migration of bookmarks and annotations.
Coming soon to Google Books: fixed layout EPUB, and embedded audio and video. Conboy also mentioned that the Google collection includes many very old books that were previously not accessible and which are now both accessible and freely available. Everything that Google is doing in the 'book space' is open standard.
The first day of the conference ended with presentations addressing the Case for Dedicated Reading Systems for Users with Disabilities with Gerry Chevalier of HumanWare and Tatsu Nishizawa & Hiro Fujimori of PLEXTALK (Shinano Kenshi Co., Ltd.) taking on the topic from different perspectives. Chevalier opened by saying that it is comforting to him as a blind person to know that the major players [meaning companies not reading systems] are focused on accessibility, stating: "The commercial and DAISY world are coming together." However he explained that the interfaces of commercial reading devices are a problem for the elderly and that different apps are quite different to use, even for those who are younger and more tech-savvy.
Nishizawa opened with a bit of history: "BCD – Before CD" and "AD – After DAISY". He pointed out that they had developed the first prototype DAISY player in 1995. Fujimori then provided an overview of DAISY Online, the process, implementations and an example of a specific implementation at the Japan Braille Library.
The keynote on the second morning was given by Dr. George Kerscher, Secretary General of the DAISY Consortium. Anne Taylor introduced him, saying that "without George we would not be where we are today".
Speaking to the point that we have 18 months to change the world, Kerscher clarified – it's going to take longer than 18 months, but we have 18 months to change the attitudes, approach and commitment to accessible information around the world. Over the next year we need to set the course for this change.
Digital textbooks in the future will include features such as interactivity, tests, presentations, images, videos, etc. The publishing industry has an opportunity to be a leader with the next generation of digital textbooks, ensuring that they are "born digital" and accessible from the start of the publishing process. Kerscher also spoke about EPUB 3 support materials and samples that will help publishers to ensure that their textbooks are accessible. The importance of partnerships with the publishing industry was stressed. An overview of Obi, Tobi and the Pipeline (tools from the DAISY Consortium) was also provided.
Rick Clinton of Pearson spoke about the changes underway at the publishing company – Pearson is the largest publisher of educational texts in the USA. The company has always had a commitment to accessibility however because it is so large change can take time – they are endeavouring to build accessibility into every step of their publishing workflow. In 2011 Pearson redoubled its commitment to accessibility, bringing on a Director of Accessibility, doing an "accessibility audit" and building accessibility requirements into project documentation. Guidelines and best practices are being developed.
Pearson textbooks have many, many thousands of images – this is a real challenge for the company, as all images, to be accessible, require descriptions. Training in writing 'alt text' has been provided to their teams involved and they have also spoken with authors about image descriptions, involving them in the process.
All new Pearson publications will be available in HTML/MathML and the production stream will be reengineered to output EPUB 3. They have started to 'reversion' their existing content into HTML and MathML. Clinton stated that he had just learned during the first day of the conference that all EPUB 3 is not necessarily accessible.
David Schleppenbach, of gh LLC spoke about the issues surrounding science and math content in a digital environment, saying that "it will affect all students, not just those with disabilities". Math content is highly graphical and in print textbooks equations are simply images, presentations of equations. The content needs to be "decoupled from the presentation". MathML markup is consistent and complete and allows a computer to render the equation completely for any output, including braille and audio.
There are two main issues: there are very few reading systems that support MathML, and, even more difficult than MathML output is MathML input – creating/authoring MathML. This is a crucial, complex problem that has not been addressed by the mainstream – the disability community is leading the way. Schleppenbach concluded by saying that blind students are the "canary in the coal mine" and that "these problems exist for all of us to solve together".
Betsy Beaumon of Benetech described the DIAGRAM Project and some of the tools that have been developed, including Poet which has been developed for "crowd sourcing image descriptions". Poet is a web-based tool for use by authors, publishers and accessibility providers, designed specifically for adding and editing image descriptions. Bookshare is using this tool and has described thousands of diagrams with it.
Planned developments of Poet include EPUB 3 support, UI improvements, MathML support and additional STEM support. Beaumon closed with "Make born digital mean born accessible".
• EPUB 3, Foundation of Inclusive Publishing: A 'progress report' on the Accessible EPUB 3 Content Guidelines, sample content, Media Overlays, EpubCheck and other EPUB 3 developments was presented. Matt Garrish spoke about the symbiotic relationship between rich data and feature-rich reading systems, and stressed the importance of content validation and checking.
• Apple & Apple iBooks Author: accessibility is built into all Apple products, MAC supports about 40 electronic braille displays, information about & demonstration of iBooks Author was presented. The link to the Apple website accessibility area was provided.
• Blio and Baker & Taylor Axis 360: Blio is an accessible, mainstream, feature-rich eReading application that includes features such as read aloud and video playback, note taking, and various reading views. It is available at no cost, is cross platform and is preloaded onto numerous devices; content can be purchased from over 100 publishers. Baker & Taylor's Axis 360 is a digital media platform providing libraries with a system for circulating digital content and Blio. The application was demonstrated with an accessible EPUB 3 book, illustrating the "wonderful" navigation known to DAISY book users.
• Internet Archive: The original purpose of this non-profit was to archive the Internet. There are now over 3.5 million book titles plus moving images, audio recordings and TV shows, software and webpages. It now contains over 2 million public domain books; the "modern books" (in copyright) are available for purchase. Approximately 15,000 books are available to anyone worldwide. Formats include ReadAloud, DAISY (text only) and EPUB.
• Adobe: Some of the primary points stressed were change, accessibility and their adoption of EPUB 3. Digital Editions 1.8 Preview has support for Japanese text, NVDA (free Windows screen reader), VoiceOver & Window Eyes support, enhanced JAWS support, etc. Partial EPUB 3 support has been introduced as well. Accessibility issues with Digital Publishing Suite (DPS) are being worked on.
• Libri Italiani Accessibili Project: The purpose of this project is to bring accessible reading material into the mainstream. Large and medium sized publishers will be provided with training focusing on production processes and distribution channels. The EPUB 3 Accessibility Guidelines will be followed. A fully accessible online bookstore that can be easily adapted elsewhere is also being developed.
• Textbook Accessibility at Cengage Learning : With operations in more than 20 countries, Cengage's goal is "same content, same time, same cost". They have been providing source files to enable access since 1999. Their first HTML workbook will be piloted this fall.
• Accessible Mainstream Charts, Graphs, and Maps on the iPad: SAS Inc. is developing software that provides data visualization for people with a print disability. Their focus is on web-based technologies, iPad and iPhone. With VoiceOver graphs are rendered, with the points on the axes and on the graph itself read out. The data in an image on a touch screen can be drilled down to a small, specific part of the graphic.
The conference was an opportunity for everyone present to learn about and meet the challenges of e-book accessibility for everyone, everywhere. Just prior to the close of the second day Mark Riccobono, Executive Director of the NFB Jernigan Institute spoke about the AIM Report, explaining that guidelines are needed to ensure that access is provided for all students. Insightful and inspirational closing remarks about making change happen in technology were given by Dr. Marc Maurer.
Some of the presentations given at the conference are available for downloaded from the Inclusive Publishing page on the NFB website.
Thanks go to the Transforming Braille Project Team for submitting this article for publication in the DAISY Planet.
The DAISY Consortium Board of Directors has granted the "Transforming Braille Project" a charter to bring an affordable tactile eBook experience to braille readers.
The objective of the project is to identify a breakthrough solution which will radically reduce the cost of refreshable braille technology so that it both comes within the reach of blind people in developing countries but also allows braille libraries to give readers the choice of cheap electronic text files and more expensive hard copy braille. So far the prohibitive cost of refreshable braille has forced publishers to offer only a braille reading experience through expensive hard copy.
The market for the new device consists almost entirely of readers who currently do not have access to a refreshable braille display because these are mostly supplied by governments to blind people in education and employment in the most prosperous countries and the new, ultra simple device will not compete with the sophisticated multi-feature products currently on the market.
Phase One of the project is currently under way. We began by defining a user requirement which was submitted for comment to all the members of the DAISY Board and to other interested organisations such as the World Braille Council. 51 projects to develop a new device have been identified and scored by an independent engineering company using a tool which allows the weighting of the scored factors, such as price, proximity to prototype and refresh rate. The Project Steering Group has identified three promising projects and four to watch and this Phase, funded by the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) will be completed by the end of July 2012.
Phase Two, which has just begun, has received support from Association Valentin Haüy (AVH) in France, Sight Savers International and CBM. We will work with projects identified in Phase One to bring them to working prototype and submit them for user testing.
Phase Three, which will begin early in 2013 will raise the cost of the tooling of the winning device and seek investor support for the purchase of devices.
The project is being directed by Steven Rothstein of Perkins and we welcome information and financial support. We are currently interested in any refreshable braille development project you know about, so please send details to Tara Alexander, our Project Manager. Naturally, we are looking for funding for this exciting project. We need approximately $150k for Phase Two. Interested organisations can become a part of the project if they make a donation to Phase Two and sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA).
Project Chair Kevin Carey, presenting the Charter proposal to the DAISY Board said: "We are passionate about access by blind people all over the world to the written word in tactile form. This fits in with the DAISY policy of finding end-to-end accessibility solutions for people who have difficulty with print. There isn't any point in securing accessible text files if user interface devices that meet the reading needs of all user groups are not available to complete the process."
The Transforming Braille Project has been added to the DAISY website and a Forum for the project has been created. An email list is also being set up. If you have questions about the project they can be posted to the forum.
Kevin Carey - Project Chair - kevin(dot)carey[at]rnib.org.uk
Project Director - Stephen Rothstein - steven(dot)rothstein[at]perkins.org
Project Manager - Tara Alexander tara(dot)alexander[at]rnib.org.uk
Photo Credit: the photograph of the close-up of the braille display is from the Wikimedia Commons and is available on Wikipedia; permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License.
In India the only DAISY player that has reached the masses is the DAISY2go app. The primary reason for this is that DAISY hardware players are very expensive as compared to mobile phones which are considered by most to be more necessary. Thousands of people who are blind have purchased mobile phones with TALKS software and as a result have this DAISY player at no additional cost for phones utilizing S60 3rd Edition or 5th Edition. (It is free for users who have TALKS&ZOOMS Premium Edition).
However, Prashant Verma, a consultant with the DAISY Consortium, has observed that people who are blind are not making use of the DAISY player and also not taking advantage of the full benefit of the phone's web browsing and GPS capabilities. These 'smart phones' can do a great deal and can have an impact on independent living, education and recreation.
Realizing the unused potential of mobile phones, Verma designed a one day training program for mobile phone use. It was launched in India with SAKSHAM Trust and was very well received. To date he has given this training course on five occasions. Reading accessible content on the phone is an important part of program. One of the long term goals is that people will start reading again.
The one day training program includes topics such as:
The Tutorial for Use of Advanced Smart Phone Features with Nuance TALKS will be published in DAISYpedia the first week of July.
There is also a DAISY2go Quick Start Guide in DAISYpedia which covers topics such as "Book reading & navigation" and "Important shortcuts". Questions can be submitted using the DAISY Contact Us form, "General" category.
After a year-long collaborative effort Bookshare and Mada (Qatar Assistive Technology Center) have launched the largest collection of accessible Arabic titles in the world, with 100 new Arabic-language titles having been added to the Bookshare collection.
The publishers currently contributing books to this collection are:
Scholastic is contributing content in both English and Arabic. Arab Scientific Publishers contributes content in Arabic. The other contributing publishers are providing English content.
Mada is a non-profit organization that is empowering and enabling people with disabilities through the greater use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs). To increase access to these reading materials and tools, Mada is offering free Bookshare memberships to qualified individuals in Qatar, and is also providing training, assessment and advice to people with disabilities on the use of assistive technology.
"Mada's vision for an inclusive society and their commitment to people with print disabilities matches our own. By supporting this partnership and ongoing collaboration, Mada has taken a leadership position in the field in a very short period of time. I congratulate them on their efforts and their second anniversary," [Jim Fruchterman, CEO of Benetech] PRWeb Press Release
More than 64,000 Bookshare titles are available to Qatar residents. An area for Bookshare Qatar is now available on the Bookshare website. The information is presented in both English and Arabic. Details about joining Bookshare and accessing books are provided.
Bookshare's Android app Go Read supports Arabic, however their iOS app, Read2Go, does not. Among the free readers available on the Bookshare website, AMIS, the free, open source DAISY player from the DAISY Consortium, provides the best support for Arabic books.
The library in Alexandria also has an accessible Arabic collection, however it is available only to people who physically go to the library.
The article Daisy Fahm Al-Quran on the KITABA Islamic Texts for the Blind website, announces the release of Al-Hudah's, Daisy Fahm Al-Quran in DAISY format:
The really important point for me is that now, those who cannot read Braille will have access to the Qur'an. This may include older people who have lost their sight, or those who are losing their sight gradually. Either way, the point is that they will now have access to the Qur'an in manageable chunks which will give them both the pleasure of listening and more control over what they're hearing, as well as the ability to navigate with ease. This has not happened before and mediums such as CD versions of the Qur'an don't provide this kind of functionality. This is invaluable to everyone, but now, those who don't read Braille can also enjoy it."
Thanks for yet another interesting DAISY Planet. As I take great interest in EPUB 3, its fine to get an update on the latest developments.
For the purpose of testing I need to install some full-text on my phone. At the DAISY sample content page the use of barcodes would simplify download to mobile devices significantly. Just a barcode app and a photo of the pc-screen, and the download will start automatically. No typing of lengthy addresses on tiny keyboards. An idea that I hope you will consider putting on the DAISY download pages. And something I wish libraries and other book sources would establish as well.
All the best,
Editor's Note: I've passed Hans-Christian's suggestion along to the person responsible for the development and maintenance of the DAISY website. It seems that this would not be difficult to implement, however we are in the midst of converting the site to Drupal 7, so this will have to wait until the conversion is complete.---------------------------
If you have ideas or suggestions as to how the DAISY Planet might be improved, please let us know.
I have a quick question and I am hoping you can help me or direct me to the right person who could. Do you know where our library customers can buy DAISY formatted audiobooks for their patrons?
Thank you for your help.
Digital Sales Director,
Blackstone Audio, Inc.,
Ashland, OR, USA
One source for purchasing DAISY books is ReadHowYouWant. They have an area on their website specifically with braille and DAISY books for purchase. I believe they deal with libraries as well as individuals.
Some of the DAISY Member organizations may be able to sell their DAISY books to libraries in other countries; this is not 100% certain, but it is a possibility. You would need to get in touch with them directly. Two organizations you may wish to contact regarding this are the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) and Vision Australia.---------------------------
Editor's Note: If your organization or company sells DAISY audio books to libraries or if you know of one that does, please get in touch with me using the DAISY Contact Us form, "Newsletter" category or email me directly at lynn(dot)leith[at]gmail(dot)com.
• One of the team members at the University of Barcelona has translated the series of 4 Save As DAISY tutorials into Spanish. They are available online as follows:
º Introduction to the Save as DAISY Add-in: Part 1
º Using the Save as DAISY Add-in: Part 2
º Using a DAISY Reader: Part 3
º Setting the Default TTS Voice for the Save as DAISY Add-In: Part 4
• RoboBraille, a service of Synscenter Refsnaes now supports Dutch text-to-speech and DAISY production, as well as Dutch user response on a range of functions. Both a female and a male voice have been added. A full list of the Dutch conversion options is available Dutch conversion options on the RoboBraille website. RoboBraille currently supports 16 languages.
• The official NFB-NEWSLINE® Mobile app has been released for the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad and is now available to registered users of the NEWSLINE for free from the iTunes app store. This NFB app provides users with access to the more than 300 newspapers and 40 magazines on the NEWSLINE service. The NFB-NEWSLINE® Mobile app announcement includes a link to download the app from the iTunes store at no cost. Information about the NFB-NEWSLINE® service, how to sign up and how to use it is also provided.
• The Carroll Center for the Blind has produced the video tutorial Accessing Bookshare with Read2Go on Apple iOS. The tutorial demonstrates how to access the Bookshare library on an iOS device (iPhone, iPad, iPod touch) using VoiceOver. It is captioned and audio described.
• 26 University Presses are now partnered with Bookshare. The 3 most recent are: Edinburgh University Press, Fordham University Press, and, the University of Nebraska Press. Additional information and a complete list of these Bookshare partners are available on the Bookshare Blog.
• One of the ViewPoints programs this month provided a comparison and demonstration of two powerful tools for audio editing: Studio Recorder and Audacity. The hosts, Nancy Goodman Torpey and Peter Torpey (featured in this month's Your Story) also reviewed the tools in terms of accessibility. The link to download the show (MP3) and the Show Notes is in the list of shows on the ViewPoints website.
• Obi 2.5 alpha test release was made available June 5. This test release includes support for skippable structures, fine navigation (nudge command) and more. Full details and a link for testers to download are on the Obi Project area of the DAISY website.
• Part 2 of the Tobi Tutorial "Tobi DIAGRAM Image Descriptions" which is a continuation of Part 1, is now available. These tutorials explain how to author diagram image descriptions in Tobi.
• EPUB 3.0 Support Grid: "Thanks to the work of its Content Structure Committee, the Book Industry Study Group is pleased to offer an important new industry reference tool... the EPUB 3.0 Support Grid, version 1.0. Designed to be a handy reference for EPUB content creators and business types alike, the Grid provides information on what enhanced functionality available in the IDPF's recently released EPUB 3.0 standard is supported by which devices, apps, and reading systems."
• How to Make the Font of the Title Bars Bigger in Windows 8 from How-To Geek this month.
• ZedVal Version 2.1 was released earlier this month. ZedVal is the Validator for ANSI/NISO Z39.86 Digital Talking Books (DAISY 3 content). Details are provided in the ZedVal 2.1 announcement in the DAISY website news entry.
• An article with 42+ TextEditing Keyboard Shortcuts is available on the How-To Geek website