The DAISY Consortium's Newsletter - March 2016

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.

Publishers' Corner

Book Industry Study Group's (BISG's) Quick Start Guide to Accessible Publishing will be launched at CSUN 2016. The guide serves as the model for best practices in creating accessible digital content for those who live with disabilities in compliance with international standards, while illustrating why this is a good business practice that will positively impact publishers' and their partners' bottom line.

Order today on the BISG website: BISG Accessibility.

The EPUB Accessibility Summit Report: Making Accessibility Fundamental and Essential to EPUB by Bill Kasdorf is available on the EPUBZone site.

Shortlist has been announced for Accessible Books Consortium (ABC) 2016 International Excellence Award. The winners in each category will be announced at the awards ceremony to be held at the London Book Fair on the evening of Tuesday, April 12, 2016. More information can be found on the ABC website.

The 2016 DigiCon (fka IDPF Digital Book) will take place at the McCormick Center in Chicago May 10-11, 2016. Registration is now open.

Experimenting & fine tuning with Obi

By Franz Szekeres, narrator at SBS, Swiss Library for the Blind, Visually Impaired and Print Disabled

Two years ago we decided to replace our outdated and incompatible recording software which we had used for almost ten years. It was quite obvious that there was not a wide variety of options for the production of DAISY audiobooks available on the market. In our nine studios (and sixteen home working spaces) our narrators do all the work on fine tuning the final product themselves. Therefore, producing audio files with any audio recording software as a first step and adding DAISY structure afterwards in a post-production process was not a solution we intended to use.

Our candidate had to be a reliable recording tool with a fast and intuitive workflow AND a reliable DAISY editor with all the expected features including navigable structure, metadata support, export formats, etc.

Obi logoObi, developed by the DAISY Consortium, seemed to guarantee not only the planned requirements but also be prepared for the migration to the mainstream EPUB 3 format. One of the main reasons for our decision to switch to Obi was the fact that it integrates well with our workflow. Developer Avneesh Singh even created a customized configuration file that allows for easy automation of preparing and exporting the audiobook projects so that narrators can concentrate on their primary job.

Once we recognized that propositions are welcome, we had numerous feature requests, especially on the recording side: automatic phrase detection, preview before recording for silent gaps between audio snippets, loudness editing, just to name a few.

Testing and learning

At the beginning of our tests, the graphical user interface was not quite satisfying when books contained a large amount of data. This has improved significantly from version to version. We can say that support by DAISY developers during the whole process has been excellent.

Avneesh Singh (who has visited our studios twice) found solutions for rather specific problems. For example, the fact that we record directly on the server via a network demanded some local storage mechanism to avoid performance issues such as audio dropouts.

Obviously, with the feature richness, the number of settings/preferences grew over the course of months. For an inexperienced user, this could be a bit difficult to foresee at first sight. Defined parameters help keep our eyes on priorities. After all, we are not the only ones making propositions!

Narrator with a microphone and headphones working with ObiThe user interface now allows customization for various workflows. Almost all tasks can be easily performed using keyboard shortcuts, perfect for users with low vision. Some minor problems still exist which make the program unstable when rendering significant amounts of waveform data from time to time. But overall, recording and editing can be done precisely and efficiently.

After over a year of using Obi for creating hundreds of recorded books, we and more than ninety narrators are quite happy. We can carry on with our workflow. We feel prepared for the future and the updated EPUB standard with more complex navigation options. For some full-text full-audio prototype books, we also began to use Obi’s twin, Tobi. We enjoy working with it, too. We haven’t given up hope that the two tools which are sharing the same codebase, will make up one single state of the art DAISY / EPUB authoring tool some day!

Kolibre: Building DAISY Online 2.0.2 support

By Daniel Ainasoja, Kolibre / Pratsam

Since 2012 Kolibre, a non-profit organization in Finland, has released open source components for an accessible player and web service solution supporting DAISY and the DAISY Online Delivery Protocol.

Kolibre logo image KADOS (Kolibre Adaptive DAISY Online Service) is an open source web service component available at Github.com. The source code is currently being updated to support DAISY Online Delivery Protocol 2.0.2 and will be available for testing at http://kados.kolibre.org/ during spring 2016.

Anyone interested can follow the progress at the Kolibre KADOS Github-repository (link:https://github.com/kolibre/Kolibre-KADOS). Feel free to make suggestions, find bugs, submit features or use the code (LGPL 2.1 license). Any questions or feedback can be sent to info@kolibre.org or the development mailing list dev@kolibre.org. Former DODP editor Johan Abbors is Kolibre's lead software architect and Kolibre member Pratsam contributes by testing on their distribution systems - today serving over five thousand online users in Finland with accessible books and newspapers.

Support for DAISY 3 in the player software was recently released as a beta and a demo image is available for the Raspberry Pi platform (link:https://github.com/kolibre/angstrom-manifest/releases), called Kolibre Vadelma 1.2. Our goal is to also update the player components to support the updated DAISY Online Delivery Protocol.

Kolibre is a non-profit association in Finland promoting information systems as tools for individuals with print disabilities. Kolibre has a lot of expertise in software development, working with people with visual impairments and open source related legal challenges. The association welcomes new members and contributions at any time to push the development forward to the benefit of all. The association was founded in 2012 by two Finnish interest organizations for the visually impaired and Pratsam, a Finnish high-tech company providing DAISY production, distribution and playback solutions to the print disabled.

More information about Kolibre is available at www.kolibre.org.

The Open University & Dolphin Publisher: Accessibility works for everyone

By Kelly Goulding, Dolphin Computer Access

“Many students would simply not have been able to study without the DAISY Talking Books that the Open University has provided.”

It has always been a priority for Dolphin to provide accessibility for people who are print impaired. As well as accessible software, it’s essential for visually impaired people to have alternative format materials available to meet their individual needs and reading preferences – whether for education, employment or enjoyment.

With Dolphin Publisher, organisations or individuals can create accessible e-books in DAISY 2, DAISY 3 and EPUB 3 formats. Publisher combines and synchronises text, audio and graphics to create fully navigable and searchable talking books; with immediate access to specific headings, page numbers, and bookmarking, as well as the ability to add personal audio notes. With options to record a narrated human voice or add natural sounding synthesised speech, the end result is professional, personal and accessible. Publisher offers flexible options for text input from sources including Word and .html, and also allows customisation of styles, formats, fonts and page numbers to ensure that readers with sight have an enjoyable reading experience too.

Publisher is used worldwide by many different organisations to support the needs of their service users, employees or customers. One such organisation is the Open University.

Open to people, places, methods and ideas

The Open University delivers distance learning courses, not only in the UK but also internationally. More than 2 million people have studied with the Open University since 1969. Their mission is to be open to people, places, methods and ideas; promoting educational opportunity and social justice. A huge part of this is accessibility; delivering course materials in a format that meets the needs of each individual student, including those who need to study using non visual learning materials.

Open University narrator recording and working with Dolphin PublisherThe Open University has a recording centre at their head offices in Milton Keynes and they exclusively use Dolphin Publisher as their DAISY creation tool. The majority of DAISY talking books created by the recording centre use human narrators, which is the students’ preference; although sometimes the university will use Publisher’s built in synthetic voices if they need to create a book quickly. Occasionally they also create “hybrid” versions where the majority of the audio is created using synthetic speech, with the addition of human narration for sections of text.

In 2014, the Open University created over 300 DAISY talking books, supporting more than 5000 students. Traditionally DAISY books have been supplied to the students via DVD, USB, or SD cards for DAISY players. More recently the DAISY books are being made available to students as a download from the course module websites, and the university has reported that they’re also being used by students without accessibility needs, who copy the files to mp3 for convenience and mobility.

In addition, the University uses Dolphin Publisher for more mainstream projects such as recording voiceovers and podcasts which can then be exported and used in multiple ways.

Alan Marlow, Audio Recording Centre Technician at the Open University explains why DAISY works for the Open University and their students.

“Originally, the Open University delivered audio versions of its course material on cassette. For a few years, it utilised a software package developed ‘in house’, called ReadOut. The adoption of the DAISY Standard in 2008 revolutionised the way that Open University students with a wide range of disabilities, from visual impairments, to mobility fatigue and mental health problems, are able to study.

The versatility of the DAISY Standard is the key to its effectiveness. Unlike a ‘leisure read’ such as a novel, in which the user starts at the beginning of the package and listens through to the end, a student needs to be able to access individual sections of the document at will. The functionality of DAISY allows students, (whether they’re using a DAISY playing software package on a computer, a desktop disc player or a mobile pocket player), to navigate directly to individual headings, sections, subsections pages (if available) etc.. The student can also add bookmarks so that they can return instantly to important sections of text at will.

It would not be an exaggeration to say that many students would simply not have been able to study without the DAISY Talking Books that the Open University has provided”.

One of the key points about accessibility is that it doesn’t just work for a minority – it works for everyone. While DAISY talking books are designed with the needs of people with a print disability in mind, they can also be beneficially used by a wider audience. As the way people consume content changes - due to technology, availability and portability - talking books have a broader appeal than ever before, whilst still fulfilling the initial aim of bringing printed literature to those who otherwise may not be able to access it.

For more information, visit http://yourdolphin.com/publisher.

Take Part 2016 in Stockholm: Innovation Meets History

Stockholm is a city of vivid contrasts. Music, fashion, design and technology trends are born there. New technologies that change the world are invented there. At the same time, Stockholm has a rich history comprising enchanting architecture, museums, the Royal Palace and the medieval urban core of Gamla Stan. Trendy restaurants are side by side with historic cafés and cozy neighborhood pubs. Old industrial neighborhoods are brought back to life and turned into friendly communities.

Take Part Logo

Stockholm is a city where everyone can get inspired and learn something new.

That's why this city makes a perfect location for the Take Part 2016 conference "Human Perspectives on Inclusive Publishing", taking place May 16-18, 2016.

Come and enjoy excellent speakers:

The full program is available on the conference website in Word and PDF formats.

“Take Part will be a fantastic opportunity to gain and spread knowledge on the development of accessibility – and how to create, publish and distribute information in a way that is accessible for all. We hope that this conference will increase knowledge of born accessible publications, and show how inclusion is essential to support democratic development and ensure human rights globally,” said Roland Esaiasson, Director General, MTM – Swedish Agency for Accessible Media.

Information is produced and distributed faster than ever. It is important to include accessibility from the start. Join authors, publishers, distributors, libraries, education and accessibility advocates from the international world of reading and inclusion at Take Part 2016.

For complete program details, speaker roster, and to register, please go to the conference website today.

The Danish Library launches a more personal and mobile home page

By Morten Nielsen, Nota - the Danish Library and Expertise Center for people with print disabilities

On January 18, 2016, we launched the re-designed digital library at http://www.nota.dk/. While designing the new home page, we user tested and re-designed far more than ever before. And, we threw a lot of content away to make it easier for people to find what they need. It's all about books.Nota logo

Online and mobile

Maybe not so surprisingly, our members told us that they are mostly online for reading fiction - to play and download books, and to find inspiration. And they do it more and more often on a smartphone or a tablet.

Can I make this mine?

Our members also told us that they would like a more personal page. They spend a lot of time with us at Nota. So why not make them feel more at home? Members want their customizable preferences, endorsements and playlists. Their media experience comes from an in-depth use of comprehensive, commercial music and film services.

We have experienced a substantial increase in the number of children and young persons among new members of Nota; thus, the new library is inspired by Netflix’ way of presenting preferred or related genres.

Very different needs

The reasons that made us go far into user testing and re-testing were, of course, our members' specific challenges, e.g. of the blind or dyslectic. But, another reason came from different user groups' needs - from primarily elderly, all blind members to visually impaired to our largest – and explosively growing – member group of dyslectic children and youngsters. Very different needs in respect to accessibility and usability have to be taken into account. Not to mention the variety of IT-skills we find among the children.

The next step

Our next step was to build a new corporate website on the same Internet address. Up till now, the digital library and the corporate website have been two separate websites. Our members have been confused by two places and their names. We hope to communicate more clearly to make it easy for members and business partners to find and access the Danish Library.

The launch and the first 30 days with the new digital library went even better than we could have expected.

The previous digital Danish Library had 45 000 active members out of Nota’s 100 000 members. Some members still use our services by calling or writing to us for library services. And some are less active or even inactive.

Fears and problems

We had a small fear of losing some members due to website redesign.

But until now, more and more members use the new digital library. We previously had up to 9 000 active members in one day. With the new library, we have up to 12 000 members in one day.

The main problems for our members have been forgotten passwords, changing from one website to another. Which might suggest that we may have re-activated some members with our direct notices about closing the old site and opening the new.

In advance, we did a lot to inform our visually impaired and dyslectic members directly by e-mail and notices on their library website profile.

We also informed our partnering organizations.

Are users happy with the new site?

We are not asking at the moment, but everything seems to work very well.

We do repair functionality that does not work as it should, and we will have ongoing development on the site. Also, we do receive calls and e-mails from some dissatisfied members.

As we look at the use of the site and increasing user numbers as well as notice the loaning of books that works, we are confident at the moment. We are not seeing truly dissatisfied members.

DAISY Training In Vietnam

By Mayu Hamada, Assistive Technology Development Organization (ATDO)

In Vietnam, lack of accessible materials is one of the biggest problems for visually impaired students. For the primary and secondary level, there are few accessible materials in big cities and almost no accessible materials in rural areas. At the higher education level, there are no accessible materials at all. In blind associations or libraries, braille and MP3 audio materials for entertainment and life sciences are available, but there are no textbooks. DAISY has hardly been produced due to lack of awareness of its usefulness and lack of attention and resources.

From January 12th to 22nd, 2016, a DAISY launching workshop and production training were conducted in Hanoi, Vietnam thanks to the cooperation of the following three organizations:

DAISY training session in VietnamIn 2014, MI, LYU, and ATDO decided to write a project proposal for conducting training to establish a DAISY production center at LYU and converting MI's Disability Inclusive Community-based Disaster Risk Management (DiCBDRM) manual into DAISY format. We received funding for the project "Building capacity and removing barriers for persons with disabilities through accessible digital information system to learn Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) in Vietnam".

The project had two parts. The basic and follow-up training taught all trainees how to use AMIS, Obi, Tobi, Save as DAISY Translator, and some other tools. And the other part was organized for the production of the DAISY version of the DiCBDRM manual.

LYU is planned to finish the English and Vietnamese versions of the full-text full-audio DAISY DiCBDRM manual by the end of May 2016. They are also discussing the plans to convert textbooks into DAISY format. One of the LYU members is also developing a DAISY playback software for Android. Now LYU is ready to receive a contract to produce DAISY!

Bits & Pieces

Go support DAISY Members and Friends at CSUN 2016! A selection of sessions can be found on the DAISY Consortium blog and Benetech's Born Accessible website.

Israel became the 16th country to ratify the Marrakesh Treaty for the cross-border exchange of books in accessible formats, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked announced Monday, March 21st at the Tel Aviv conference of the International Association for the Protection of Intellectual Property (known by its French acronym, AIPPI). More information is provided in the Jerusalem Post.

The program for the 10th European e-Accessibility Forum is now available online at http://eaf2016.braillenet.org. This conference will be held on May 30th, 2016 at the Cité des Sciences in Paris. The theme of this year's conference is e-Accessibility in a Connected World.

The 2016 M-Enabling Summit (June 13-14, 2016 in Washington DC area) will run under the theme “Accessible Technologies and Environments for All”. It will be dedicated to empowering mobile technologies, and focus on next-generation innovations and breakthroughs for senior citizens and persons of all abilities. Register today.

Tech Tips