DAISY Consortium Annual Report for 2004

Elsebeth Tank, President
General Meeting April 2nd, 2005

INTRODUCTION

DAISY is the better way to read and the better way to publish.

The DAISY Consortium is now a consolidated, well-known organisation, which is having a significant impact on developments in Information Technology around the world. The strength of our membership, and the united voice with which we speak are influential and are making a sustainable contribution. Our DAISY "pioneers", including George Kerscher, Hiroshi Kawamura and Stephen King, to mention just a few, continue to spread the word and share our message internationally. NIMAS (the U.S. National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard, a subset of the DAISY/NISO standard) was adopted in 2004. The endorsement of the DAISY standard is significant in that it may serve as an inspiration for other DAISY member countries working to establish an accessible national file format.

The international presence of the DAISY Consortium and its successful efforts are of tremendous importance to improvements in accessibility and related developments in the mainstream market place. With the continuing success of the DAISY concept, the need for accessible solutions is becoming known, as is the fact that it is possible to develop accessible, sophisticated solutions for extended mainstream user groups and consumers. The growing potential applications for the DAISY/NISO standard reflect our success, but also bring increased challenges to the DAISY Board. Competition and growth bring new challenges, and we are ready for these challenges.

With the increasing adoption of the DAISY standard, initiating and making strategic alliances will be one of our most important "game plans". The opportunities this advancement will bring are tremendous, however we must consider that with this move into the mainstream, we may not be in "control" as has been the case during our development years. One of our overwhelming challenges will be to support and inspire others to get things to move continuously in the right direction in line with the DAISY Consortium mission, vision and goals. It will be essential to work with governments to address issues such as copyright and licensing, issues not within the control of the Consortium.

Last year was a year of clearing thoughts and redefining the strategy for the DAISY Consortium. We have had to consider a wide range of internal and external facts and trends to determine the next step for the DAISY Consortium. This process has been long, and many people have been involved. A draft of the new strategic plan was sent to all of our members, and all were welcomed to participate in the development of the document. The response was positive and we received a range of comments and ideas, all of which were given consideration and many of which were integrated into the strategy. We now have a thoroughly developed and refined two-year strategy. Our strategic plan is very ambitious but it is a realistic strategy and we will, as early as this year, begin a long-term strategic thinking and planning process, a process of clarifying and prioritizing. We are now preparing for the implementation of our two-year plan, enabling the DAISY Consortium to fulfill its new mission, and meet the goals and challenges arising from continued growth.

In November, Microsoft hosted a meeting of libraries for the blind and related groups from around the globe. The DAISY Consortium and IFLA-LBS were asked to plan and organize this historic gathering. This initiative will, we hope, take us forward and open the world of "a better way to read" to all. Because of the importance and significance of this project, the DAISY Consortium is taking a leading role in the follow up activities. Additional details about this project and other 2004 highlights are provided in this report.

Our 2004 Annual Report has been aligned with the management structure established in 2002, and with the Annual Report for 2003, providing a consistent and familiar presentation.

1. MANAGEMENT, ADMINISTRATION, AND FINANCE

Once again, as demonstrated by the audited statement of accounts, the Consortium continues to be managed within its forecasted budget, directing efforts toward the fulfillment of its new mission and goals, and rising to the challenges of continued growth. The Board would like to thank the DAISY staff members for their dedication and contribution to the progress of the Consortium.

There were several staff changes during this very busy year. After two years of employment with the Consortium, Jennifer Sutton, our Communications and Web site Coordinator, left the DAISY staff May 14th. Jennifer's professional and thorough work is most definitely missed. Lisbeth Trinskjær, Executive Administrator, began maternity leave beginning in the summer of 2004 and The Danish National Library for the Blind (DBB) assigned Jesper Laursen to this post temporarily. Miki Azuma's position was moved from the DAISY Consortium to a full time position with the DAISY For All Project. We are pleased that although this arrangement has changed, Miki is still contributing to the progress and goals of the Consortium through the DAISY For All Project.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank the Swedish Library of Talking Books and Braille (TPB) for its continued contribution to the staff with Markus Gylling, the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) with Lynn Leith, and Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic (RFB&D) with George Kerscher.

There were also several changes in Board membership. Ingar Beckman Hirschfeldt, president of the DAISY Consortium since its inception, stepped down from her role and passed the Board lead along to Elsebeth Tank of DBB (The Danish National Library for the Blind). The two women had worked together closely in 2003 in preparation for the transition. The new TPP appointed Board representative was Kjell Hansson, who was a Board member very early on in the life of the Consortium. In addition, Ellen Stroud, Canadian DAISY Consortium Board representative was replaced by Elizabeth O'Brien.

The DAISY Board met three times during 2004: Madrid (January), Zürich (in May, in conjunction with the 2004 General Meeting) and Copenhagen (October). We greatly appreciate the respective Member organizations for their assistance with arranging these meetings and warmly welcoming those who attended.

Working from the new Strategic plan, development of a two year work plan for 2005 - 2006 was begun by George Kerscher. This document, when complete, will assist the Consortium in prioritizing, budgeting and planning.

Membership growth continued in 2004. There were three new Associate Members and four new Friends which joined the Consortium and adopted DAISY as the better way to read and publish. At the end of 2004, our membership was comprised of 12 Full Members, 48 Associate Members, and 20 Friends. More member organizations implemented DAISY, resulting in an even greater increase in the number of DAISY titles produced for distribution to people with print disabilities around the world.

New Associate Members in 2004 were:

New Friends in 2004 were:

At the Board meeting in Copenhagen, it was decided that Board meetings should be open to our Members who would like to observe. The agenda of Board meetings will be made available prior to the meeting and the minutes will also be made available to Members. This change is a clear movement by the Board to provide all DAISY Members with an opportunity to become more involved in the Consortium and its activities.

Elsebeth Tank and George Kerscher prepared a public draft of the Strategic Plan. This was sent out to our Members for public review in August. In September the comments were collected and integrated into the document. With these comments integrated, the Board debated and refined the Strategic Plan in preparation for delivery to the General Meeting in London April 2005. Several members of the Board will be working on a long term Strategic Plan in 2005.

2. DEVELOPING STANDARDS

A revision to the DAISY/NISO standard was written in 2003 and 2004. In July the standard went out for public review and in the fall it went to the NISO voting members. It was passed. Once approved by ANSI, it will become the formal revision to the standard. In past years the DAISY Consortium has provided a "Road Map" on the implementation of the advancing standards. We plan to continue this approach by updating our Road Map and keeping our Members and Friends apprised of the recommendations concerning the evolving standards and their implementation.

In the fall George Kerscher became the Chair of the DAISY/NISO Advisory Committee (a two year term). This committee has been opened up, and a request for participation was distributed. Membership has expanded as a result, and four members from for-profit companies have joined. The minutes will now be made public.

We were represented at a number of significant conferences during 2004. Elsebeth Tank presented on DAISY at the WBU General Meeting, with approximately 30 participants. A paper was presented at the IDP Africa Forum in Johannesburg in late May. DAISY was well promoted and very well received at this conference. Johan Roos, Director of the South African Library for the Blind (a Member of the DAISY Consortium), presented and demonstrated DAISY technology. Markus Gylling and Dipendra Manocha assisted. Johan reported that a loosely structured initiative of countries interested in DAISY has formed.

Thomas Kjellberg Christensen presented a paper at ICCHP in Paris.

Once again DAISY shone at the CSUN Conference. More than 4,000 people attended in 2004, with greater international participation. Congratulations to George Kerscher who received the Harry J. Murphy Catalyst Award at the international reception.

Work began in preparation for the process of development of a DAISY/NISO production tool. In the spring the two Production RFP teams, as established by the Board met to write detailed proposals. These were presented to the Board at the Zürich meeting. The team leaders, Markus Gylling and Thomas Kjellberg Christensen were directed to establish a team and prepare a requirements document. The requirements were completed in September and distributed to DAISY Members for comments and input. The gathered input was reviewed and included in the document. This project will move forward in 2005, with possible collaboration with other not-for-profit organizations working with SMIL and in other related fields.

The DRM project moved forward, with Neil Bernstein of NLS assigned to the position of project manager. The requirements have been gathered. There is another project, the Digital Media Project (DMP) looking at DRM requirements. The DAISY DRM team has reviewed the DMP requirements, and has submitted to them, our requirements not in the DMP requirements document. The DAISY DRM team is monitoring this development.

3. IMPLEMENTATION

In 2004 the DAISY lists were placed firmly behind a new firewall protecting us against virus and spam. Many thanks to TPB for their ongoing support of the DAISY server and for this greatly needed improvement. Hardware upgrades for the server were also implemented by TPB in 2004, and software upgrades that will facilitate Web site improvements and emailing list software are scheduled for 2005.

Over the past year Markus Gylling, Lynn Leith, and George Kerscher work intensively on the modular training materials, the DAISY Knowledge Network. Although some technical enhancements are yet to be completed, and development of additional content is ongoing, it can and is being used for training and presentation purposes. The KN will facilitate the provision of information on topics ranging from standards, to tools, to topics such as the history of the DAISY Consortium. Future plans for the DAISY KN: on-line access to a wealth of fully accessible information that can be used in a variety of ways for a variety of purposes ranging from self-study to courses, to conference presentations.

"Bruno", a DAISY Consortium utility which correctly generates DAISY projects with nested elements for production with LpStudio/Pro and Sigtuna DAR 3, was beta tested and made available as a first release. This tool will primarily be used by organizations producing DAISY books which are full text and audio or audio plus some additional text. It is an internally developed solution that effectively addressed a serious production problem.

New releases of the DAISY 2.02 Validator and Regenerator were made available through our Web site. For updates on tools visit the DAISY Web site's tools pages.

Dolphin Computer Access released their DAISY 2.02 mastering tool, EasePublisher. The DAISY Consortium negotiated extensively with them so that EasePublisher could be made available to DAISY members at a significantly reduced price - adding to the tools available for production, and to the list of benefits of membership in the Consortium.

The DAISY lists continue to be "the place to be" for member organizations interested in tool development and support. Information about tool options, internally developed tools, solutions to problems, and problems to be resolved all find their way to our lists.

A list of DAISY courses held in 2004 is provided below. Courses sponsored by the DAISY For All project are noted in the following section of this report, "Developing Countries". As more member organizations implement DAISY, they have developed internal expertise and many conduct internal training course for their own staff and volunteers. The level of expertise within the DAISY community is growing.

4. DEVELOPING COUNTRIES

The DAISY Consortium Board awarded a grant to two Associate Members in developing countries, to assist them with the implementation of DAISY production. Hiroshi Kawamura devoted a great deal of time and effort during this year in preparation for the 2005 World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS( to be held in Tunis. Work within the DAISY for All (DFA) project continued to move forward successfully in its second year funded generously by the Nippon Foundation.

The current DAISY For All Project has two geographical areas of focus and activity areas. The first is focal point development in Asia, and the other is to support global implementation of DAISY in developing countries. Approximately 50% of resources are designated for focal point development in Asia and the remaining 50% assigned to global activities such as WSIS DAISY representation (Geneva in 2003 and in Tunis 2005), Sigtuna DAR 3 maintenance and technical support for global developing countries, International Trainers Training, AMIS open source development including implementation of local languages, and DFA Open Source development and workshops. DFA also participates in the development of the DAISY/NISO standard. All DAISY For All Project activities are generously funded by the Nippon Foundation.

Some of the DFA activities in 2004 were:

A Focal Point training session is planned for Nepal in March. The political environment in the area will determine when the course can be held.

5. COMMUNICATIONS AND MARKETING

DAISY lists continue to provide one of our primary information resources and sources. It has been a challenge to maintain the lists and activity reports with the position of "Communications and Web site Coordinator" unfilled since May, but the challenge has been met.

The DAISY Lists will continue to be our primary mechanism of communication, and these will be supplemented with regular updates which will keep our Members and Friends abreast of activities and achievements in the Consortium.

Conferences such as the CSUN conference, Los Angeles, California, USA, in March were again instrumental in giving the DAISY Standard and the DAISY Consortium a high profile. Once again our Members and Friends were recognizable as a unified community.

As mentioned earlier in this report, Elsebeth Tank, President of the Consortium, presented at the World Blind Union (WBU) Meeting in South Africa. Stephen King, DAISY Board member, also presented at this meeting. The DAISY Consortium is an international member of the WBU.

MICROSOFT LIBRARIES for the BLIND SUMMIT

In November a summit of international leaders from agencies serving the reading needs of people with print disabilities was held at Microsoft's corporate headquarters, in Redmond, Washington, USA. The summit, called, "Libraries for the Blind and Print Disabled: Moving Toward a Digital Future," included representatives from twenty nations, agencies working in developing countries, the international publishing community and international bodies including the United Nations and the World Health Organization. Many of the participants are members of the DAISY Consortium.

Bill Gates shared his vision of empowerment for individuals with disabilities that limit or preclude their access to the printed page. He reaffirmed Microsoft's commitment to doing whatever it can to help libraries leverage new technology to convert their collections from analog to digital formats, to improve and accelerate distribution, and to provide better service to people who are blind or have print disabilities.

"Empowering people who are blind or otherwise visually impaired includes ensuring that our software incorporates a broad range of accessibility features and works well with screen readers and other assistive technology devices," said Gates. "It also means working with libraries and publishers around the world to eliminate barriers that keep a lot of printed information beyond the reach of the visually impaired.".

Forum participants made a joint commitment to work together to develop and implement a global accessible library.

On the final day of the summit, participants developed and agreed upon the priorities for moving forward. The premise, as stated in the priorities set during the meeting is:
"This group, representing organizations from around the world, enthusiastically supports the DAISY standards, and we are committed to work on the implementation of the global library in order to ensure its realization."

The Consortium has maintained communication with Microsoft since the Summit. A follow up meeting has been scheduled in alignment with the DAISY General Meeting. Projects identified at the Summit will be scoped, with deliverables, timelines, and implications being identified. Project leaders, identified at the Summit, will establish working teams and DAISY lists will be created. DAISY and IFLA will work more closely together to bring the "Global Library" into the realm of reality. These unified efforts of IFLA LBS and the DAISY Consortium show great promise for the future of our common goals.

CONCLUSION

This has been a year of change for the DAISY Consortium and many of its members. The number of organizations implementing DAISY as "the better way to read and the better way to publish" continues to grow, and with this growth there are wonderful rewards, and also "growing pains". Our forward momentum, which notably includes the formal hand-over of the position of president of the Consortium to Elsebeth Tank, is just beginning. A long term strategic plan has been developed and will continue to evolve. Concerted and coordinated efforts are being made to move DAISY into the mainstream...even Microsoft is now aware of the need for a global accessible library.

Once again we thank all of our Members and Friends for their continued commitment and support to our goals and mission. Our challenge continues to be...moving DAISY into the mainstream. DAISY is the better way to read and the better way to publish. Bringing the world to this realization, this is our next step.

Elsebeth Tank, President