DAISY Consortium's News Brief - # 2015-01b
Enjoy a concise selection of digital publishing news. Our main goal is to inform DAISY Members and Supporters about new e-reading technologies and related developments.

Current Events: Public Review of the DAISY Online Delivery Protocol and ATIA 2015

Version 2.0 of the DAISY Online Delivery Protocol is now available for public review. Comments and questions on the updated protocol are welcome, and details of the process can be found on the project site on GitHub https://github.com/daisy/DAISY-Online-Refresh/wiki/DAISY-Online-V2.0-Public-Review. Links to use cases and articles are posted to the DAISY Online Delivery Protocol page on the DAISY Consortium website.

The public review is open for 30 days and closes on Saturday, February 28th 2015. More information will be provided in the next (February 10th) issue of the DAISY TechWatch.

If you are at the ATIA 2015 conference in Orlando this week, check out the sessions and exhibits of the DAISY Consortium Members and Friends.

What's New Around the Web? [Links to Articles]

Featured Tool: DAISY Player for Linux

Jos Lemmens is blind. He wanted to read his DAISY books on the Linux platform, so Jos created DAISY Player software for Linux. He also wanted to make publications in the EPUB format more accessible, so he developed an eBook speaker that can read .epub and other text-based files out loud using a text-to-speech synthesizer such as eSpeak.

The programs are available as Debian packages. They can be installed with package managers on distros such as Debian, Ubuntu or alike.

For more information including new releases and tutorials on how to use this software, please go to http://www.jlemmens.nl/.

Innovator Spotlight: Interview with Winston Chen

Voice Dream Reader is a versatile reading tool for the iPhone and iPad, developed by Winston Chen.

Winston, how do you define innovation?

I subscribe to Clayton Christensen’s definition of innovation. There is sustaining innovation which are incremental improvements. Then, there is disruptive innovation, which occurs when currently available technology is packaged in a new way that changes the rules of competition. Often, it creates a new market. Voice Dream Reader is a classic example. Traditionally, PC-based text-to-speech readers cost hundreds of dollars and are distributed primarily through direct sales to schools. Now, with modern development tools, open source libraries, developer communities like Stack Overflow, rented servers, and App Store for distribution, one person can create a similar product and sell it at a tiny fraction of the price.

What inspired you to create the Voice Dream Reader app?

I started building Voice Dream Reader as a hobby. My family and I took a year off from our life in Boston and went to live on a small island in Arctic Norway for a year. When it got dark there, I needed to do something indoors to occupy my mind. So I went back to coding, something I hadn’t done for very long time. Version 1 took 2 months. And it was certainly not built for accessibility - I had never even heard of the term. I built it for busy people to catch up with their reading while driving. But over 3 years of nearly full time work, I gradually turned a very simple product built for the mass market into a feature-rich product for a niche market. But outside of my family, it is by far the most gratifying thing I’ve ever done in my life.

When did you add support for digital content in DAISY format?

I first added support for DAISY textbooks because I wanted to support Bookshare. That was in the fall of 2012, one year after I started writing the first line of code. Then the Swiss Library for the Blind, Visually Impaired and Print Disabled (SBS) asked me to support DAISY audiobooks. And they offered to underwrite it. I was reluctant at first: I thought Voice Dream Reader was about text-to-speech! I changed my mind when I came to the realization that Voice Dream Reader is not about text-to-speech. It’s about helping people read. I was suffering from typical technology-focused myopia. I got that done in the fall of 2013.

How do you respond to user feedback?

I read every customer email, and every suggestion, comment, criticism goes into a database somewhere in my brain. Voice Dream Reader would certainly not be where it is today without user feedback. Users told me that I should support DAISY. Users told me that I should make the app accessible for VoiceOver users. Almost every feature has its genesis in a customer email. I aspire to respond to each email personally, but I sometimes fail.

Will Voice Dream Reader for Android become available in 2015?

Yes. We’re shooting for a March release.

What is Voice Dream Writer and who can benefit from it?

Voice Dream Writer is a brand new app that I’ve been working on since last year. It’s a plain text word processor designed from the ground up for the visually impaired and dyslexics to help them write better. It comes with some unique features: text-to-speech proofreading to reduce errors, a search engine for words to improve word usage, and a synchronized outline that helps writers stay organized. I’m super excited about it!

Writer is available in the App Store in English speaking countries for now. The normal price is $9.99, but until this Sunday (February 1st) it'll be on sale for $7.99 at http://appstore.com/voicedreamwriter.

Thank you Winston for you time and passion. Can't wait to try out the Voice Dream Writer.