DAISY Consortium's News Brief - # 2017-01a
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.

Upcoming Event: eBooks and EPUB Accessibility

At the upcoming event eBooks and EPUB Accessibility on March 23rd, 2017 in Baltimore, speakers will discuss how the accessibility specification can help achieve greater ease of access. The latest updates to EPUB will also be covered.

Location: National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute, 200 E. Wells Street at Jernigan Place, Baltimore, MD 21210.

Please register on the NFB website.

For all upcoming events, please visit DAISY Consortium Calendar.

What's New: Links to Notable News Articles and Media

Office 365 Apps and Enhanced Accessibility

The Accessibility Checker is now easily discoverable in Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote for PC applications through the Check Accessibility button under the Review tab. Authors may ensure their content can be consumed without difficulties by people with varying levels of vision, hearing, cognition and mobility.

When you start with an online template in Word, Excel or PowerPoint for PC or Mac, you can now find templates tagged as “accessible.” These are structured to ensure ease of navigation with a screen reader and keyboard. They use fonts and colors that are easy to read for those with low vision or color blindness. More information is provided on the Office 365 blog.

Also, subtle Artificial Intelligence (AI) accessibility features now have an impact for users with disabilities. For instance, a feature for Office apps including Microsoft Word and PowerPoint will soon automatically suggest image and slide deck captions (alt text), using AI algorithms.

When these files are presented to visually impaired users, tools translating information into audio can utilize text-based descriptions. More information is available in the Verge article.

Talking newspapers in Germany: Old-fashioned content in new DAISY Online service

By Hermann Dremel

For more than 40 years, atz Hörmedien für Sehbehinderte und Blinde in Germany has been offering talking newspapers and magazines for visually impaired people. In contrast to some libraries and many local initiatives, "atz“ is not only a media publisher but also a provider of distribution services for many others. About one hundred volunteers read newspaper and magazine articles week by week to be published in DAISY format. Our readers have to pay for our products, as we are not a publicly funded organization.

As a result of German copyright law, for many years audiobooks could only be borrowed from libraries on CD-ROMs. Therefore, many blind people ordered DAISY players that played CDs. The majority of our blind customers are elderly people. We also offer DAISY books for download through e-mail via a one-time link.

Going forward, we foresee the need to provide a DAISY Online Service for our customers, integrated into our customer administration and CD production.

Fortunately, we found the Kolibre KADOS open source solution at github.com/kolibre, also listed on the DAISY Consortium website. A test service with a small database and test client are included to ensure a successful start. The necessary adaptations can be easily made in an adapter file that manages the access to our admin tool. With one click for each customer, we can switch between the old and new channel of distribution.

Our service is based on Version 1 of the DAISY Online Delivery Protocol (DODP) as hardware players support this. Some trouble arose by a different reading of the protocol on both sides. The DAISY player’s firmware and the service-code did not comply. So several e-mails around the world taught people how to optimize.

User access to new DODP services must be enabled by hardware developers (for Victor Reader and Webbox) or by loading a special .ini file (for Plextalk, see also collaboration with Pyxima ). In both instances, username and password must be provided for loading the individual bookshelf. In their player, our customers find the audio newspaper for download. In contrast to libraries, customers do not need to return the content.

At present, our service is online, and we have users connecting on a daily basis. We provide content for use with hardware players. A separate app for smartphone users is not planned. Instead, the usual link by e-mail and download may be provided. A general DAISY Online software client for use with any service - also for the German language - would be useful for many customers.

We are happy to have the service running. Many thanks to the Kolibre team for providing the useful script and kind support. To us it was a pretty simple way to install and adapt the useful script to our own database. However, should problems appear, the Kolibre KADOS team will be close at hand to help.