The DAISY Consortium's Newsletter - February 2008

From The Editor

This issue of the "Planet" is filled with news about DAISY activities and developments. More and more inquiries about DAISY and the DAISY Consortium reach us every day. Interest is growing everywhere.

Questions about the Microsoft plug-in "Save As DAISY XML" have also been pouring in. Read our first Feature Article to find out how you can get ready for the launch. Information is also available in the Microsoft "Save As DAISY XML" project area of our Web site. Visit the News on our home page for the most recent announcements.

You will also find the second of our two-part "Your Stories" from Tom Dinning, an education advisor in Australia's Northern Territory, in this issue. Please take a minute to read it as it really is a great "story".

The Consortium sends special congratulations to Monthian Buntan who has just this week been elected to the Senate in Thailand. Mr. Buntan is a powerful advocate and is sure to have a positive impact on national policy for the people of Thailand.

January 2008 Quiz Results:

The December Quiz Question was: What was the name of the person who developed the "night writing" code?

  • Valentin Haüy
  • William Moon
  • Charles Barbier
  • Abraham Nemeth

The answer is Charles Barbier, and 75% of those who took the quiz had the correct answer. That was not an easy question, some of you must have done some serious Internet searching to find the answer.

February Quiz

With the launch of "Save As DAISY XML" just around the corner, this month"s quiz focuses on what this really means. If you are unsure, read the first Feature Article in the November DAISY Planet.

Question: What is "Save As DAISY XML"?

Open Source software developed by Microsoft, Sonata and DAISY
A free plug-in for Microsoft Word that will produce DAISY XML (the text source for DAISY books)
A free plug-in for Microsoft Word that will produce DAISY books
Both #1 and #2

Be sure to read next month's issue of
The DAISY Planet
for the answer.

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.

The following links are to announcements of recently updated DAISY Products and Services from our Members and Friends. Marketplace entries also appear on our home page.

The DAISY Marketplace

Your Stories

It's quite exciting to see
a young student who was
previously feeling out of the picture
now being in control

Tom Dinning (education advisor in rural Australia):
"The entire class wants DAISY books"

Are You Ready for Save As DAISY XML?

If the avalanche of questions resulting from the announcement of the DAISY Consortium/Microsoft collaboration is any indication, we should be preparing ourselves for the upcoming release of "Save As DAISY XML".

What We Can Do to Get Ready?

DAISY Members and Friends, everyone in the DAISY community, and everyone who believes that DAISY is the "Best Way to Read and Publish" can:

  1. Download and test the beta version of the translator if you are technically inclined - the first beta has been available for download from SourceForge, since January 27.
  2. Report any bugs and make any "Feature Requests" for changes you think are needed on the SourceForge site.
  3. Educate your team - ensure that everyone understands what "Save As DAISY XML" is and what this plug-in for Microsoft Word will do (information is provided in the Feature article in the November issue of the DAISY Planet.
  4. Be prepared for inquiries and questions; prepare fact sheets for those who may receive calls or emails about "Save As DAISY XML".
  5. Build transformers that provide DAISY XML to DAISY book conversion into your existing tools and/or services, or create new tools that provide this support.
  6. Join the Microsoft Save as DAISY XML discussion forum.
  7. Provide digital images and accompanying permissions to the DAISY Consortium for collaborative marketing and publicity opportunities.

Why is the "Save As DAISY XML" Plug-in Important?

For the first time in the history of accessible content creation there will be a freely available tool that will allow many, many millions of people (perhaps that's billions of people) to create the "raw material" that can then be used to produce DAISY content: books, magazines, journals, letters, etc.

Do You Have a Product that Converts DAISY XML to a DAISY Book?

We know of a small number of tools which have been developed by Friends of the DAISY Consortium that already have this capability built in. If you have a product that will transform DAISY XML to a full DAISY book file set (not necessarily including audio) please get in touch with us using the DAISY Contact Us Form ("Other" category).

DAISY Standard Recommended in France

An official report to the French Minister of Higher Education and Research recommends the DAISY 3 (ANSI/DAISY Z39.86) Standard as the required format from publishers for educational materials. It is available online in French.

The specific reference on page 45 is as follows: "Le Ministère devrait obliger les éditeurs de manuels scolaires et universitaires à fournir, à la demande, des versions numériques de leurs ouvrages au format standard XML NISO/DAISY Z39.86..." Roughly translated into English: "The Ministry should oblige the publishers of textbooks to provide, upon request, the digital versions their works in the standard format XML NISO/DAISY Z39.86..."

Ontario Canada

The province of Ontario in Canada is also working towards standardizing the format for accessible textbooks. The DAISY 3 Standard is one of the standards being promoted and given serious consideration.


Monthian Buntan, newly elected Senator in Thailand, is promoting DAISY as the standard for electronic content in the Thailand Parliament.

DAISY In Action

Since the January issue of the DAISY Planet there have been a number of exciting events that have featured DAISY and what is going on in the DAISY 'world'.

2nd European eAccessibility Forum

DAISY was one of the 'headliners' at this conference held January 28 in Paris France. Several presentations shed light on DAISY activities and projects. Of particular note is the presentation given by Markus Gylling. Bernard Ourghanlia from Microsoft gave a presentation in which he announced the beta release of Save As DAISY XML. Emilia Persoon from Dedicon gave a plenary presentation on hybrid books in education, based on the DAISY Standard, and also led a workshop on the gh player. Lisa Friendly from Benetech also referenced the DAISY Standard in a plenary session and in her workshop.

And, last but far from least, Catherine Desbuquois from BrailleNet reminded the conference participants that the DAISY Standard is a basis for BrailleNet's Server Helene Architecture. For those interested in finding out more about this conference, the proceedings of the eAccessibility Forum are available online. Most of the papers are provided in English and French, however some are in one language only.


Audience"Collaboration" was the theme for DAISY at this year's ATIA Conference held January 27 to February 2. The DAISY staff team met with current and prospective DAISY Members and Friends to discuss DAISY open-source tools, DAISY developments, and requirements for the next DAISY Standard. The DAISY open-source development session was well attended, with a good deal of developer and mainstream interest. All groups are closely following the current Microsoft Save As DAISY XML developments.

As the DAISY team stressed throughout the conference, all user and provider groups are urged to use the Requirements Gathering form to enter suggestions for the next version of the DAISY Standard.

O'Reilly Tools of Change Conference

The O'Reilly "TOC" Conference continues to be for anyone and everyone who cares about books and publishing. George Kerscher, Secretary General of the DAISY Consortium, knew he had to be there to promote and represent DAISY. The conference addressed all aspects of publishing from creation, to development, production, distribution, and consumption.

The Tools of Change conference, sponsored by O'Reilly Media was held February 11 – 13 in New York City. This conference was intended to "…decipher the tools of change in this industry and help cut through the hype for a more profitable future in publishing."

George promoted DAISY and the advantages it brings in the following presentations and Lightning Rounds:

Of interest to so many people in the content creation and publishing industries was the session DRM, Digital Content, and the Consumer Experience: Lessons Learned from the Music Industry. Standing room only does not describe the people crowding around the door unable to even get into the room. It was illustrated that sales of music increased dramatically when DRM was not applied, when the music was "DRM-free."

To monitor follow-up discussion from the conference, including the projected releases of video content, subscribe to the RSS feed for the Tools for Change Blog.

What's Coming Up?

There are two events being held during the next several weeks that will again put the spotlight on DAISY developments and activities. The DAISY Consortium and IFLA/LBS are co-hosting the seminar: "Networking, Collaboration and Co-operation - Introducing DAISY and IFLA" in Zagreb Croatia, February 27 and 28. Participants from Eastern Europe will have an opportunity to learn about the activities and projects of both organizations. Details are available in the DAISY Calendar. And then of course there is CSUN, which will be held March 10-15 in Los Angeles, California. There are numerous DAISY and DAISY-related presentations on the CSUN program, and, the launch of Save As DAISY XML will coincide with the conference.

Making Math Accessible Blog

TechShareDevelopments will be announced and resources connected to math accessibility will be made available on the recently launched Design Science "Making Math Accessible" Blog. A signup tool is available on the blog for those who wish to receive updates by email.

Letters to the Editor

Wanted: Good DAISY Content for Demonstrations

I've been following DAISY developments here in the United States, and as a consumer, I'm pleased that DAISY has begun to make its way in this country. More and more blind/visually impaired people are purchasing DAISY players; I have purchased one myself and have looked high and low for a good DAISY book that could be used to demonstrate, to anyone interested, the potential of DAISY and what it means to the blindness community.

I am frustrated by the lack of good content. While the two main book producers in the US are offering DAISY books in some form, they don't show the full potential of the format. None have full text and full audio, and mark-up is sometimes not as extensive as it could be.

I know that Europe and Canada have been involved in DAISY for several years now, but the US is just beginning to get involved. Due to the lack of good DAISY content that can be freely distributed, it's going to be hard to really show the potential of this technology to the US market.

Therefore, I am asking: Is there any chance that someone will be offering a place for anyone interested to find freely available DAISY content? If nothing, it would be great if a short book with full text and full audio could be produced that explains what the technology is and its benefits. I wonder if libraries around the world would be able to offer full text and audio books for a DAISY repository.

In short, I feel this is a great need, and I feel it should be addressed. Thanks.

Editor's Note:

Ms. Hansen has made some excellent points in her letter. It is important to be able to 'show' the advantages of DAISY with "good" content. All DAISY content is not created equal, and that unfortunately is reality. Information about the very limited available content for demonstration purposes was provided to Ms. Hansen, but a repository of valid, well structured and complex DAISY content for demonstration purposes is sorely needed, as it is also needed for DAISY OK sample content. In a world with equitable access to information people would be able to buy DAISY books online, just as so many people buy commercial audio and print books today.

If you wish to comment on Ms. Hansen's letter, or, if your organization has DAISY publications that can be used for demonstration and/or DAISY OK purposes, please use the Contact Us form with the 'newsletter' or 'Project: DAISY OK' categories respectively.

T. Hansen, USA

How You Can Help

1. Submit requirements for the next DAISY Standard.

2. Provide samples for Save As DAISY XML testing.

3. Provide samples for the DAISY OK Project using the Contact Us form ("DAISY OK" category).

4. Circulate "The DAISY Planet" within your organization or company; share it with others.

Tech Tips

DTD: A Document Type Definition is basically a set of rules for document construction. It defines the allowable vocabulary and markup syntax.  This month an update of the DTD used in the text content creation of DAISY books   (dtbook-2005-3.dtd) was released. It rectifies several minor omissions in the previous version of the DTD. For example, page numbers were not permitted within tables in dtbook-2005-2.dtd. 
See DTD.