The DAISY Consortium's Newsletter - December 2008
Season's Greetings

From The Editor

The first article in this issue of the DAISY Planet WIPO SCCR: a Step in the Right Direction provides an overview of the activities, results and plans relating to the proposed WIPO Treaty for Improved Access for Blind, Visually Impaired and other Reading Disabled Persons. This proposed Treaty could impact the availability of accessible information for everyone, everywhere.

Directly related to the issues of copyright and access is a quote given in a speech Dr. William Rolland, President of WBU made last year: Imagine if you walked into a bookshop or library, and were told that you were only allowed to choose from five percent of the books on the shelf. What would such a limited choice do to your education, to your leisure reading opportunities? In the world of digital information this might be equivalent to only being allowed to have access to 5% of the web pages available on the Internet. Think about it.

The publishing industry generally, and Amazon, Kindle, Apple, e-books and e-readers specifically, are topics covered in the current article Amazon Taps Its Inner Apple. What is of particular interest for our community is the 'future of the book': Looking long-term, as readers migrate to digital books, there is a real possibility the basic form of the book will change. It is a process already under way, since the Internet has changed the way people access information, content, and entertainment...books may soon become multimedia events...Publishers could team with authors and multimedia producers to forge a new channel for dynamic e- books that go far beyond linear prose; they may provide a blend of text, video, audio interviews, 3-D maps -- an entire ecosystem of content built on top of the book. And DAISY will play an important role in this transition. The new DAISY Standard will be a truly multimedia standard that will meet not only the needs of those who require information in an accessible format but will also meet the needs of the everyone who wants a rich, multimedia reading experience.

Techshare, held in the UK, is always a conference not to be missed and it looks like Techshare 2009 will be no exception. Online booking for the conference, which will take place September 16 - 18, is open and there is a discounted Early Bird booking rate for those who register before July 10. A wide range of high quality presentations covering some of the most innovative digital access technology available will fill the programme.

There is already one and soon will be a second commercial audio book publisher in Germany adding DAISY books to their format offerings. If you know someone working for a commercial audio book company, tell them about DAISY and how the DAISY reading experience is for everyone. If DAISY books are sold commercially, it puts those who need them on a level playing field with those who do not. Please see Dear DAISY in this issue of the Planet.

DAISY Members and Friends around the globe promote DAISY. Acapela Group, known for its text to speech Acapela voices, has very recently joined the DAISY Consortium as a Friend. Their posting DAISY Consortium: Acapela Group, new member and active campaigner for information access equality highlights accessible information and DAISY. To those of us who have been promoting DAISY as the best way to read and publish for many years, it is uplifting to read such a supportive message from a company very new to the DAISY membership.

I'd like to thank Stephen King, DAISY Board member for the RNIB, for letting us know that the UK has ratified the UN Convention. If you have news about your organization or company, or about issues relevant to the DAISY community, please let us know by using the Contact Us form (Newsletter category). You can also submit a comment (supportive or critical) for the Letters to the Editor column or let us know you'd like to share 'Your Story' with the Planet readership using the Contact Us form. Many thanks to those who took the time to get in touch with us about the May DAISY Planet.

Your Story this month is from Jim Sanders, recently retired President of CNIB. I've know Jim for at least two decades, and his wonderful sense of humour shines through in his 'Story'. It will put a smile on your face.

Lynn Leith

Season's Greetings

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 new or recently updated DAISY Products and Services from our Members and Friends. Marketplace entries also appear on our home page.

The DAISY Marketplace

WCAG 2.0 - Web Content Accessibility Guidelines Released

Harmonization Within Reach

World Wide Web Consortium logoOn December 11, the W3C announced the publication of its new Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0. The DAISY Standard is based on open standards, including the W3C. This new standard brings information accessibility to the forefront in Web design and information presentation. In the W3C Press Release, George Kerscher, Secretary General of the DAISY Consortium is quoted as saying, "In the recently passed United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, access to information and communications technologies is for the first time recognized internationally as a human right...WCAG 2.0 will help to make access to information a reality around the world." Kerscher is also Co-chair of the Steering Council of the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI), a division of the W3C.

The new standard from the W3C's Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) addresses accessibility for all types of Web content, including text, images, audio, and video. This standard supersedes WCAG 1.0 and should serve to harmonize other efforts to describe requirements for Web accessibility.

The new DAISY Standard which is under development will incorporate these information media types. This news and the fact that the new W3C standard, "addresses barriers to accessing the Web experienced by people with visual, auditory, physical, cognitive and neurological disabilities, and by older Web users with accessibility needs." are completely in alignment with the DAISY Consortium's efforts and goals.

In the Press Release it is stated that "WCAG 2.0 explains how to make content:

In conjunction with the press release, W3C published a series of Testimonials which clearly illustrate not only the importance of the new standard, but the commitment around the world to implementing it: Diana Samarasan, Director, Disability Rights Fund (DRF): "...Accessibility of information and communications technologies (ICT) is a fundamental right for persons with disabilities. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 is an important part of ensuring that barriers to full participation in social, economic and political life are addressed...Guidelines such as these are vital in making sure that as growth in technology transforms systems, people with disabilities are full participants." Yannis Vardakastanis, President, European Disability Forum (EDF): "The web pervades everyone's life; when websites are accessible, people with disabilities can access information, communicate with their peers, receive education, look for jobs or take part in leisure on more equal terms with others than ever before. By giving clear technical specifications to website designers, and unifying web-accessibility standards, WCAG 2.0 directly benefits users who have accessibility needs due to disabilities..." Vladimír Špidla, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities at the European Commission: "... This supports the further development of accessible websites in Europe. It is essential for persons with disabilities to be included in society and to participate on equal terms with others. Promoting access to the Internet is an obligation emerging from the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities..." Axel Leblois, Executive Director, G3ict, United Nation Global Initiative for Inclusive ICTs: "...WCAG 2.0 fulfills one of the most important promises of the Digital Accessibility dispositions of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. It stands at the forefront of standardization efforts to make Information and Communication Technologies accessible to all..." Testimonials on the W3C website are in English, Spanish, French and Japanese.

It is essential that software developers have a single standard upon which to base their Web developments. Further information and links are provided on the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) website.

DAISY Delegation Promotes Information Access at IGF3

"Internet for all"

DAISY Consortium representatives, including Hiroshi Kawamura, President of the DAISY Consortium, and Dipendra Manocha, DAISY Developing Countries Coordinator, participated in the recent IGF3 meeting held December 3 - 6 in Hyderabad, India. Their primary purpose was to promote equal access to information and knowledge for persons with disabilities as well as wider communities, through DAISY, "everywhere, anytime and for everybody".

Almost 1300 people attended the 2008 forum; IGF is a forum for multi-stakeholder policy dialogue resulting from the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS). The Internet Governance Forum mandate is provided on the IGF Web site.

Raising of the UN flagIn the Opening Ceremony, and as presented in the Forum Highlights, Jomo Kwame Sundaram, UN Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development, is noted as saying that "...providing access alone is not enough. Access needs to take into account the diversity of the world's population -- the diversity of languages but also the diversity of people of different abilities."

Hiroshi KawamuraMr. Kawamura participated in the first of two panel presentations on the first day of the Forum. The panel discussion which was dedicated to the issue of "Realizing a Multilingual Internet", was moderated by Myriam Nisbet, Director of UNESCO's Information Society Division. Issues relating to multilingualism and promotion of the diversity of the Internet were discussed. The challenge of making the Internet available to people of all languages and issues relating to multilingualism, local languages and illiterate populations were raised during the panel discussion.

A summary of Mr. Kawamura's presentation is also provided in the Forum Highlights: "He stressed that the principle of a democratic society should be the basis of Internet governance in the future, based on free and prior informed consent, as stipulated in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, as well as a fundamental human right. The people who have been excluded from the Internet community should be included on the basis of this principle."

Dipendra Manocha presentingDipendra Manocha presented at an IGF Dynamic Coalition on Accessibility and Disability (DCAD) Workshop: "Including Accessibility and Human Factors in the Universalization of the Internet - How to reach persons with disabilities, the 10% of the next billion". One of the Workshop Objectives was to "highlight the necessity to make the Internet accessible to all, regardless of individual capabilities of different users." The Abstract of Mr. Manocha's paper, "Information accessibility for disaster preparedness" is available on the ITU (International Telecommunication Union) Web site.

APS - First Mainstream Publisher to Join DAISY

American Physical Society logoThe American Physical Society (APS), a major scholarly publisher, is an international membership society of physicists which publishes ten online scientific journals. They have been working and continue to work toward making their journals accessible. APS has further demonstrated this commitment by joining the DAISY Consortium as a Friend in the category Publishers, Educators and Advocates.

Founded in 1899, APS now has 46,000 members. The APS Mission is: "In the firm belief that an understanding of the nature of the physical universe will be of benefit to all humanity, the Society shall have as its objective the advancement and diffusion of the knowledge of physics."

It is one thing to produce content such as novels, biographies or history textbooks in DAISY format, and quite another to produce scientific journals filled with complex graphics and mathematics. ViewPlus Technologies logoViewPlus Technologies, a Friend of the DAISY Consortium, published ViewPlus Makes APS Science Journals Accessible to Blind People, which describes the collaborative project between APS and ViewPlus to make APS journals accessible - in DAISY format. At the centre of this project is the IVEO System from ViewPlus Technologies for making images such as diagrams and graphs, accessible.

Following the 30th Annual Meeting of the Society for Scholarly Publishing (SSP) this year, Bill Kasdorf, Vice President, Apex, and General Editor of "The Columbia Guide to Digital Publishing", wrote and published the article ViewPlus Makes Images Accessible to the Sight-Impaired. In the article Bill provides an over of the presentation given Bob Kelly, Director, Journal Information Systems for APS, and Dr. John Gardner, President, ViewPlus Technologies, Inc., about how the American Physical Society is making its journals accessible. Bill makes several key statements. Early on he writes: "What this technology does could be of enormous benefit to all publishers whose content includes technical graphics - and the users of that content: researchers, scholars, and librarians." He adds: "Everybody agrees that it's important to make published content accessible to people who have problems with print [but] we don't imagine that we are anywhere close to making content as technical as physics research accessible. But that's exactly what APS and ViewPlus Technologies are doing." Bill closes with: "ViewPlus is a great example of a technology that was originated to benefit the print-disabled but which promises to have great benefit for all of us, sighted or not."

Additional information about APS and APS journals is available on the American Physical Society Web site. The work being done by APS and ViewPlus stands as an example of what can be done when people make the commitment to provide their publications in a truly accessible format - DAISY. The APS commitment to make its publications accessible will hopefully encourage other publishers, scientific or otherwise, to make that same commitment.

Joint Associate Membership Applications will be Considered by DAISY Board

Exception for Developing Countries

The DAISY Consortium Articles of Association do not permit shared Associate membership. However, at the November meeting of the DAISY Board of Directors, a proposal to amend the articles was approved. The sentence "Exceptions may be decided by the Board." will be added following "Associate membership cannot be shared." Applications from organizations in developing countries for joint Associate Membership in the DAISY Consortium will be considered by the Board. Developing country status is based upon the World Bank classifications.

DAISY SA Launched in Johannesburg

Speakers at the DAISY South AfricaOn December 8th "DAISY South Africa" was launched at a meeting held at Microsoft Corporation's office in Johannesburg, South Africa. Approximately 80 participants from across South Africa represented a variety of disability organizations, including the dyslexia, autism, intellectual disability, mental health and the blindness communities, Disabled People South Africa (DPSA), the QuadPara Association of South Africa, and the Deaf Community of South Africa. Government and education sector officials and publishers were also present. Ten presentations from stakeholder groups provided those attending with a clear picture of DAISY as the way forward.

The need for accessible information for all and the benefits of DAISY were recurring themes throughout the day. Hiroshi Kawamura, President of the DAISY Consortium provided an overview of DAISY and current DAISY projects. He stated that a knowledge-based approach for everyone, including people with disabilities, those who are illiterate, those who speak minority languages or languages without a written script, is the way to combat critical issues including HIV/AIDS and disasters.

Muzi Nkosi, DPSA National ChairpersonMuzi Nkosi, DPSA National Chairperson stated: "It gives us hope and encouragement in terms of accessible information for all persons with disabilities...DPSA is committed to support DAISY projects. That is why we made the HIV/AIDS manual produced by DPSA available for conversion into DAISY format...Access to information will definitely improve our quality of life."

DPSA's HIV/AIDS manual which was produced as an English full-text and audio DAISY book during the DAISY workshop held in South Africa in May 2008 was introduced and distributed to the participants. The text source of this manual has been translated from English into the other ten South African official languages (there are eleven in total). In addition to the English full-text and audio DAISY production, the HIV/AIDS manual has been produced in Afrikaans, Zulu and Xhosa as audio DAISY books with structure. CDs of the DAISY HIV/AIDS ManualThese are available from the South African Library for the Blind, a long-time Associate Member of the DAISY Consortium. Full-text and audio DAISY productions are planned for all of the other official South African languages.

The Vision and Mission of DAISY SA which is a registered non-profit Section 21 organization, is aligned with the DAISY Consortium's Vision and Mission. In 2009 DAISY SA will hold an open nomination for interested parties to participate on the board and/or to become members of DAISY SA.

Letters to the Editor

Thanks for this great article in DAISY Planet [WIPO SCCR: Treaty Discussion Conclusions]. It's a great referral for a more balanced view of the outcome.
From: Margaret Williams,
Manager, Digital Library Portal Services
Canadian DAISY Consortium


First of all, congratulations for the May edition of the DAISY Planet. It is, as the previous one, well made and, in my opinion, full of interesting things.

I'd like to send a comment about the Dear DAISY section and the response made to the accessibility expert by the Editorial Team. In this response, Jaws, Window-Eyes and NVDA are mentioned. I regret that only Windows-based solutions are mentioned, and would have appreciated to see e.g. Linux mentioned, too. I can witness that the operating system is accessible, since I am completely blind and it's the (only) one I use. Both text-mode and graphical desktops can be used, either through braille or through speech synthesis systems. Under Linux, in text mode, brltty and speakup are popular. brltty is more focused on braille displays, whereas speakup focuses on speech syntheses systems. For the graphical world, the leader is Orca which is an open-source project developed by Sun and which can use both braille and text to speech.

This is just a small remark. Keep up the good job !
From: S



I understand that the A in DAISY originally started out standing for Audio-based, but this was changed to Accessible some years ago. What year did it change and why?


Many Thanks,   
G.W. (USA)

Dear G.W.

When the DAISY Consortium was established in 1996, the acronym DAISY stood for Digital Audio-Based Information SYstem. At the November 2001 DAISY Board meeting the following resolution was carried unanimously: That in the future the acronym DAISY be taken to mean 'Digital Accessible Information System' rather than 'Digital Audio-Based Information System'.

At a DAISY meeting held a year earlier Members discussed the potential for DAISY to support braille and other possible outputs. It was put forward that if the DAISY Consortium wanted the DAISY Standard to be adopted around the world as the standard for accessible information, DAISY had to go beyond audio. That was the beginning of the change in the meaning of the A in the acronym from Audio-Based to Accessible.

Tech Tips

SMIL 3.0 soon to be a final recommendation of the W3C:

  • DAISY Team members participated actively in the SMIL 3.0 Working Group
  • SMIL 3.0 includes a dedicated DAISY profile
  • The DAISY Consortium will make extensive use of SMIL 3.0 in the revision of the DAISY Standard (currently underway)