The DAISY Consortium's Newsletter - January 2012

From The Editor

With the start of the new year, Stephen King, Group Director: Prevention & International Affairs for the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) in the UK, has begun his four year term as President of the DAISY Consortium. He is one of the original founders of the Consortium, and I am most pleased to share Part 1 of Stephen's story with you this month. I first met Stephen in the mid 1990's and am looking forward to working with him and supporting him over the coming years.

At the same time as we welcome Stephen to his new role, we want to thank Hiroshi Kawamura for his commitment to DAISY and his ongoing dedication to making accessible information available to everyone, everywhere, at no additional cost. In the article Tackling the Disasters in Japan with DAISY & EPUB Hiroshi with an update on the situation in Japan and explains why making information available in an accessible format is critical particularly when disaster strikes. He also describes the role of the Japan DAISY Consortium and expresses his gratitude for the support and assistance he has received from the DAISY Consortium during his term as President.

I hope that you find the second article in this issue New DAISY Videos: Be Sure to Catch Them All! useful and informative. The DAISY communications and support teams have been incredibly busy, and the results show in the number of new DAISY tutorials and videos now available. We can also link to externally produced videos about DAISY, EPUB and other related subjects, and would very much like to be able to provide links to DAISY tutorials/videos in other languages as well. To do this we need your help as we aren't comfortable posting or linking to tutorials that we can't understand. If you know of well done tutorials relevant to the DAISY community, please use our Contact Us form to send the information and links to us.

In December The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) announced the winners of the 2012 Migel Medals. The 2012 recipients are George Kerscher, Ph.D., (Secretary General of the DAISY Consortium & President of the IDPF) and Kathleen Mary Huebner, Ph.D. The Migel Medals will be presented to the recipients at the 2012 AFB National Leadership Conference at St. Petersburg Beach, Florida, in early May. I hope to be able to provide you with more details at that time.

Making Mobile Phones and Services Accessible for Persons with Disabilities is a joint report of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and G3ict (Global Initiative for Inclusive ICTs). It was researched and edited by the Center for Internet & Society and released in November last year: "In 2011 more than 5.4 billion mobile phones are in use, almost one per human being on the planet...In the midst of this telecommunication revolution, however, populations of senior citizens and persons living with disabilities have been left out due to accessibility factors". The report can be downloaded from the G3ict website.

Two short notes about braille...I came across a website dedicated to the development of an Open Source Refreshable Braille Device. "This project started earlier this year when I read a local author's book of life as a blind person. After contacting him, I decided I could best help by designing a simple device to make low-cost Braille display from a computer possible." A low cost braille display would have a major positive impact in many developing countries. The other braille-related piece that I thought may be of interest to many of you is "brilliance of braille" by Kevin Carey which was posted January 5 on The Independent Blog. If you have ever wondered why some people are such strong advocates for braille, Carey's article will provide you with some of the answers.

In an email correspondence I was engaged in with Varju Luceno recently, she wrote something that I felt was quite brilliant. We were discussing where we (the DAISY Consortium) are headed and how we can get there: "Our efforts will mainstream accessibility – we serve our membership first." The DAISY Consortium is its membership – Members and Friends and the DAISY Community of supporters around the world. As we begin a new year, with a new President, let's focus on the future and on accessible publications for everyone, everywhere.

Thanks to everyone who has sent information, ideas and suggestions for this or previous issues of the DAISY Planet. If your organization or company has news to share with our readers, please get in touch with me directly by email or by using our Contact Us form. Our newsletter reaches people around the world – keep it in mind when your group has a new product or service available. Letters to the Editor and Stories are most welcome!

Lynn Leith

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 DAISY Marketplace

Tackling the Disasters in Japan with DAISY & EPUB

Hiroshi Kawamura, Tokyo
Board Member of the DAISY Consortium

Accessible Information is Critical

Four earthquakes, in less than half an hour on January 28th 2012, disturbed tens of millions of people who are living near Mt. Fuji. There were 6 additional earthquakes in the last 12 hours in the Eastern Pacific Coast of Japan. Some researchers say that the magma pool of Mt. Fuji has been stimulated by the series of earthquake since March 2011, but nobody may tell the exact scientific evidence of the future eruption or big earthquake.

On 11th March 2011 in a few hours we lost 20,000 lives and 500,000 houses by the gigantic earthquake and tsunami. 56% of the victims who lost their lives on 3.11 were over 65 years old. The death ratio among those who were older than 65 years was double the average. The death ratio among those who were registered as a person with a disability was twice the average. This means that we must strive to secure lives of old people and persons with disabilities when disasters strike.

The Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant has been severely destroyed and leaked the worst radioactive substances in the history. The lack of evacuation plan killed 50 aged patients of Futaba Hospital due to chaotic evacuation following the nuclear plant explosion. They required medical support such as ambulance car for evacuation, but they were carried by normal busses for several hours without necessary medical care. Some were left in the hospital bed during the chaos of the ordered evacuation. It is surprising to find the fact that there was no evacuation plan for the more than 300 hospital patients with severe dementia and other psycho-social disabilities who were located within 5 km of the exploded nuclear reactors.

In spite of these tragic disasters, encouraged and supported by friends and colleagues around the world, we have been struggling to help survivors of the earthquake, tsunami, and the nuclear radiation since 3.11. At the same time, we are preparing for aftershocks based on the lessons we've learned from the disasters last March. The frequency of earthquakes in the Eastern Pacific Coast of Japan has increased 5 times as compared with before 3.11. The tsunami-hit areas have lost their tsunami defense systems, such as banks as high as 10 m. It is too dangerous for people who survived but lost their homes to come back and resettle in the same place that was hit by the tsunami without sufficient defense/evacuation strategy. We need to mobilize our wisdom to get through this challenge. Reconstruction of tsunami hit areas may take years.

The nuclear issues are the most difficult to tackle. 3 "core melt down" nuclear reactors (No.1, 2 and 3), and a total of some 10,000 nuclear fuel rods in the "pools" need to be kept cooling to prevent further explosion and all nuclear reactors and heavily contaminated goods need to be completely sealed for hundreds of years. Reportedly, it may take tens of years to finish this mission, and furthermore, we need to be very lucky to see neither major earthquake nor big tsunami at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant until the mission is completed.

It is clear for the Japanese people that we are responsible to deal with the nuclear disasters for both our contemporary generation in the world and for future generations, because the radio active substances spread outside of the nuclear plant will remain for years and may damage the global environment. First we must stop the leaking, and then clean up the environment. Unfortunately we are not successful at stopping the leaking yet.

We are mobilizing all our efforts to help disaster survivors, reconstruct communities that were destroyed by disasters, further prepare for future natural disasters, and combat a melt-down of the nuclear reactors.

Role of the Japan DAISY Consortium

I believe that the role of the Japan DAISY Consortium is to promote sharing of all necessary knowledge and information for the above mentioned processes in accessible formats such as DAISY and EPUB for everybody. Supported by voluntary work and international donations through the DAISY Consortium, the Japan DAISY Consortium has been distributing 20 titles of key information resources in DAISY multimedia format through our website. This initiative continues to produce a DAISY version of ECRR 2010 Recommendations, most current basic knowledge on earthquakes, and handbooks for disaster survivors.

Thank You

Finally, I would like to thank DAISY Consortium members, Board and staff team, for your wonderful support during my 4 years work as the President of the DAISY Consortium. Your excellent support and guidance made it a wonderful and unforgettable experience for me.

As of January 1st 2012, the office of the President was filled by my best friend and colleague Stephen King. It is my great pleasure to remain on the DAISY Board for next few years to support the new President along with my colleague board members.

New DAISY Videos: Be Sure to Catch Them All!

Videos and DAISYpedia Articles: Bringing You the Information You Need

Four new Save As DAISY for Microsoft Word, four new Obi tutorials, and Markus Gylling's recent presentation "EPUB 3, A Foundation for Accessible Publishing" have been added to the DAISY Consortium YouTube channel. In addition, our DAISYpedia information resource pages have been updated and new tutorials have been added.

YouTube Save As DAISY for Microsoft Word 2010 Tutorials

DAISY, Intergen, and Microsoft logosThese clearly presented, easy to understand tutorials will walk you through Save As DAISY processes:

Introduction to the Save As DAISY Add-in: Part 1 explains how to download and install the Save As DAISY add-in for Microsoft Word.
Using the Save as DAISY Add-in: Part 2 explores the main features of the Save As DAISY Add-in and explains how to convert a document to a DAISY digital talking book.
Save as DAISY Add-in Tutorial, Part 3: Using a DAISY Reader demonstrates and includes information about how to use a DAISY reader to play back publications created with the Save as DAISY add-in.
Setting the Default TTS Voice for the Save as DAISY Add-In: Part 4 explains how to set up the default voice in Windows that will then be the voice for content produced with the add-in.

This new Save as DAISY Add-In for Microsoft Word can be downloaded from the DAISY website.

YouTube Obi Tutorials

Obi logo The four new Obi tutorials provide step by step information explaining how to use this open source DAISY Consortium content creation tool. Obi produces DAISY 2.02 and DAISY 3 audio books with structure:

Creating a New Project with Obi walks through the process of creating a new project, from opening Obi to the project being ready for recording.
Importing a DAISY Book into Obi explains how to create a DAISY project in Obi by importing a DAISY book into the application. Step by step instructions are provided.
Backup, recovery, and reversing options in Obi provides information about setting automatic backup timing, how to restore a project from the backup folder, manually accessing backup files, and undo options.
How to open and save a project explains various approaches to finding, opening, saving and closing projects. How to check project properties and using bookmarks in Obi is also demonstrated.

EPUB 3, A Foundation for Accessible Publishing

EPUB  logo Markus Gylling, Chief Technology Officer for both the DAISY Consortium and the International Digital Publishing Forum, spoke about the recently approved EPUB 3 standard at the eBook Accessibility Symposium at the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) held in early December. The captioned video of that presentation, EPUB 3, A Foundation for Accessible Publishing, is now available on the DAISY Consortium YouTube channel. A brief summary of the highlights of Gylling's presentation is provided in the article NFB eBook Accessibility Symposium in the December DAISY Planet.

DAISYpedia Updates

Six Obi articles in DAISYpedia have been recently updated. These include Description of various functions in Obi, Obi: Various methods for authoring content and Obi: Create book structure manually and record or import audio. Several of the Save As DAISY for Microsoft Word articles have also been updated and Video tutorials: Using Save As DAISY (which provides links to each of the four new YouTube Save As DAISY videos) has been added as a quick reference.

Also new to DAISYpedia is an article which links to the video Eight Steps To Creating Accessible Microsoft Word Documents which was produced by California State University, Fullerton, Campus Information Technology Training. This video provides an overview of creating accessible Microsoft Word documents. The eight steps include use of styles (with an emphasis on the use of heading styles), columns & tabs, navigation (including tables of contents), headers & footers, alt-text, links (external & internal), colour & contrast, and fonts & spacing. Word documents produced following these steps will be suitable for conversion to DAISY using Save As DAISY for Microsoft Word.

All recent DAISYpedia content changes, including updates and newly added articles and tutorials, are listed on the Recent Changes pages.

TOC in Publishing 2012 - Change/Forward/Fast

O'Reilly Tools of Change 2012 Conference logo The DAISY Consortium is one of the TOC Conference Media Partners. For six years the O'Reilly Tools of Change for Publishing Conference in New York has been the key event for professionals and companies engaged in the many challenges and opportunities of new publishing technologies and business models. This gathering brings together highly motivated people from a wide range of innovative companies and organizations to share knowledge, discuss business model options, and explore the strategic objectives of an ever-changing industry. With TOC 2012 in New York fast approaching, we interviewed Joe Wikert, General Manager & Publisher with O'Reilly Media.

Q & A Interview

Q: Joe, could you share your thoughts about the challenges that surround Digital Rights Management (DRM) and e-books?

A: My initial thought is that DRM is a very bad thing and publishers should abandon it. When publishers use DRM they're telling their customers they don't trust them. We don't use DRM at O'Reilly and we insist that our retail channel partners not wrap our books in DRM either. The result is an extremely robust e-book sales business and no more or less piracy than any other publisher. The dirty secret about DRM is that it's completely hackable. If someone wants to break the DRM around your content they can do it and create illegal copies. So what problem does DRM really solve?

Q: What are your suggestions for a meaningful and efficient way to manage digital content?

A: First of all, be DRM free. Trust your customers. Second, offer the content in all formats. When I buy a book from Amazon I only get the Mobi format for my Kindle. I'm unable to read that book on any other platform (e.g., B&N's Nook or Sony's e-reader). When someone buys a book from us on they get access to all formats including Mobi, EPUB and PDF. That means that with one simple transaction customers can read the books on whatever device or platform they prefer. We don't lock you in to any particular e-book reader.

Q: Do you think the time will come when we won't have to create multiple e-book formats for different devices? If so, when?

A: I'd like to think we'll get to that point but I think the major retailers will do their best to prevent it from happening. It's in Amazon's best interest to lock you into their format. The same goes for B&N with their DRM'd EPUB format. I'd like to see us get to the same stage the music industry is at, where there's no DRM and there's one popular format (even though there are several different formats). When I bought my new Android phone I was able to drag all my music from my Mac onto the SD card. It was one simple operation. You can't do that today with e-books but I hope publishers will pressure retailers into using the same format in the not-too-distant future. That format should be EPUB, by the way, not Mobi.

TOC 2012 Panel: Accessibility in Multimedia World

The panel Accessibility in Multimedia World at TOC 2012 on February 15 will discuss initiatives currently underway to make images accessible and will also cover the challenges of accessible multimedia, including the advantages accessibility brings to a general audience. In addition to making publishers aware of the foundational challenges and best approaches around creating accessible images, discussion will cover the DIAGRAM Center, a five-year R&D initiative managed by Benetech to create tools, processes, and standards for publishers to build accessibility into their workflow. DIAGRAM was launched in mid-2010 in partnership with WGBH's National Center for Accessible Materials and the U.S. Fund for DAISY. Topics such as creating image descriptions, tactile graphics (from Scalable Vector Graphics) and the ability to read and solve mathematical equations will be covered.

Also included in the presentation will be a demonstration of the new software tool, Poet, a web-based tool that allows image descriptions to be created by an author, or later via a crowd-sourced approach, then read by specialized and commercial hardware and software. An O'Reilly author will do a demonstration of how Poet is used to add image descriptions to a book. Tobi, the open source software tool for author DAISY multimedia content will also be covered.

EPUB 3 Accessibility Guidelines

New formats and digital devices bring new challenges. The challenge of making text accessible can be met through an effective implementation of EPUB 3. The Accessibility Guidelines for producing accessible EPUB 3 are scheduled to be published in February 2012 – please watch for news about the release of these guidelines in News on the DAISY homepage and via our DAISY RSS Feed and in future issues of the DAISY Planet).

"The D Word" - Dyslexia

Research, Resources, & the "D" Movie

capital letter D inverted.jpg Studies and reports dealing with dyslexia have been published in the recent past. This article provides an overview of and links to information and resources and also introduces the movie "The D Word: Understanding Dyslexia".


Brain Imaging Study Shows Physiological Basis of Dyslexia:

"Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine have used an imaging technique to show that the brain activation patterns in children with poor reading skills and a low IQ are similar to those in poor readers with a typical IQ. The work provides more definitive evidence about poor readers having similar kinds of difficulties regardless of their general cognitive ability.

Schools and psychologists have historically relied on a child's IQ to define and diagnose dyslexia...If a child's reading achievement was below expectation based on IQ, he would be considered dyslexic, while a poor reader with a low IQ would receive some other diagnosis. But these new findings provide "biological evidence that IQ should not be emphasized in the diagnosis of reading abilities," said Fumiko Hoeft, MD, Ph.D, an instructor at Stanford's Center for Interdisciplinary Brain Sciences Research, who is senior author of the study, which will appear in an upcoming issue of Psychological Science."
"Hoeft and her colleagues also point out that these and other findings indicate that, 'any child with a reading difficulty, regardless of his or her general level of cognitive abilities (IQ), should be encouraged to seek reading intervention.'" [Source: Medical News Today]

See also Dyslexia independent of IQ on the McGovern Institute for Brain Research website:

"Brain-imaging study suggests that reading difficulties are the same regardless of overall intelligence — and that more children could benefit from support in school.

About 5 to 10 percent of American children are diagnosed as dyslexic. Historically, the label has been assigned to kids who are bright, even verbally articulate, but who struggle with reading — in short, whose high IQs mismatch their low reading scores. On the other hand, reading troubles in children with low IQs have traditionally been considered a byproduct of their general cognitive limitations, not a reading disorder in particular.

Now, a new brain-imaging study challenges this understanding of dyslexia. 'We found that children who are poor readers have the same brain difficulty in processing the sounds of language whether they have a high or low IQ,'... 'Reading difficulty is independent of other cognitive abilities.'" [John D. E. Gabrieli, MIT's Grover Hermann Professor of Health Sciences and Technology and Cognitive Neuroscience who performed the study with Fumiko Hoeft and colleagues]

The article Neural systems predicting long-term outcome in dyslexia was published on PNAS Online. Researchers in the USA, Finland and the UK collaborated on the study which was lead by Fumiko Hoeft, MD, Ph.D; the report was co-authored by Bruce McCandliss, a psychology professor at Vanderbilt University. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS) is one of the world's most-cited multidisciplinary scientific serials. PNAS Online receives over 21 million hits per month:

"Individuals with developmental dyslexia vary in their ability to improve reading skills, but the brain basis for improvement remains largely unknown. We performed a prospective, longitudinal study ... to discover whether initial behavioral or brain measures ... can predict future long-term reading gains in dyslexia. No behavioral measure, including widely used and standardized reading and language tests, reliably predicted future reading gains in dyslexia."
"This approach opens up a new vantage point on the question of how children with dyslexia differ from one another in ways that translate into meaningful differences two to three years down the line...Such insights may be crucial for new educational research on how to best meet the individual needs of struggling readers." [Bruce McCandliss, "Dyslexia: Brain scans predict reading skill", Source: Futurity research news website].


Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity

The Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity is an extensive resource for people with dyslexia, parents and educators. It includes a section of "Myths & Truths" about dyslexia, a section devoted to Successful Dyslexics and much, much more. Their purpose is summed up precisely in the Center's Mission Statement:

"Our mission is to uncover and illuminate the strengths of those with dyslexia, disseminate the latest innovations from scientific research and practical advice, and transform the treatment of children and adults with dyslexia."
Auxilary aids and access to learning for children and young people with dyslexia/severe reading difficulties

Nota logo Nota, the Danish National Library for Persons with Print Disabilities, is a long standing Full Member of the DAISY Consortium. Last year Nota published the report "Auxilary aids and access to learning for children and young people with dyslexia/severe reading difficulties". That report is now available on the Nota online library "E17" for download in MP3, DAISY and iTunes Podcast formats, and can also be streamed. Please note that the MP3 and DAISY formats are zipped and the zip file for each is very large (approximately 3 gigabytes); with a dependable high-speed connection the download takes about 45 minutes. The DAISY formatted version is full text and includes descriptions of schedules and figures.

It is also possible to listen to the report online by selecting the "Afspil" (play) button immediately to the right of the download button (Afspil is the Nota streaming solution). Note that if you choose to listen to the MP3 format online the first 2 or 3 very short introductory sections following the title are in Danish, however the report itself which follows is in English. The control button labels on the streaming tool are also in Danish but are standard in terms of functionality/position. The play/stop button is in the lower left; the down arrow button will take you to the next section when playback of the current section is finished.)

The following additional formats are also available: EPUB, TEXT, HTML, RTF. These are available for download from a different page on the Nota website (links to these downloads are at the very bottom of the page below the end of the "Resume and Conclusions").

International Dyslexia Association

The International Dyslexia Association (IDA) is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping individuals with dyslexia, their families and the communities that support them. In addition to Branches in the USA & Canada the IDA also has several Global Partners, including the Brazilian Dyslexia Association, Australian Dyslexia Association and the Japan Dyslexia Research Association.

"The D Word: Understanding Dyslexia" Makes Sundance File Festival

About the Movie
"By conservative estimates, one in five people are dyslexic. Although very bright and often highly creative, they have a difficult time making sense of written language. I know a little about this. My son, Dylan, is dyslexic.

Like many dyslexics, Dylan is intelligent, thoughtful and intellectually curious – a "big picture" thinker. But at the age of ten, he was barely able to read and write. ...

This film reveals that dyslexia is a neurological issue, not a character flaw. It explains that the struggle with the written word is not an indication of one's ability to think, to create, or to solve problems – all valuable skills in the world outside the classroom. This film also reveals that some of our greatest leaders in Business, Law, Politics and Medicine are dyslexics who succeeded in spite of their learning challenges.

The film also shares some of the more practical – and occasionally humorous – tips on how to deal with dyslexia on a daily basis. Hopefully, this film will help dyslexics and their families realize that the challenges of early education will be behind them one day, and that the future can – and should – be brighter for dyslexics." [Source: The D Movie, About page, James Redford, director of "The D Word: Understanding Dyslexia"]

The movie trailer and a Myths (and Truths) About Dyslexia page are also on "The D Word" website. An interview with James Redford entitled "The Road to Sundance: The D Word" which is available on the All About Indie Filmmaking website provides further insight into the movie and its director.

"The D Word: Understanding Dyslexia" will premiere at the Sundance Film Festival this year.

Mainstream Access to E-Books

Photograph of Amy Mason at her desk holding a braille notetaker and with an iPad on the desk In the article, Mainstream Access to E-Books – What Works, What Doesn't, and What Is Still Unclear, published in the January 2012 Braille Monitor, Amy Mason of the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) evaluates Blio, EPUB, CourseSmart, Adobe Digital Editions & OverDrive, iBooks, Google Books, Nook, Kindle, and PDF.

Ms. Mason sets the stage with this introduction:

"E-books are an extremely popular topic these days. Ever since Amazon introduced the Kindle and built the first really successful mainstream e-book reader, more and more people are talking about, buying, and using e-books in several formats on a number of competing platforms at varying prices for many reasons: leisure, education, reference, and work. E-books are an especially exciting development for print-disabled and blind readers because their properties make them ideal for finding alternative forms of access. When an e-book is presented in an accessible format on an accessible e-book reader, the user can choose to read the book using text-to-speech, Braille, or magnification. Furthermore, accessible e-books in an open market benefit everyone. Publishers gain access to an otherwise untapped revenue stream, those who cannot access traditional print materials. The general public gains access to books that are even more flexible and feature-rich than they are now, while blind and other print-disabled users, for the first time in history, gain access to the same books and publications at the same price and at the same time as the rest of society.

Unfortunately, the landscape of e-book reading technology is littered with hundreds of combinations of file formats, devices, and platforms. These competing platforms and devices include varying levels of accessibility and different methods of access. To add to the confusion, some sites for purchasing e-books are less than forthcoming in mentioning features that might affect a book's accessibility, so it is difficult to find the best solution.

In this article we will look at several of the major e-book-reading platforms, their accessibility features, major drawbacks, and other pertinent information, so that users can make informed choices about what platforms and file types are likely to be of most use to them.

Because of the complexity of the current e-book-reading landscape, this article will focus on dedicated hardware devices: Apple iOS software, Mac, and Windows PC support. None of the tested e-book readers on the Android platform at the time of testing were accessible, Windows Phone 7 doesn't contain support for access technology at this time, and Symbian phones are becoming difficult to purchase since they are no longer being manufactured; so these platforms are ill suited to comparison in this article."

She begins her "Conclusion" with this statement:

"In an ideal world all the major e-book technologies would be accessible to print-disabled and blind users. These book platforms would allow users to browse, purchase, and consume content in the most comfortable and appropriate manner for the user's needs and the type of content consumed. All e-book platforms are falling short of this laudable goal. Some options work fairly well and allow reasonable access to text, but all of the platforms discussed in this article need improvement."

Although we do not live in an ideal world, technological advances are improving the lives of people with disabilities, all types of disabilities. The day will come (and it may not be too far off) when information will be accessible and available to anyone, regardless of ability or disability, at the same time and at the same price.

Ms. Mason's in-depth examination of E-Books is published in the January 2012 Braille Monitor. In her article Mainstream Access to E-Books – What Works, What Doesn't, and What Is Still Unclear she shares her careful and pointed evaluation of E-Book readers with us.

The portions of this article quoted here are presented with permission of the author and NFB. The detailed evaluations are available in Ms. Mason's article.


My company, New Designs Unlimited, LLC, recently published a DAISY reading app for Android. I wanted to let you know about it in case you are interested in adding it to the marketplace or letting users know about it through your newsletter. This is a clip from the press release:

"Darwin Reader for Android supports all flavors of DAISY digital talking books, including DAISY 2 and DAISY 3 text and audio formats. Books can be easily transferred from the computer to the phone. The app also directly integrates with Bookshare to make finding new books amazingly simple for qualified members; more integrations are on the product's road-map." (Darwin DAISY app for Android press release)

Matt Hill,
New Designs Unlimited, LLC,


Dear Matt,

This response was sent to Matt by Varju Luceno, Director of Communications for the DAISY Consortium.

Thank you for sharing your news with us. I purchased the Darwin Reader and I think that it is a great app. Recently I gave a talk on DAISY reader apps for mobile devices and demonstrated this app during my presentation at the M-Enabling Summit.

We have posted a news entry about Darwin DAISY Reader app to our website at and updated the DAISYpedia article about DAISY readers for mobile devices as well.

Our Marketplace is an area for showcasing DAISY Consortium membership Products and Services. We would be happy to have you join the DAISY Consortium in the Friends/Developers category. More information about membership benefits and fees is available on our website.

Kind regards,
Varju Luceno

Editor's Note: New Designs Unlimited, LLC has since joined the DAISY Consortium and the Darwin DAISY Reader app has been added to the DAISY Marketplace and to our Tools & Services area on the Mobile Applications page.

Bits & Pieces

Load2Learn is an online repository of accessible curriculum materials for students with print disabilities. It is being developed in partnership by Dyslexia Action and the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) and funded by the DfE (Department for Education). This service is designed to deliver accessible curriculum resources for children with a print disability in state secondary schools in the UK. Additional information is available on the Dyslexia Action website.

• A video of Bookshare Image Description Guidelines provides general information and specific concepts that can be applied in preparing image descriptions for textbooks.

• In the January 2012 issue of AFB's Access World, Mark Richert discusses the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA) which was signed into law by US President Barack Obama in October last year. CVAA updates the US Communications Act and establishes new safeguards to ensure that people with disabilities are not left behind as technology changes.

• The British Computer Association of the Blind (BCAB) is a group of computer users who are blind or partially sighted. In addition to the training, networking and support they offer their members, BCAB has available four tutorials bundled on a single CD: "Get To Grips With...Windows 7", "Get To Grips With...The Internet", "Get To Grips With...Windows Live Mail" and "Get To Grips With...Word 2010". The tutorials are each in four formats, one of which is DAISY audio. BCAB members can purchase these tutorials at a reduced cost.

• The Alternative Media Access Center (AMAC) has released an introductory video about STEPP – the Student E-Rent Pilot Project in the USA. Additional information is available on the STEPP website.

• Bookshare publishes newsletters for a variety of audiences: The Bookshare Bulletin, Bookshare University Newsletter, Parents in the Know! Newsletter, and, Bookshare in Action (for K-12 Educators). Information about and links to these newsletters are on the Bookshare Newsletters page.

Bookshare is one of 50 winners of the eSchool Media Readers' Choice Award announced early this month. "From among 1400 votes describing how a product improves teaching, learning or school administration, Bookshare was selected as on of the top." [Bookshare Blog post, January 3]

• The article How Publishers Should Prepare for EPUB 3 was posted on the Digital Book World website earlier this month. The author, Jeremy Greenfield, who is the Editorial Director of Digital Book World, opens with "The future of e-books is now. The approval of a new coding language for e-books, developed by the International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF)...means that soon it will be a relatively simple matter for e-books to contain video, audio, dynamic content and all sorts of interactive features."

Greenfield states that most e-readers cannot yet render many of the features of EPUB 3 but closes with "As more e-reader software supports more of EPUB 3, publishers need to prepare for changes in creative capabilities, workflow, hiring and, maybe most important of all, their relationship with booksellers."

• A video of an interview with Marc Van der Aa of PLEXTALK at the AEGIS Conference last November is posted on the AEGIS website. In the interview Marc talks about various PlexTalk products, including the PlexTalk streaming DAISY player, and about DAISY and EPUB in the future.

• The CSUN 2012 Winter Newsletter is filled with announcements, reminders, and information about the upcoming CSUN Conference. It's a 'must read' for anyone who plans to attend or those who would like to read about some of the planned highlights for this year's conference.

Tech Tips

Tobi V1.6 with a greatly improved audio waveform renderer was released on December 23. There is a totally new audio waveform loading mechanism, which is very fast, and incremental (it doesn't load the entire audio all at once). This new version contains not only a fix for the skippable content structures (which are handled during auto-playback, record-and-continue, split-and-shift), but also includes a new application preference to let you customize the list of skippables.

The Tobi development team wants your input. Let them know what you think of the newest release and these improvements via the Tobi forum on the DAISY website.

EPUBCheck 3.0, the open source validator for EPUB 2 and EPUB 3 content, is now available. The newly-released beta 4 version of EPUBCheck 3.0 addressed numerous issues. Step-by-step guidelines for using this validator are also available.