The DAISY Consortium's Newsletter - October 2012

From The Editor

There has been a lot to write about this month, a lot of activity. Even with not including all of the information I'd gathered, the Bits & Pieces column is still quite long. And, there are seven articles in this issue. I hope you can find the time to work your way through them.

The first part of my letter this month concerns recent activities around the WIPO Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR) Exceptions and Limitations (E&Ls) for visually impaired persons and persons with print disabilities. If for some reason this is not an issue that interests or concerns you, please scroll down through the first five paragraphs. (Actually, if it isn't of concern to you, perhaps you should read these paragraphs.)

The following question was posed in the WIPO Magazine article Maintaining relevance in a changing world: an interview with WIPO Director General Francis Gurry (September 2012): "What is the status of discussions relating to improved access by the visually impaired to published works?" Gurry responded as follows:
"There is growing consensus that an international agreement in this area is a priority. I am hopeful that member states will open the way to moving forward on this question at the forthcoming meetings of WIPO Assemblies.
This is first and foremost a disability issue. It stands on its own merits, and international agreement to facilitate access to published works for the print disabled would reinforce the international recognition given to disability in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities."

The Assemblies of Member States of WIPO was held October 1 to 9 in Geneva. One of the documents for this meeting was the Report on the Work of the Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR), and, one of the three recommendations in that documents was "that the General Assembly convene an extraordinary session to be held in December 2012 to evaluate the text from SCCR/25 and to make a decision on whether to convene a diplomatic conference in 2013." WIPO Assemblies Approve Copyright Exceptions Roadmap for the Visually Impaired is a detailed report on this meeting available on the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD) website. The article states that the approval of a work plan for the SCCR to continue discussions on a future legal instrument providing exceptions and limitations for visually impaired persons and persons with print disabilities was the highlight of the meeting. However, it also states that "Despite this progress, many delegations noted that some outstanding issues remain unsolved, particularly regarding the nature and scope of the future instrument..."

A WIPO Inter-sessional Meeting on Limitations and Exceptions for Visually Impaired Persons/Persons with Print Disabilities was held October 17 to 19 in Geneva, Switzerland. The only item on the agenda was "Discussions on Working document on an international instrument on limitations and exceptions for visually impaired persons/persons with print disabilities (SCCR/24/9)". Work on the wording in this document has been ongoing and this Inter-sessional Meeting was set largely to move this forward.

There are three posts on the Knowledge Ecology International (KEI) website with information and opinions about what took place at the Inter-sessional Meeting:
· WIPO SCCR meets on copyright exceptions for disabilities: 17 2012
· WIPO negotiations on copyright exceptions for disabilities, October 18, 2012
· October 19 WIPO negotiations on copyright exceptions for disabilities.

It appears that the outcome of the Inter-sessional Meeting this month was neither a complete success nor a complete failure. The WIPO Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights : Twenty-Fifth Session will take place November 19 to 23 in Geneva. I sincerely hope to have good news for you about the outcome in the November DAISY Planet.

In a W3C press release this month it was announced that the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 were approved as an ISO/IEC International Standard. Although this standard has been adopted internationally, this has the potential "increase deployment, reduce fragmentation, and provide all users with greater interoperability on the web" and to improve the web accessibility around the world for all.

October is dyslexia awareness month, and there is a young lad who is dyslexic, who loves to read, and who has decided that being dyslexic is actually rather cool. His website, Commander Ben, is filled with narrative, links and a video that Ben made to celebrate the release of "The Mark of Athena", the latest book in the "Heroes of Olympus" series. One of the characters in the series is Percy Jackson, and Percy "is a dyslexic who has extraordinary powers, and in addition to being a demigod, he's a really nice guy. He made me feel better about myself, because he's a dyslexic who is also a hero!" I found Ben's website to be entertaining and uplifting – he seems to me to be a rather amazing young man.

The WBU/ICEVI General Assemblies 2012 will begin in Bangkok, Thailand, in just over a week. The Board of Directors of the DAISY Consortium will hold its second meeting of the year this month, also in Bangkok. There will be opportunities for exchanging ideas and information, for renewing old acquaintances, and for making decisions that have the potential to impact people in our community around the world. I wish everyone traveling to Bangkok a safe and pleasant journey.

Did you know that there is a 'patron saint of computers'? Sainthood is not something that draws my attention, but this did. Saint Isidore of Seville was a tireless scholar and historian. In the mid 2000's he was declared the patron saint of the Internet by the Vatican. He is also the patron saint of computers, computer users, and computer technicians. (Sources:
· Wikipedia: Isidore of Seville,
· Catholic Online, and
· How-To Geek Trivia.)

The 'Your Story' this month is from Brian MacDonald, President of National Braille Press (NBP). I was introduced to Brian by email when I was working on the article SVG Software & 3D Printers for Tactile Graphics, and knew immediately that he had a story to tell. Many thanks for sharing your story with us Brian. It has been a pleasure getting to know you – even if just a little.

Thanks to everyone who contacted me about the DAISY Planet and to those who submitted content and ideas for articles. The DAISY Planet is read by people around the world – please remember that you can share news and information about activities, services, developments and awards with our readers by simply getting in touch with me directly by email or by using our Contact Us form. If you know someone who has a story to tell, please let me know or put them in touch with me.

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

Publishers' Corner

--------- NEW! ---------

• In September EDItEUR launched the third version of the guidelines document Accessible Publishing, Best Practice Guidelines for Publishers. These guidelines are available from the EDItEUR website in English in Word, HTML and PDF; in French, Spanish and Italian in Word format; and in German in PDF format. They are also available in a variety of formats in Japanese by downloading a zip file. (Links to each version and language are available in the fourth paragraph on the Guidelines page.) The Enabling Technologies Framework is a three year joint project involving both EDItEUR and the DAISY Consortium, and is funded by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and endorsed by the WIPO Stakeholders Platform.

• The W3C Workshop Electronic Books and the Open Web Platform will take place February 11 & 12, 2013, in New York (USA). The workshop which is being organized in partnership with the IDPF and BISG will be hosted by O'Reilly and collocated with O'Reilly TOC 2013. "Participants in this workshop will have the opportunity to share their own perspectives, requirements, and ideas to ensure that emerging global technology standards meet the needs of the eBook industry." All participants are required to submit a statement of interest by December 10.

• Three articles in series on the O'Reilly TOC website cover an email exchange between Bill McCoy of the IDPF and Sanders Kleinfeld of O'Reilly:
·HTML5, EPUB 3, and ebooks vs. web apps
·EPUB 3 facts and forecasts
·Ebooks as native apps vs. web apps (the wrap up)

• The RNIB website includes an area for publishers which focuses specifically on accessible publishing. Their Accessible Publishing area covers topics such as "Why publish accessibly?", "Joint statement on accessibility and eBooks", "Research" and "eBook Reader Accessibility".

• On October 4 the Association of American Publishers (AAP) and Google announced a settlement agreement that will provide access to publishers' in-copyright books and journals digitized by Google for its Google Library Project. The dismissal of the lawsuit will end seven years of litigation. Details are available in the AAP press release. (This case is not related to the Authors Guild/HathiTrust case.)

• The article Finland, Where Reading is a Superpower posted on the Publishing Perspectives website this month, provides an overview and in-depth look at the publishing industry in Finland. "With Finland as an example, the global publishing industry can take heart that whatever challenges publishers face, slow and steady gives you the opportunity to survive, and hopefully, to thrive." (Varju Luceno, the DAISY Consortium's Director of Communications was in Finland earlier this year. She found that you can have a great conversation about DAISY with a random taxi driver – they know about books, reading and about accessible reading material. Finland will be the Guest of Honor at the 2014 Frankfurt Book Fair.)

US Court Ruling Makes Millions of Accessible Books Available

Fair Use Prevails: Authors Guild VS HathiTrust

On October 10 a federal district court ruled in favour of the defendant, in a copyright infringement lawsuit brought by the Authors Guild (the plaintiffs) against HathiTrust (the defendants). The copyright infringement suit brought by the Authors Guild was dismissed. If the court had ruled in favour of the plaintiff, it would have prevented the digitization of books by university libraries and restricted the use of many of the digitized works. The decision by U.S. District Court Judge Harold Baer is being called a "landmark" and a "victory" for fair use. However, in terms of access to information for people in the US who have a print disability it means much, much more – to be exact, it means that the almost 10 million volumes digitized in the HathiTrust online database will be available to them.

"HathiTrust et al" – the Defendants

On September 12, 2011 the Authors Guild, the Australian Society of Authors, the Union Des Écrivaines et des Écrivains Québécois (UNEQ), and eight individual authors filed a lawsuit against HathiTrust, the University of Michigan, the University of California, the University of Wisconsin, Indiana University, and Cornell University for copyright infringement.

HathiTrust (pronounced HAH-tee) is a "partnership of major research institutions and libraries working to ensure that the cultural record is preserved and accessible long into the future. There are more than sixty partners in HathiTrust, and membership is open to institutions worldwide." (HathiTrust, About page).

The purpose of the digitization program is to preserve their collections (which include rare, out-of-print, and deteriorating materials), support word searches and 'word frequency' searches over the entire database, and, to make available the full text of the books in the collection to students with a print disability in conformance with the Americans with Disability Act. In short, this case was about digitization of the library collections for three very specific purposes: preservation, access by people with a print disability and "non-expressive uses" such as text searching and computational analysis. In the argument for fair use, it was explained that the Defendant's use of the digitized material was "transformative". Under US copyright law, transformative use of protected material is permissible and involves either the addition of new material sufficient to change the nature of the work or modification of the purpose for which the work is intended. In this case Judge Baer concluded that the HathiTrust was using the material for purposes different from the orginal intended purpose.

Google is creating the digital copies of the works in the universities' libraries, retaining a copy of the digital book that is available through Google Books (content can be searched online but the full text is not available). A digital copy which includes scanned image files of the pages and a text file from the printed work is provided by Google to the universities. The HathiTrust digital collection ensures that the books digitized by these libraries will be preserved if Google were to discontinue its project. The court ruled that this digitization project conducted by these by five major universities in conjunction with Google is a "fair use" under US copyright law.

NFB Filed to Intervene

NFB logo In December 2011 the National Federation of the Blind filed to intervene in the case as defendants, their primary interest being to protect access to the digital content in the HathiTrust digital collection for people who are blind. These works represent the largest collection of works accessible to those who are blind or print disabled. Following the decision by the court, Dr. Marc Maurer, President of NFB, stated:

"Access to the printed word has historically been one of the greatest challenges faced by the blind. The landmark decision by the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York will revolutionize access to books for the blind. For the first time ever, blind students and scholars will have the opportunity to participate equally in library research. The blind, just like the sighted, will have a world of education and information at their fingertips. The National Federation of the Blind commends the court's decision, which constitutes a significant step toward full and equal access to information by the blind."
(Source: NFB Press Release)

The Authors Guild et al – the Plaintiffs

For obvious reasons the Plaintiff's reaction to the court's decision was not as positive, as illustrated in the Authors Guild response to the ruling. However, several of the 11 comments posted on the Guild's website are in support of the court decision. The post by Cindy Sheets (at the top of the comments) is of particular interest:

"As a blind writer, it is so liberating to be able to have access to the same written word as everyone else. As a student, it has been so frustrating when publishers drag their feet to the point that material is not available to until after the class has finished with material. It is extremely difficult to be poor and have to pay someone to read or convert the material when the universities are supposed to provide that service but their hands are tied because of paperwork and slow response from the publishers. Add in the fact that five other universities already have the material accessible because their students needed it but they cannot share it with your disability office..."

The (Authors Guild press release announcing the lawsuit September 12, 2011) is available on the Authors Guild website.

Additional Readings and Resources

The issues and the court decisions are considerably more detailed and considerably more complex than they are presented here. For additional information, please also read:

An October 24 webcast video discussion, Landmark HathiTrust Decision and the Implications for Research Libraries, is available online on the Association of Research Libraries website. Dan Goldstein, a partner at Brown, Goldstein & Levy, who acts as counsel for the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) and has initiated a national legal campaign to ensure access to technology is one of the webcast participants.

Image Description & Authoring Support Resource

DIAGRAM Center Product Matrices Complete

DIAGRAM Center icon The DIAGRAM Center has completed and published Product Matrices (a series of tables) which summarize image description support in Digital Talking Book (DTB) and eBook hardware and software reading systems. The table for image authoring software which summarizes support for metadata used to describe images, and the portability of that metadata, is the final table in the set.

The matrices are divided into the following individual tables, from top to bottom:

The table headings are provided as direct links to each of the tables immediately below the "Notes" which briefly describe and explain the matrices.

Q & A with Geoff Freed

To find out how and why the information presented in the Matrix was developed, I spoke with Geoff Freed who is with WGBH.

Question: How was the info gathered, where was it pulled from and how was it compiled? In other words, what was the process used to develop these tables?

Answer: Initially, about 2 years ago, the process started with me downloading or procuring hardware and software that was an easy target. With eBook hardware and software I wondered 'where do I start', so I looked at popular and mainstream devices in the mainstream world. With DTBs, it is much more limited. I tried to get my hands on everything I could. The DTB authoring software circle is even smaller. The question I kept asking myself was 'did I have all that are available'.

There are new eBook devices every month, and in this group I had to ask myself 'is it worth spending time on it', 'does it doesn't it have any new features' and, 'is it worth studying it'. I evaluated almost all of the tools. Others reviewed the information in the matrices and provided feedback, verifying and validating the findings. Others, including George Kerscher, the DAISY Consortium's Secretary General, suggest new tools to be checked for potential addition to tables.

Question: What is the intended audience for this information?

Answer: It is for anyone looking for information about accessible reading devices, eBooks or DTBs, as well as those involved in authoring. It is for educators looking to provide services to their students with disabilities and for students with disabilities. The focus is largely on the accessibility of images, so the information focuses on how the players handle images and convey information about images. Comments about other points, features or functionality may be included.

Question: What organizations have been involved in this?

Answer: The 3 organizations involved in the DIAGRAM Project have been involved in the development of the matrices. The DIAGRAM Center is managed by Benetech , and WGBH National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM) and US Fund for DAISY are the lead partners. I also contacted a number of software and hardware manufacturers for their input. Dolphin Computer Access Limited and gh LLC were both very helpful.

Question: Will the information be updated or are the matrices considered 'finished' at this point?

Answer: The information has been updated very recently and is being updated on a regular basis.


Your comments and input, suggestions about products with potential to be included in the matrices are welcome. Please use the DIAGRAM Center Contact Us form to reach Geoff/WGBH. A link to the form, is also provided at top right of Matrices page.

Editor's Note: Thanks go to Geoff Freed for his time and insight into the DIAGRAM Product Matrices.

Frankfurt Book Fair 2012

The Largest Book and Media Trade Fair in the World

Main Plaza of the 2012 Frankfurt Book Fair This year the Frankfurt Book Fair provided a wonderful opportunity to raise awareness about the benefits of mainstream, accessible publications. It was also a venue for strengthening relationships with other organizations working toward inclusive publishing. Daniel Weck, software developer representing the DAISY Consortium, spoke about accessible publishing and information access at two of the well attended sessions.

A New Market, Accessible e-Books in Mainstream Channels

The session "A New Market, Accessible e-Books in Mainstream Channels - Discover the opportunities that digital publishing can offer readers with print disabilities" was jointly hosted by EDItEUR and LIA (Libri Italiani Accessibili) LIA (Libri Italiani Accessibili), and was chaired by Mark Bide of EDItEUR. Speakers included Graham Bell (EDItEUR) speaking on Metadata for accessible products, Cristina Mussinelli (AIE) speaking on Project LIA, Robin Seaman (Benetech) speaking on the DIAGRAM Project, and Chris Rogers (Penguin UK) presenting the publisher's perspective.

Daniel Weck spoke about EPUB 3 and accessibility, giving a brief overview of the range of accessibility challenges associated with print disabilities and presenting real-world examples of reading "with eyes, ears or fingers". Text-to-speech, synchronized human narration, braille, and of course rich navigation, were featured.

Daniel described the concept of the inclusive publishing ecosystem based on mainstream accessible standards rather than specialized alternative formats. The former is based upon flexible XML production methods rather than expensive, less effective format conversion workflows. He outlined the expected benefits of the proposed approach: reduced costs, faster time-to-market, greater content choice, off-the-shelf accessible reading systems, and a fertile market for access-enhanced publications, and concluded on a positive note about the prospect of ending the "book famine".

Accessible EPUB 3 book cover image "Accessible EPUB 3: Best Practices for Creating Universally Usable Content" (the second installment of the book "EPUB 3 Best Practices") published by O'Reilly Media/Tools of Change was featured in Daniel's presentation. One quote from the author, Matt Garrish, was noted in particular: "Accessibility is critical for some, and universally beneficial for all.", highlighting the overall benefits of mainstreaming accessibility for everyone. ("Accessible EPUB 3" can be downloaded from O'Reilly at no cost. "EPUB 3 Best Practices" is scheduled for publication in February 2013.)

The last part of Daniel Weck's presentation provided a high level overview of the industry-driven EPUB 3 standard, with a particular focus on its rich accessibility features. He emphasized the need for content production guidelines and sound authoring practices, as well as validation tools and accessibility checkers. The evaluation of reading system accessibility was also identified as a key part of the EPUB 3 adoption strategy. He also emphasized that the DAISY Consortium's expertise needs to be leveraged through training and support activities, and advocacy on the international stage, in order to achieve global reach including developing countries.

The audience of approximately 40 people interacted with the speakers during a constructive Q&A session.

Daniel's slides for this presentation are available online:

HTML5 and EPUB 3, Digital Books Beyond Digitized Text

This 3 hour workshop was organized by the IDPF (International Digital Publishing Forum), the non-profit organization that has developed and is responsible for the EPUB standards. Bill McCoy (Executive Director, IDPF) and Luc Audrain (Head of Digitalization, Hachette France) presented the bulk of the program to an 80-strong audience made up largely of mainstream publishers and content producers. Daniel's presentation on accessible content included technical guidance as well as references to real-world, concrete use cases. His presentation was extremely well-received, and the audience had insightful questions.

Daniel's slides from his second presentation are also available online:

Accessibility Featured In Official Book Fair Blog

Daniel Weck presenting at the 2012 Frankfurt Book Fair An unexpected positive outcome was that the official Frankfurt Book Fair blog posted a photo of Daniel's presentation (specifically the slide about O'Reilly's "Accessible EPUB 3"), stating: "Perhaps the greatest opportunity offered by HTML 5 and EPUB 3 lies in its enhanced accessibility features ... Daniel Weck of the DAISY Consortium reminded the audience of the importance of accessibility, and discussed some of the many new features offered: text to synthetic speech options that allow the pronunciation of particular words to be specified - 'bass' as in fish, rather than as in instrument, for example - or the gender of the speaker."

Interaction at the Fair

Gunter Marschall, founder of Marschall-Media, at the Frankfurt Book Fair While he was there, Daniel Weck took the opportunity to meet and talk with people involved in fields that might somehow connect with the DAISY Consortium's projects and goals (Daniel is the lead software developer for Tobi, the Consortium's full text and audio open source authoring software). He spoke with Gunter Marschall, founder of Marschall-Media, at the company's stand. Marschall-Media is a small German firm specializing in high-end audio recording facilities. Their product offering includes a mobile recording studio with custom-made insulation design which uses Tobi to facilitate the recording of human narration and synchronization with text. In order to limit disruptive noises, a fanless mini-computer connected to a large touch display is used (full size keyboard and mouse are also available).

This setup relies on Tobi's scalable user-interface, which enables magnified menus, buttons, icons, text and audio waveform to be rendered without loss of quality (making the application suitable for a large screen with finger-based interaction). Gunter provided useful feedback for the Tobi development team, and his hands-on experience of professional audio recording was appreciated. He is looking forward to the upcoming Tobi support for EPUB 3 Media Overlays, due out later in November.

Thanks go to Daniel Weck for providing the information about the Frankfurt Book Fair for this article.

Kolibre: Information Systems as Tools for People with Print Disabilities

Kolibre logo image The name "Kolibre" is a wordplay on "kolibri", the Swedish word for hummingbird and a symbol for "reading aloud". Combining 'kolibri' with "libre", the French word for "free", resulted in the name of this Finnish non-profit association, Kolibre, which was founded earlier this year. The Kolibre logo tells the story: a hummingbird reading/singing from a papyrus roll.

"The purpose of the association is to promote information systems as tools for individuals with print disabilities. The association fulfills its purpose by maintaining projects that are engaged in research related to and the development of information systems as tools for individuals with print disabilities as well as administrating and supporting the community associated with said projects. The distribution of results, source code and related material shall occur under an open source code license." (Source: Kolibre About Us page, Statutes)

Earlier this month Kolibre published the first components for a system that makes it possible to "produce, distribute and consume digital publications using the Internet in an effective manner", as outlined in their press release dated October 18. Earlier versions of the software were developed under the auspices of the Pratsam project. The Pratsam system provided Finns with print disabilities an easy-to-use mobile player and with easy access talking publications. Speech synthesis support enables cost-effective production of greater numbers of talking publications. The software supports the DAISY Standard and the DAISY Online Delivery Protocol for the transmission of talking publications over the Internet.

The press release explains Kolibre's organizational and development history. The newly formed association was established by the Pratsam project partners: Norra Österbottens svenska synskadade rf (NÖSS), the Federation of Swedish Speaking Visually Impaired in Finland (FSVIF) and Pratsam Ab. NÖSS and FSVIF are members of the Finnish DAISY Consortium; Pratsam is a Friend of the DAISY Consortium. The purpose of the new association is to openly publish the results of the project to all, and to coordinate future cooperation. The Finnish Federation of the Visually Impaired (FFVI), Celia Library for the Visually Impaired (both are members of the Finnish DAISY Consortium) and the Finnish Centre for Open Systems and Solutions (COSS) are also part of Kolibre's cooperative network.

The software which is published under an open source license (GNU Lesser General Public License – LGPL – version 2.1 or later) allows all interested parties to use and develop the system for their own needs. Kolibre uses the tools available at the GitHub portal. Registration for the Kolibre development community at is free. The source code is written and documented in English.

As additional software components are developed they will be released. The components to create a DAISY Online client are being developed and will be published in 2013. The development team will focus on a DAISY Online server in 2013.

Full contact details are provided on the Kolibre Contact Information page.

New Offerings from Bookshare and Learning Ally


Bookshare logo Bookshare has added two new options to its range of book formats. DAISY Audio and MP3 provide more alternatives in terms of the way in which Bookshare members read their books and in terms of the technology used for reading.

The MP3 download option was added earlier this year. This audio-only format allows readers to listen to books with the built-in Kendra voice from Ivona. Navigation is by track – the same as it is with any standard MP3 audio file.

More recently Bookshare introduced the "DAISY Audio" format which allows users to read Bookshare titles with devices that are compatible with the DAISY Audio format, for example, the NLS Player. This most recent format addition also comes with the IVONA voice Kendra, and like DAISY text-only books, this format offers multiple levels of navigation, making it easier to read highly structured books (navigate by page, chapter, section, etc.). DAISY Audio books from Bookshare also includes the full text of the book and paragraph level highlighting when they are read with a reading system with text display.

All titles from Bookshare are made available in these recently added formats as well as DAISY text-only and BRF (more information about the formats available from Bookshare are in the October 25 Bookshare Blog Book Formats for Everyone!). Many books are already in the two new formats. If a title has not previously been requested in the new required format there may be a short waiting period while the book is processed. When it is available in the new format, Bookshare members will see it on their "My History" page and will receive an email notice that it is ready.

Last week the IDPF announcement that Benetech has become a Readium contributor and is adopting Readium technology for its Bookshare service. (The Readium Project, sponsored by the IDPF, is developing an open source EPUB 3 reading system.) Bookshare will utilize Readium components in a new web reader that will work with a cloud-based bookshelf, allowing qualified users to access books and read online in a browser – from school, home or work – and on mobile devices. (Source: IDPF News: Benetech Adopts Readium, Advances EPUB 3 Accessibility). Please watch for forthcoming news about this development. The DAISY Consortium is a Featured Supporter of the Readium Project.

Learning Ally: CAPS – Custom Accessible Products & Solutions

Learning Ally logo In addition to the audio production support that Learning Ally (previously RFB&D) provides to a number of federal and state agencies and to corporations, the organization has added several new custom products to its range of accessible format options. Both the new and existing materials meet US National Compliance Standards. The new formats available from Learning Ally include:

  1. Braille
  2. Large Print
  3. Foreign language translation and recording
  4. Text to Speech

DAISY 2.02 audio with structure, and 2.02 full-text/audio (both with human narration), as well as DAISY 3 text only (XML) are also among the formats available from the organization.

The Learning Ally CAPS Team continues to work on ways to help meet the needs of the print disabled community that they serve, including people who cannot effectively read standard print because of visual impairment, dyslexia or other physical disability.

They are looking to form stronger alliances with government agencies, educational institutions, corporations, and health care agencies, both large and small, to work together to better support individuals who require the accessible formats.

Print, DAISY & Braille

Simultaneous Publication: Book of Urdu Poetry

Book Launch Ceremony, Lucknow India, October 2012 The first book of Urdu Shayari (poetry) containing Ghazals by 78 renowned Urdu writers was released earlier this month by Bekal Utsahi, Mr. B.K. Garg (Principal Secretary, Department of Handicapped Welfare) and the Secretary General of the Rehabilitation Society of Visually Impaired (RSVI).

The poems of Urdu writers such as Meer, Mirza Ghalib, Bekal Utsahi, and others are included in the multi-format publication released in three formats simultaneously: print, DAISY (audio and structure) and braille and published by Voice Publications Lucknow. The event which took place and was celebrated in Lucknow India was covered by 15 newspapers.

CD Cover for the book of Shayari Ghazals Copies of all of the three formats are printed with the DFI logo. Credit and publicity were given to DAISY Forum of India (DFI), RSVI, and the role of these organizations in the field of education for people who are blind or are visually challenged. Those who purchase the print book also receive a free copy of the DAISY formatted book on CD. The audio for the DAISY production was recorded in the studio of RSVI. Each format has an individual ISBN number.

Shayari is the most common form of poetry in the Urdu Language. "Sher" is a specific form of a verse. The art of writing or reciting shers is called Shayari. A "Ghazal" is a group of shers often presented as a song. It is one of the principal forms of Urdu poetry and is also one of the most difficult forms of poetry to write as there are many strict parameters.

SIGACCESS 2012 ASSETS Conference

The ASSETS Conference promotes academic research. Approximately 140 students and researchers from more than 20 countries attended the conference this year in Boulder, Colorado, October 22 to 24. This conference explores the design, evaluation, and use of computing and information technologies to benefit people with disabilities and older adults. ASSETS is the premier forum for presenting innovative research on mainstream and specialized assistive technologies, accessible computing, and assistive applications of computer, network, and information technologies. There were approximately 25 presentations and 46 posters/demonstrations.

John Gardner receiving the 2012 ACM SIGACCESS Award which was presented by Dr. Clayton Lewis Dr. John Gardner was the keynote speaker at this year's ASSETS Conference and was presented with the 2012 ACM SIGACCESS Award for Outstanding Contributions to Computing and Accessibility. Accessible graphics are of particular interest to Gardner. Points made by Dr. Gardner in his keynote included:

A highlight was an evening showcase of more than eight departments and institutes affiliated with the University of Colorado working with technology and disabilities. Plans for next year's conference in Bellevue, Washington include a 'video captioning challenge' event and a further push to work with the DAISY Consortium to make the papers accessible.

Thanks go to Kathy Kahl who attended the conference and provided the notes for this article. Congratulations to Kathy and thanks to a SIGACCESS travel award which she received for her proposal to develop an accessible interface for interactive cognitive screening tools.

Letters to the Editor

Hi Lynn,

I recently gave a presentation at the Western Museums Association's Annual Meeting in Palm Springs, California, and wanted to remind people that the DAISY format has other applications. These include museum and art gallery 'talking guides' that are easy to use and navigate. One such example is ArteConTacto. Their mission is to provide access to art and knowledge for all, including people who are visually impaired.

Varju Luceno
Director of Communications
DAISY Consortium


Your emails with ideas or suggestions for the DAISY Planet are always appreciated. If there is an article that you find particularly helpful or that you disagree with for whatever reason, please let me know.


I wonder if the software Skippability Tweaker is free for companies or does it require a license?

Jonas Andersson
Vitryssland (Belarus)


Dear Jonas,

The Skippability Tweaker was developed and released 11 years ago, is limited to use by DAISY Members, and requires a Member login for download from the DAISY website. However, the following information may be of interest to you and may be of assistance.

Two DAISY content authoring tools being developed by the DAISY Consortium are open source developments and the software is available to anyone at no cost. Both support skippable structures:

Obi is used for producing DAISY materials with audio and structure (not the full text of the publication). It can output both DAISY 3 and DAISY 2.02 material. Obi 2.5 (Alpha & Beta) supports skippable structures. The feature list for Obi 2.5 beta is on the DAISY website in the Obi project area. Obi 2.5 is available for download.

Tobi outputs DAISY 3 full text and human narrated audio material. It imports an existing text content file. If there are skippable structures in the imported content, you can record and synchronize audio with that content, including the skippable items. Information about Tobi is located in the Tobi project area. There is a tab to download the software from that page.

Information about DAISY authoring, conversion and playback is available in DAISYpedia and in the DAISY forums. You are welcome to post questions to our forums.

Bits & Pieces

• A Comparison of e-book readers is available on Wikipedia. Most of the information is presented in table format. There are 3 tables which can be accessed directly from the table of contents near the top of the article. (The tables are very large but are accessible.) is a French language website for Mac users who are blind or have low vision. Among other things it has Tips, Downloads, reading braille on a Mac, and information for beginners. The site also has an English page: A little corner in English on a French language website! and includes links to resources in numerous other languages including Brazilian Portuguese, Danish, Spanish and Italian (these are listed on the English page). It is explained on the site that is completely independent and does not receive grants from Apple, suppliers or software vendors, or other sources.

• In a response to the Request for Information (RFI) from the U.S. State Department the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) and DAISY Consortium have expressed concern that the RFI does not actually require accessible e-reader devices and appears to require compatibility with outdated and inaccessible devices and file formats." (Source: Library Journal infoDOCKET)

Windows 8 - first look on the RNIB website provides an overview of various aspects of the recently released Microsoft Operating System.

• Apps4Android has released a beta version of Accessible Voter Information Guide, an application to help make election information accessible on Android devices for all voters in the US.

• The AFB Access World article Television Accessibility Accessible Television for the Visually Impaired: Is It Only for the United Kingdom? by Deborah Kendrick covers two presentations given by Richard Orme of the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) at the National Federation of the Blind Conference (Dallas, TX) and the American Council of the Blind Conference (Louisville, KY) this past July. Kendrick provides information as relayed by Orme and also outlines the services in the US. "Clearly, viewers in London have far more television options with description than people with vision loss in New York or Los Angeles. The centerpiece of Mr. Orme's news, however, was not the wonderful amount of television programming carrying description that is available but the accessibility of the television itself." The article closes with links to resources on the topic.

• In the 3rd article in the O'Reilly Tools of Change series Portable Documents for the Open Web, EPUB 3: The future of digital publications Bill McCoy, Executive Director of the IDPF, discusses various aspects of EPUB 3 and publishing, including accessibility. "And EPUB 3 has another key advantage over both PDF and proprietary alternatives: accessibility. EPUB 3 has been designed in close collaboration with the DAISY Consortium to ensure that requirements for accessibility to the blind and others with print disabilities become part of the mainstream digital publication format."

• An Overview of Devices Used to Access E-books is available on the IDEAL Group website. The article looks at access by computer, digital audio players, e-readers, handheld devices and more.

• Although the How-to Geek article The Best Text to Speech (TTS) Software Programs and Online Tools is not written expressly for people who are blind or have a print disability, it does contain information about TTS software and tools that may be very useful. Some include versions that are free.

• This month American Printing House for the Blind (APH) received the 2012 COSB Champion Award: "According to the Council of Schools for the Blind (COSB), the annual Champion Award recognizes and expresses appreciation to key external stakeholders who provide exemplary strategic assistance, substantive financial or programmatic support, legislative or policy advocacy, or other unique efforts which directly impact the success of COSB on behalf of students and their families."

• A new slideshow has been added to DAISY Slideshare: The DAISY Consortium Works Towards the Best Way to Read and Publish

• The article Contribution of open source to Europe's economy: 450 billion per year on the European Commission Join Up website states that "The European economy is saving around 114 billion euro per year by using open source software solutions. Apart from direct costs savings, other benefits of open source result in reduced project failure and lower costs for code maintenance."

Global standards help visually-impaired researchers: Jim Russell, an independent consultant working on the TIGAR Project Management Team, explains how the TIGAR Project is helping researchers who have a print disability gain access to the books they need in formats they can use.

• Hiroshi Kawamura, immediate Past President of the DAISY Consortium, spoke in Roundtable 1: Accessibility and Technology, at the Fifth session of the Conference of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

• The Governor of California has signed into law a proposal to create a website that will allow students to download digital versions of popular textbooks for free. There are 2 bills in the new legislation: 1/ a proposal for the state to fund 50 open-source digital textbooks (students will be able to download these books for free or pay $20 for hard copies); 2/ a proposal to establish a California Digital Open Source Library to host the books. The textbooks must be under a Creative Commons license, allowing faculty at universities in other states to make use of the textbooks for their students. The textbooks must be in XML (or another "appropriate successor format") to facilitate their re-use. Full details are in the article California Takes a Big Step Forward: Free, Digital, Open-Source Textbooks.

• Two ViewPoints Plus programs in October deal with social media: "Why Use Social Media" (ViewPoints 1240 10-3-12) and "How to Use Social Media" (ViewPoints 1241 10-10-12). The podcasts and show notes are in list of shows on the ViewPoints website. (To find them quickly, from the top of the page, search for the program numbers, 1240 and 1241.)

Tech Tips

• The XML Prague 2013 call for presentations on the following topics is now open:
· Digital books and publishing
· Semantic web
· XML vocabularies
· XML efficiency
· XML birthday (Do we need new syntax, data model or both or is XML just fine after 15 years?)

The deadline for the call for papers is November 30. Full details are on the XML Prague 2013 website.

• If you are using Tobi (DAISY open source full text and audio authoring tool) and getting the exclamation mark icon instead of MathML equations in the content, one possible answer may be the version of Saxon installed. Please read the Tobi Forum post for the solution.

• A new Obi YouTube Video Phrase Splitting and Merging has been posted. The spoken word in the video is rendered with synthetic speech. (Obi is the DAISY open source audio and structure authoring tool.)

• The next major release of Tobi will include support for exporting EPUB 3 Media Overlays / XHTML5 (Current builds for testing only, complete and stable support will be available later this year.) The next version will also provide a much easier way to adjust the synchronization point between two consecutive phrases, using intuitive mouse drag-n-drop directly inside the waveform editor.

• There are two approaches to the placement of page number markup in a DAISY DTB. Placing page numbers inline in a DAISY publication does not make the document invalid. If the page numbers occur within sentences (as they can appear in an original publication) rather than at the ends of sentences, the audio narration (human voice or synthetic speech) may be confusing for the end user. However, if the DTB is to be an accessible version of an original print publication, the page number should mirror the placement of the pages in the orginal.

• This post on AppleVis: Remapping the Keys on your Mac's Keyboard to Enhance the VoiceOver Experience: New & Updated provides updated information and instructions on how to remap the keys on a Mac computer to enhance the VoiceOver experience.

• Articles of interest from How to Geek this month:
· How To Create Custom Keyboard Shortcuts For Browser Actions and Extensions in Google Chrome
· How to Enable Click To Play Plugins in Firefox
· How To Troubleshoot Internet Connection Problems
· How To Get a Better Wireless Signal and Reduce Wireless Network Interference
· Beginners Guide To Tabbed Browsing
· 6 Start Menu Replacements for Windows 8
· 7 Ways To Free Up Hard Disk Space On Windows