The DAISY Consortium's Newsletter - March 2015

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.

Publishers' Corner

Free webinar on April 9th: Facts, fantasy, and realities of automating EPUB 3 production at HarperCollins Publishers. This webinar is specifically designed for publishers looking to take EPUB production in-house. Register now.

Coming up: Book Industry Study Group's (BISG's) higher ed conference in New York City: Adapt, Learn, Innovate 2015 on April 28. Register now.

IDPF Digital Book 2015 In New York (May 27-28) is the flagship digital conference at Book Expo America (BEA) and the longest-running digital conference in the industry. It sells out early. Register now.

Interesting article Holding out on EPUB 3 Gets Harder as User Experience (UX) Gets Better by Rich Bellis on the Digital Book World website makes some strong points and leads us to read Laura Brady's article How to Build Rich Navigation in EPUB 3.

Opportunities Bring Challenges: Digital and Print Meet in Paris

Special thank you goes to Daniel Weck for his report and photos from the Paris Book Fair, published on EPUBZone. Edited version is below.

The Salon du Livre - Paris Book Fair is a leading book fair that welcomes visitors around the world and allows them to delve into the world of books. The book fair has gained international recognition and showcases the culture and heritage of the region.

Paris Book Fair Booth

On Monday March 23rd, an all-day series of panel talks took place at the Paris Book Fair. The purpose of the panel was to discuss the challenges and opportunities presented by accessible publishing in France.

The event was organized by the French Ministry of Culture and Communication. They actively support open, interoperable standards.


Presentation Summaries

Fernando Pinto Da Silva: Effective Partnerships Increase Accessibility and Reduce Costs

Fernando described the challenges he faces as a blind user. He was enthusiastic about the major advancements seen in recent years, including the concerted efforts of the not-for-profit sector (grass root associations), commercial publishers, specialized libraries, and government-funded organizations.

Fernando explained that through such partnerships content production, delivery and workflows can be optimized, helping to reduce costs. However, the overhead costs and time spent on format conversion and/or adaptation still remain. These factors prevent disabled people from accessing books without delay and add additional expense. A truly interoperable digital publishing format would help alleviate these costs.

Daniel Weck: Collaboration Improves Standards and Implementations

Daniel Weck and Cyril Labordrie

Daniel began with a historical recap of the DAISY Consortium's strategic transition to inclusive EPUB 3. He outlined activities aimed at accelerating adoption, and described efforts to create a more inclusive publishing ecosystem.

Daniel highlighted ongoing collaborative efforts between mainstream and specialized publishers such as technical standards development, reference implementations, definition of accessibility conformance, and automated validation. All of these activities can potentially lead to content and reading systems certification processes, based on well-defined evaluation criteria.

Daniel also presented the Readium software projects (SDK components and application examples). He concluded with a live demonstration of enhanced talking books (Media Overlays with synchronization granularities: paragraph, sentence, word), as well as EPUB 3 Multiple Renditions (on-the-fly switch between text and Braille documents).

Hadrien Gardeur: Protection Without Compromising Accessibility

Hadrien Gardeur followed with a presentation of the Readium Foundation's Lightweight Content Protection (LCP) specification. Hadrien highlighted the specification’s modularity and flexibility - contrasting it with other "vendor lock-in" models. He explained how this approach enables a good degree of intellectual property protection without compromising accessibility (e.g. rendering of book pages as real text, not as raster images which cannot be picked up by screen readers).

Hadrien then went on to demonstrate the integration of LCP in Learning Ally's Readium SDK-based application. The application features playback of synchronized text and audio books designed for visually impaired and dyslexic individuals by using EPUB 3 Media Overlays.

Luc Audrain: Publisher’s Perspective

Luc Audrain explained how editorial practices that include robust document structure and semantics (typically XML-based), are instrumental in enabling migrations towards evolving standards. He mentioned that workflows and tool chain can be adapted to support new output formats and address various customer needs, such as those of people with disabilities.

Luc also recognized that EPUB 3 which uses HTML5 as its core document format, presents opportunities and challenges in equal measure. For example, scripted interactions, canvas, and fixed-layout can potentially break accessibility if not used with caution.

Luc referred to the EPUB 3 EDUPUB profile with a strong accessibility mandate - if accessible content production guidelines are followed. EDUPUB lends itself to publications that are not only more accessible, but also offer better usability (e.g. human action driven content navigation, or machine-processed interoperable metadata).

The Current State of Digital Publishing in France

Luc Audrain shared that the French eBook market is still at an early stage, but it is growing steadily. French publishers have been delivering new titles in digital and print formats on the same day for several years. Pre-ordering enables customers to order publications in digital formats before the printed versions are available.

The new functionalities provided by EPUB 3 files help people with print disabilities as well as the general public. Hopefully, these benefits will help add new customers and grow the eBook market.

EPUB 3 momentum in France is at high these days with the recent revision of the accessibility law. The discussions have brought together all partners from Culture Ministry to visually impaired people associations to authors’ and publishers’ organizations as they meet and learn from each other.

Accessibility is also supported by various French stakeholders within the publishing and bookstore industry who are members of the Readium Foundation. With the cooperation of Culture Ministry and other public authorities, they are currently gathering and working on setting up a non-profit Institute dedicated to:

  • the evangelization of the EPUB 3 standard and Readium Foundation in Europe and
  • the research and development of digital publishing tools fully compliant with EPUB standard and accessibility.

Technology Demonstrations at the Paris Book Fair

The French Ministry of Culture and Communication generously allocated booth space for the Readium Foundation. This space was used to demonstrate e-reader software alongside playback hardware for navigable audio books (DAISY readers), and various other tactile devices for the blind.

The deaf community was also present at the booth. Although there is an apparent desire to leverage the multimedia capabilities of EPUB 3, the deaf community does not have the same level of representation in digital publishing as people with print disabilities.

As the French say: "il y a du pain sur la planche" (literally: there's bread on the cutting board), which means that there's still plenty of work to do!

Additional Reading:

The 9th European e-Accessibility Forum: e-Accessible Knowledge on June 8th, 2015 will provide a demonstration of technologies, tools and methods that can improve access to education. The conference is organized in conjunction with the DAISY Consortium Board Meeting which will be held in Paris on June 9-10, 2015. Learn more and register now.

Removing Barriers to Information: Training in Nepal

There are approximately 95,000 people with print disabilities in Nepal according to the 2011 National Census. A recent survey revealed the number of students living with print and visual impairments is about 1,500. The availability of books in accessible formats such as braille, audio, or large print is limited. ADRAD (Action on Disability Rights and Development) Nepal has been working to improve this situation by providing texts in accessible audio formats.

ADRAD organized a training workshop for government and commercial publishers on how to produce books in accessible formats. Twenty five individuals with visual impairments participated in this training.

Training Room in Nepal

Six days of training consisted of two segments and were held in Kathmandu, Nepal.

ADRAD (Action on Disability Rights and Development) Nepal hosted the training that was organized through collaboration between the DAISY Consortium, Accessible Books Consortium and WIPO with the financial support by Australian Aid. Training materials were distributed on a USB stick.

Segment 1: DAISY Book Production [February 23-26, 2015]

Trainers: Prashant Ranjan Verma (DAISY Consortium) and Amit Verma (both from New Delhi, India)

The first day of the training program consisted of presentations and demonstrations on the following topics:

The second and third day included practical sessions where participants learned to produce digital audiobooks in DAISY format on their laptops. The process of converting existing audiobooks into DAISY format was demonstrated and practiced. The complete training outline is available upon request.

Since high-quality text-to-speech software is not yet available in the Nepali language, many organizations continue to record books using narrators. This training provided introduction to tools and skills that are required to create navigable audio books in accessible DAISY format. It is expected that after this training participants gain:

Segment 2: Inclusive Publishing [February 26-28, 2015]

Trainer: Prashant Ranjan Verma (DAISY Consortium)

This three day segment focused on introducing accessibility in mainstream publishing to representatives of publishing houses and government agencies involved in textbook production.

The concepts of separating content from presentation and semantic markup were first explained using Microsoft Word and HTML, then participants learned to apply these concepts using professional publishing software such as Adobe InDesign.

A workflow which uses the combination of Save as DAISY add-in and the Pipeline 2 was also practiced by participants as follows:

  1. Documents were properly marked up in Microsoft Word.
  2. These documents were then converted to DAISY XML file using the Save as DAISY add-in.
  3. Finally, documents were converted to EPUB 3 using the Pipeline 2 converter provided at no cost by the DAISY Consortium.

Participants hesitated to use Nepali Unicode fonts for creating EPUB 3 files as they considered these not suitable for printing purposes. Trainers who researched this earlier found Nepali Unicode compatible with all required tools. Several Nepali Unicode fonts were provided to the participants. The importance of using Unicode fonts was emphasized since this is the way to make books compatible with assistive technology for persons with disabilities.

The process of including image descriptions and page numbers in eBooks was also practiced. Participants appreciated concern for accessibility and adherence to standards. Best practices add value to the output and make reading experience better for all users.

Key Takeaways

The closing session was convened on February 28th. Rabindra Adhikary, the Chairperson of the Development Committee of Nepali Parliament was presented as chief guest.

Birendra Raj Pokharel, the Chairperson of ADRAD provided the overview of the current situation in Nepal. He acknowledged that the government has adopted various means for educating children with disabilities but there is a lack of collaboration between NGOs and government sectors. He urged Nepali government to ratify the Marrakesh Treaty so that it is mandatory for the government to facilitate access to published works for persons who are blind, visually impaired, or otherwise print disabled.

Prashant Ranjan Verma highlighted the increased availability of digital books on the open market. He went on to say that this is an exciting development if these books are accessible. New e-publishing technologies can enable persons with print disabilities to read content at the same time and convenience at no higher cost as their sighted peers. These are the fundamental rights of persons with visual and print disabilities.

Evaluation forms indicate that both training events were helpful in improving participants’ skills and practical knowledge of inclusive publishing.

Thank you, Prashant Ranjan Verma for sharing DAISY Training Reports.

The London Book Fair: Accessibility Toolbox and Excellence Awards

The Annual Accessibility Seminar The AAG Accessibility Toolbox at the 2015 London Book Fair on April 15th will focus on practical ways to include accessibility within publishing workflows. The Accessibility Action Group will build upon the impact of sessions from previous years which have drawn in excess of 100 participants. Both customer needs and changing legal requirements make a way for digital publications to become more accessible to readers of all abilities.

Accessibility Symbol on a Keyboard

Among the speakers are:

More information is provided on the London Book Fair website.

The London Book Fair International Excellence Awards

The shortlist for the 2015 Accessible Book Consortium (ABC) International Excellence Award for Accessible Publishing has been announced. Nominations were judged on their achievements in improving the accessibility of e-books and other digital publications for people with print disabilities.

Due to the range and quality of applicants, the Jury decided to give two awards: one to publishers and one to NGO initiatives and other services. The DAISY Consortium's Associate Member Young Power in Social Action (Bangladesh) is among the nominated NGO initiatives for accessible e-book production.

The award will be presented at the London Book Fair (LBF) on Tuesday, April 14, 2015, during the scheduled LBF International Excellence Awards.

CSUN 2015: Accessibility is Teamwork

The 30th annual CSUN conference was held in San Diego in early March. The week of activities included two days of workshops followed by more than 400 sessions.

The 30th Anniversary Party's keynote speaker was Mick Ebeling of Not Impossible Now. His speech was moving and thought provoking, especially his statement “Surround yourself with people who make you feel stupid.” He described his challenges that motivate him to constantly learn, hack and experiment.

A theme which dominated throughout the CSUN 2015 conference was: embed accessibility into the planning and development process, from start to finish - everyone is responsible. Teams must be on the same page and collaborate to achieve accessibility; from executives to content creators, designers, developers and engineers.

Cognitive Accessibility 101 was one of the most memorable sessions of the conference. BBC Accessibility lead Jamie Knight shared a personal story of his challenges due to autism that has as many faces as individuals with autism. Participants learned that “If you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism.” Jamie’s story was humorous and touching.

2015 is definitely the year of wearable tech. Clara Van Gerven's (NFB) session Wearables for Blind Users had standing room only. It was interesting to observe how she navigated the world of useful and not-so-useful wearable devices.

Pam Barlow (RNIB) next to the HIMS robot

Design Science announced the release of their MathPlayer 4 public beta and Neil Soiffer demonstrated the MathPlayer during one of the sessions. Students with blindness or other visual impairments are now able to learn, practice and take math and science tests on a more equal footing with their classroom peers. Design Science has been working jointly with Educational Testing Service (ETS). The initial release works with the NVDA screen reader to speak and Braille math in Microsoft Word & PowerPoint, Internet Explorer and Firefox.

During their session Improving Accessible Publication Delivery Globally with DAISY Online, Dave Gunn, Andrew Furlong (Vision Australia), Claudio Montalban (Vision Australia) and Greg Stilson (HumanWare) highlighted the benefits to users and services of the new DAISY Online Protocol that can be implemented to deliver accessible publications in various formats when, where and how you want them.

George Kerscher, Secretary General of the DAISY Consortium, was involved in several sessions including EPUB Powers Learning Professionals on the Go with Becky Gibson (IBM) and Rick Schwerdtfeger (IBM).

The DAISY Consortium would like to thank HumanWare for hosting the DAISY Online Delivery focused breakfast meeting. It was well attended and provided a great opportunity to catch up with several DAISY Consortium Members and Friends. As mentioned on the DAISY Consortium's blog prior to the CSUN conference, several DAISY Members, Friends and Supporters had presentations and exhibits at the conference.

Additional Reading and Viewing



I work for the New Brunswick Public Library Service in New Brunswick, Canada and while doing some research into DAISY, I found a link with information about DAISY 101 by Ms. Dietrich that was very interesting. I was curious to find out about what kind of comments were shared in regards to the frequently asked questions below as I have been wondering about those questions myself.


  • Why is DAISY better than MP3?
  • What good is a text only DAISY book?
  • If someone has a Word file and can use it with a screen reader, why would he/she need a DAISY book?

If you have the time, I would be very appreciative if you could share some insight!

Thank you!

Marianne LeBlanc

Dear Marianne:

Audiobooks consisting of MP3 files can be played on a smartphone, tablet, computer or another portable device, but usually it is possible only to move from track to track or find your place in the book by remembering how far you had gotten in the book. Your local library can be a great source of free audiobooks in MP3 format.

DAISY helps sighted students with learning disabilities listen to a book being read aloud as they look at the words on a screen or printed on the page. You can read more about the benefits of audiobooks, including DAISY audiobooks on the Learning Ally (DAISY Consortium Member) website.

DAISY is short for Digital Accessible Information System. Books in this format have more features than regular audiobooks. With DAISY, you can:

  • Skim the book forward and backward - by word, paragraph, page or chapter.
  • Add / Save bookmarks.
  • Skip to certain chapters, sections or pages.

  • Click on a chapter heading in the table of contents or a term in the index and jump right to it inside the book.
  • In some cases take notes in the margin, similar to using a highlighter in a printed book.
  • Listen to the audio file on a computer, smartphone, MP3 player or a more specialized assistive device.
  • Step away. When you close the book, your most recent page read is saved.

Audio-only DAISY books have navigation features that are not present in an MP3 file. Therefore students can move around and find their place in the book faster. You need a specialized player (see the list on the DAISY Consortium website), software player or app to take advantage of these features. Students with dyslexia who read a printed book can still use DAISY audio book to listen to the text read aloud at the same time. They gain from the multi-modal reading experience.

Text-only DAISY books, provided by another DAISY Consortium Member Bookshare, allow the student to navigate the book, see the text on the screen and listen to the text voiced out using synthetic speech (text-to-speech). There are many high-quality voices available that can be used on your desktop computer, laptop or portable device, see the list of vendors, DAISY Consortium Friends on the DAISY Consortium website.

Your last question: If someone has a Word file and can use it with a screen reader, why would he/she need a DAISY book?

A Word file needs to be well-structured to allow for example heading level navigation within the document. Too often we see Word documents that are not well-structured. If student reads a well-structured DAISY book, she/he can jump from phrase to phrase and move around faster. In doing so she/he saves time.

IFLA Draft Guidelines for Library Services to Persons with Dyslexia can be helpful.

Also, please see the links to case studies and helpful articles in the Educators section on the DAISY Consortium website.

DAISY features have been incorporated into the mainstream EPUB 3 standard.

DAISY team

Tech Tips

Save as DAISY add-in: Troubleshooting Common Translation Errors and How to Hear and Check Spelling in DAISY Books written by Prashant Ranjan Verma have been added to DAISYpedia.

Helpful Tips for using Google Docs from Google support team: Get started in Google Docs with a screen reader (ChromeVox, NVDA, JAWS etc).

AbilityNet has created a webpage that explains how users can turn on the TalkBack screen reading application on their Android tablet or mobile. Sighted assistance will be required to turn on TalkBack if not turned on during setup.

Obi 3.7 beta is available: Power users are requested to provide feedback.