The DAISY Consortium's Newsletter - September 2015

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Moving forward: With strong personal commitment to DAISY’s cause

Photograph of Jesper Klein

So who am I…

Name: Jesper Klein

Age: 38

Family: Wife and son

Home: Central Stockholm, Sweden

Employer: Swedish agency for accessible media (MTM)

In my spare time other than family life: Indie pop/rock music, food, running, travel.

Read: When I don’t fall asleep like a log - history oriented fiction/non-fiction, political magazines.

I have a long and strong personal commitment to the cause of DAISY. For 15 years I’ve been a driving force behind several phases of DAISY implementations inside a founding DAISY Consortium member organization (MTM). In many cases I helped build strong publishing industry partnerships.

I now stand with two feet steady on the ground in our field. I’m a believer in the power of open global standards and the value of the knowledge and resource sharing platform that the DAISY Consortium provides to the world wide information accessibility and digital publishing community. The promise of EPUB 3 implementation is so exciting! But there are still big challenges. Most people on the planet live in regions with insufficient infrastructure and a famine of ‘born accessible’ publications or without access to publications enhanced for accessibility by specialized providers. In many cases it is also difficult to reach the people who most need it.

As chairman of the board, my goal is to help strengthen the global DAISY community. It is important that we - the members - navigate together on the journey through the rapidly changing world of digital publishing so that we can keep elevating the level of inclusion of people with print disabilities around the world.

To boost inclusion even further, MTM and DAISY Consortium are throwing a glorious international conference event: May 16-18, 2016 in my home town Stockholm.

Library for All: Also for the print disabled

Edited and abbreviated version of Rauha Maarno’s paper Library for All – also for the print disabled [IFLA WLIC 2015].


Celia library logo

Library for All is a joint project between the state-owned Celia Library for the print disabled and public libraries in Finland. The aim is to include talking books produced by Celia in the services and collections of public libraries. This project is designed to provide equal access to literature and information for persons with print disabilities.

The main target groups of the project Library for All are elderly people, children with learning and reading difficulties, and the visually impaired as well as people with intellectual disabilities and mental disorders.

In Finland, there is a rapidly increasing number of senior citizens who are visually impaired or have other disabilities. Dyslexia is also more commonly recognized, therefore there is a growing need for talking books among young people.

According to the 2012 Program for International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) study, eleven percent of the adult population in Finland aged between sixteen and sixty-five are poor readers (approximately 370,000 people).

Finland has a widely spread network of public libraries which could serve as local service points for users who need talking books. A similar service model has been used in Sweden where accessible materials such as talking books which are produced by the Swedish Agency for Accessible Media (MTM), are available in public libraries.

Starting Point: Library for All

The project began in October 2013 and since then Celia Library staff have worked closely with pilot libraries around Finland. Key motivators include the needs of both Celia Library and the public libraries.

Celia services represent a remarkable improvement for print disabled users. Their collection includes talking books, Braille books and tactile books. DAISY talking books account for nearly 99 per cent of the library’s loans.

Cooperation with pilot libraries began in March 2014 when the first group of thirty-four libraries participated in seminars and workshops produced by Celia. The participants planned the model for the talking book service together. Workshops also delivered ideas about the materials needed in the local libraries.

An important result of this first collaboration was the production of a handbook for librarians and advertising materials for public library patrons by Celia.

Introduction of the Talking Book Service

The talking book service was introduced to patrons of the pilot libraries in September 2014 with the main focus on online services. Public libraries offer guidance and access to the Celia online service making 40,000 talking book titles available for download or streaming online.

Some libraries also offer DAISY talking books on CDs. During the pilot, useful information was gathered about how the service could be implemented in local public libraries. Librarians provided useful feedback. As a result, improvements were made and the project was further expanded to new public libraries in Finland in the spring of 2015. By September 2015 there were 250 public libraries across Finland delivering the new talking book service to print disabled users.

The project will end in December 2015, but the service itself is established permanently and the cooperation between Celia and the public library sector is an ongoing process.

Key takeaways:

Celia collaborated with Turku University of Applied Sciences to develop a customized course about accessible library services for the students in library and information studies. This course included a lecture by an accessibility expert, workshops about talking books and a teamwork assignment for the students. This work has since been expanded to other institutions training future library professionals.

Update from Minna von Zansen, Director, User Relations, Celia Library

For the coming three year period 2016-2019, Celia’s focus will be on strengthening the partnership between libraries and Celia as well expanding the new service model. Celia aims to do this by developing the service model further in partnership with libraries, by training current and future library professionals on accessible library services and by streamlining its own support and services to match library needs. The Finnish Library Act is under revision, and Celia has actively worked on including accessible library services in the act.

Zzap - How Does Sci-fi Sound? Celia’s Talking Book Campaign Launched on the International Literacy Day, September 8th.

We all know that talking books can come in handy if reading is difficult. In September, the Finnish state-owned special library Celia launched an extensive campaign to promote talking books. The aim of the campaign is to find new users for talking books, particularly among young people, aged 12 to 18, who have difficulties with reading ordinary books due to problems such as dyslexia.

Campaign material was sent to libraries nationwide for distribution within libraries and during school visits. Video ads were posted in the target group's social media channels, such as Twitch and YouTube to raise awareness among the target group about the possibilities of talking books. The campaign is also making use of the website This website contains information on issues such as the nearest library offering talking book services and a dyslexia test.

New Mobile Apps for Tablets and Mobile Phones

Boy with earphones reading using a tablet

During the launch of the campaign, Celia released free talking book apps for iOS and Android. The Pratsam Reader apps may be used to listen to all of Celia's 40,000 talking books. During the coming year and a half the app will be further developed to allow for search and retrieval of materials. The username and password required to use the app are now available from one’s local library.

Campaign videos are available on YouTube.

More information on the campaign and Library for All:

Contact: Elina Kilpiö, Project Manager, Library for All Project, Celia

mobile +358 040 565 2634

email: elina.kilpio(at)

Other resources:,

Big thank you to Minna von Zansen, Celia Library.

inABLE Gets Children Reading, Laughing and Learning

Kenya has approximately 331,000 blind people and 620,000 visually impaired individuals [Census 2009]. Challenges such as the lack of trained manpower or proper equipment can become obstacles for these people in gaining information access and education. Efforts are underway in Kenya to make positive changes in this regard.

inABLE’s journey began as a give-back wish to improve the lives of impoverished children in the rural areas of Kenya with small-scale reading spaces - libraries. However, the scope of the proposed program transformed during a 2008 program development reading event.

Founder Irene Mbari-Kirika met a group of bright, eager and competitive students who stole the show. They won a reading competition in spite of the fact that all of them were blind. Intrigued, Irene visited the Thika School for the Blind and discovered a void that needed to be addressed. Because the blind and visually impaired had greater educational and life challenges, the newly-formed organization refocused its purpose to make blind and visually impaired students the primary recipients of new learning resources. The original work of creating reading spaces would continue, but as a secondary program. This led to the creation of inABLE; a 501c nonprofit organization based in the USA and Kenya with a mission to empower blind and visually impaired students in Africa through assistive computer technology.

InABLE team at work

Computer learning and connectivity were the most obvious ways to create long-term learning opportunities for blind and visually impaired students. This understanding led to the design of Computer-Labs-for-the-Blind, a complete assistive technology environment that includes accessible hardware, software, computer lab infrastructure, Internet connectivity, and employable skills training. The first inABLE assistive technology / computer lab opened in Thika, Kenya in July 2009.

Presently, inABLE operates computer labs in Thika, Meru, and Kisumu with plans to expand to all nine special schools for the blind in Kenya. inABLE accomplishments to date include:

The government does not allow learners to bring telephony gadgets to school. However, screen readers such as VoiceOver, NVDA (NonVisual Desktop Access) are being used. AMIS (Adaptive Multimedia Information System) has also been helpful.

DAISY Brings New Opportunities to Kenya

Prashant Verma recently organized several Skype sessions with the inABLE team in Kenya and covered the production of all three types of DAISY books. Open source software such as the Save as DAISY add-in, as well as Obi and Tobi were introduced. EPUB 3 playback and conversion using Pipeline 2 was also discussed and links to software and tutorials provided. Trainees completed assignments and shared them via Google Drive. The screen sharing feature of Skype was utilized, but in most cases voice conferencing proved to be satisfactory.

Reading and publishing systems based on DAISY and EPUB 3 bring flexibility and new options for learners in Kenya. They will be able to listen to DAISY books on a computer or with a special stand-alone player at home or even when they are travelling. EPUB 3 and DAISY format based content production will continue and reduce the reliance of learners on braille material that is bulky and more expensive.

Thank you goes to Prashant Verma and the whole inABLE team in Kenya: Peter Okeyo, Wabz Abwao, Douglas Omweba and Geobert Athoo.

RNIB Celebrating 80 years of Talking Books

By Lisa Bywater (RNIB)

80 years ago, the Royal National Institute of Blind People’s (RNIB) Talking Book service revolutionised reading for people with sight loss. Here, we give you a brief introduction to our landmark service, which is described by so many of our customers as a “lifeline”.

80 years of innovation

The idea for the service was sparked by Sir Ian Fraser. Blinded by a bullet at the Somme after serving as Captain in the King’s Shropshire Light Infantry, he came up with the idea of a “talking book” while listening to a gramophone record while at St Dunstan’s.

Fraser took his ideas and early experiments to the National Institute for the Blind (NIB), who joined forces with St Dunstan’s in 1934 to form the Sound Recording Committee, with Fraser as Chairman. On 7 November 1935, the Committee issued the first books and players.

The Talking Book service pioneered the use of the long playing vinyl record, before record labels such as Decca and EMI used it for recording music, but although records proved popular, they were bulky and fragile. Tape players were introduced after the Second World War, and we were investigating the possibility of downloadable digital Talking Books as early as 1982 – nearly two decades before digitalisation of the service became possible.

Technology doesn’t stop moving, and neither do we. Today’s Talking Book readers can choose from a wider range of listening formats than ever before, but we need to stay ahead of developments to make sure that our books remain accessible for blind and partially sighted people, no matter how they enjoy listening to them.

80 years of choice and independence

Reading isn’t just a fun pastime. It can be a lifeline to the outside world or a source of knowledge and learning. Talking Books have given generations of blind and partially sighted people independence and access to a world that might otherwise be closed to them.

Today, thanks to DAISY navigation, a Talking Book reader can skip through chapters as easily as someone would skip through the pages of a physical book, or change the speed of their reading by altering the speed of the playback. Talking Books can be downloaded to a smartphone or tablet, without the need for specialist equipment, or can be borrowed on USB stick and then played on a wide variety of devices, both simple and advanced.

From the first five books recorded – including The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie – the Talking Book library grew and grew. Thanks to the support of donors, publishers and the hundreds of staff and volunteers who work hard behind the scenes, our current collection of more than 23,000 unabridged books – which we add to every day - is listened to by nearly 30,000 people, in a wider range of formats than ever before.

“Talking Books have been an integral part of my life. I would be lost without my books."

“Reading takes you into a world of imagination. You can get lost in a book, with the characters – you get caught up in their lives. You can get lost reading a book really! If it’s a really good book and a really good reader, it means so much to you – it gives you hours and hours of entertainment.”

If you’d like to find out more about RNIB Talking Books or any of the other reading services we offer, visit or call our Helpline on 0303 123 9999.

RoboBraille: Updated Web Interface and New Functionality

RoboBraille logoThe main RoboBraille web interface was updated in the end of June 2015. This update added several new functions to this free service, including:

  • Multi-file upload: Multiple files of the same file type can now be uploaded using the web form. Press CTRL (Windows) or Command (Mac) to select multiple files in the file upload dialog to select multiple files for upload. The files must be of the same type and will all be converted to the same target format.
  • EPUB 3 with media overlays. RoboBraille can now be used to create reflowable e-books in EPUB 3 format with media overlays. eBooks with media overlays resemble structured audio books in DAISY format with synchronized text and audio, but do not require a DAISY player. So far, e-books with media overlays have been tested successfully with the free Readium for Chrome ebook reader. The new EPUB 3 with Media Overlays option can be found among other e-book target formats.
  • The file size limitation has been changed from 32 MB to 64 MB to allow for upload of bigger files. When uploading multiple files, the file size limitation applies to each file rather than to the combined size.
  • In addition, naming conventions have been streamlined and several bugs fixed. On the server side, multiple core components were updated to the last version, including the converters used for Office-to-PDF conversion, e-book conversion and DAISY conversion.

More information is provided on the RoboBraille website.

Thank you, Tanja Stevns.


We have installed Sigtuna DAR3 on a new computer running Windows 7 and we are getting errors when trying to build a book. What could be the reason? B.L.

Dear B.L.:

Sigtuna DAR does not work properly in Windows 7 evironment, particularly the LAME encoder part.

We recommend you adopt free Obi and / or Tobi software for accessible book production as they work with newer operating systems. Several tutorials are available for both tools. In addition, you can contact the DAISY Consortium to request a face-to-face meeting or online training.

Bits & Pieces

Listen to Eyes on Success podcast: Interview with George Kerscher, Part 1 (September 23rd). Part 2 will air this week (September 30th).

The Montana Accessibility Interest Group will meet Friday, October 2nd, from 10am - 11am MDT. George Kerscher will talk about what EPUB 3 is, what makes it so accessible, and what international efforts are underway to promote its adoption.

The DAISY Consortium team will conduct Inclusive Publishing Workshops at the 6th Africa Forum in Kampala, Uganda (October 5-8, 2015).

The Accessible Book Consortium now has their own Twitter feed. Follow ABCbooks4all.

Alternative formats of WIPO flagship titles will be explored for wider accessibility, and to build on WIPO’s commitments to accessible publishing [IP-Watch].

Marrakesh Treaty has been ratified by Mongolia [WIPO].

HumanWare and Aroga Technologies Announce Canadian Distribution Partnership.