Articles

Access to Educational Content in Low-Resource Regions

photo of books within headphones representing audio books
photo of books within headphones representing audio booksGaining access to educational resources in audio can be especially difficult in regions of the developing world where lack of electrical power and internet connectivity is often a limiting factor. Through the Microsoft supported Low-Cost Assistive Technology Project, DAISY partnered with organizations in developing countries to pilot new methods of creating and delivering accessible titles. including the L V Prasad Eye Institute (LVPEI) and the DAISY Lanka Foundation. The L V Prasad Eye Institute (LVPEI) works extensively across a number of states in India to provide a diverse range of services including eye care, employment support, and rehabilitation. The institute’s digital library service offers essential resources to support the education of learners who are blind or partially sighted. The DAISY Lanka Foundation operates an accessible library service in Sri Lanka amongst other activities. However, it has historically proved challenging to train and equip people in particularly low-resource regions with the solutions required to access accessible digital titles. Through this pilot, individuals in low-resource regions are being provided with MegaVoice solar-powered audiobook players, which are known for being user-friendly, but also have the added benefit of not being reliant upon electrical power since they can be charged in sunlight. The Megavoice devices cannot natively play DAISY or EPUB audio titles, but using new software developed under this project, books in these formats can be converted and loaded onto audio players. The conversion software uses the rich structural information of the DAISY and EPUB format titles and places the audio files on the player in a way that enables the users to navigate by book, section, etc. We will be examining how these resources are used, identifying success factors as well as barriers to access. Equitable access to textbooks and other educational resources is still a challenge for people with print disabilities. This easy-to-use solution for more affordable devices will show how it is possible to extend accessible reading to even some of the lowest-resourced parts of the world. Read More

DAISY Board Meeting November 2022 Milan

Photo of Milan Cathedral

Photo of Milan CathedralIn November the DAISY Board were kindly hosted by Associate Member LIA Foundation in the beautiful city of Milan, Italy. This was our first hybrid board meeting with attendees present both in the room and online. We were also able to welcome observers from 5 continents. In addition to approving the plans for next year, the meeting discussed future digital braille file formats, DAISY’s long-term strategy for developing countries, and shared information about technical and service developments. Many DAISY members are users of the ABC Global Book Service and the meeting received an update of latest developments, and discussed the possible future enhancements.

In May 2023 the DAISY board meeting and annual general meeting will be hosted by National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled in Washington DC, USA.

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Lessons Learned in the Journey to Accessible Publishing (W)

Lessons Learned in the Journey to Accessible Publishing title slide

Lessons Learned in the Journey to Accessible Publishing title slide

In our series of free weekly webinars November 23rd saw a session focused on the lessons that have been learned by speakers from 4 different areas of the publishing industry. This was the perfect way to round off this current season of webinars and an excellent chance to reflect on some of the challenges that have been encountered

This page contains:

Full Video of the Webinar

Speakers

      • Richard Orme, DAISY Consortium—host and chair
      • Anne Bergman, Federation of European Publishers
      • Cristina Mussinelli, The LIA Foundation
      • Simon Mellins, Penguin Random-House
      • Wendy Reid, Kobo Rakuten

Session Overview

Ann Bergman was our first speaker, reminding us about the work of the FEP during the development, planning and eventual implementation of the European Accessibility Act. This has involved years of preparation for our industry and is the result of over 20 years of engagement at EU level. The EAA, which comes into force in 2025 will have a global impact as it covers ebooks, ereaders and eretailers. The good news is that EPUB has been deemed to fulfill the specifications of the directive, but there are challenges that still remain: backlist concerns, the liability of retailers and DRM, to name but a few! Ann’s advice to everyone thinking about accessible publishing was an important lesson:

Accessibility is about making the books we publish better, satisfying the needs of all customers and broadening readership

Cristina Mussinelli and the LIA Foundation have a wealth of advice learned from years of advocating for accessible publishing in Italy and Europe. Lessons include:

      • Collaborations – building bridges with all the stakeholders in the industry is key
      • Accessibility needs to be treated as a strategic resource and the corporate culture should reflect this
      • Implement a roadmap within your organization
      • Training is absolutely key as accessibility can get quite technical

Simon Mellins gave us a snapshot of lessons learned from a larger publishing organization of which the 2 biggest are:

      • Metadata and the challenge of implementing accessibility metadata for such a large volume of content and the backlist remains a huge challenge. PRH have found that metadata templating is practical for trade titles but the challenge remains to get the retailers support display.
      • Image description remains the hardest accessibility challenge for most publishers and there is no one solution that works for everyone. Simon gave us a number of strategies to cope with the challenges and these slides are full of helpful detail on this

Finally a reminder about future-proofing and how accessibility enhances content for everyone’s enjoyment.

A properly structured EPUB file with detailed semantic tagging and metadata is the best way to archive books for future generations.

Wendy Reid gave us the retailers perspective by highlighting lessons learned at Kobo Rakuten.

      • Communications are key to success, working with publishers on accessibility requirements
      • Implementation of accessibility can be complex in retail
      • User needs and perspectives must be taken into consideration at every stage. Testing early and testing often can result in changes of approach, making sure that readers with print disabilities are included in the feedback process.

Listen to the recording to hear more about the challenges and lessons learned discussed by our 4 experts.

Related Resources

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Accessible Reading Systems: Requirements and Examples of Good Practice (W)

Accessible Reading Systems title slide

Accessible Reading Systems title slideIn our series of free weekly webinars October 26th saw a session focused on accessible reading systems, hosted by DAISY’s George Kerscher. In his intro George reminded us that “people want to be able to read with their eyes, ears and fingers and its the reading system that enables this.” A crucial link in the publishing and content ecosystem, the accessibility of a given reading system greatly impacts the reading experience.

This page contains:

Full Video of the Webinar

Speakers

  • George Kerscher, The DAISY Consortium—host and chair
  • Prashant Verma, The DAISY Consortium
  • Lars Wallin, Colibrio
  • Laurent Le Meur, EDRLab

Session Overview

The session began with an overview of the webinar, beginning with a reminder of the:

Fundamentals for Accessible Reading

Laurent Le Meur asked why this is so important right now and top of his list of answers is the advent of the European Accessibility Act in 2025 which the whole world is preparing for. By this time, every product and service created or sold into Europe must be accessible and this includes reading systems which are within the scope of the new legislation.

The fundamental requirements of an accessible reading system include:

  • the ability to make visual adjustments
  • screen reader support
  • keyboard navigation (when available)
  • text to speech

Laurent’s presentation includes demonstrations of these basic items, including a closer look at Thorium, developed by EDRLab. EDRLab’s unique experience of developing the Thorium reading system is something we can all learn from. The specific challenges that developing an accessible reading system of this calibre include:

  • the development team themselves must have a thorough understanding of accessibility
  • the development framework is often inaccessible itself
  • the budget to develop accessible reading systems needs to be high
  • testing is complex
  • all kinds of complex content needs to be accommodated in a variety of formats.

Advanced Document Interaction

Lars Wallin focused on requirements needed to give a good reading experience when dealing with complex, structured documents such as learning materials or academic papers. These include:

  • Focus management – if reading systems have not been developed with assistive technology in mind, they will not have the level of integrated accessibility that is needed. Focus management is at the core of a successful reading system.
  • Landmark navigation is extremely important in structured documents
  • Highlights, bookmarks and notes
  • Contextual actions and information (especially important for blind readers)
  • Text search
  • Visual aids

Testing and Benchmarking

Prashant Verma reminded that in order to achieve an accessible reading experience, both the content and the reading system need to conform to standards and best practices. By rigorous testing we can ensure that reading systems are accessible. To be successful, the reading system should have:

  • an accessible user interface that can accommodate different input methods and that supports a variety of commonly used assistive technology
  • support for EPUB accessibility features such as table of contents, image alt text etc.

The DAISY Consortium has developed epubtest.org in order to evaluate the accessibility of EPUB content via reading systems. Testing is conducted by a panel of experts, assistive technology users and readers with lived experience. Reading systems are tested in a variety of ways and the results enable developers to make improvements to the accessibility of their products. The published results also enable institutional purchasers to make informed decisions.

Prashant went into the detail of the epubtest.org evaluation systems and how the scoring is allocated. Results are displayed on epubtest.org and as an overview on Inclusive Publishing as a quick reference tool, summarizing the pros and cons of the systems that have undergone testing.

Related Resources

Links

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Accessible Publishing Support (W)

Accessible Publishing Support opening slide

Accessible Publishing Support opening slideIn our series of free weekly webinars September 28th saw a session focused on Accessible Publishing Support which gave a round-up of training, tools and resources available to publishers and content creators. There are many resources available worldwide and this webinar highlighted some of the most used tools and guidance followed by an in-depth look at what is happening in two countries, Italy and The Netherlands.

This page contains:

Full Video of the Webinar

Speakers

  • Richard Orme, The DAISY Consortium
  • Elisa Molinari, The LIA Foundation
  • Hans Beerens, Dedicon

Session Overview

Richard Orme opened this week’s webinar with a general overview of training, tools and resources. We’ve listed these below but the webinar video gives you a lot more information.

Training

  • DAISY webinar series – 35 hours of material on a broad range of topics
  • Online courses which include, W3C learning, EPUB Accessibility Using InDesign, POET image description tool, Inclusive Publishing in Practice & the Accessible Publishing Learning Network
  • Conferences and Seminars – international bookfairs, publishing events
  • Bespoke training

Tools

A variety of tools are in use to validate and check the accessibility of content. These include DAISY’s suite of tools – Ace, SMART (Richard gave a demo) and EPUBCheck (which is maintained by DAISY)

Resources

There are many resources available to publishers who wish to keep up to date with the latest developments in the accessibility space. These include this website, the Accessible Publishing Knowledge Base, epubtest and stakeholder platforms within your own country.

A full list of items mentioned in the webinar can be found at the end of this report.

The Italian Job

Elisa Molinari began her presentation by giving an overview of the work of the LIA Foundation, reminding us of all they have achieved since 2011 when they delivered the first concrete example of the born-accessible principle.

The LIA catalog now features an astounding 30k ebooks from 76 publishers and imprints.

Moving forward LIA still focus on how to make accessibility work via events, certification, consultancy and tailor-made training for their publishers. Having everyone on-board with a shared goal is something that the LIA Foundation urges all publishers to focus on and they have prepared list of tools and resources for all areas of the workflow together with a white paper entitled; “Ebooks For All: Towards an Accessible Digital Publishing Ecosystem”. This was produced with the onset of the European Accessibility Act in mind.

The Dutch Oven

Hans Beerens followed with an overview of how accessible publishing is treated in The Netherlands. From a round table meeting of relevant stakeholders some invaluable resources have emerged giving publishers a set of quick start guides to get them started on their accessibility journey and provide them with some quick wins. This working group have also conducted a number of workshops and training programs together with the national website which hosts all of these resources.

Most recently, a project run in collaboration with German and French colleagues has resulted in the training site Inclusive Publishing in Practice which Hans gave us an overview of. Available in 4 languages this site offers 75 learning units over 4 learning pathways – covering a multitude of areas to assist publishers in the creation of accessible content.

It was terrific to be able to see how many resources are available to our industry. Although not exhaustive, the range of resources listed and discussed in this webinar provides a solid base for continued learning.

Related Resources

Resources mentioned in the webinar:

Training

Tools

Reference

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Expanding Braille Language Support

A blind man in a brightly colored shirt reads a book on a basic electronic braille display

A blind man in a brightly colored shirt reads a book on a basic electronic braille displayRefreshable Braille Displays have revolutionized the ability to read in braille. With the help of a braille display, whatever is available as accessible digital text can also be available in braille. For people who read braille and rely upon it as their primary, and sometimes only reading format, there could not be anything better. Between 2012-2018 a significant effort was made to reduce the cost of refreshable braille displays to make this technology available in low and middle-income countries. These efforts resulted in multiple new devices being developed and brought to market, influencing existing products, and starting to revolutionize access to braille. However, making more affordable hardware available has driven demand for braille in local languages, both on braille devices and through screen reading software. The DAISY Consortium, through the Low-Cost Assistive Technology Project supported by Microsoft, is working on a strategic development to begin addressing this issue.

image showing Liblouis powers Screen Readers, Braille Displays, Transcription Software and Smartphones

Liblouis is the open source braille translation software behind a wide variety of applications including many of the common screen readers such as JAWS, NVDA, Narrator, Orca, Talk Back and Voice Over, covering a diverse range of devices based on Windows, MacOS, Linux, Android and iOS. Through Liblouis these screen reading applications are able to display digital text from computers or smartphones through a connected refreshable braille display. Most braille note takers or braille displays capable of working as a stand-alone device also use Liblouis language tables to add braille translation support for any language. By adding new language support through Liblouis, that language would seamlessly be added to a broad range of software and hardware.

While Liblouis currently supports 79 languages with contracted and uncontracted braille codes, many prominent languages of Africa, Asia, and Latin America, especially from low and middle-income countries are not yet supported in Liblouis. Through this project, DAISY is identifying languages not currently supported by Liblouis and will be working to add translation tables for at least two of them by March 2023. A survey we conducted earlier in the year identified 12 such languages, from which we selected Swahili and Chichewa as our first two to develop. Swahili is spoken in several African countries such as Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Congo DRC, and Burundi. Whereas Chichewa is the national and official language of Malawi. Through other initiatives, thousands of refreshable braille displays have been provided free of cost to school and university students with blindness in these countries, making a strong case for Swahili and Chichewa to be added to Liblouis.

With the support and involvement of language and braille experts from Kenya and Malawi, we will soon be adding support for both these languages in Liblouis, enabling students with blindness to have access to texts in their own language through their braille displays.

The Low-Cost Assistive Technology Project also includes the development of a simple but powerful conversion tool built upon the DAISY Pipeline technology which also utilizes Liblouis, enabling the creation of braille publications in these languages through this powerful tool. We look forward to bringing your further details in the coming months. To keep up with the latest developments from this project, along with other activities from DAISY and our member organizations, subscribe to the DAISY Planet Newsletter.

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Accessible Publishing: The Fundamentals (W)

Accessible Publishing Fundamentals title slide

Accessible Publishing Fundamentals title slideSeptember 14th 2022 saw the first in a new season of free DAISY webinars with a session focused on Accessible Publishing: The Fundamentals. Accessible publishing is gaining increasing attention, with many new people approaching the topic, often driven by legislation like the EU Accessibility Act. This webinar went back to the fundamentals, highlighting how people with print disabilities can access digital publications, the importance of adopting accessible publishing practices, and the wider benefits to your publications.

This page contains:

Full Video of the Webinar

Speakers

  • James Taylor, International Publishers Association—Guest Host
  • Gautier Chomel, EDRLab
  • Prashant Verma, DAISY Consortium
  • Brianna Walker, Taylor and Francis

Session Overview

Introduction to Accessible Publishing

Gautier Chomel reminded us that accessible publishing is big business and that digital content is a growing market. With changes in learning methods impacting this trend we can expect the growth to continue, particularly as legislation (such as The European Accessibility Act) impacts the supply chain and changes publishers’ perspectives. This session aims to give us a refresher for what we are all trying to achieve.

About Print Disability

Prashant Verma detailed exactly what a print disability is and how many people are affected by low vision, blindness, learning disabilities and developmental difficulties, all preventing access to printed material. Accessible digital content is revolutionary for readers with a print disability.

How Could People Read Your Publications?

It is well worth watching the video of this session for some examples of how people with print disabilities are able to read using accessible content. These demos and examples include:

  • People with low vision tend to increase the text size and change the background color – Prashant pointed out that there are 240 million people worldwide with low vision.
  • People who are blind use screen readers and/or electronic braille – all made possible by excellent navigation and accessibility features optimized within the content.
  • People with learning difficulties can customize the text layout and use the read aloud function if they need to.
  • Those with physical disabilities have a variety of options now available to them including switch or voice control technology

Accessible Digital Publishing Practices

Brianna Walker gave us the publisher perspective with some wonderful examples of good practice that has been adopted at Taylor and Francis by optimizing the features on offer within the EPUB 3 format. Brianna informed us of 4 top tips for good practice:

  1. Ensure text is text (and not images of text)
  2. Provide good structure
  3. Describe images
  4. Provide accessibility metadata

The Case For Accessible Publishing

The business case for accessible publishing is very often something that we have to advocate for in-house. Senior executives want to know that accessible publishing will help them to:

  • reach more readers
  • comply with the law
  • meet purchasing requirements
  • make better ebooks
  • impact the supply chain
  • promote their image

Where To Start

Brianna encouraged us all to consider a holistic approach when starting out by considering the bigger picture before focusing on what can be done in the short term and long term. It’s key to get commitment in-house and that investment needs to be on-going.

Patience is required but starting the journey is an instant win

Related Resources

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Accessible Publishing in Africa The Fundamentals (W)

Logos of DAISY, IPA, APNET and APIF

Logos of DAISY, IPA, APNET and APIFWe recently conducted three webinars dedicated to introducing accessible publishing to an audience of people working in the publishing sector in Africa.

This webinar covering “The Fundamentals” was delivered in 3 languages, the recordings and associated materials are linked below:

First, we heard about the importance of accessible publishing for Africa from IPA President Bodour Al Qasimi and Ernest Oppong, Acting Executive Director of the African Publishers Network. Then we learned how accessible publishing can benefit millions of Africans with different print disabilities. We concluded the session with some examples of Accessible Publishing practices, and information about the free training that will be offered in the coming months.

Accessible Publishing in Africa The Fundamentals

Transcript of the English webinar
English Powerpoint slides

Publication accessible en Afrique Les fondamentaux

Transcription du webinaire en français

Diapositives Powerpoint en français

النشر الميسر في إفريقيا – الأسس والمقومات

شرائح باوربوينت العربية


These webinars and the associated training are part of an initiative driven by the Africa Publishing Innovation Fund (APIF), a grant-giving program co-led by philanthropic organization Dubai Cares working with the International Publishers Association (IPA), and the DAISY Consortium.

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Announcing The Microsoft Supported Low-Cost Assistive Technology Project

Illustration of a swiss-army-knife with converter options

Creating Accessible Books for Diverse and Affordable Reading Devices

At DAISY we have a long history of working with the world’s leading technology companies to deliver amazing solutions for people with print disabilities.  We’re delighted to announce our latest project which is made possible thanks to the Microsoft AI for Accessibility program.

In 2004 a global summit organized by Microsoft and DAISY began the journey towards the global sharing of accessible publications for people with print disabilities. A lot of progress has been achieved since then, but the benefits have not reached most people in lower-income countries. This project will unlock accessible reading for people who currently do not have access.

As a result of the Marrakesh Treaty more than a million books have become available under international exchange through global collaborations. These books are in file formats that deliver a first-class accessible reading experience on smart phones, computers, or dedicated hardware players. However, these playback devices often don’t reach people in low resource parts of the developing countries. Many rural areas do not have adequate electricity or internet connectivity.

In this project DAISY will be developing an easy-to-use application to convert books so they can be used by the devices typically in the hands of persons with disabilities in low resourced parts of the world. This includes basic phones, affordable braille displays, and even solar-powered audio players.

The solution will make it much easier for disability organizations, libraries, and schools to create or convert books for the devices typically used in their environments. We think of this tool like a Swiss-army knife, a small and very easy to use tool which offers multiple solutions, taking content from an array of formats and converting it automatically to various accessible formats.A blind man in a brightly colored shirt reads a book on a basic electronic braille display

Through this transformative project many people with print disabilities will be able to study at school, prepare for employment, and gain access to health and emergency information using the reading devices that are popular in their communities.

Thanks to support from Microsoft, this innovative converter tool will be made freely available to all, helping to deliver accessible reading materials in the formats needed to people all around the world.

There are many aspects to this project which we will be sharing in greater depth over the coming months. To keep up with the latest developments from this project, along with other activities from DAISY and our member organizations, subscribe to the DAISY Planet Newsletter.

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European Inclusive Publishing Forum – Update

EU Inclusive Publishing Forum cover slide

The DAISY AGM this year included a presentation on the European Inclusive Publishing Forum which DAISY hosts to enable the sharing of information and practices from across Europe to support the publishing community in preparing for the European Accessibility Act.

Visit our Inclusive Publishing site to read the full details from each of the case studies mentioned in the video:

Our European Inclusive Publishing Forum pages contain the latest information about this work, including details of how you can get involved.

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