Thanks to Alice O’Reilly and Kelsey Corlett-Rivera from NLS for their contributions to this article. Read More
In this special webinar hosted by the IFLA section Libraries Serving Persons with Print Disabilities in collaboration with the DAISY Consortium, we celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the Marrakesh Treaty, and explore the impact and relevance of the treaty after the first 10 years.
This page contains:
- Dipendra Manocha, The DAISY Consortium- host and chair
- Monica Halil , WIPO Accessible Books Consortium
- Marc Workman, World Blind Union
- Richard Orme, DAISY Consortium
- Stephen Wyber, International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA)
- Victoria Owen, IFLA
- Siobhan Dennis, Vision Australia
- Francisco Javier Martínez Calvo, ONCE
- Bárbara Martín, European Blind Union
- Yasmine Youssuf, Chair of IFLA Libraries Serving Persons with Print Disabilities Section
- Geert Ruebens IFLA LDP retired
- Teresa Hackett, Electronic Information for Libraries
Host: Dipendra Manocha – DAISY Consortium
Dipendra Manocha from DAISY welcomed everyone to the webinar and opened the session with some background, offering a personal perspective and his experience of the Treaty, how India prepared local legislation, and how the Treaty continues to make a significant impact for people with print disabilities.
Monica Halil, Head of the Accessible Books Consortium, WIPO
Provided some background on the Marrakesh Treaty, highlighting that there are currently 93 contracting parties covering 119 countries. The Accessible Books Consortium exists to help implement the Marrakesh Treaty at a practical level. In June 2023 there are currently 127 authorized entities globally, with 70 from developing or least developed countries. A total of 840,000 title are available for exchange under the framework of the Marrakesh Treaty, covering 80 languages.
Marc Workman – CEO, World Blind Union
Marc introduced the involvement of the World Blind Union which has been at the forefront of the journey, supporting the development of the treaty, and continuing to promote enactment of the treaty worldwide. Marc highlights that progress has been made, but many governments have yet to ratify the treaty restricting full enactment of the treaty worldwide. WBU are committed to continuing the journey, providing guidance for governments, organizations and individuals.
Richard Orme, CEO DAISY Consortium
Richard introduced the DAISY Consortium, the non-profit global authority on publishing and reading for people with print disabilities, whose team of international experts develop standards, tools, and best practices that are embraced by leading technology companies, publishers and library services. DAISY tools have facilitated the production of millions of accessible books, journals, newspapers and other documents, providing free tools helping organizations and publishers to create locally relevant accessible publications. In 2022 DAISY delivered technical training and capacity building support in 100 countries.
Several stories of individual experiences were shared, including of Naveen, a 13 year old boy in rural India who is blind and like others in his class had never read a book because there were no accessible books in his school. Following a DAISY project Naveen and his classmates can now read independently using simple solar powered audio players that were provided filled with accessible textbooks thanks to the Marrakesh Treaty.
Stephen Wyber, IFLA (SLIDES)
ILFA also played a key role in the adoption and implementation of the Treaty globally. Stephen presented some of the data confirming that 45% of the countries to have ratified the Treaty have not yet implemented legislation into national law. Also raising awareness of the different ways the Treaty has been implemented, with under 10% of implementations requiring additional fees to be paid, and 18% requiring time consuming and costly commercial availability checks.
Victoria Owen, IFLA LPD
IFLA LPD created a Getting Started Guide for librarians to support implementation which provides an easy-to-understand explanation of the Treaty, describing the requirements, services and options that can be used within the Treaty. That guide has been adapted by regionals to support librarians with advice on country specific requirements.
Victoria also spoke about activity in the US and Canada to assess barriers to research publications at all levels of academic study, highlighting challenges in exchanges between countries that have minor differences in the way that have implemented the Marrakesh Treaty, differences in library metadata usage, and in library systems and user records.
Perspectives on implementation of the treaty from a library perspective, supporting global libraries in using the treaty.
Siobhan Dennis, Vision Australia
Vision Australia were involved in the first cross border exchange of titles under the Marrakesh Treaty in 2016, exchanging with CNIB in Canada and utilizing the ABC catalogue. As a new process some technical difficulties were experienced, however three titles were exchanged on the day the treaty came into force on September 30 2016. Breaking new ground is always challenging, and thankfully over time the process of obtaining titles through ABC has become significantly easier.
Francisco Javier Martínez Calvo, ONCE
ONCE have a very large collection of titles in their accessible library, with 39,000 DAISY Format books, 31,000 braille titles and 3,000 music titles. The ABC Global Book Service has access to the DAISY Format and music titles, with braille titles currently in the process of being uploaded. This has enabled accessible Spanish language titles to be made available to readers with print disabilities around the world through the Marrakesh Treaty. Just by having access to the ABC catalogue, ONCE’s book collection has gone from 74,000 to nearly 800,000. Francisco was clear that the concept of the Treaty is working fine, but that things take time to be adopted, the Marrakesh Treaty is here to stay and we will see the full potential of the Treaty in time.
Bárbara Martín, President of EBU
The European Blind Union was another organization involved in the Marrakesh Treaty since in the early negotiations and continues to be active supporting implementation and use. One of the new countries using the treaty is Ukraine who ratified the treaty in March, enabling access to accessible titles for blind and partially sighted people who are in a very difficult situation.
EBU is now working with the EU who are evaluating the directive implementing the Treaty, developing a consultation to assess how it can be improved.
In 2025 the European Accessibility Act will be implemented, delivering accessible ebooks and ebook readers for all, which is good step forward, but not enough as it only relates to some formats, importantly not braille or audio. The Marrakesh Treaty will continue to be relevant, especially for back list and older titles.
Yasmine Youssuf, Chair of IFLA LPD
Yasmine shared details of accessibility and the Marrakesh Treaty adoption within the Arabic speaking countries. There are 22 Arabic speaking countries with a total of 400 million people forming a very large group. Only 6 Arab countries have ratified the Treaty so far, and of those only UAE have amended their copyright laws to implement the Treaty. Other countries like Egypt are working on ratification. Additional challenges are present for the Arabic language in accessible content creation tools, and reading solutions. Demand for accessible titles have increased especially for educational titles. IFLA LPD along with partners, have assisted by coordinating a symposium in 2017 to encourage governments to ratify the Treaty. Subsequent changes in disability equality legislation, seen as an important step towards ratification. Additional projects have delivered more accessible titles and an authoring tool that supports Arabic.
Geert Ruebens IFLA LPD (retired)
Geert spoke about their personal experience of the treaty, representing IFLA LPD being present in negotiations and in Marrakesh for the signing of the Treaty. The treaty was the results of lengthy negotiations between representatives of rightsholders, governments, and beneficiaries. While this is the 10th anniversary, we should remember that it took almost 10 years of negotiations with contributions from many organizations prior to that point.
Teresa Hackett, EIFL – Electronic Information for Libraries
EIFL were also involved the treaty negotiations from the start, experiencing all the hard work many put into the discussion, and the joy when the agreement was reached in Marrakesh. The partners involved all knew that the Treaty had the potential to transform lives, and it had proven to deliver against that potential. It was clear from early on that librarians were going to play a key role in supporting the practical implementation of Treaty. EIFL have produced and contributed to number of resources for libraries to guide the use of the Marrakesh Treaty, and working with countries to adapt the guidance to support national legislation. The Marrakesh treaty was always about people not profit, and people will take this forward.
- Electronic Information for Libraries (EIFL)
- European Blind Union
- International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA)
- IFLA Libraries Serving Persons with Print Disabilities Section
- Vision Australia
- WIPO Accessible Books Consortium
- World Blind Union
- WIPO Marrakesh Treaty page
- Marrakesh Treaty official Treaty Text
- WBU Marrakesh Treaty Guide
- EBU Marrakesh Treaty page
- ABC Global Book Service
- Marrakesh Treaty: an EIFL Guide for Libraries
- Getting Started a practical guide for librarians on how to use the Marrakesh Treaty
In May 2023 the board of the DAISY Consortium was generously hosted by the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled (NLS), Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. The occasion also allowed for a visit to the library’s studios to meet with some of their team, learn about some of the latest technical developments and view the recording facilities.
For the first time since 2019 the Annual General Meeting was in person and online, featuring presentations to showcase some of the achievements of the DAISY team and DAISY members. A video of the 2023 showcase is available.
The DAISY meetings coincided with the Spring meetings of the Braille Authority of North America. After we had concluded our separate business we had an interesting morning sharing information of joint interest, including the DAISY Music Braille Project, product developments, ebraille specification, tactile graphics and the braille production activities of DAISY members.
The time in Washington concluded with a touch tour of the U.S. Capitol building, including a visit to the room originally used as the Supreme Court, a tactile map of the area and wonderful audio-described tour of the building’s main areas. The US Capitol is well known for its many statues and blind tourists had special permission to explore by touch the pieces portraying Helen Keller, Jeanette Rankin, Ronald Reagan, and more.Read More
A component of the 2023 DAISY AGM was a showcase presentation highlighting some of the work being conducted by DAISY and our member organizations around the world.
This page contains:
We have lots more information about the activities mentioned in the Showcase throughout the DAISY website. You can find further details about the content Links to DAISY activities mentioned in the recording:
The London Book Fair was a vibrant and well-attended event this year and the publishing world was out in force. As ever, there were a number of sessions dedicated to accessibility and it was great to see so much interest in these focused seminars. Publishers had sent staff specifically to find out more about accessible publishing and it was encouraging to be able to welcome new faces to the discussions.
It’s true to say that the main focus of the fair still remains around print and this is likely to remain the case for the forseeable future – this is a rights fair and publishers are looking to sell and buy rights in both print and digital product but traditionally they are not there to talk about accessibility. Any in-roads that we can make are therefore significant and it was exciting to be able to attend back to back meetings to talk about inclusive publishing.
The Publishers Accessibility Action Group’s annual seminar, now in its 15th year ran a session entitled: Accessibility, Charting the Waters, focusing on the new PAAG Charter which asks publishers and other industry players to commit to accessible publishing via a set of 10 clear points on accessibility. The speakers spoke to a number of the points each, showing how they approach these areas within their own organizations and proving that the charter is an easy commitment for everyone. Attendance was high and questions lively.
Amnet systems also ran a seminar: Accessibility, Are We Nearly There Yet and DAISY were pleased to take part in this and the PAAG event.
In March we reported on the renewed focus on accessibility at publishing events and LBF was no exception. Whilst it is always hard to divert attention from rights and acquisitions, there was no lack of enthusiasm for these events and the conversations that took place throughout the fair.Read More
In our series of free weekly webinars March 29th saw a session focused on New Options for Accessible Books for Readers in Low Resource Areas. Most of the world’s people with blindess or low vision live in low- and middle-income countries where resources are scarce and accessible books aren’t commonly available. This webinar will study the work of The DAISY Consortium and others examining how this new focus has significantly changed the situation already.
This page contains:
- Nafisa Baboo, Light for the World—host and chair
- Richard Orme, The DAISY Consortium
- Dipendra Manocha, The DAISY Consortium
- Ioana Tanase, Microsoft
- Masho Kidanemariam, SENEthiopia
- Ashoka Bandula, DAISY Lanka Foundation
Richard Orme provided an overview of the webinar whetting our appetites for the exciting solutions and resources that will be discussed!
- Dipendra Manocha described some of the very real and tough challenges experienced in developing countries, in particular the story of a 13 year old boy he met at a resource centre, 200 km from Delhi. Never having had access to accessible books, the main mode of learning for him was listening to his teachers with no direct access to reference books.
- The Global Smartphone Divide: highlighting around 75% of people in developed countries own a smartphone, whereas 75% in developing countries do not have smartphones.
- Technology Gaps: the least developed countries face additional technology inadequacies in addition to resource issues.
- Tools to make accessible books: these are becoming easier and cheaper to use and include the audio tool, Obi and Microsoft word based methods to help create digital accessible content.
- Help with training and technical support. These efforts include:
- ABC capacity building project, helping to raise awareness about what can be achieved and to provide opportunities to learn
- Partnering with NGOs for training has meant that there is now a large of body of materials which can be delivered both faster and cheaper
- Webinars and online learning
- Global sharing of existing accessible books. Thanks to the Marrakesh Treaty there is now a legal framework for the exchange of accessible books internationally. The opportunity to get books into the hands of readers with print disabilities, is now greater than ever.
- A wide choice of more affordable reading devices with greater language support include:
- DAISY format players and braille devices
- Apps for laptops, tablets and smartphones
- More affordable audio players
With so many opportunities now available Richard and Dipendra considered some practical options to get accessible books into the hands of people with print disabilities. With the support of some large organizations, work has started in earnest here. Ioana Tanse and Dipendra spoke to us about the work that Microsoft and DAISY have focused on – improving access to low-cost assistive technology to people in developing countries
- Extending digital braille: by adding support for Swahili and Chichewa (the language of Malawi), digital braille is now available to many many more readers
- Opening the treasure trove; the development of an app to convert books in existing resources has allowed greater access by bringing the “power of the DAISY pipeline” to the desktop. Masho Kidanemariam talked to us about using the app in conjunction with the solar audio player, MegaVoice in a war zone region of Ethiopia. Ashoka Bandula described how this project has helped to provide access to textbooks for students in some of Sri Lanka’s most challenging regions.
- Realizing the opportunities. In summary, Richard Orme urged us all to:
- Use the free tools to create accessible books
- Participate in international sharing of information
- Convert books to reach more people
- Get training and support from DAISY
Finally, Dipendra reminded us all that for many participants in this project, this was their first experience reading an accessible book and that this is life-changing work.
- Join DAISY as a Network Partner
- DAISY online training resources
- Microsoft AI for Accessibility Initiative
- Accessible Books Consortium from WIPO
- Bookshare online library of accessible titles
As we approach the conclusion of our Low-Cost Assistive Technology Project we have been able to reflect on the impact of our work and share lessons with the wider community.
Last year we asked for feedback on languages that did not have effective braille support. The response highlighted many languages in use around the world which are not supported, from which we were able to identify two Swahili and Chichewa to take forward in this project. Working with language braille experts the braille tables were created and integrated into the open-source braille translation tool which provides the foundation for many specialist and mainstream devices. Earlier this year the latest version of Liblouis was released with support for Swahili and Chichewa.
A further part of this project examined the availability of accessible books in low-resource regions, providing 50 low-cost devices to gain an understanding of the potential for this approach. As part of the trials, Mega Voice solar-powered players have been provided to students aged 14 to 16. These players are delivered pre-loaded with the complete set of textbooks for the grades they are studying. The players are specifically being given in the low-resource regions within low and lower-middle-income countries.
Through a base-line survey conducted at the time of handing over of the players to the students we discovered some interesting things, one of the key findings coming out of this survey was that at the age of 14-15 years, this is the first time that these students have access to the books that they can read for themselves. Before participating in the study, teachers delivering lectures in the classroom and someone reading a book out to them were the only ways for the students to gain access to any of the content of their syllabus.
Through this Microsoft-supported project, we have identified clear evidence that broadening support for playback tools directly and dramatically changes the educational potential for those concerned, providing access to books for people who did not previously have any meaningful access.
The outcomes of this project along with practical advice and information about new tools will be featured in a free webinar on March 29th at 14 UTC.Read More
In January the Chrome web browser was upgraded to support MathML, a specification for describing mathematical notation. Microsoft’s Edge browser is also built using the same Chrome technology, so it has also received the MathML upgrade. And the components that EPUB reading apps rely on are also being upgraded. This will have positive benefits for accessibility.
Whilst MathML has long been supported by Safari and Firefox, it has been missing from Chrome for around ten years. This meant that if websites wanted to include MathML, they needed to use the MathJax library so that mathematic expressions are displayed correctly. MathJax is very powerful and includes special accessibility features, but the additional requirement of making this library available meant that some websites would take the approach of just using images of math expressions instead.
When it comes to ebooks not all reading apps app included MathJax either, so publishers would also revert to math as images rather than MathML. We know that text as an image isn’t great for accessibility; the same is true for mathematical expressions.
Whilst math images can have alt text, there are several accessibility advantages to using MathML. For people that rely on visual adjustments, MathML expressions can be zoomed without them becoming fuzzy, and when a user chooses a color theme this will apply to the math as well. A screen reader user can listen to the math, and navigate the expression also, essential in anything other than the simplest expressions. With tools such as MathCAT (used with NVDA) the user can choose how the math is announced, choose to have math spoken slower than the regular text, and adjust the braille notation in use.
Now that MathML is natively supported in Safari, Firefox, Chrome, and Edge, websites and publishers can confidently use MathML for math expressions, with the benefits this brings for accessibility.Read More
The DAISY Consortium is delighted to once again support the CSUN Assistive Technology Conference by creating accessible digital versions of the conference materials, and offering them for download in HTML, DAISY 2.02 and EPUB formats. Thanks to the CSUN Conference Team for making the information available in advance to facilitate conversion.
This page contains a complete list of downloadable files, which are shown with their approximate size. Downloads start immediately after a link is selected.
All session information should be reviewed alongside the addendum on the CSUN website for changes to the schedule.
Entire conference program and menus
Conference information in DAISY 2.02 format [.zip files]
Combined Sessions (140MB)
Tuesday Sessions (28MB)
Wednesday Sessions (39MB)
Thursday Sessions (49MB)
Friday Sessions (34MB)
Speaker Index (11MB)
Exhibitor Directory (22MB)
Exhibitor Directory by Category (8MB)
Gaining 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