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DAISY Consortium Showcase 2023

DAISY Consortium AGM Showcase 2023 title slide
DAISY Consortium AGM Showcase 2023 title slideA 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:

Full Video of the Showcase

Linked Resources

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: DAISY Vision and Mission Member Organizations Microsoft Low-Cost Assitive Techbnology Project Nordic Inclusive Publishing Initiative Ebraille file formats project London 2023 Accessible Publishing Conference and DAISY Technical Meetings   Read More

Accessibility at a Mainstream Publishing Event

An aerial view of the main hall of the london book fair taken from the 1st floor mezzanine. The fair looks very busy with lots of stands in shot

An aerial view of the main hall of the london book fair taken from the 1st floor mezzanine. The fair looks very busy with lots of stands in shotThe 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.

Richard Orme talking to Oliver Gadsby on the Amnet panel

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.

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New Options for Accessible Books for Readers in Low Resource Areas (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 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:

Full Video of the Webinar

Speakers

  • 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

Session Overview

Richard Orme provided an overview of the webinar whetting our appetites for the exciting solutions and resources that will be discussed!

Challenges

  1. 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.
  2. The Global Smartphone Divide: highlighting around 75% of people in developed countries own a smartphone, whereas 75% in developing countries do not have smartphones.
  3. Technology Gaps: the least developed countries face additional technology inadequacies in addition to resource issues.

Opportunities

  • 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

Solutions

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

  1. Extending digital braille: by adding support for Swahili and Chichewa (the language of Malawi), digital braille is now available to many many more readers
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Related Resources

Tools mentioned:

Other links:

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The Impact of Low Cost Assistive Technology

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 displayAs 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.

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MathML what has changed and why it matters?

MathML icon

MathML iconIn 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.

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CSUN Conference 2023 Files

CSUN Assistive Technology Conference Logo

CSUN Conference LogoThe 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

HTML version .zip file (9MB)
EPUB text only version .zip file (4.8MB)
EPUB text and audio version .zip file (423MB)

Conference information in DAISY 2.02 format [.zip files]

General Information (11MB)
Pre-conference Sessions (5MB)
Featured Presentations (1MB)

Advertisements (2MB)
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)

Quick Guide By Date (10MB)
Quick Guide By Room (11MB)
Quick Guide By Topic (43MB)
Quick Guide By Level (10MB)

Fresh Bites – In Room Dining (3MB)
nFuse (7MB)
Slice Pizzeria (0.5MB)
The Market (1MB)

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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.

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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

Useful Links

Discover the other webinars we’re running!

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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

Discover the other webinars we’re running!

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