The DAISY Consortium's Newsletter - June 2009

From The Editor

-- The next DAISY Planet will be in August. We will not be publishing a July issue. --

The first article in this issue of the DAISY Planet WIPO SCCR: a Step in the Right Direction provides an overview of the activities, results and plans relating to the proposed WIPO Treaty for Improved Access for Blind, Visually Impaired and other Reading Disabled Persons. This proposed Treaty could impact the availability of accessible information for everyone, everywhere.

Directly related to the issues of copyright and access is a quote given in a speech Dr. William Rolland, President of WBU made last year: "Imagine if you walked into a bookshop or library, and were told that you were only allowed to choose from five percent of the books on the shelf. What would such a limited choice do to your education, to your leisure reading opportunities?" In the world of digital information this might be equivalent to only being allowed to have access to 5% of the web pages available on the Internet. Think about it.

The publishing industry generally, and Amazon, Kindle, Apple, e-books and e-readers specifically, are topics covered in the current article Amazon Taps Its Inner Apple. What is of particular interest for our community is the 'future of the book': "Looking long-term, as readers migrate to digital books, there is a real possibility the basic form of the book will change. It is a process already under way, since the Internet has changed the way people access information, content, and entertainment...books may soon become multimedia events...Publishers could team with authors and multimedia producers to forge a new channel for dynamic e- books that go far beyond linear prose; they may provide a blend of text, video, audio interviews, 3-D maps -- an entire ecosystem of content built on top of the book." And DAISY will play an important role in this transition. The new DAISY Standard will be a truly multimedia standard that will meet not only the needs of those who require information in an accessible format but will also meet the needs of the everyone who wants a rich, multimedia reading experience.

Techshare, held in the UK, is always a conference not to be missed and it looks like Techshare 2009 will be no exception. Online booking for the conference, which will take place September 16 - 18, is open and there is a discounted Early Bird booking rate for those who register before July 10. A wide range of high quality presentations covering some of the most innovative digital access technology available will fill the programme.

There is already one and soon will be a second commercial audio book publisher in Germany adding DAISY books to their format offerings. If you know someone working for a commercial audio book company, tell them about DAISY and how the DAISY reading experience is for everyone. If DAISY books are sold commercially, it puts those who need them on a level playing field with those who do not. Please see Dear DAISY in this issue of the Planet.

DAISY Members and Friends around the globe promote DAISY. Acapela Group, known for its text to speech Acapela voices, has very recently joined the DAISY Consortium as a Friend. Their posting DAISY Consortium: Acapela Group, new member and active campaigner for information access equality highlights accessible information and DAISY. To those of us who have been promoting DAISY as the best way to read and publish for many years, it is uplifting to read such a supportive message from a company very new to the DAISY membership.

I'd like to thank Stephen King, DAISY Board member for the RNIB, for letting us know that the UK has ratified the UN Convention. If you have news about your organization or company, or about issues relevant to the DAISY community, please let us know by using the Contact Us form (Newsletter category). You can also submit a comment (supportive or critical) for the Letters to the Editor column or let us know you'd like to share 'Your Story' with the Planet readership using the Contact Us form. Many thanks to those who took the time to get in touch with us about the May DAISY Planet.

Your Story this month is from Jim Sanders, recently retired President of CNIB. I've know Jim for at least two decades, and his wonderful sense of humour shines through in his 'Story'. It will put a smile on your face.

Lynn Leith

DAISY Marketplace

The following links are to new or recently updated DAISY Products and Services from our Members and Friends. Marketplace entries also appear on our home page.

The following links are to new or recently updated DAISY Products and Services from our Members and Friends. Marketplace entries also appear on our home page.

The DAISY Marketplace

WIPO SCCR: a Step in the Right Direction

Looking Back: SCCR 18 - Ramp Up

A great deal of effort, particularly by the VI (Visually Impaired) Sector, went into preparing for this meeting and assuring that the agenda included the proposed WIPO Treaty for Improved Access for Blind, Visually Impaired and other Reading Disabled Persons, including the proposed copyright limitations and exceptions, put forth by the World Blind Union (WBU) at the 17th Session held early November last year. The VI Sector, including the World Blind Union (WBU), the DAISY Consortium, IFLA/LPD (International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions, Libraries Serving Persons with Print Disabilities Section) and the International Council for Education of People with Visual Impairment (ICEVI), have taken a lead role throughout the preparation and deliberations, but they always embrace the needs of all who are unable to read print because of a disability. The primary lead sits with WBU as it has observer status at the UN and therefore can attend WIPO committee meetings.

In the ramp-up for the 18th SCCR meeting, the VI Sector worked to identify delegations representing 'friendly states' that would support a tabling of the Treaty Proposal. It was anticipated that there would be a split between developing country governments which know that people with a print disability in their country would benefit from the Treaty; its mandatory standard Copyright Exceptions would make cross-border exchanges and sharing of collections possible. However, industrialized countries, where most profitable publishing takes place, traditionally support the Rights Holders, ignoring the human rights argument which seeks a fair balance between the two sides.

At the beginning of May, Luis Villarroel, former Chile Delegate to and Vice-Chair of SCCR, and good friend of the VI Sector, organized a workshop for several Latin American Government Directors of Intellectual Property (IP). The result was a consortium of Brazil, Ecuador and Paraguay which agreed to table the WBU proposed Treaty at the WIPO meeting later that month. They tabled the Treaty, meaning that it was formally put before WIPO's Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights. In the Proposal Annex this consortium stated,

The attached document consists of the Treaty proposed by the World Blind Union (WBU), which presents possible ways and means of facilitating and enhancing access to protected works for the blind, visually impaired, and other reading disabled persons...By undertaking such an initiative, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) would act in accordance with the efforts undertaken by the United Nations to address the need for enhancing access to knowledge for the most vulnerable or socially prioritized sectors.

Stakeholders Platform

At last November's SCCR meeting the Rights Holders came in late with a counter to the Treaty Proposal, saying that exceptions and the Treaty were not necessary, that they would be able to work with the VI Sector to solve the accessibility issues. They did not acknowledge the fact that they had failed to respond to the VI Sector's efforts to work with them during the previous decade. The Rights Holders proposed the establishment of a Stakeholders Platform (SP) which would be promoted through SCCR by the European Union countries under WIPO's auspices.

The SP has met twice and is looking, at an operational level, at converging on some issues. However, it is clear to those in support of the Treaty that a twin-track approach combining the Treaty and the SP is necessary to reach a full solution.

SCCR 18: the Week

The week of May 25 - 29 was a week of endless meetings with government delegates from many countries getting the twin-track message across to as many participants as possible. VI Sector representatives hosted a well attended lunchtime information session at the beginning of the week. Further meetings were scheduled with various delegate groups, including Latin America, many of the industrialized countries, the European Union, and Executive Leaders from Africa. Knowledge Ecology International (KEI) was invaluable in arranging these meetings and introductions.

Blogging and Tweeting on Twitter

On the final day as the meeting's Conclusions were being negotiated, it was clear that the industrialized countries were attempting to block the Treaty's progress, promoting the role and value of the Stakeholders Platform as the answer. KEI went into 'blog' mode which was immediately picked up and re-blogged. The blog readers began to use Twitter to name and shame the delegates from the industrial countries for 'wanting to prevent blind people from getting access to books'. The press picked up on minute-by-minute descriptions and the issues at stake; SCCR national delegates were contacted and asked why they were attracting such bad publicity for their country.

The Outcome


The SCCR meeting Conclusions went through four versions over a 36 hour period, which is most unusual. Behind closed doors the 'blockers' managed to dilute the profile of the Treaty in version 3, however, our friends - those who support the Treaty - managed to reinstate its status in the final version of the Conclusions, guaranteeing that it will be a major agenda item at November SCCR meeting. Over the next six months the Treaty will be distributed in many countries to gather the support needed for that meeting. The final Conclusions are available online on the WIPO website.

On June 2, on WIPO website News & Events an update on the results of the meeting (UPD/2009/310) was posted. It begins:

WIPO's top copyright negotiating forum has agreed "to continue without delay" its work on facilitating the access of the blind, visually impaired (VIP) and other reading-disabled persons to copyright-protected works. This subject - as well as broader questions of limitations and exceptions to copyright law as they relate to libraries, archives and educational activities - is at the heart of current work of the Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR).

Discussions at the SCCR meeting from May 25-29, 2009 centered on a series of practical measures to facilitate access to copyright-protected materials by reading impaired persons, including a stakeholders’ platform, a key aim of which is to develop solutions to make published works available in accessible formats in a reasonable time frame. All participants supported moving forward with this work.

The article Copyright Treaty backing e-books for disabled readers survives US and EU resistance provides insightful and engaging information and quotes from both Dan Pescod (International and European Campaigns Manager, Royal National Institute of Blind People - RNIB), and James Love (Director, KEI) about the proposed Treaty.

If we make an accessible version of a book in the UK and want to send that to another English-speaking country where they don't have the resources to make books accessible, we should be able to do that," Pescod said. "But the copyright law as it stands doesn't allow the transfer of that accessible info. The exceptions in place in national legislations stop at the border.

Howard Knopf, Canadian lawyer, is the Chairman of the Copyright Policy Committee of the Canadian Bar Association. On June 19 he posted to his EXCESS COPYRIGHT blog, quoting from the article "Obama in cyberspace" by James Boyle which was published in the Financial Times. The header of Knopf's blog begins "Intellectual property law is good. Excess in intellectual property law is not". He summarizes Boyle's article as follows: "It indicates that the Obama administration is opposing rights for the blind due to its deference to the content owners agenda." Boyle writes:

...The proposal would generalise and harmonise those exceptions. It is backed by a number of developing countries and opposed – quietly – by the US and most of the European Union. Hip-deep in a colossal market failure on a global scale, they say optimistically that the market will provide an acceptable solution, though there is overwhelming empirical evidence that it will not.

Next Steps

Chris Friend has summarized as follows:

The VI Sector will be mounting a major campaign with its WIPO National Member Organizations to ensure that when the government delegations next discuss the Treaty that they have the information they need, that they are well informed of the issues and that they understand the need for this Treaty.

We have made good progress by getting our Treaty Proposal adopted by three countries so that it is now an official government-owned Proposal on the SCCR agenda. This is the first time that an NGO Proposal has been adopted and become an official proposal to WIPO SCCR. But we have lots to do over the next six months to counter the publishers and rights holders campaign against the use of exceptions. The Right to Read Campaign team will prepare briefing templates which will be circulated to our members to enable them to engage with their government IP/Copyright Officials in the coming months".

Additional articles about the proposed WIPO Treaty have been published in previous issues of the DAISY Planet. Updates will be provided as they become available.

DAISY Standard: Revision in High Gear

Z39.86-2010 Part A 1st Public Draft

Revision of the DAISY Standard, officially the ANSI/NISO Z39.86 Specifications for the Digital Talking Book, is underway and is expected to be ongoing until the end of 2010. The Authoring and Interchange framework, Z39.86-2010 Part A ('affectionately' known to the development community as ZedAI), forms the first stage of this development. (Note: the "Zed" in ZedAI and ZedNext for example, is taken from the official name for the Standard, Z39.86).

The new DAISY Standard will be divided into two major parts, the first being a framework for authoring and interchange, and the second being a framework for distribution. A clear and not too terribly technical explanation of why it has been decided that the Standard needs to be separated into two distinct parts is provided on the DAISY ZedNext website: has become increasingly clear that combining the roles of authoring and distribution formats into one and the same XML grammar does not work well. The functional requirements of an XML authoring format and an XML distribution format are not always in harmony. Therefore, the Z39.86 Committee has decided to treat these two different functions separately in the forthcoming revision of the DAISY Standard. There will be one specification focused entirely on an authoring format and another specification focused entirely on distribution formats. This approach will allow us to strengthen the effectiveness and expressive power of the DAISY format both in terms of authoring and distribution...

NISO Logo At the end of May the Working Group assigned to the task of developing the Authoring and Interchange framework for the new Standard made the first public working draft of Z39.86-2010 Part A available. This May release is an early access version that will be followed by several updated working drafts from now until the end of this year. At that time a draft Standard for trial use will be released through NISO. Details and a link to the draft will be provided on the DAISY website and in DAISY communications, including the DAISY Planet.

Organizations using an XML-based authoring workflow (whether it is based on DTBook - DAISY XML - or not) are invited to participate and help the Working Group by review and testing of the new specifications and schemas. A ZedNext forum is available for those who wish to ask questions, submit bug reports, or provide suggestions. For those who are seriously into the technical aspects of development a technical primer, the Authoring and Interchange Framework: Primer is available. You can also follow the Authoring and Interchange Working Group activities at the Revision Wiki and the ZedNext source code repository.

UK Ratifies UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities

On June 8, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland ratified the UN Convention, the CRPD. The United Nations enable website indicates that at present there are:

Minister Jonathan Shaw issued the following statement about the UK's ratification of the Convention:

"I am delighted to announce that later today the UK will ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in New York. In addition, we aim to start the parliamentary process for ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention shortly.

There are an estimated 650 million disabled people in the world, including over 10 million in the UK. The UN Convention is a powerful and explicit statement that they have-and must be able to enjoy on an equal basis-the same human rights as others. The Convention is therefore a very significant landmark, both for disabled people and for Government and society as whole.

Ratification of the Convention is further demonstration of the Government's commitment to equality of human rights for disabled people, and of our determination to achieve equality by 2025."

A complete list of countries which have ratified the UN Convention and those which have ratified the Optional Protocol is also provided on the United Nations enable website. The article UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Ratified was published in the April 2008 DAISY Planet, announcing that the total for ratification had reached the required number for the Convention, the UN CRPD, to go into legal effect.

Korean Braille Library: Perfect Hosts

Earlier this month the Korean Braille Library (KBLL) hosted the DAISY Annual General Meeting, DAISY Board Meeting and the "2009 New age of DAISY" Conference. All were held at the Seoul Olympic Parktel. Presenters from Japan, the UK, Norway, Finland, Spain, Canada, the US and Korea helped to make the conference a great success.

Keun Hae Youk speaking at the 2009 New age of DAISY ConferenceA fresh ice sculpture was displayed at the venue each day of the conference. However the main highlights (aside from the meetings themselves) were the tours of the National Library Support Center for the Disabled and the Korean Braille Library. The DAISY Consortium would like to thank Keun Hae Youk (DAISY Board representative for KBLL) and her team for their hard work and for being the perfect hosts.

The minutes of the DAISY General Meeting will be posted on the DAISY Web site in July.

DAISY at Bibliotheca Alexandrina

The Arabic Language Challenge

Olaf Mittelstaedt, Heba Kholeif (Principle Specialist) and Dipendra Manocha at Bibliotheca AlexandrinaFrom June 7 to 11, DAISY Consortium Training and Technical Support team members Dipendra Manocha and Olaf Mittelstaedt provided DAISY production training for 12 employees of the Taha Hussein Library for the Visually Impaired which is a part of Bibliotheca Alexandrina, in Alexandria, Egypt. The primary objectives for the five day training were:

Dipendra provided a short summary in his report on the training:

Bibliotheca Alexandrina is an expansive library with 2,000 employees. It is the main icon of the city of Alexandria due to its unique architecture, its role in the preservation and restoration of Arab Culture, and the advancement of its historic tradition into the 21st century... The library provides a wide range of services. The Taha Hussein Library for the Visually Impaired is a part of this library. This provides a unique opportunity to integrate accessibility features into the mainstream digital library project, and the possibility for making hundreds of thousands of books available in accessible format to persons with print disabilities.

Production and playback of Arabic DAISY books was a new experience.

May Nagy, Sr. Specialist attending the DAISY trainingThe highlight of the week was that the DAISY trainers and participants were able to successfully create DAISY content in the Arabic language. On Arabic language computers, the production tools used were able to correctly display the Arabic characters. Problems were encountered with several tools when the Arabic language text content was opened on English language computers. The exceptions were Obi and AMIS, which displayed Arabic text correctly in both English and Arabic Windows. The overall response to Obi was extremely encouraging. Very much in line with the design of this DAISY 3 structured audio production tool, all participants have found the software extremely easy to use and yet it is powerful and has many useful features.

Although the challenge that the Arabic language presents in the creation of DAISY text content was addressed during the training period, issues not yet resolved will be dealt with through 'long distance' communications by the DAISY Consortium Training and Technical Support team.

Letters to the Editor

Thanks for this great article in DAISY Planet [WIPO SCCR: Treaty Discussion Conclusions]. It's a great referral for a more "balanced" view of the outcome.
From: Margaret Williams,
Manager, Digital Library Portal Services
Canadian DAISY Consortium


First of all, congratulations for the May edition of the DAISY Planet. It is, as the previous one, well made and, in my opinion, full of interesting things.

I'd like to send a comment about the Dear DAISY section and the response made to the accessibility expert by the Editorial Team. In this response, Jaws, Window-Eyes and NVDA are mentioned. I regret that only Windows-based solutions are mentioned, and would have appreciated to see e.g. Linux mentioned, too. I can witness that the operating system is accessible, since I am completely blind and it's the (only) one I use. Both text-mode and graphical desktops can be used, either through braille or through speech synthesis systems. Under Linux, in text mode, brltty and speakup are popular. brltty is more focused on braille displays, whereas speakup focuses on speech syntheses systems. For the graphical world, the leader is Orca which is an open-source project developed by Sun and which can use both braille and text to speech.

This is just a small remark. Keep up the good job !
From: Sébastien Hinderer,
BrailleNet Association


Just read the May issue and as usual a job well done.
From: Gerry Chevalier,
Victor Reader Product Manager


Thank you for the mention of our partnership with HumanWare [Letter from the Editor, May 2009].
From: Peyton Stafford,
Director of Global Library & Institutional Services ReadHowYouWant -- Accessible Editions



Radioropa Hörbuch is a big Audiobook Publisher in Germany. After talks with the DZB Leipzig, we want to publish audiobooks in the DAISY Format as well. Our first tests were sucessful, so we want to publish our DAISY Audiobooks as soon as possible. Is it possible to use an official DAISY Logo to mark our DAISY Audiobooks?

Thank you for your help.


Many Thanks,   
Michael (Germany)

Dear Michael,

Yes, Radioropa Hörbuch may use the DAISY logo. There is a selection of image files of the DAISY logo in the policy area of the DAISY website. There are high resolution and lower resolution image files, and some include the word "Consortium" included while others do not. The logo without "Consortium" is used, for example, on DAISY CDs by some producing organizations. It is also used by companies on some DAISY players. Information about the use of the logos is also included on that page.

Editor's Note: The article Argon Verlag: Setting the Trend for Audio Book Publishers was published in the February issue of the DAISY Planet. TechniSat/RADIOROPA Hörbuch will be the second commercial audiobook publisher in Germany to add the DAISY format to its book format options.

Tech Tips

XML Summer School for 2009 is sponsored by the W3C and OASIS:

XML Summer School
20-25 September 2009
Oxford, England

The XML Summer School is a unique event for everyone using, designing or implementing solutions using XML and related technologies. It is for all levels, from beginners to experts. Complete details are provided on the XML Summer School web site.

W3C Member employees receive a 10% discount on the registration fee.