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RNIB: Smart glasses to improve life for people with sight loss

DAISY News - 3 hours 13 min ago

There are almost two million people in the UK living with sight loss. Over 90% of these individuals have some remaining vision. The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), Full Member of the DAISY Consortium, are developing smart glasses that enable those with very limited vision to make use of what sight remains, increasing confidence and providing richer ways to navigate and communicate with people. The prototype has already enabled users to identify faces and obstacles more clearly than they have seen for years.

 

Within 18 months, RNIB hope to be able to revolutionize the lives of 1,000 people living with sight loss, providing the foundations to create a low-cost version with additional functionality for people with sight loss around the world. Vote to make their vision a reality.

Mark Bide Appointed as IPA's Special Adviser on Digital Publishing, Standards and Accessibility Strategy

DAISY News - 3 hours 13 min ago

The International Publishers Association (IPA) has appointed Mark Bide as its special adviser on digital publishing, standards and accessibility strategy.

 

IPA Secretary General Jens Bammel said: “In the area of standards, metadata and infrastructure development, we need to provide leadership and strategic advice to our members. Mark has been a trusted expert and strategic visionary in this area for more than 20 years. His roles at digital consultancy Rightscom, industry standards body EDItEUR and the Publishers Licensing Society have given him a wealth of experience. IPA is delighted that we can count on his insight into the drivers of our digital future.”

 

He added: “Promoting accessibility is a strategic issue for publishing. Not only can technical improvements enable publishers to reach new customers; accessibility features can unlock the potential of digital publications in ways that mainstream consumers will value. Mark will play a major role in helping the publishing industry embrace accessibility.”

 

Bide said he was "delighted” to be able to support the IPA in these areas of activity.

 

He stated: “Helping the global publishing industry to understand how to change and what they can do to become great digital publishers, particularly how they can improve access to their publications for people with print disability, will be an exciting challenge.” More information is provided in the official press release.

All-in-One Integrated Title Searches: Collaboration by APH and Bookshare

DAISY News - 3 hours 13 min ago

DAISY Members, the American Printing House for the Blind (APH), and Bookshare, announced a new collaboration that gives readers who are visually impaired easier and integrated access to hundreds of thousands of book titles all at one site using APH’s Louis Plus database. “Instead of visiting several websites and searching each site individually, a person seeking accessible books can now search many sites at one time using our Louis Plus database to streamline the process,” said Julia Myers, Director of Resource Services at APH.

 

In 1989, APH first created a file repository that would later become the Louis Database of Accessible Materials. In addition to materials from APH, the database grew to include information on more than 390,000 accessible books and other materials produced by over 160 organizations throughout the U.S. These items include K-12 textbooks that are available in braille, large print, audio, and electronic format.

 

“Providing easier access to printed materials through integrated searches has been one of our goals,” said Betsy Beaumon, Vice President and General Manager of the Literacy Program at Benetech. “We’re so pleased that we could collaborate with our partner APH to make it a reality.”

 

More information is provided in the official press release.

Tobi 2.4 Brings Parallel Production Capability for EPUB 3 Projects

DAISY News - 3 hours 13 min ago

DAISY Consortium is pleased to announce the new release of the next generation open source multimedia book production tool, Tobi.

 

Tobi is a unique software tool that can produce books compliant with both the DAISY 3 and the mainstream EPUB 3 specifications. It includes the unique capability of adding accessibility enhancements, such as image descriptions, to the mainstream EPUB 3 publications.

 

The new release makes the production of EPUB 3 files more efficient. It introduces the Split and Merge command for EPUB projects, empowering the users to divide a large Tobi project created from EPUB 3 publication into sub-projects, so that they can be distributed for parallel production. These projects can then be updated concurrently and finally merged back together to form a completely updated Tobi project.

 

Specifically, the behaviors of the recording and playback commands have been refined to provide uninterrupted recording, and smart playback that stops automatically on occasions where screen reader speech needs more attention. In addition, rendering of MathML expressions now happens on selection, to reduce the loading time of projects. This release also addresses reported issues and includes other bug fixes.

 

To download Tobi or to learn more about it, please visit the Tobi project area http://www.daisy.org/tobi/.

 

For more information about what’s new in this release, please visit the change log http://www.daisy.org/tobi/change-log.

Victor Reader Stream Version 4.4 Will Add New Features Including Wireless Access to the NLS BARD Service

DAISY News - 3 hours 13 min ago

The Victor Reader Stream version 4.4 update brings new wireless features including online podcasts and wireless access to the NLS BARD service. Stream users can enjoy the ability to search and browse podcasts, subscribe with a single key press and have new episodes automatically downloaded wirelessly to the Stream. Users eligible for the NLS BARD library service will be able to access over 50,000 digital books and magazines, searching by author or key word, by browsing over 100 categories, and via their own personal wish list that can be managed both on the Stream and through the NLS BARD website.

 

“Following the addition of internet radio, wireless access to Bookshare and Wikipedia, wireless access to NLS BARD and the ability to enjoy online podcasts have been among the most frequently requested features and we are delighted to bring them to the Victor Reader Stream and in a way that users will find to be both easy and enjoyable” said Matthew Janusauskas Technical Product Manager. More information is provided on the HumanWare website. The latest new features are currently in beta.

India Becomes the First Country to Ratify the Marrakesh Treaty

DAISY News - 3 hours 13 min ago

Delhi: India has become the first country to ratify the Marrakesh Treaty to facilitate access to published works for persons who are blind, visually impaired or print disabled. The treaty would also go a long way towards establishing equal rights and opportunities for education and employment for them, the ministry of human resource development said in a statement.

 

The treaty, which was ratified on June 30th, will facilitate import of accessible format copies from member states by authorized entities in India such as educational institutions and libraries serving the needs of visually impaired persons, the statement added.

 

Once the treaty comes into effect, it will enable ease of access to published works for blind, visually impaired and otherwise print disabled persons in India. So far, 79 World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) member states have signed the treaty, which will come into force once 20 countries have ratified it.

 

“The development will also facilitate translation of imported accessible format copies and export of accessible format copies in Indian languages,” said the statement. the Indian Copyright (Amendment) Act, 2012, is in harmony with the Marrakesh Treaty, available on the WIPO website also in text-only DAISY format.

Accessible Books Consortium Launched, Joins Effort to End “Book Famine” for People with Print Disabilities

DAISY News - 3 hours 13 min ago

The World Intellectual Property Organization and a group of key partners including the DAISY Consortium, are launching a new alliance to boost the number of books in accessible format for use by hundreds of millions of people around the globe who are blind, visually impaired, or otherwise print disabled, most of whom live in less-developed regions.ABC was created to help implement the objectives of the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired or Otherwise Print Disabled at a practical level through work in three areas: the sharing of technical skills in developing and least developed countries to produce and distribute books in accessible formats, promoting inclusive publishing, and building an international database and book exchange of accessible books. The Marrakesh Treaty was adopted by WIPO’s members on June 27, 2013 and will enter into force once it has been ratified by 20 nations.

 

“The launch of the Accessible Books Consortium advances global efforts to increase the number of books available for use by people with print disabilities,” said WIPO Director General Francis Gurry. “We are pleased that ABC’s stakeholders are fully committed to collaborating and ensuring the success of this initiative,” he added. More information is provided in the official press release on the WIPO website.

EPUB 3.0.1 Approved As Final Recommended Specification

DAISY News - 3 hours 13 min ago

EPUB 3.0.1 has been approved by the IDPF membership as a final Recommended Specification, superseding EPUB 3.0 to become the current version of the EPUB Standard. EPUB 3.0.1 is a minor revision, focusing on bug fixes and errata for the 3.0 specification, together with several minor backwards-compatible additions. A quorum of 95 IDPF member representatives voted in this election (50% of eligible members), with 93 voting in favor and 1 voting against (with 1 abstention), for an overall approval percentage of 99%, exceeding the Super-Majority of 66%, required by IDPF policies and procedures.

 

The EPUBCheck validation tool is expected to include complete support for EPUB 3.0.1 by August of this year, in conjunction with which samples for the new features of 3.0.1 are being developed. The EPUB Reading System Test Suite will be updated to include tests for 3.0.1 during the same timeframe. In addition, the Readium open source implementation of EPUB rendering already supports several EPUB 3.0.1 features and expects to deliver full support during this year.

HathiTrust Statement on Authors Guild v. HathiTrust Appeal Ruling

DAISY News - 3 hours 13 min ago

"The Second Circuit of the US Court of Appeals upheld critical points of decision issued by Judge Howard Baer, Jr. in Author's Guild et al. vs HathiTrust et al., finding that digitization for full-text search and access for print-disabled readers is fair use under US law.

 

HathiTrust has to an unprecedented degree expanded access to the collections of our partner libraries, making them accessible in new ways to researchers and readers around the world. We are especially proud of our services to provide access for print-disabled persons. We would like to extend a special thanks to the many researchers, legal scholars, libraries, and other individuals and organizations for their continued support and use of HathiTrust. Although the court returned one matter to the lower court, we are very happy with today's ruling and feel confident that future decisions will continue to uphold the work that we do." Source: HathiTrust website.

 

Also read Fair Use Victory Advances a Future of Accessibility for All by Jim Fruchterman on Beneblog.

WSIS Targets Review: Achievements, Challenges and the Way Forward

DAISY News - 3 hours 13 min ago

This week, government representatives and stakeholders met approximately 10 years after 2005 UN-led World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS). A complete, fully functioning information society has not been achieved yet. The WSIS+10 High-Level Event (WSIS+10 HLE) of the UN International Telecommunication Union (ITU) took place June 10-13.

 

Meeting participants discussed progress made in the implementation of the original WSIS outcomes and adopted two new outcome documents to be considered by the UN General Assembly in 2015.  These new documents highlight work done so far, and take note of new developments in recent years, such as broadband, social networks, mobility, digital inclusion, massive open online courses (MOOCs) and e-participation. But mainly the vision of inclusion of all groups of people in the information society has been reinstated.


The “Final WSIS Targets Review" was also released this week. This document “reviews progress made on each one of the WSIS Targets, which range from connecting villages, schools and health centres to developing content and providing people with ICT access,” according to the summary. More information is provided on the ITU website.

e-Publishing on Mobile: Maximizing Opportunities for Seniors and Persons with Disabilities

DAISY News - 3 hours 13 min ago

Stephen King, President of the DAISY Consortium, chaired a session on Tuesday, June 10th at 11:00 am at the M-Enabling Summit. This session was titled e-Publishing on Mobile: Maximizing Opportunities for Seniors and Persons with Disabilities.

 

Millions of e-books, as well as newspapers and magazines, are now readily available on mobile devices. How can persons with disabilities or seniors with reading impairments benefit from these trends? This panel, led by the DAISY Consortium, examined how technology, leading e-publishing platform vendors, the publishing industry and advances in copyrights law around the world can maximize opportunities for persons with disabilities for e-publications delivery on mobile platforms.

 

Panelists:

  • Michele Woods, Director, Copyright Law Division, Culture and Creative Industries Sector, World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)
  • Rick Johnson, VP of Product Management and Sales Engineering, Vital Source Technologies
  • MaryLee Perkins, Technology Manager, Center for Independent Living of Middle Tennessee
  • Kathleen Wahlbin, Senior Accessibility Specialist, Global Accessibility Solutions Team, Pearson
  • Glinda Hill, OSERS: Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, U.S. Department of Education

 

The full agenda of the M-Enabling Summit is available on the summit website.

Public Drafts of EDUPUB Specifications Available

DAISY News - 3 hours 13 min ago

The International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF) has announced the elevation of four specifications to public draft status: EPUB 3 EDUPUB Profile, Open Annotation in EPUB, EPUB Distributable Objects, and EPUB Widget Packaging and Integration. These specifications were developed by the EPUB 3 Working Group. Member and broader community review on these initial drafts are solicited through June 30, 2014.  Members and non-members are welcome to submit comments via email to the IDPF / DAISY CTO and EPUB Working Group co-chair Markus Gylling.

 

The EDUPUB initiative is a global alliance of standards organizations and stakeholders developing a comprehensive model for exchanging and distributing learning content based on EPUB 3, the overall Open Web Platform, and other emerging and adopted standards.

 

The next meeting of the EDUPUB alliance, EDUPUB Europe 2014 will take place on June 19, 2014 in Oslo, Norway.  Register at http://edupubeurope.eventbrite.com/. For more information, please visit the IDPF website.

HIMS Releases New Media Player for People with Vision Impairments

DAISY News - 3 hours 13 min ago

Blaze EZ, a new device available from HIMS Inc. improves independence and fast access to printed materials. This digital book reader decreases the need for a laptop, camera, scanner or personal assistance from a relative or friend. Blaze EZ is about the size of a deck of cards, and in addition to OCR text-to-speech access to printed text, it has the capability to read and/or play various digital document and media formats including DAISY books, Word documents and PDF files, music, Internet radio and more.

 

Students will now be able to listen to their textbooks in DAISY and other digital formats, and then take their Blaze EZ into the library for instant access to printed text with the touch of a single button. Professionals can scan and sort mail, review interoffice memos and browse restaurant menus independently while at lunch with their coworkers.

 

Blaze EZ features high-quality stereo speakers for high quality audio output and a built-in microphone for recording school lectures or business meetings. Built-in Wi-Fi adds easy access to podcasts, Internet radio and downloadable content such as DAISY and eBooks. An FM radio and talking clock are other beneficial features of this device for the blind. More information is provided in the official press release.

Launch of New Library Service Provides Accessible Books to Canadians With Print Disabilities

DAISY News - 3 hours 13 min ago

The Centre for Equitable Library Access officially launched its new national service which provides accessible library services and materials to Canadians with print disabilities. The announcement was made at the Canadian Library Association’s National Conference in Victoria, BC.

 

Over three million Canadians have a print disability. This could be a learning, physical or visual disability that prevents a person from reading conventional print. For the 10 per cent of Canadians who have a print disability, access to reading materials in alternate formats like audio, braille and described video is often an ongoing challenge. Research shows that access to a broad range of reading materials has a direct and positive impact on a child’s success in school and in life. CELA makes it possible for these Canadians to gain easy access to a wealth of reading materials, in formats of their choice, right in their own communities through their local public library.

 

CELA audio books are available in either MP3 or DAISY format and can be listened to on user's computer or audio playback devices.

 

More information is provided in the official press release.

New SuperNova 14 Reads More than Ever for People with Any Visual Impairments

DAISY News - 3 hours 13 min ago

SuperNova 14, immediately available, dramatically expands reading opportunities for a wide range of blind and partially sighted people. Thousands of books, hard copy print documents and tricky PDFs are made accessible with magnification, speech and Braille. SuperNova 14 also introduces the most straightforward touch screen access to the latest Windows tablets and laptops for low vision users who rely on magnification.

 

Richard Orme, Dolphin's Director of Innovation, who joined the company in 2013, says: "For decades Dolphin's screen access and alt format solutions have provided life changing opportunities for people who are blind or low vision throughout their education and professional careers. Now, Dolphin is partnering with leading providers of accessible content to boost access to books for millions of people who are blind, visually impaired and print-disabled."

 

Blind and partially sighted people can conveniently browse and search best sellers, classics and periodicals directly from the new Bookshelf tab within the SuperNova 14 Control Panel. Content from Bookshare® and other trusted library partners is made instantly accessible with magnification, speech and Braille. If you need to take books with you, SuperNova 14 can transfer titles to portable MP3 and DAISY players for reading on the go. You can also stay informed and entertained with SuperNova 14's convenient access to popular selections of internet radio stations, podcasts and news feeds.

 

More information is provided in the official press release.

On Course: Universal Design for Learning in Higher Education

DAISY News - 3 hours 13 min ago

CAST has a new website: “On Course: Universal Design for Learning in Higher Education” (http://udloncourse.cast.org). This site contains a series of resources designed to help postsecondary institutions improve instruction through Universal Design for Learning (UDL). The press release about the new site is available at: http://www.cast.org/about/news/2014-05-14.html.

 

Built with responsive design to allow optimal viewing on mobile, laptop, and desktop devices, On Course focuses on the implementation of UDL at the postsecondary level in five areas: (1) Assessment, (2) Improving Institutional Policies and Practices, (3) Selecting Media and Technology, (4) Planning Your Course, and (5) Teaching Approaches. Each area contains resources that demonstrate ways to address learner variability in an effort to improve learning opportunities, retention, and outcomes.

 

On Course is a project of the Open Professionals Education Network (OPEN), a collaborative of CAST, Creative Commons, the Open Learning Initiative at Stanford and Carnegie Mellon, and the Washington State Board for Community & Technical Colleges. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation created OPEN as a way to support community college grantees of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College & Career Training (TAACCCT) program, which aims to help adults succeed in acquiring the skills, degrees, and credentials needed for high-wage, high-skill employment.

 

Follow On Course on Twitter (@UDL_OnCourse), Google+, and YouTube.

eBooks for Everyone! An Opportunity for More Inclusive Libraries

DAISY News - 3 hours 13 min ago

Together with BrailleNet, the IFLA section for Library Services to the Print Disabled (LPD) is organizing a two day event in Paris in August 2014. Please take notice that the full program for this IFLA/LPD joint conference on eBooks is now available on the conference website.

 

The conference is open for everybody, and of special interest to those who want to learn more about how eBooks can open up reading possibilities for those who cannot read print.

This event will take place as a satellite conference in Paris, directly after IFLA’s annual conference in Lyon. Organizers were able to pull together a strong and interesting program making up a full two day program, August 22-23. Go and visit the conference website: eBooks for everyone! An opportunity for more inclusive libraries. The early registration discount will be available until June 15th.

O'Reilly Accessibility eBooks in DAISY and EPUB Formats

DAISY News - 3 hours 13 min ago

Many audiences have difficulty using complex websites, including people with blindness, hearing loss, physical disabilities, and cognitive disorders. Learn how to make your sites accessible to all with support assistive technologies. Understand which fonts, colors, page layouts, and other design elements work best, without excluding advanced functions.

 

Ebooks from http://shop.oreilly.com are DRM-free and O'Reilly offers a 50% discount on two accessibility related e-books, available also in DAISY and EPUB formats until May 10, 2014 at 5AM PT. Check out this special offer now.

Participate in Global Accessibility Awareness Day: Experience Accessibility First-Hand on May 15th

DAISY News - 3 hours 13 min ago

Whether you are planning to participate in a public or private event to mark Global Accessibility Awareness Day on May 15th, organizers encourage designers, developers, usability professionals, and everyone else to take an hour to experience first-hand the impact of digital accessibility (or lack there of). Various ideas for participation are provided on the Global Accessibility Awareness Day website.

WIPO Copyright Committee To Consider Exceptions For Libraries

DAISY News - 3 hours 13 min ago

World Intellectual Property Organization delegates will meet again. The 27th session of the World Intellectual Property Organization Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR) will take place from April 28 to May 2nd. Also on the agenda of the copyright committee are exceptions and limitations for libraries and archives, for which the nature of the instrument(s) that would provide such exceptions is not yet defined.

 

Another agenda item is a proposal on a copyright consortium for managing books for visually impaired persons.

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