Dec 07

The latest version of an open source audio recording tool designed to allow anyone to produce DAISY format electronic books has been released by the global DAISY Consortium of blindness organisations, publishers, technology companies and others.

DAISY (digital accessible information system) books created with the Obi 1.2 software can contain chapters, sub-sections and pages, allowing users with print disabilities to easily navigate through the content. The Obi tool is also fully accessible to screen-readers.

Version 1.2 of the Obi tool features a number of improvements and upgrades for users, including an adaptation to work with Microsoft Windows 7. Users can now also manage large DAISY production projects more easily; and MP3 and WAV format audio files can now be imported into projects.

All DAISY content is produced to a standard developed by the DAISY Consortium, whose aim is to see all published information made readily available to people with print disabilities through digital talking books.

Taken from e-access bulletin, a free monthly email newsletter.

Nov 24

As part of their outreach efforts, Bookshare has offered to give anyone (with a qualifying disability) a free one month trial membership if a current volunteer (that would be me) refers them. To claim your trial membership, you’ll have to do two things:

1) Contact me with your name and email address. You can leave a comment here, use the Contact form, or send me a tweet @DisabilityBook on Twitter.

2) Enter the following promo code in Step 3 of the form when you sign up: VGM2010

And to put the icing on the cake, the volunteer who refers the most new members each month gets to pick books to add to the collection, and a donor will pay for the books and scanning. Tell me what book you would like to read that isn’t already on Bookshare when you contact me, and I’ll consider it for recommendation if I win!

This is a great opportunity to read all those books you’ve been missing out on. Thanks to Bookshare for giving away memberships!

Nov 01

A call for text-to-speech functions to be included on all electronic book platforms to improve their accessibility has been issued by a group of publishing and literary organisations.

The Publishers Association, The Society of Authors, The Association of Authors Agents and The Right to Read Alliance ­ – itself an umbrella campaign group, whose members include The Royal National Institute of Blind People ­- grouped together to issue the joint statement. It recommended that speech functions, which help many print-disabled readers access a range of otherwise inaccessible e-books, “is routinely enabled on all e-books across all platforms, at least where there
is no audio-book edition commercially available.”

The statement continued: “It is in the interests of publishers for their published content to be available and accessible to as many people as possible. This includes the broadening of the market to those with visual impairments or other disabilities”.

The recommendation follows ongoing disputes over the inclusion of text-to-speech functions on e-book readers. Last year US manufacturer Amazon allowed publishers to disable the feature on an early version of its Kindle e-book reader, after an authors’ rights group claimed that the text-to-speech function effectively breached a royalties agreement ( see E-Access Bulletin issue 110:
http://www.headstar.com/eablive/?p=244 ).

However, Amazon subsequently agreed to incorporate extra accessibility features into the Kindle after several American universities rejected the device as a potential teaching-aid, citing inaccessibility to blind students ( see http://www.headstar.com/eablive/?p=383 ).

Taken from e-access bulletin, a free monthly email newsletter at http://www.headstar.com/eab.

Aug 11

EDItEUR and the DAISY Consortium seek to improve the mainstream e-book production process so that publishers are capable of delivering digital publications that are fully accessible to people with reading disabilities. This survey of publishers’ current practices will help them develop best practice guidelines for publishers all over the world.

Enabling Technologies Towards Accessibility Survey

Jun 30

The new UK Association for Accessible Formats is to set national standards next year for accessibility of digital formats such as electronic books and synthesised speech, E-Access Bulletin has learned.

The association, a charity formed last year, refined its work programme for the next two years at its annual general meeting in London earlier this month.

This included setting suggested minimum acceptable standards for large print, Braille and audio formats by the end of 2010, followed in 2011 by work on standards for synthesised speech,
electronic books and other digital formats.

All standards will be aimed at content and service providers; transcribers; and end users, Alan Matthews, the association’s public relations officer, told E-Access Bulletin following the meeting. “The goal is to set out an achievable minimum UK standard that everyone can work towards, so the odd producer out there who is not quite hitting the mark would have something to aim at, service providers would have minimum requirement for end users, and end users would have minimum standard they could expect and service providers could not say they can’t do it, because of technical issues,” Matthews said.

“For example, if I work for a utility, and I know I should provide accessible formats, and I want to write them into a tender but I don’t know what standards to use, I could come to UKAAF. Then I would know what I am asking for is reasonable, achievable and what the end-user is expecting.”

Ultimately, the association would like its standards to be included in government regulations relating to accessibility, he said. “If we can be talking to government within five years, it would give our work a stamp of authority.”

The association will also be looking at how current law in this area, including the new Equalities Act 2010 and the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 with its provision for ‘reasonable adjustments’ to services, affect the way organisations need to take account of format accessibility.

The meeting had been due to pass an emergency motion on whether to endorse Unified English Braille (UEB) as the “preferred” Braille format for UK use, in the face of US moves to endorse the alternative Unified Braille Code. However the meeting decided to delay a decision pending further deliberations.

Three appointments were made to the board of UKAAF: Michael Lewington, Director of Calibre Audio Library; Richard West, former chair of BCAB and Sheila Armstrong, text transcription co-ordinator at Torch Trust. The association’s president is former RNIB chairman Lord Low of Dalston.

Taken from e-access bulletin, a free monthly email newsletter.

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