Assistive Technology in Education/DAISY
We live in a digital, knowledge-based world which is difficult to access by those who are blind or print disabled. It is clear that “being able to use, read, and understand communications is not only a precondition to participate in social life; it is also a key to quality of life for the individual. Not being able to read or write at the same level as everybody else is a serious disadvantage in the knowledge society” (Tank & Frederickson, 2007). To help correct this disadvantage major world libraries have created talking books called DAISY, an acronym for Digital Accessible Information System.
The DAISY talking book has revolutionized the talking book technology by removing problems associated with earlier books on tape. These problems were delayed supply, cumbersome technology, and non-intuitive interfaces. Some of the features that make the DAISY system effective are image files, video playback, and support for standard files such as .wav, .jpeg, etc. The tools allowed by DAISY aids those with visual impairments to share in today's digital, knowledge society. This is very important when you consider that globally in 2002 more than 161 million people were visually impaired, of whom 124 million people had low vision and 37 million were blind (Tank & Frederickson, 2007). The original concept for DAISY was developed to address the need for an accessible audio format that could be used by individuals who are unable to read print as easily and efficiently as a sighted person uses a printed book. DAISY provides direct access to specific points, enabling readers to move from heading to heading, page to page, and word to word (Gargano, 2008). DAISY books have synchronized text and images that provide a complete multimedia experience.
The Daisy Consortium
The DAISY Consortium was formed in May, 1996 by talking book libraries to lead the worldwide transition from analog to Digital Talking Books. DAISY denotes the Digital Accessible Information System.
Members of the Consortium actively promote the DAISY Standard for Digital Talking Books because it promises to revolutionize the reading experience for people who have reading disabilities. Specifically, the Consortium's vision is that all published information is available to people with print disabilities, at the same time and at no greater cost, in an accessible, feature-rich, navigable format. The DAISY Consortium has established a mission and goals in order to make this vision a reality.
The first DAISY Standard was proprietary, originating in Sweden in 1994. The idea was to use digital recording and introduce some document structuring that would allow easy navigation by the user. In its short history, the DAISY Specification has evolved considerably. It has already begun to offer a more flexible and pleasant reading experience for people who are blind or print disabled in a number of countries including Sweden, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
In 1997, the DAISY Consortium decided to adopt open standards based on file formats being developed for the Internet. The DAISY 2.0 Specification was released in 1998, and the 2.02 recommendation was approved in February 2001. Release of DAISY 3, the ANSI/NISO Z39.86 2002 Standard, was official in March 2002. This Standard was jointly developed by the DAISY Consortium, The National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (part of the Library of Congress), and a variety of other organizations in North America. Plans are underway for the development of the supporting materials necessary to promote the Standard.
The consortium’s five major goals are:
• to create and promote the worldwide standard for the navigation and structure of digital talking books;
• to encourage and foster the establishment and development of the digital talking book library services in both developed and developing countries;
• to maximize the accessibility and utility of electronic books and multimedia documents for people with print disabilities;
• to secure the recognition adoption of the DAISY standard for navigable multimedia documents among mainstream product developers and book publishers; and
• to encourage and foster the establishment and development of a global talking book library that transcends geographic boundaries and linguistic differences and that embraces cultural diversity
In today's knowledge economy and digital world the Daisy Consortium seeks to make published information available to people with disabilities at the same time as printed versions, at no greater cost, and in an accessible, feature-rich and navigable format (Tank & Frederiksen, 2007).
The SAVE AS DAISY Project
In an effort to make content more accessible for the blind and print disabled Microsoft joined with the DAISY Consortium on the Save as DAISY project. Microsoft's contribution is an add-in to the popular Microsoft Office suite that allows anyone to save a document in a standard accessible format. The add-in can be downloaded at http://www.openxmlcommunity.org/daisy/. It is easy to use, it creates as SAVE AS DAISY option within Microsoft Word and walk you through formatting options (see image below).
Copyright & Accessibility
The DAISY standard must consider issues regarding copyright and intellectual property,” the fair balance of copyright, between the protection of creative works and access to information and knowledge, is delicate” (Tank & Frederickson, 2007). Protections must remain in place while still allowing the DAISY technologies to assist those who are print disabled.
Although the DAISY standard was created to benefit print disabled individuals, it has become a popular technology that has moved into the mainstream, the advantages of accessing different types of digital information on a variety of devices are not limited to the visually impaired; the work to serve those with print disabilities today has and will benefit future users by lowering costs and speeding development (Microsoft, 2004).
Tank, E., & Frederiksen, C. (2007, Spring2007). The DAISY Standard: Entering the Global Virtual Library. Library Trends, 55(4), 932-949
Gargano, C. (2008, July). Visually Impaired Gain Greater Access to Digital Information. EContent, 31(6), 16-17.
Microsoft. (2004, May 8). Microsoft, DAISY Make Reading Easier for People With Print Disabilities. Retrieved from http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/press/2008/may08/05-07SaveAsDAISYPR.mspx