What is DAISY?
DAISY is a form of talking book that is mostly used by people with low vision, blindness, and other print disabilities, such as dyslexia. DAISY stands for: Digital Accessible Information SYstem. DAISY formats use synthesized audio synchronized with text.
A DAISY book can be explained as a set of digital files that includes:
- One or more digital audio files containing a narration of part or all of the source text;
- A marked-up file containing some or all of the text (strictly speaking, this marked-up text file is optional);
- A synchronization file to relate markings in the text file with time points in the audio file; and
- A navigation control file which enables the user to move smoothly between files while synchronization between text and audio is maintained.
The DAISY Standard allows full flexibility regarding the mix of text and audio ranging from audio-only, to full text and audio, to text-only.
DAISY books have the benefits of regular audiobooks, but they are superior because DAISY 2.02 provides up to six embedded "navigation levels" for content (e.g., other objects such as images, graphics, MathML, etc.), and for displaying synchronized text to speech. While reading a DAISY book, a reader can go to the next or previous page, chapter, or sentence. As a result, DAISY books allow a blind listener to navigate books as complex in structure as an encyclopedia, which is impossible using conventional audio recordings because they lack search and navigation features and they require linear listening. DAISY is ideal for anyone who needs accessible information.
DAISY books can be heard on standalone DAISY players, computers using DAISY playback software, mobile phones, and MP3 players—with limited navigation. DAISY books can be distributed on a CD/DVD, memory card, or through the Internet.
A computerized text DAISY book can be read using refreshable braille display or screen-reading software, printed as a braille book on paper, or converted to a talking book using synthesized voice or a human narration. In addition, it can be read as large print text on a computer screen.
In the United States, Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic (RFB&D), BookShare and the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS), among others, are offering content to blind and visually impaired individuals. RFB&D also allows access by those with dyslexia or other disabilities which impair the person's ability to read print. The NLS uses a library methodology, on the basis that the books are loaned (as they traditionally have been, on physical cassette), hence they are able to offer content free of charge, just as any public library can. RFB&D and Bookshare both are subscription-based services.
ReadHowYouWant offers over 5,000 in DAISY, as well as downloadable braille, and five sizes of large print at www.readhowyouwant.com/daisy. One hundred or more titles are added each month. Publishers in Australia, New Zealand, the U.S., Canada, and the U.K. partner with ReadHowYouWant to release new and backlist titles in accessible formats.
Add-ins or extensions to create DAISY files from office software are also available:
- Microsoft and Sonata Software created a Save as DAISY add-in for Microsoft Word to convert Office Open XML text documents to DAISY XML.
- Odt2DAISY is an extension for OpenOffice.org that exports OpenDocument Text to DAISY XML or to Full DAISY (both XML and audio).
Other tools for DAISY production include:
- the DAISY Pipeline, a cross-platform "open source framework for document- and DTB-related pipelined transformations", developed by the DAISY Consortium,
- the DAISY Pipeline GUI,
- PipeOnline, a web interface for the DAISY Pipeline,
- Daisy Producer, an integrated production management system for Digital Talking Books based on the DAISY Pipeline and liblouis,
- Z39.86 DTB Validator, "Zedval": "a Java-based conformance validator for ANSI/NISO Z39.86 Digital Talking Books."
There are some videos on DAISY and DAISY players at http://www.youtube.com/user/daisyconsortium
Most of the information in this document was found on the DAISY Consortium’s website, www.DAISY.org.
History and Mission of the DAISY Consortium (and DAISY in general):
The DAISY Consortium's mission is to develop and promote international standards and technologies which enable equal access to information and knowledge by all people with print disabilities, and which also benefit the wider community.
The DAISY Consortium was formed in May, 1996 by talking book libraries to lead the worldwide transition from analog to Digital Talking Books.
The U.S. Fund for DAISY was established in 2005 to provide financial support and administer U.S. based projects and grants for the DAISY Consortium in accordance with the mission, vision, and values of the DAISY Consortium.
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 print 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 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.
There are 18 Full Members of the DAISY Consortium, more than 50 Associate Members, and more than 20 Friends.
- Full and Associate Members are nonprofit organizations, typically national talking book libraries or national consortia of such libraries.
- Friends are for-profit organizations including developers of production and/or playback hardware or software;
The DAISY Consortium is managed by a Board made up of representatives from all Full Member organizations. The Consortium is constituted as a not-for-profit association under Swiss Law and is governed by its Articles of Association.
In addition, there are several members of staff of the DAISY Consortium. They bring an international approach and multi-disciplinary backgrounds to their work on behalf of the organization.
FAQs from DAISY Consortium’s Website:
Who produces DAISY books?
Anyone who understands the components of a DAISY book is able to produce content, including individual end-users who have obtained DAISY authoring tools designed for their use. At this time, however, typically libraries serving people who are blind or visually impaired, other nonprofit services, and some commercial companies are the primary content producers.
What new features are going to be supported by DAISY?
In the case of DAISY/NISO content, it could be every- and anything, from the \who done it?\ tag in a crime novel, to a way to browse in a table in a manner that lets you understand its content in the context of the text that leads or pertains to it.
The DAISY Consortium develops the Standard so that producing agencies have maximum flexibility in terms of the final content products they make available to end-users, but it's the producing agencies' responsibility to select the features that they wish to implement.
What is the DAISY Standard?
The DAISY Standard is based on several recommendations of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). Currently, these include the Extensible Markup Language (XML) and the Synchronized Multimedia Integration Language (SMIL). Both of these are internationally recognized standards accepted in the technology industry. For more information on the current Standard, see ANSI/NISO Z39.86-2005.
How can DAISY be used?
Using the DAISY Standard, content creators, such as a library serving people who are blind or visually impaired, or book publishers, can produce accessible and navigable books to meet a variety of reading needs. In general, organizations can:
- Produce a Digital Talking Book (DTB) that enables a person to navigate through it in a way comparable to how a print book would be used. For example, readers can examine the book by page, section, or chapter, or use a table of contents or an index. In general, this goal may be accomplished by creating a structured text file integrated with a human-narrated audio file.
- Synchronize an electronic text file with an audio file to provide readers with the choice to examine the text and/or listen to the audio version of it.
- Generate an electronic braille file from the electronic text used to create the DAISY book.
- Produce a structured digital ''text-only'' document which can be read with a DAISY software player in combination with a braille display or speech synthesizer.
DAISY Players and Producers:
There are a number of free DAISY software playback tools available at http://www.daisy.org/tools/580#t8, including AMIS, which is an open source software developed by the DAISY Consortium.
Other devices and software include:
· VictorReader Stream: Produced by HumanWare. Average cost=$349
· VictorReader ClassicX: Produced by HumanWare. Average cost=$375
· VictorReader Classic+: Produced by HumanWare. Average cost=$495
· VictorReader Wave: Produced by HumanWare. Average cost=$249
· Book Port: Produced by APH. Average cost=$395
· ClassMate Reader: Produced by HumanWare. Average cost=$439
· gh Player 2.1 Standard: Produced by gh Player. Average cost=$150
· gh Player 2.1 Premium: Produced by gh Playter. Average cost=$250
· VictorReader Soft (computer application): Produced by HumanWare. Average cost=$79
· PlexTalk Pocket: Average Cost=$339
· PTNI DAISY Player: Average cost=$300
· PlexTalk PTR2 Digital DAISY Player and Recorder: Average cost=$895
· Milestone 311 DAISY Player:
· Milestone 312 DAISY Player:
· BookSense Portable DAISY Player:
· eClipseReader LT (software): Produced by IRTI. Average cost=$49.95
· eClipse Reader Plus (software): Average cost $84.95
· Dolphin EasyReader (software for Mac OS X/Windows): Average cost=$45
· Kurzweil (software for Mac OS X/Windows): Average cost=$395-$1495
· textHELP Read & Write Gold (software for Mac OS X/Windows): Average cost=$349-$625
· ClaroRead PLUS (software for Windows): Average cost=$339-$625
· Read:OutLoud SOLO (software for Mac OS X/Windows): Average cost=$785
· WYNN (What You Need Now—software for Windows)=Average cost=$375-$995
The Technical Stuff
The files comprising the Daisy formats are:
- Package File: Drawn from the Open eBook Publication Structure 1.2. It is a XML1.0 file with a set of metadata describing the DTB, a list of files that make up the DTB (the manifest) and a spine that defines the default reading order of the document. Standard: OEBF Publication Structure 1.2 (the file extension is “.opf”).
- Textual content fie: this document contains the text of the document as a XML1.0 according to a specific DTD (dtbook.dtd).
- Audio Files: human or synthetic speech recordings.
- Image files: for visual displays
- Synchronization files: To synchronize the different media files of a DTB during playback, this standard specifies the use of the SMIL2.0.
- Navigation control file: use the NCX (Navigation Control File for XML applications) to view the document’s hierarchical structure, allowing user to move through the book’s larger division or progressively smaller steps (footnotes, for example).
- Bookmark/Highlight file: support to user-set highlights to which text and audio notes can be applied.
- Resource file
- Distribution Information File: describes how to map each SMIL file to a specific media unit.