Volume VII Number 1, August 2000

Featured Articles

DAISY Consortium: Information Technology For The World's Blind And Print-Disabled Population -- Past, Present, And Into The Future

George Kerscher
Research Fellow, Recording For the Blind & Dyslexic (RFB&D)
Project Manager to the DAISY Consortium

The DAISY Consortium created the first Digital Talking Book (DTB) and this is now known worldwide as the DAISY format. The DAISY DTB is the application of existing worldwide standards used to define the next generation of information technology for people who are blind and print disabled. The acronym DAISY, Digital Audio-based Information System, is both a name for a reading system and for the Consortium of libraries, non-profit organizations and for-profit Friends of the Consortium around the world that spearhead the development of the International standard. This article will briefly trace the history of DAISY's development and go on to explain the current activities and future plans for the single worldwide standard.

NAtional Library Service For The Blind And Physically Handicapped: Digital Plans And Progress

John Cookson and Lloyd Rasmussen
National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS)
The Library of Congress

NLS produces about 2,000 talking books and 50 magazines per year on specially formatted cassette tape for free distribution to a readership of about 764,000. Cassettes and special players are delivered by U.S. Postal Service from a network of 138 participating libraries. To control the cost of technical obsolescence and to meet patron and sponsor expectations, NLS will replace this analog system with a digital system over the next ten years.

Digital Talking Book Standards Developed By NLS and Partners Under NISO Auspices

John Cookson, Michael Moodie, and Lloyd Rasmussen
National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS)
The Library of Congress

The functionality, compatibility, and longevity planned for future digital talking books require clear, exact definitions of component format and content. NLS will achieve this by working with a diverse team of experts to establish an applicable standard. This article outlines the plan, describes progress, and indicates what further work is necessary to complete the standard.

Using Digital Talking Books In Schools: RFB&D's Top Project

Steve Noble
Policy Analyst, Kentucky Assistive Technology Service Network

The principal aim of RFB&D's TOP project is to experiment with using Digital Talking Books (DTBs) in an educational setting, while focusing particular attention on the ability to provide DTBs over computer networks. Generally speaking, the project is designed as a consumer trial in which information gleaned from students using DTBs in schools will be fed back to RFB&D for the purpose of increasing overall product utility, as well as amassing a wealth of useful anecdotal data concerning the practical implications of delivering accessible textbooks over computer networks.

Worldwide Training & Technical Support For DAISY

George Kerscher
Research Fellow, Recording For the Blind & Dyslexic (RFB&D)
Project Manager to the DAISY Consortium

How can a worldwide Training & Technical Support program be implemented to support the DAISY standard? The key to a successful implementation plan lies with building expertise throughout the Consortium. This paper explores the DAISY "Train the Trainers" courses, regional training centers, technical conferences, and the extensive technical support helpdesk the DAISY Consortium maintains. These activities are all intended to develop experts within every organization in the DAISY Consortium.

Digital Talking Books On A PC: A Usability Evaluation Of The Prototype Daisy Playback Software

Dr. Sarah Morley
National Centre for Tactile Diagrams, University of Hertfordshire, UK

This paper describes the design and evaluation of the first system to play digital talking books on a PC: the DAISY Playback Software V1.0. The features of the software for navigating through structured digital audio are described. A detailed usability evaluation of this prototype software was designed and conducted to assess its current usability, in which 13 blind/partially sighted participants completed a series of realistic tasks and answered detailed usability questions on the system. Recommendations for improvements are presented which might inform designers of similar systems, such as other digital talking book systems or WWW browsers.

DAISY on our Desktops?
A Review Of LpPlayer 2.4

B.T. Kimbrough
Vice-President, Enabling Technologies, Jensen Beach, Florida

As the first commercially available software for reading DAISY books on a PC, LpPlayer is a very inexpensive vehicle for gaining access to the new format. LpPlayer requires no special hardware, but does need a Pentium-class desktop or laptop computer, equipped with a sound card and CD-ROM drive, along with enough memory and storage capacity to support Windows 95 or 98. Because the software does not voice its own prompts, blind users will find it essentially useless without a screen-reader supporting either speech or refreshable Braille. In fact, the presence of both speech and Braille can add significantly to the player's usefulness, particularly if full scanned print text is provided along with the recorded narration.