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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The DAISY Consortium announced on July 5 that Microsoft Corporation has pledged financial and technical support for the ConsortiumÕs ongoing work to establish global accessibility standards for the next generation of digital talking book (DTB) technology.