[Athen] Microsoft and Daisy Plug-ins

Wink Harner wink.harner at mcmail.maricopa.edu
Wed Nov 14 14:31:34 PST 2007

Very well said, Nolan!

Ms. Wink Harner
Disability Resources & Services
Mesa Community College

Crabb, Nolan wrote:

> I think the point Pratik made on this list today about crafting

> well-structured word files is an excellent one. I'm a little concerned

> by the attitude of almost-dismissal regarding the Microsoft plug-in.

> Some of us, particularly those of us who rely on screen readers,

> remember well the horrors of the '90s when getting Microsoft to pay any

> attention at all to accessibility issues was, for a time, nearly

> impossible. It's all well and good to draft clever one-liners on this

> list about garbage files and crap files. But somewhere nestled amongst

> those clever one-liners can perhaps be a couple of lines of celebratory

> text. Granted, this plug-in will not be the end-all and be-all,

> rendering all other DAISY creating processes obsolete. But this is one

> old access tech dinosaur who remembers the nightmares of Internet

> Explorer 4.0, which was far worse than 3.5 in terms of access, and who

> can't help but extend a heart-felt congratulations to the DAISY

> Consortium folks and frankly to Microsoft, for that matter, for even

> getting started on this project.


> The Microsoft Word 2007 plug-in for PDF creation isn't perfect either,

> but if the Word file was well constructed and the creator paid careful

> attention to using styles and so forth, it's not terrible. It comes

> pretty close to creating an accessible PDF file--not perfect, but pretty

> close.


> For that matter, the Duxbury folks have long advocated the use of styles

> in Word as one way to create even better more accurate braille

> formatting and translations. Those who fail to do that can create

> legendarily awful braille! I know! I've seen it! :-) Yet, we don't

> dismiss Duxbury out of hand for at least trying to integrate its product

> with Word's file structure.


> Today, after many years and iterations of software, a student who needs

> something brailled and who has the hardware and software necessary to do

> it can create highly usable braille for him or herself. Not always, of

> course. We all know of thousands of instances where tables, charts, and

> graphs are problematic for all but the most expert among us. But those

> of us who remember hand-transcribed braille with all its oddities and

> length of production time will be among that small cadre of folks who

> can recognize that we've made huge strides in terms of quality braille

> production. This little seemingly not-too-significant plug-in may be

> the beginning of what will someday become a highly automated DAISY

> creation process. After all, if someone who neither reads braille nor

> knows much about it can, by following closely the styles and other

> elements of a well-structured Word file, create beautifully formatted

> material in many circumstances, , surely the day will come when the

> DAISY process experiences similar benchmarks of success. We do well, it

> seems to me, to celebrate what progress now is and hope for additional

> progress tomorrow. Perhaps the reminder that none of us will be

> replaced any time soon by highly automated software will allow us to

> celebrate the positive things this plug-in and all the behind-the-scenes

> efforts it represents on all sides means. The fact that Microsoft is

> even willing to educate itself somewhat concerning DAISY is, to those of

> us who remember darker times, nothing short of a pre-holiday miracle.


> Best Wishes,


> Nolan








> Nolan Crabb

> Director of Assistive Technology

> The Ohio State University

> 2054 Drake Center, 1849 Cannon Dr., Columbus, OH 43210


> Ph. (614) 735-8688

> E-mail: crabb.15 at osu.edu




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