[Athen] The Thoughts of Chairman Bill

Robert Martinengo accessible.text at gmail.com
Mon Nov 19 11:10:28 PST 2007


So glad you asked that question - I'll try and keep the answer below
novella length.

DAISY is just a set of XML tags, plus a method for synchronizing audio
to text (SMIL). When combined with a play-back mechanism, you have an
accessible system that can do a lot of nice things for the user, just
like Kurzweil is a nice system, one which is closed, instead of open
like DAISY.

Gates is saying that the important thing is to bring the functionality
DAISY allows into mainstream publishing formats, something which
George Kerscher and others have been working on with the IDPF with
real success (see
http://idpf.org/2007/ops/OPS_2.0_final_spec.html#Section2.4 ). But
'save as DAISY' puts the emphasis on DAISY as 'a thing of itself',
something Gates does not see as 'creating the right dynamic', and I
tend to agree. The dynamic is, disabled people need a special format.

Publishers are not against accessibility per se, they just don't want
it to open security holes or lose money. Publishers, and booksellers,
are perfectly happy to sell accessible media, as long as it goes
through the same channels as other media (see the RNIB's innovative
work in this regard,
http://www.pls.org.uk/ngen_public/article.asp?aid=338 )

Now, for those who may think I'm down on DAISY, take a look at a post
from four years ago, where I proposed to do essentially the same thing
as the plug-in (
http://htclistserv.htctu.fhda.edu/read/messages?id=15467 ). The
project didn't get funded, but the idea has been out there for years
(I think the DAISY Consortium's approach to educational content has
often been inspired by pioneers like Sam Ogami and Gaeir from the
High-Tech Center).

So, if the Consortium leadership wants to push DAISY as a brand, they
should focus on the functionality of all digital media. 'DAISY Ok'
could be a 508-like certification of functional requirements, not
adherence to a particular tag set. As folks have already pointed out,
a crappy Word file can be converted into a crappy DAISY file -
technical compliance is not the goal - usability is.


On Nov 19, 2007 11:14 AM, Marks, Jim <marks at mso.umt.edu> wrote:

> Seems to me that one could say the same sort of thing about anything

> related to disability. Access would be a lot easier if only the

> mainstream incorporated the principles of access in mainstream design.

> Common sense is apparently hard to come by, so it usually takes us a

> while to integrate access in the mainstream. Success arrives in stages,

> and certainly the MS plug-in for save as Daisy is one of those steps.


> I'm having a hard time understanding what the issue/counterpoint is.

> Bob, would you mind explaining more? Thanks!






> Jim Marks

> Director of Disability Services

> University of Montana

> jim.marks at umontana.edu

> http://www.umt.edu/dss/


> -----Original Message-----

> From: athen-bounces at athenpro.org [mailto:athen-bounces at athenpro.org] On

> Behalf Of Robert Martinengo

> Sent: Saturday, November 17, 2007 8:50 AM

> To: Access Technologists in Higher Education Network

> Subject: [Athen] The Thoughts of Chairman Bill


> The Microsoft/DAISY press release reminded me of something Bill Gates

> said a few years ago. I transcribed this from audio files posted on the

> DAISY website, although I don't think they are still there. I am posting

> it now because it provides a counterpoint to the 'save as DAISY'

> announcement, but of course, your interpretation may vary:


> "I don't think that having the mainstream and DAISY be two separate

> things makes sense, to be honest, and so I think there must be an

> approach where you take whatever's good about DAISY and have it be done

> through XML markup, that's just a fundamental piece. DAISY apparently

> has certain types of tagging or approaches that are interesting. The

> kind of navigation you want to get across these text materials shouldn't

> be unique, so we need to really look at DAISY and look at what the

> mainstream publishing standards are and see if we can't bridge that, to

> the point where, should DAISY have to exist as a thing of itself, or is

> it just a flavor of mainstream standards? I think DAISY is a good thing

> but I don't see it, if it just exists by itself, creating the right

> dynamic that we need here."


> -- Bill Gates at Microsoft Summit on Libraries for the Blind, November

> 2004, Redmond, Washington [Transcribed from audio]


> Here is a quote from a report on the meeting on the DAISY website:


> ' Gates partnership has particular meaning to the DAISY consortium,

> according to Stephen King, of the Royal National Institute of the Blind,

> and a member of the DAISY board of directors. "We now have a clear

> commitment to move DAISY standards into mainstream publishing,"

> said King. '


> http://www.daisy.org/news/news_detail.asp?NewsId=172


> So, creating a 'save as DAISY' plug-in - a move into the mainstream, or

> a perpetuation of DAISY as 'a thing of itself'? Discuss...


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