[Athen] The Thoughts of Chairman Bill

Marks, Jim marks at mso.umt.edu
Mon Nov 19 13:13:04 PST 2007

Thanks, Bob. If I'm understanding you correctly, you are saying that
the MS Word save as Daisy plug-in will not necessarily result in
readable files, and that you want Daisy to aim for the integration of
its functions in mainstream publishing so that readability can be
delivered completely. Both of these sound great by me. Only place
where I would disagree is that we have to be pragmatic and move towards
the ultimate goals as best we can. I think the save as Daisy plug-in is
a pretty nifty thing in terms of evidence of our progress. For sure, we
have yet to arrive, but we just passed an important landmark just the

Jim Marks
Director of Disability Services
University of Montana
jim.marks at umontana.edu

-----Original Message-----
From: athen-bounces at athenpro.org [mailto:athen-bounces at athenpro.org] On
Behalf Of Robert Martinengo
Sent: Monday, November 19, 2007 12:10 PM
To: Access Technologists in Higher Education Network
Subject: Re: [Athen] The Thoughts of Chairman Bill


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
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
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

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.

More information about the athen-list mailing list