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Visually impaired persons, audiobooks and e-books Jan J. Engelen Kath. Univ. Leuven & Kamelego August 3, 2011 ICCHP- Summer.

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Presentation on theme: "Visually impaired persons, audiobooks and e-books Jan J. Engelen Kath. Univ. Leuven & Kamelego August 3, 2011 ICCHP- Summer."— Presentation transcript:

1 Visually impaired persons, audiobooks and e-books Jan J. Engelen Kath. Univ. Leuven & Kamelego August 3, 2011 ICCHP- Summer University Masaryk University - Telč

2 e-book reading Most e-books can be read on a computer but their growing popularity is mainly due to the availability of handy, portable, lightweight devices Display technology: electronic ink (very crisp image, but external lighting is needed) Due to cheap computer memory currently over 2000 e-books can be stored in one device 2010: e-readers in competition with iPad and lookalikes!

3 Amazon kindle 3 Also available in software for many platforms

4 Cybook Bookeen

5 IDPF The International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF) provides impressive statistics on the booming US e-book industry

6 e-book standards Besides popular formats such as HTML, RTF and PDF that can be read by all e-book readers, following major e-book standards are used: –Amazon Kindle has his own format, loosely based on an older French Mobipocket format –Sony uses the ePub format which is an Open standard for e-books –the Cybooks use an Adobe - protected - PDF format Except for public domain books, an encryption feature (DRM, Digital rights management) is used on all e-books; on the other side DRM is almost completely abondoned for audio/music distribution

7 How to get e-books? Evidently, most e-books simply can be downloaded from the internet. To permit buying books “on the move” a permanent internet connection is needed. The Kindle had this data connection built in (and the cost was included in the e-book price!). Nowadays this is a standard access method for smartphones, iPads etc.

8 Cosy listening corner for audiobooks (Amsterdam)

9 Specialised production centres for audiobooks Audiobooks are very important for most of the reading impaired persons (less then 10% is fluent in Braille) Audiobooks have been distributed on vinyl disks, tape, cassettes… Daisy consortium was created in 1996 to produce a new worldwide standard for talking books on cd Daisy was almost uniquely developed for delivering info to visually impaired persons, so it is not Universal Design!

10 Daisy’s basic requirements Ability to skim the text, phrase by phrase or section by section, where “section” is a collection of phrases. Ability to search for different parts in the text-based table of contents. Ability to search for specific pages in the talking book. Ability to place and search for bookmarks in the book. Ability to underline and make notes in the talking book.

11 Daisy Players (CD based)

12 Compact Daisy/audiobook Players Reading from SD-card cards (left and middle), or from the web via a mobile phone (right)

13 Audio players with internet connection Webbox (NL) Adela (SE) basically: internet radio receivers No real Daisy book support yet, but that’s coming WiFi versions under development Alternative approach: Daisy players with WiFi connection and erasable memories are forthcoming !

14 Two different commercial approaches: (top) and LeisureAudiobooks (bottom) Commercial approaches


16 Copyright protection measures Special formats has developed its proprietary.aa format and provides free software for playing (legal).aa files on 290 platforms. This format also caters for different quality levels. Some files can be transformed into audio-cd files and can be written onto audio-CD’s Apple i-Tunes used mainly the proprietary MP4 format (a container format, including the media and DRM info) which made it impossible for some time to use the files on non-iPod players. But the most striking difference of all these solutions with the Daisy format is the lack of any sensible navigation system through the audio files. The available solution, the Daisy standard, is not used in the commercial audiobook world !

17 DRM copyright protection is often seen as copying protection. Digital rights management (DRM) was once seen by the music industry as the method to prohibit illegal copying. In practice however it lead to quite a lot of customer frustration as it hindered copying in general or made it impossible to play (also legally acquired) files on a whole series of devices. In practice, all widely-used DRM systems have been defeated or circumvented when deployed to enough customers. Protection of audio and visual material is especially difficult due to the existence of the "analogue hole" and there are even suggestions that an effective DRM is logically impossible for this reason. –The "analogue hole" means simply that all audio or video data have to be transformed into an analogue signal (varying pressure waves in air) to be interpretable by human beings; but analogue signals can be re-digitised aftwards! Conclusion: Internet music stores have now more or less given up DRM protection. E.g. it was found that a new iTunes music track (with DRM) made available from Apple needed less than 3 minutes to become available elsewhere on the web in an unprotected audio format. Interactive information (complexbooks, video, navigable Daisy etc.) is much harder to copy!

18 audiobooks Other names: “[digital] talking books”, “spoken books”, “narrated books” Are produced nowadays by two different “worlds”: –Specialised production centres for persons with a reading impairment - since many years –Commercial publishers: rather recent phenomenon

19 Daisy books (1) For use within the community of print impaired persons the Daisy e-book and audiobook standard has been developed almost 15 years ago. The Daisy format not only links the text to the audio version of the same book but permits also an extensive tree-like navigation through the document. This results in easy jumping to parts of the book, including down to the sixth level in a table of contents. Furthermore Daisy permits to produce several kinds of e-books such as text-only, audio-only, text & audio, text & images etc.

20 Daisy books (2) Technically the format (as of version 3.0) is based on a well defined set of xml, and audio files. Daisy is promoted by the Daisy consortium and their standards are nowadays recognised by international bodies. Daisy books technically consist of a collection of computer files that can be stored on a cd (very popular as it can be read with a portable cd player) but also on any other computer medium including SD-cards (popular for pocket size readers) and simply via the internet (downloads and/or streaming)

21 Daisy books (3) Despite a decennium of efforts the Daisy standard is still not in use outside the field of print impaired users. To make it more popular, several open-source software solutions have been developed. E.g. it became possible to produce a Daisy talking book directly from within Microsoft Word Within the European Aegis project three add-ons for (file extension: *.odt) have been developed at K.U.Leuven (the work on odt2daisy had started earlier at UPMC Paris): –an odt to Daisy convertor –an odt to Daisy talking book convertor –an odt to Braille convertor Furthermore a test suite was developed recently at K.U.Leuven to check the structure of ODT files before the translations are executed

22 Daisy books (4) The Daisy consortium itself focuses on: –DAISY Online Delivery Protocol: this is basically a definition of SOAP messages permitting easy web based content provision (details are following) –Daisy version 4.0: this standard will permit an easier transfer of e-books and talking books to the ePub format and therefore constitutes a bridge between the two “worlds” –Copyright protection for Daisy books. Up to now such protection was deemed unnecessary as special equipment or software was needed to read a Daisy book; but this is not true anymore

23 E-book readers as audiobook devices Starting with the Kindle-2 in 2009, a text-to-speech module had been incorporated in an e-reader device. –This feature permits to listen to the text and was very much appreciated by print impaired persons (persons with low vision, blindness, dyslexia or a severe motor handicap). –Unfortunately this possibility was turned off soon after. –This lead to several US cases in court (e.g. National Federation of the Blind vs the Arizona State University that planned to provide university course material in Kindle format only). Another bottleneck is commanding the e-reader itself. –no auditive feedback when choosing commands on the Kindle DX. –At the end of 2010 the Kindle 3 solved this issues, but many listeners are complaining about the robotic voice....

24 Growing synergies between commercial and not-for-profit audiobook publishers Commercial publishers often state rightfully that their products also benefit reading impaired persons but they show no interest in using the Daisy standard. On the other hand, specialised production centres are clearly exploring the commercial possibilities of their large archives Specialised and commercial productions may go hand in hand: e.g. the audio recording of Terry Darlington's book “Narrow Dog To Carcassonne” was done by the UK Royal National Institute of the Blind (RNIB) both as a DAISY Digital talking book for RNIB clients and also as a commercial audio book on CD (ISIS publishing). In the Netherlands, the largest specialised audiobook production centre, "Dedicon" had created at the end of 2006 a commercial branch, named Lecticus. Books but it appeared not to be commercially viable.

25 Some Issues 99% of both commercial and specialised audiobooks are read by human narrators –nowadays Text-to-Speech software (TTS) produces a reasonable quality for synthetic voices –sometimes TTS is the only viable option (for a daily newspaper e.g.) –Even for human narrators, there is no standardised way for pronouncing formulae ! Cataloguing pitfalls –Quality, coverage, narrator’s name etc.. High speed daisy production (e.g. for daily newspapers) –Requires specialised software solutions Internet distribution –Often hindered by copyright and other legal problems

26 On line delivery system for (audio-) daisy books, magazines and newspapers –Based on daisy online standard –Single login planned But also a collaboration between several types of organisations is required and often tough to realise… Newpapers and magazines will be available by the end of 2011 on:

27 Conclusions The market of e-books and e-readers finally has taken off, but iPad becomes important too Although commercial audiobook production remains a byproduct of standard and traditional book publishing, new applications e.g. for print impaired persons seem to be growing But a tough copyright hurdle is still to be taken before e-books routinely also can be turned into audio or talking books

28 Thank you Jan Engelen Kath. Univ. Leuven (Belgium) Acknowledgements Support for this study came from: Kath. Univ. Leuven, Research group on Document Architectures & Center for Equal Chances and Diversity Kamelego Foundation

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