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International Workshop on Daisy and Integrated Digital Library
DAISY development in Asia and the Pacific


Asia and the Pacific Region has been one of the leading areas of DAISY Development. Production tools, hardware players, open source software players and PDA based DAISY players have been developed in this region. However, actual use of DAISY at end users has not yet been well developed in terms of the number of users and the quality of services. The presentation will analyze the current situation and the past to suggest variety of regional collaborations to develop use of DAISY among potential users such as persons with print disabilities, indigenous peoples, and the general public, with special reference to the DAISY use cases for education and training on Oriental Medicine and disaster preparedness of persons with disabilities.

Hiroshi Kawamura
Department of Social Rehabilitation
NRCD Research Institute

Seoul 17 August 2006

DAISY development in Asia and the Pacific

1. Pre-history of the DAISY

As early as in 1986, as a part of IFLA General Conference in Tokyo, the Section of Libraries for the Blind (SLB) held two international symposiums; on developing countries and on digital talking books. We could invite representatives of Japanese digital audio industry and George Ankobia from Ghana respectively. After the coordination work of those meetings in Tokyo, I have been around both issues since then.

The bottom line, as I understood, of the 1986 Symposium on Digital Talking Books in Tokyo was very simple; "wait until reasonably priced Recordable Disc for micro-computer is available".

In early 90s, as digital audio technology evolved, sunset of cassette tapes was clearly expected to come while no international standard for digital talking books was established.

Establishment of the international standard of talking books had been a dream of libraries serving people with print disabilities but in reality users of talking books in developing countries, even if they were lucky enough to get ones, were suffering from incompatibility of talking book formats such as 2 tracks 4.8 cm/sec, 4 tracks 2.4 cm/sec, 2 tracks 2.4 cm/sec and Clarke & Smith Tapette.

Competition of digital talking book development without a standard was a real threat against international interlibrary loan in particular for developing countries.

Therefore, on behalf of the SLB, I called upon an emergency SLB Standing Committee Meeting in Toronto in April 1995 to launch a project for development of an international standard of digital talking books.

At the General Conference of IFLA in Istanbul in August 1995, as the Chair of the SLB based on the open forum discussion, I had an opportunity to declare that SLB will do the best to develop an international standard for digital talking books in 2 years, by IFLA 97 in Copenhagen.

In 1996 at IFLA General Conference in Beijing, the DAISY-Plextalk World Field Testing funded by the Japanese Ministry of Health and Welfare was launched. 500 Plextalk prototype machines were distributed in 30 countries in 5 continents to collect 1000 users response.

At IFLA General Conference in 97, DAISY was successfully recognized as the international standard for digital talking books.

To date, the DAISY Consortium, DAISY Standard development/maintenance organization, has 3 full members in Asia and the Pacific (Japan, Australia & New Zealand, and Korea) out of 14 in the world and 16 associate members out of 56.

2. DAISY Implementation in Asia and the Pacific

DAISY implementation in Japan started in 1998 funded by the Government. Japanese Society for Rehabilitation of Persons with Disabilities (JSRPD) was granted total 12 million US dollars (1) to convert 2,560 audio only DASIY titles distributed to more than 100 libraries for the blind in the country, (2) to train staffs in charge at all libraries for the blind, (3) distribute DAISY production equipment to all libraries for the blind, and (4) develop SigtunaDAR and software players for free distribution.

Since then JSRPD and Japanese Government have been generously maintain world wide free distribution of SigtunaDAR for non-profit purpose only. JSRPD contribution has been an engine of DAISY implementation in developing countries in the world.

Korea and ANZAIG (Australia and New Zealand) are busy implementing DAISY with cutting edge technologies including TTS and streaming. Audio with synchronized text contents seem like trends in those countries.

DAISY for All Project (DFA) funded by the Nippon Foundation is spearheading DAISY implementation in Asian Developing countries. Acting Project Manager Misako Nomura, Assistant Project Managers Monthian Buntan and Dipendra Manocha, and Training & Technical Support Miki Azuma are key DFA players. So far, DFA established DAISY focal points in Thailand, India, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Vietnam and Bangladesh. Pakistan, Bhutan, Indonesia and Philippine will have a DAISY focal point soon.

Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore and Iran have an associate member respectively.

China in her mainland has no members of the DAISY Consortium at the moment although there are at least two people who were trained for DAISY production in Japan. Canadian National Institute for the Blind sent a mission to Beijing once upon a time but so far there is no member of the DAISY Consortium in the mainland of China.

On DFA activities, since Dipendra Manocha has a separate presentation for this conference, please listen to him.

3. Common regional issues

3.1. Double Byte Code issues

Chinese, Japanese and Korean (CJK) are languages that require 2 bytes to represent one character. CJK also require special software utility to generate a character. Double Byte Code support is a common requirement of those languages. When Unicode is supported, Double Bytes Code is always supported in principle. But it does not mean that all characters we require are automatically available.

For example, a text book on Oriental Medicine or acupuncture should require wide range of Chinese characters. CJK share the same characters but each national character set such as JIS, Shift-JIS and EUC in Japanese context, as well as Big5, GB18030, GB2312 and HZ in Chinese context, do not support all existing Chinese characters. Unicode doesn't cover all existing characters. "Chokanji", which covers some 170,000 characters, is a unique solution to cover all existing characters in the world developed by the TRON group.

Even Unicode is not supported by currently available DAISY production tools. This means that we need to explore some break through to accommodate characters that are used by peoples in the world.

3.2. Copyright issues

Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic in the USA serves to "anyone with a documented disability-including a visual impairment, learning disability or other physical disability which makes reading standard print difficult or impossible" with DAISY.

TPB in Sweden announces that "Swedish Copyright Law permits libraries and organisations officially authorized by the government, to produce published books as phonograms for lending to print handicapped people. This can be done without the permission of authors or publishers."

Access to information as one of the fundamental human rights need to be reiterated in the context of copyright legislations in each country in the region.

3.3. Main Streaming issues

As digital technology evolves, persons with print disabilities are constantly threatened by the Digital Divide. For example, streaming of multimedia contents, digital TV broadcasting and e-publishing are going to be the main stream technology in the near future. DAISY's strategic target for main streaming is "the same time, the same contents and without any extra cost".

Access to digital contents need to be guaranteed by following three components.

  1. contents accessibility (ex. book contents)
  2. user agent accessibility (ex. players)
  3. authoring tools accessibility (ex. production tools)

In the Western countries, W3C Web Accessibility Guidelines and International Digital Publishing Forum specifications formulate a good ground for accessibility in main streaming information sources.

In our region, in addition to accommodation of more than hundred thousands characters, vertical writing of a text, bi-directional writing, and the "ruby" need to be supported by the above mentioned three components. At least with those additional region specific effort, DAISY in the main stream will be realized.

4. Conclusion

Reading for creative life is a universal goal of libraries and librarians.

Since Gutenberg invented his printing system in 15 Century, ink printing on paper has been a "default" for publishing. Copyrights and other intellectual properties rights were invented to secure the right of contents creators and publishers.

Today, we have 99% of technology components to provide persons with print disabilities with necessary DAISY contents in a form of Digital Talking Books. Major barriers we face are socio-economical and legal rather than technical ones. Digital Rights Management (DRM) system included in a short term business model is a today's threat for persons with print disabilities and a profound threat for the future generations.

DAISY respects business models of current industry players, but, at the same time, DAISY perspectives cover the transfer of human knowledge and culture to 22 Century and beyond. A short term business model of individual companies need to be harmonized with a long term vision of human kind for our future generations as well as contemporary friends and colleagues with special needs.

It is obvious that even "non-disabled" persons who are working very hard at the moment should become a "golden aged" with a lot of special requirements in 50 years later. Our future generations should include the old aged persons in the future, including myself and yourself regardless of disabilities, if we are lucky enough.

Why shouldn't we commit ourselves to develop DAISY for main stream with our wisdom and rich cultural heritage in Asia and the Pacific?