2000 Conference Proceedings

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Sigtuna Project and International Cooperation in
DAISY for Developing Countries

Hiroshi Kawamura
Director
Information Center
Japanese Society for Rehabilitation of Persons with Disabilities
1-22-1, Toyama, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 162 JAPAN
FAX: +81-3-5273-1523
Phone: +81-3-5273-0601
Email: hkawa@ibm.net 
 
 

The Japanese Society for Rehabilitation of Persons with Disabilities (JSRPD) has been one of the leading organizations of  Digital Audio-based Information System (DAISY) developments.  With Sigtuna Project, JSRPD develops DAISY compliant free of charge software tools in support of the print-disabled readers in the world including developing countries.   Sigtuna Digital Audio Recorder, Sigtuna Browser and Sigtuna Telephone Browser will be demonstrated in the presentation.
Needs for DAISY in developing countries will be addressed with special reference to the DAISY Consortium collaboration for Thai DAISY Pilot Project.


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1. DAISY

DAISY, Digital Audio-based Information System, has been developed as the next generation digital talking book open standard by the DAISY Consortium consisting of major talking book producers and suppliers in the world. DAISY provides print-disabled consumers with equal opportunities for information access such as handling of a table of contents, pages and other indexes just like the sighted peers. DAISY allows versatile distribution methods of talking books including books on CD-ROM and Internet distribution. With DAISY, talking books will be preserved virtually forever. Being an open standard based around existing W3C standards, DAISY is rapidly getting industry support which ensures stable availability across the world at reasonable cost and reliability.
In addition, while the DAISY playback systems promise to keep backward compatibility for old specifications, the Consortium is working to update the DAISY specifications in order to meet the users needs and rapid change of technological infrastructures. Since DAISY supports synchronized text, audio and images, DAISY compliant multimedia materials will probably be the best example of the universal design concept of information dissemination, which is accessible by everybody.


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2. DAISY Consortium

The DAISY Consortium was established in May 1996 in Stockholm followed by the World Field Testing of DAISY/Plextalk system in 32 countries including 5 continents. This trial funded by the Japanese Government was successfully closed with unanimous support for the DAISY talking book concept and its development process to include user participation.

In May 1997 in Sigtuna, Sweden, the Consortium organized an open forum on the file format of DAISY to seek for an agreement on file format with major organizations remaining outside of the Consortium.  Participants could agree upon the direction of further development of the DAISY specifications.

With an anticipation of a successful result of the forum, JSRPD requested three DAISY concerned manufacturers, Labyrinten, Shinanokenshi and Productivityworks, and two renowned researchers, George Kerscher and Jun Ishikawa, to join a project meeting to be held immediately after the forum at the same venue, Sigtuna. As a result of this meeting, three companies and two researchers joined the Sigtuna Project of JSRPD to contribute to a new W3C standard, Synchronized Multimedia Integration Language (SMIL), and the revision of the DAISY Specifications in line with the consensus among the forum participants.


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3. Sigtuna Project

Sigtuna Project develops three software products; recorder, browser and telephone browser. Sigtuna Project allows the developer to release commercial version of the products to reduce the maintenance cost. Therefore the products are free of charge for organizations entitled, but at the same time they may be available on the market for organizations and individuals other than the DAISY Consortium members.  In developing countries and Japan,  All Sigtuna software tools are bi-lingual and designed to be easily localized for different languages.


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 3.1. Sigtuna Digital Audio Recorder

Sigtuna Digital Audio Recorder, Sigtuna DAR in short, is a software system which provides sufficient capabilities for the creation, editing and production of DAISY Talking Books which is compliant to DAISY Specifications. There are two series of recorders; Sigtuna DAR version 2.X and Sigtuna DAR3 version 2.X.  The most current version of Sigtuna DAR as of 5th October 1999 is 2.017, and the version 2.0.3 is the most current version of the Sigtuna DAR3.  The Sigtuna DAR3 will be updated to follow XML based DAISY Spec. 3.0.
With Sigtuna DAR, you may easily create a DAISY compliant synchronized multimedia materials including audio, text and images, or modify the existing DAISY Talking Books to create multimedia materials. Sigtuna DAR may support enhanced web contents accessible for all.

[ Key Features ]

Original recording, editing, importing WAV files, and analog to digital conversion
Teleprompting of text for direct recording and synchronization
Adding synchronized text utility (DAR3 only)
Automatic phrase recognition on recording
HTML or XML files support
W3C SMIL synchronization support
Playback function for checking recording
Recorded materials playable by DAISY compliant playback equipment and software
Multiple Standard Windows CODECS including MP3 supported
DBCS supported

[ Hardware and Software Recommendations ]

Windows 95, 98 or Windows NT
Sound Card (Soundblaster compatible)
Pentium 200 with 64 megabytes of main memory and 10 Gigabytes of disk space

[ Availability ]

In developing countries and Japan:
JSRPD may provide license to non-profit organizations which provide information services to print-disabled free of charge. Licensee doesn't have any rights to request support and redistribution although JSRPD will to provide internet e-mail based support services.
Contact for license applications: Hiroshi Kawamura;  e-mail: hkawa@dinf.ne.jp

In industrialized countries other than Japan:
The DAISY Consortium member organizations may apply for a license to JSRPD.
LpStudioPlus, a commercial version of Sigtuna DAR3 will be available from software vendors.


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3.2. Sigtuna Browser

Sigtuna Browser reads web pages by voice synthesizer and plays DAISY Talking Books too.  Local language implementation utility is available.  Free of charge available by downloading from JSRPD web site.

[ Key Features ]

Navigation by text, headings, links, tables, forms or user defined elements
Reading by page, element, or word, including spelling of words
Support for synthesizers - SoftVoice, DECTalk Access 32, Microsoft Speech SDK, and SAPI compliant speech synthesizers
DAISY playback engine is integrated
DBCS supported

[ Hardware and Software Recommendations ]

Windows 95, 98 or Windows NT
Sound Card (Soundblaster compatible)
A supported speech synthesizer
Pentium 200 with 64 megabytes of main memory and 10 megabytes of disk space

[ Availability ]

Free of charge. Users are allowed to use Sigtuna Browser for non-profit purpose only. Redistribution is not permitted. Users have no rights to request support. There will be a BBS support by JSRPD for users.


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3.3.Sigtuna Telephone Browser

Sigtuna Telephone Browser enables the telephone user to navigate the WWW and listen to the DAISY Talking Books. This system is designed for easiest access to the JSRPD servers (http://www.dinf.ne.jp, http://www.normanet.ne.jp) including DAISY streaming audio files.

[ Key Features ]

Simple navigation using the telephone key pad
Access to text as well as audio including the DAISY Talking Books
Installable on PCs under Windows 95, 98 and NT
Access to local, Intranet, and Internet information.

[ Hardware and Software Recommendations ]

Windows 95, 98 or Windows NT
Telephony Card and sound card that supports TAPI
Link for Internet or Intranet Access (if such access if is required)
A SAPI compliant synthesizers is required.
Pentium 200 with 64 megabytes of main memory and 10 megabytes of disk space.

[ Availability ]

The software is currently being beta tested. When it is released, further information will be available at http://www.dinf.ne.jp


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4. JSRPD work plan

With the completion of JSRPD project of nation wide DAISY implementation, more than 500 recording units will be working for production of CD-ROM based DAISY Talking Book. In year 2000, nearly 10,000 titles per year will be produced at more than 100 production sites. The most critical issues on DAISY production in Japan is coordination.
Since the JSRPD has implemented infrastructure on which libraries for the blind may establish a nation-wide network of DAISY production/distribution by themselves, JSRPD will start focusing on Sigtuna software development to meet the variety of needs of print-disabled people including dyslexics and the intellectually disabled.  Integration of DAISY into universal accessibility of WWW or electronic publishing will more be focused by JSRPD.


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5. Thai DAISY Pilot Project

Another focus of JSRPD with its expertise will be international cooperation for developing countries. Sigtuna software tools will be updated and distributed free of charge to promote the DAISY in developing countries.
In cooperation with the Royal National Institute for the Blind, UK, and the DAISY Consortium, the JSRPD is working in support of Thai DAISY initiatives.
Thailand National Committee on DAISY Production and Services (TNCD) consisting of an alliance of six organizations of and for blind people in Thailand aims at:

(1) Obtain and allocate necessary hardware and software setup for DAISY Talking Book production at each partner organization;
(2)  Introduce a new promising information access technology to blind people , including professionals, experts and all agencies related to the blindness field in Thailand through
 - training workshops on DAISY Talking Book production,
 - Seminars and demonstration of DAISY Talking Book products and ongoing technological development periodically;
(3) Conduct both short-term and long-term research and development activities to set a proper standard for the future Talking book productions in Thailand taking advantage of the fact that TNCD has both consumers and professionals who are widely recognized in the blindness field;
(4) Find appropriate ways of obtaining and distributing DAISY hardware and software units to end-users in Thailand particularly those who are in need of them, but may not be able to afford them.
(5) Promote public awareness concerning blind people's fundamental rights to information access.

In addition to the commitment to Thai project, JSRPD extends its reach to developing countries through cooperation with United Nations, NGO networking in Asia and the Pacific for the ESCAP Decade of Disabled Persons, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), and the Government of Japan.
 


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