2002 Conference Proceedings

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Creating DAISY digital Talking Books in the new Format with Book Master

Presenters: Larry Skutchan and Keith Creasy
American Printing House for the Blind, Inc.

As the National Library Service and other alternative media producers from around the world adapt the new DAISY 3.0 file format, the world opens up for print handicapped readers to take advantage of some of the navigation capabilities enjoyed by their sighted peers and to take advantage of the expanded amount of material expected to be available in this new format.

This presentation demonstrates a simple, effective method for creating digital Talking Books using the DAISY 3.0 format with a revolutionary new program called Book Master that is available from American Printing House for the Blind. While Book Master will eventually be used to produce textbooks in large print, braille, synthesized speech, and digital audio, all from a single common file, Book Master Audio, the first version, provides a wealth of tools for the digital audio format that are flexible enough for the most demanding professional settings, yet simple enough for the parent or teacher to be able to create a fully compliant DAISY 3.0 digital Talking Book in little more time than it takes to actually record the material.

The tools the program provides include a robust digital audio recording, playback, and navigation component. This component, which is also used in APH production digital audio recording software, provides a foundation for a number of tools under development at APH that combine to provide a complete analog to digital transition. For the time before NLS actually begins distributing in the digital medium yet requires its contractors, like APH, to deliver a full digital master of recorded works ready for final distribution on cassette tape, APH uses the APH Studio Recorder, another client that uses the services of the digital audio recording, playback, and navigation component. That tool combines the flexibility and clarity of digital processing with the tools necessary for analog duplication. Those tools include tone generation, placement, and removal services, intercom capabilities for the recording booths, and full compatibility with other digital recording and editing software.

In addition to its direct support for complete and fast digital recording and editing, Book Master, through the digital audio component, provides the narrator or user some extremely flexible local navigation capabilities. The program examines the kinds of pauses the narrator uses between phrases and divides those pause times into three categories. These categories are called sentence, paragraph, and section, and Book Master provides word processing-like commands to quickly move to any of these categories with a single keystroke. This makes finding specific recorded passages very efficient. It also permits the narrator to mark headings with level numbers while letting the software take care of the paragraph markup.

The program also includes its own time scale modification algorithms. These algorithms let the user listen at up the three times the recorded speed without the pitch distortion characteristic of analog recordings played back at other than the recorded speed.

While the narrator uses simple commands to indicate the level of a particular heading, Book Master keeps a table of contents in the form of a tree view that serves as a quick navigation tool for both the narrator and the reader. The level numbers from the heading levels are appropriately incorporated into the contents making the structure of the book apparent at a glance.

This presentation discusses the techniques and actually demonstrates the process of taking a file (either imported from an analog master cassette or from another digital recording program) and using Book Master to convert the audio tones into page number markers for a DAISY digital Talking Book then using Book Master's simple markup tools to develop the heading markers and the book's table of contents.

The presentation also shows how the narrator can use Book Master to perform real-time markup during the recording process with the tools and techniques discussed earlier in this paper.

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Reprinted with author(s) permission. Author(s) retain copyright.