2003 Conference Proceedings

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John Worsfold, Dolphin Computer Access Group.
Website: www.dolphinse.com

Summary Abstract:

Demonstrating how organizations create fully synchronized long and short life DAISY content automatically and cheaply with content that includes both high quality recorded audio and synthetic speech.


This session is designed to demonstrate just how easy it is to create and deliver DAISY content. This presentation is aimed at those familiar with DAISY or those who are new to the format and would like to know how to produce and deliver accessible rich media content to a mass market. We will be looking at the technology that was available, what the benefits and weaknesses were, and what would be the ideal solution to enable organizations to successfully create and deliver such content.

The merging of two separate media types, the narrated audio and the visual electronic elements that can form DAISY content was not without its weakness'. It was the associated audio recording and production costs incurred to narrate the audio content that could make the production of such content costly. This cost was justified for content that had a long shelf life and required the human touch, with all the dramatisation and emphases the human voice has to offer, but what about all of the material that has a very short life span? e.g. newspapers and utility statements, or material that do not warrant the additional recording cost of a human voice, e.g. washing machine instructions, or specific content intended for a small audience, this was not considered. This was seen to be one of the limiting factors of DAISY production.

So if we all agree that DAISY provides unique benefits, how do we remove the obstacle of the production costs, what is the ideal solution?

Well for one the market has to be right, people have to want it.

The commercial market has been through the mill with regards the "Napsters" the audio MP3 download scare. Publishers have looked and produced eBooks, but with little commercial success, governments are looking at ways to deliver content to a broader audience. With current and ongoing legislation and the need to catch up with technology, publishers are being forced to produce commercially viable, accessible material. This normally means two separate products which in turn increases the costs, this is why they are taking notice of rich electronic media content as a viable commercial product.

The audio book market has also "moved on", half of today's audio book sales are on CD rather than the good old audiocassette. Users are willing to accept digital information in all its forms, why? Because it suits their needs that's all, its more convenient, they can sort and retrieve information quicker, and probably more importantly its small and portable and little effort for them to acquire.

Recently the Audio Publishers Association (APA) and the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) had a joint meeting to discuss the future, and the way forward for audio book production and support by hardware players – in a nut shell they recognise the need for change, and want to adopt and adapt an all encompassing standard. It was proposed that they take a close look at the DAISY standard as that way forward.

The cross over and common ground of the access and commercial markets will have a profound "win win" effect. As the commercial market has the largest and most sought after source of content, and the access market is screaming out for content, by producing accessible material from the outset, the commercial market in turn generates a larger customer base and the access market is given a wider choice.

Over the past two years the Dolphin Computer Access Group have taken all this and more onboard, and created software solutions that are needed today, to meet the needs of both markets.

The solution:

Provide a solution that enables organisations to:

To demonstrate this, during our presentation we will produce accessible synchronised rich media content using AudioPublisher and deliver it via EaseReader.

AudioPublisher - The next generation authoring software

The ability to create fully synchronised DAISY content by entering or importing text and then adding audio by recording, importing or generating using a text to speech (TTS) engine. This is all possible using an intuitive interface that enables content to be automatically created with a touch of a button.

EaseReader – The next generation playback software

EaseReader is a commercial DAISY software player that fulfils the needs of both markets, one that is graphically rich and yet fully accessible. A DAISY player that can be customised to fulfil the needs of individual organisations or market groups.

Using these products we will demonstrate the production and playback of the following DAISY material:

We will summarise the demonstration by re-creating synchronised content automatically.

The aim of the presentation is to demonstrate that ANY content can now be produced and delivered in the accessible DAISY format because organisations:

The products:

AudioPublisher – the way DAISY should be created.

AudioPublisher is the next generation of DAISY authoring software. For the creation of accessible rich media content within the publishing, education, and leisure markets.

Create content on the fly – By the use of an intuitive interface producers are able to easily produce content as they would within a word processor, manipulating the visual elements as they go. Performing live or importing existing recordings and synchronising them together has never been easier.

Create content automatically- Automated mark up of created documents either as you work or using existing ones. Automate the audio generation utilising speech synthesisers. Content is created in a fraction of the time that is taken to narrate the content.(generated in CPU time not real time). During this process the textual elements are automatically synchronised with the generated audio forming a completely synchronised DAISY project, ready for delivery. Producers can produce fully synchronised synthesised content or combination of human narration and synthesiser by recording parts of the publication that warrant using human audio narration and the synthesiser completes the rest of the publication automatically.

Export to various formats – the ability to output finished content in all most any format, export as Daisy 2.02, NISO, for use with on-line player, as separate audio and text files for further conversion for other platforms.

EaseReader an unprecedented multimedia experience:

EaseReader is a graphical application designed to fit and be accepted amongst existing commercial audio and text media players. EaseReader is of course accessible, utilising Dolphin's Synthesiser Access Manager, SAM, to create the feeling of familiarity to our users by enabling the use of existing synthesisers to self-voice the application.

Synchronised images - It is possible to create DAISY content that, in addition to fully synchronised text and audio, can also deliver images, which appear in separate "pop-up" windows in perfect synchronisation with the text or audio.

Text highlighting effects - EaseReader provides a wide range of text highlighting effects that can be set by the user. This includes colour, letter spacing, text formatting, and background colour to name but a few.

Remote Control - Control the playback even when EaseReader is minimised. Using the remote control option allows you to control the playback of DAISY content without needing to have the main application visible on screen.

STAR - EaseReader has been developed using Synchronized Text and Audio Reader, STAR, a specially designed Component Object Model (COM) for playback of DAISY 2.0 and 2.02 content within the Microsoft® Windows environment. Third party developers wishing to create their own DAISY players containing the functionality and the interface that they or their market requires can license STAR.

More information is available from http://www.dolphinse.com

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