DAISY Digital Talking Book

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Digital Accessible Information System, or DAISY, is a means of creating digital talking books for people who wish to hear—and navigate—written material presented in an audible format; many such listeners have "print disabilities," including blindness, impaired vision, dyslexia or other issues.

Using DAISY, a talking book format is presented with enabled navigation within a sequential and hierarchical structure consisting of (marked-up) text synchronized with audio.[1]

DAISY 2 was a standard based on XHTML and SMIL[2]. DAISY 3 is also based on XML and is standardized as ANSI/NISO Z39.86-2005.[3]

DAISY assists people who, for different reasons, have problems using regular printed media. DAISY books have the benefits of regular audiobooks, but they are superior because DAISY 2.02 provides up to six embedded "navigation levels" for content (i.e. other objects such as images, graphics, MathML etc) and for displaying synchronized text to speech. DAISY Multimedia can be a talking book, computerised text or a synchronised presentation of text and audio.[4]

As a result, DAISY books allow the blind listener to navigate an encyclopedia; this is impossible using conventional audio recordings because they lack search and navigation features and they require linear listening[5]. While reading a DAISY book, a reader can go to the next or previous page, chapter or sentence. DAISY is for everyone who needs accessible information and for everyone who loves to read.

The DAISY Consortium has been selected by the National Information Standards Organization (NISO) as the official maintenance agency for the DAISY/NISO Standard, officially, the ANSI/NISO Z39.86, Specifications for the Digital Talking Book, known as DAISY 3.[6]

The DAISY Consortium was founded in 1996 and consists of a growing membership of organizations around the world committed to developing equitable access to information for people who have a print disability.[7]


Distribution and Playback

DAISY books can be heard on standalone DAISY players[8], computers using DAISY playback software[9], mobile phones, and MP3 players - with limited navigation. DAISY books can be distributed on a CD/DVD, memory card or through the Internet.[10]

A computerized text DAISY book can be read using refreshable Braille display or screen-reading software, printed as Braille book on paper, converted to a talking book using synthesised voice or a human narration, and also printed on paper as large print book. In addition, it can be read as large print text on computer screen.[11] [12]

Software Players

Software-based players include:

  • gh PLAYER, a commercial DAISY player [13],
  • AMIS - Adaptive Multimedia Information System - an open-source self-voicing player for Windows that works with several screen readers; developed by the DAISY Consortium [14],
  • emerson-reader, an open-source and cross-platform Epub and DAISY player [15],
  • AnyDaisy Firefox Extension, by Benetech [16],
  • Dorina DAISY Reader (DDReader), a Firefox add-on for DAISY 3.0 [17] [18],
  • ButtercupReader, a web-based application for DAISY 3 books [19] [20],
  • CUCAT Olearia, an open-source DAISY reader for Mac OS X [21][22],
  • Daisy Delight (DAISY 2.02, for Mac OS X and Unix-based systems)[23]
  • DAISY Book Reader, GTK Daisy Talking Book reader application [24].

Other relevant software includes:

  • Daisy Uppsala Archive Project, server-side system for managing DAISY (Digital Talking Books) files [25],
  • Online Daisy Delivery Technology, open-source software to deliver DAISY books online [26].

Hardware Players

There are also a wide range of hardware products available that can play DAISY content, usually in a portable form factor. Some of these devices are dedicated to playback of books, while others focus on other functionality, such as PDA or mobile Internet access, and offer DAISY playback as either a feature of the unit or as a software add-on.

A short (incomplete) list of products that have built-in support for DAISY playback includes:

  • Victor Reader Stream, a hand-held portable DAISY player for the blind, visually handicapped and print impaired, produced by HumanWare[27].
  • Victor Reader Wave, also by HumanWare, is a portable CD player that can play DAISY content from CD media[28].
  • BookSense, a similar, smaller unit produced by GW Micro; the advanced "XT" model features built-in flash memory and Bluetooth headset support for playback[29].
  • The National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) in the United States has developed a proprietary DAISY player designed for use by its print-disabled patrons. The player will replace the aging cassette-based distribution system[30].

Access to Materials by the Disabled

Since DAISY is often used by people with disabilities, many of the existing organizations which produce accessible versions of copyrighted content are moving to the DAISY standard, and slowly moving away from more traditional methods of distribution such as cassette tape.

In the United States, Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic (RFB&D)[31], BookShare[32] and the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS)[33], among others, are offering content to blind and visually impaired individuals. RFB&D also allows access by those with dyslexia or other disabilities which impair the person's ability to read print. The NLS uses a library methodology, on the basis that the books are loaned (as they traditionally have been, on physical cassette), hence they are able to offer content free of charge, just as any public library can. RFB&D and Bookshare both are subscription-based services, however RFB&D recently has made their membership free of charge to all qualified individuals in the United States[34].

Content from both the NLS and the RFB&D organizations utilizes proprietary encryption extensions to the DAISY standard. The basic structure of the DAISY definition files remains the same, however, the audio itself, and in some cases certain information tags in the DAISY SMIL files, are encrypted and must be decrypted in order to be read/played back. This is done to prevent unauthorized individuals, such as those who do not have a qualifying disability, from accessing the materials. The organization which offers the content provides a decryption key to the user, which can be installed into a DAISY player to allow decryption. As the encryption schemes are not part of the core DAISY standard, only players which specifically implement the necessary algorithms and key management will be able to access these titles. Bookshare does not use such encryption; the data as downloaded from the server is encrypted using only the user's password, which is used to decrypt the data to an open format, and thus content from Bookshare generally is readable on any compliant DAISY player.


Add-ins or extensions to create DAISY files from office software are also available:

Other tools for DAISY production include:

  • the DAISY Pipeline, a cross-platform[38] "open source framework for document- and DTB-related pipelined transformations", developed by the DAISY Consortium [39],
  • the DAISY Pipeline GUI [39],
  • PipeOnline, a web interface for the DAISY Pipeline [40],
  • Daisy Producer, an integrated production management system for Digital Talking Books based on the DAISY Pipeline[39] and liblouis
  • Z39.86 DTB Validator, "Zedval": "a Java-based conformance validator for ANSI/NISO Z39.86 Digital Talking Books" [41].

See also


  1. George Kerscher: "DAISY is", December 2003. Accessed 2009-11-23.
  2. DAISY Consortium: DAISY 2.02 Specification - Recommendation, February 28 2001. Accessed 2009-11-23.
  3. ANSI/NISO Z39.86-2005 Specifications for the Digital Talking Book. Accessed 2009-11-23.
  4. DAISY/NISO Standard. Accessed 2009-11-23.
  5. Ask-it: A5.5.3: Examples of best practices of design for all. Accessed 2009-11-23.
  6. DAISY Consortium: DAISY/NISO Standard. Accessed 2009-11-23.
  7. DAISY Consortium: About The DAISY Consortium. Accessed 2009-11-23.
  8. DAISY: Hardware Playback Tools
  9. DAISY: Software Playback Tools
  10. DAISY: Technology Overview
  11. DAISY Consortium: "WHAT IS DAISY?". Accessed 2009-11-23.
  12. George Kerscher: "Braille Production the DAISY Way", IFLA/SLB Pre-conference Seminar, in Penang 1999. Accessed 2009-11-23.
  13. gh, LLC: gh PLAYER, 2.2.
  14. AMIS (Adaptive Multimedia Information System)
  15. emerson-reader
  16. AnyDaisy Firefox Extension
  17. Dorina DAISY Reader
  18. Add-ons for Firefox: DDReader
  19. ButtercupReader - The Online Digital Talking Book Reader
  20. ButtercupReader at Codeplex.
  21. Download Olearia
  22. Olearia - Full Featutred DAISY Talking Book Player For OS X at Google Code.
  23. Daisy Delight,
  24. Daisy Book Reader
  25. Daisy Uppsala Archive Project
  26. Online Daisy Delivery Technology
  27. HumanWare Ltd. Victor Reader Stream Product Page
  28. HumanWare Ltd. Victor Reader Wave Product Page
  29. GW Micro: Booksense
  30. National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS): NLS/BPH Digital Talking Book Player and Cartridge.
  31. for the Blind and Dyslexic (RFB&D)
  32. Bookshare - Accessible Books for Individuals with Print Disabilities
  33. National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS)
  34. RFB&D: Individual Membership
  35. "Easily Translate Open XML to DAISY XML Standards". openxmlcommunity.org. http://www.openxmlcommunity.org/daisy/. Retrieved 2008-05-15. 
  36. Odt2DAISY (SourceForge project).
  37. Vincent Spiewak, Christophe Strobbe & Jan Engelen: "Odt2DAISY: Authoring Full DAISY 3.0 Books using OpenOffice.org." Paper presented at the DAISY 2009 Conference, Leipzig, Germany, 23-25 September 2009.
  38. DAISY Pipeline FAQ
  39. 39.0 39.1 39.2 DAISY Pipeline.
  40. PipeOnline
  41. ZedVal - ANSI/NISO Z39.86 DTB Validator

External links

fr:DAISY (livre audio) nl:DAISY no:DAISY Digital Lydbok pl:DAISY fi:Daisy (äänikirjastandardi) sv:DAISY tr:DAISY Dijital Sesli Kitap

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