LATE BREAKING NEWS
Microsoft Provides Support For DAISY Consortium: Software Giant Supports, Collaborates on Accessibility Standards for Digital Talking Books
The DAISY Consortium announced on July 5 that Microsoft Corporation has pledged financial and technical support for the Consortium's ongoing work to establish global accessibility standards for the next generation of digital talking book (DTB) technology.
In a letter to the DAISY Consortium Board, Microsoft's Emerging Technologies division announced that it will donate 25 percent of its revenues from the sale of AudioPublisher for the Microsoft Reader. AudioPublisher is a tool to enable publishers to include additional information within eBooks to enable synchronized audio narration. In addition to its contribution through AudioPublisher, Microsoft will join the DAISY Consortium as a Friend, providing expertise for the creation of specifications, standards, and software and hardware requirements for reading technologies.
"Part of the promise of eBooks is that they will open up a new world of reading for people who are blind or are otherwise unable to read print. The DAISY Consortium is an important leader in the effort to ensure that this promise will be realized around the world, and Microsoft is honored to participate in their success," said Dick Brass, Vice President, Technologies Development at Microsoft."
Last month, Microsoft announced a licensing agreement with isSound Corporation and Labyrinten Data AB that will enable text-to-audio synchronization of eBooks created for the Microsoft Reader format. Labyrinten Data of Falkoping, Sweden and isSound Corporation of Ewing, NJ are also Friends of the DAISY Consortium.
George Kerscher, project manager of DAISY and an executive on loan from the Princeton, NJ-based Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic, lauded Microsoft's generosity and collaboration.
"Microsoft is setting a new standard for inclusiveness in the eBook industry," said Kerscher. "Given this level of investment in the development of accessibility guidelines and compatible software, it's conceivable that other technology and commercial publishing industries may soon follow the Microsoft lead by offering mainstream products that are immediately accessible to consumers who are print disabled."
Richard O. Scribner, President and CEO of Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic, a member of the Consortium, said Microsoft's investment in the work of the DAISY Consortium, coupled with its commitment to accessibility issues in education and the workplace, signals a positive outlook for the future of reading technologies.
"Microsoft recognizes the value of people with print disabilities not only for their potential in academia and at work, but as consumers who need to be able to access a variety of reading materials," Scribner said. "We're very enthusiastic about Microsoft's commitment to DAISY and for being responsive to the needs of millions of students and professionals who cannot read standard print because of a disability."