In terms of legal aspects, the functionality
that the sighted student has and the functionality that the blind or print-disabled student needs
should be the same. And so whatever navigation is provided to the sighted student should
be available to the blind student programatically. Now, in terms of ePUB, ePUB supports the DAISY
navigation model. We all know and love the DAISY navigation model – chapters, sections,
subsections directly go to pages. But most of the ePUB books that are out today don’t
have that level of detail. The navigation center is a “may” in the specification, not
a “must.” But in the revision to ePUB that I’ll be getting through, we’re going to require
that all conforming reading systems must use the navigation system that is provided. And
that would, then, would give full functionality. Now you don’t have to, the publisher doesn’t
have to put in page numbers, the page numbers are nice if you’re using a digital book and
other people are using a print book. That’s where, “go to page 52” when the teacher says
that, that’s where that becomes important. But if everybody in the classroom has a digital
book, you could just say “go to chapter 7” and you can navigate by structural elements.
Also, it will be interesting to see the Amazon Kindle has a go-to a point in the book, so
it’s got every sentence numbered so you could go to 2,212 and your professor could, if everybody
was using that device, say “everybody go to 2,212.” We may see that kind of feature, called
locations, be defined in a revision of the ePUB standards. Any other questions? The DAISY standard has been around, its first
version, DAISY 2.0, was in 1999, and that came out the same year that ePUB, the predecessor
to ePUB that was OEB, started. And DAISY focused initially on audio content because the libraries
that were serving people with disabilities around the world primarily had audio content
and they needed a standard, and they knew they could provide more functionality so the
navigation center plus the audio files yielded a digital talking book. And then, as more
requirements from the blindness community came in – people said, I wanted to spell,
I want to search, I want to see the text for low vision and hear it at the same time, I
want to use refreshable Braille and use it at the same time – so the text and audio synchronization,
which I would call classic DAISY, evolved. But the DAISY Consortium joined the Open Book
Forum and was one of the founding members, and the principles of accessibility were built
into ePUB from the very beginning, in terms of the actual technical specifications. So
DAISY had a hand in helping the early specifications, but ePUB was just text. Right now, it’s just
text. There’s no audio, it’s just the text. Now, if you have an ePUB book that’s unprotected,
you could use it with an accessible ebook reader, and it could provide text to speech,
but it wouldn’t be recorded audio, it would be generating speech on the fly. Barnes & Noble is another company that’s in
the mix, and they just adopted the Adobe DRM. So, Barnes & Noble, Adobe, and Sony. If you
went to the Adobe site, you’d find that there is a whole flock of different companies that
are using the Adobe DRM. So, you’ve got Google Editions of course, and the public domain
ones are ePUB, and it still remains to be seen what they want to do with their commercial
outlet of books. But they want to sell books that are in copyright and they’re not doing
this just to be nice guys, they certainly do intend, they’ve announced, what they’re
calling it is Google Editions, and they have to be using some kind of DRM, otherwise the
publishers will not play ball. And there is a whole flock of Adobe…and then there is
the Blio which is the new guy on the block, and it’s very interesting – they’re much like
the DAISY players that support a variety of formats – they support DAISY audio, DAISY
text, DAISY text+audio and ePUB now, so that’s Dolphin’s product. The Blio looks like it’s
supporting a variety of formats – ePUB is one of them, and we don’t really know what’s
under the hood, but we saw text and audio synchronized from human narration, and the
Three Little Pigs with word highlighting and cool presentation information. You’re using
XPS, is that right? -Correct.
XPS is the presentation that’s used instead of, ePUB will use Cascading Style Sheets (CSS)
– they transform that into an XPS presentation of the information, and that’s for the visual
presentation. And the audio will be reading the XML behind the scenes and voicing that.
I’m not exactly sure how they do the synchronization of audio and text, but I’m pretty sure it’s
by X and Y coordinates because that’s how the XPS format works. And if I’m wrong, Jim,
just tell me. -You’re ahead of me, George.
-You said that Blio will open DAISY files correctly?
No, if I said that, I misspoke. They’ll open ePUB books. But not DAISY, yet. But…they’re
smart. Okay, so CourseSmart is a different creature.
It’s not ePUB, but there’s a lot of books out there and it’s promoted in higher education.
So what they’ve got, they’re getting PDFs from the publishers and then they extract
from that an image presentation. Then, they do the OCR on it and get an X-Y coordinate
(This is the same thing Google does, they scan a book and then you can search it, and
they know the X-Y coordinates of every word on the page.) They’re doing the same kind
of thing, then they serve up images of the text that screen readers can’t read – you
can’t get at the information. That’s their online version, they’ve also got a downloadable
version that is equally inaccessible. It’s just totally and completely inaccessible.
But a blind person can go to their website right now and purchase a book that they cannot
read. It’s a huge problem, but that’s the current status in CourseSmart as of a week
ago. Okay, so
what we should have is the ability for students to use the same book as other students are
using, with the software that is provided or an alternative that provides equal functionality.