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Presentation at AER '98 in Atlanta, by Jim Allan, TSBVI.

Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired is one of three sites in the United States that participated in the World Field Trial for the DAISY Project. DAISY is an acronym for Digital Audio Information SYstem. It is likely to be the next generation talking book machine.

The presentation will discuss the concepts and reasoning underlying the development of the DAISY. This will include countries and agencies participating in standards development and production of actual equipment. As a test site, TSBVI gathered much data regarding the ease of use, functionality, and problems with the DAISY playback unit. We will share the results of our field trial data. The DAISY playback unit will be demonstrated. We will also share our experiences with using the recording station and the production of our own digital talking books.

The DAISY Mission

The DAISY Consortium will establish the International Standard for the production, exchange, and use of the next generation of "Digital Talking Books."


  • Australia New Zealand Blindness Agencies
  • Association of Talking Book Libraries (Germany)
  • The Danish National Library for the Blind
  • Spanish National Organization of the Blind
  • Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic, RFB&D
  • Royal National Institute for the Blind, RNIB
  • Swiss Library for the Blind and Visually Impaired
  • The Dutch Library for Visually and Print Handicapped Students and Professionals
  • The Swedish Library of Talking Books and Braille
  • The Swedish Association of the Visually Impaired
  • The Japanese Association of Libraries for the Blind
  • Japanese Society for Rehabilitation of Disabled Persons, JSRD
  • And many others



  • DAISY Consortium -- Developing the Next Generation of Digital Talking books (DTB)

  • SMIL
    -Streaming media has long been a goal for any Web sites. And until recently, the ability to seamlessly stream text, images and sound required a great deal of bandwidth and special applications to pull them all together. Enter the W3C's Synchronized Multimedia Integration Language (SMIL). SMIL is an HTML-like markup language that will enable Web developers to synchronize text, graphics and sound using fairly simplistic tags.
  • NISO - Performance Specifications for the Digital Talking Book (Committee AQ)
    - Currently, talking books for the visually impaired are distributed on audio cassettes. The next-generation technology for this application will be digitally-based, bringing many improvements in sound quality, document navigation, and searching. The NISO Digital Talking Book (DTB) Standard will ensure compatibility among the many systems expected to be developed. The core of the standard will be the file specification, describing how the various functions of a DTB will be coded. Other portions of the standard will address the features desired in a DTB and describe the critical elements of the user interface of a DTB player.


Problems with current talking books…

  • Production Problems - Analog tape production equipment difficult to find and repair.
  • Sharing books - currently talking books come in 2,4, & 6 track cassette. Difficult to share between libraries and countries (duplicate effort to create same book)
  • Poor quality
  • Finding information
  • Many tapes
  • Navigation is limited
  • Distribution - Free Matter

Solutions using Digital Talking books

  • Digital - computer based. Can be readily converted as new technologies develop.
  • International standard - duplicate books can be shared (barring copyright problems)
  • Improved sound quality & Increased intelligibility at high speed
  • Direct access to desired information - Ability to consult table of contents and skip to desired section or page
  • CD can contain a whole book
  • Efficient navigation by section, page, paragraph, sentence, etc.
  • Distribution - Free Matter and Internet (possible)

TSBVI Evaluation Results

  • Evaluated 2 students and 2 adults
  • Easy to use
  • Want more tactile marks on buttons, wanted buttons in different places, wanted tape player markings (LOC player markings are common to US, Plextalk is an international machine)
  • Good quality sound – except on increase playback speed
  • Liked to book mark feature
  • Liked moving from chapter to chapter
  • Machine remembers where you left off in a book

Survey and training on machine took about 1 hour. Could teach user to use machine in 30 minutes to an hour. Easy to learn.

Recording station

  • Using Daisy .99 beta version
  • Dell Dimension XPS – D300
  • Ricoh CD-RW MP 6200s
  • Will be receiving Sigtuna Recording station


  • converting disk based talking books to CD
  • Junior League Project - 280-400 hours of volunteer time to transcribe books into braille and record DTB versions of same material.
  • May distribute DTB over Internet at