What is DAISY?
DAISY is a type of digital talking book, one of the main upcoming formats offering flexibility, 'multi sensory' content. DAISY often refers to a standard for producing accessible and navigable multimedia documents.
With a DAISY book it is possible to present text, images (even tables and graphs) as well as recorded speech (either human or synthesised speech) in MP3 format.
The DAISY format is popular among both the visually impaired and dyslexic, and is also a powerful tool for non-print impaired readers.
What does DAISY stand for?
DAISY stands for Digital Accessible Information System.
A DAISY Digital Talking Book (DTB) is a multimedia alternative to a traditional audio cassette or CD based talking book. A DTB provides better audio quality it also increases accessibility by allowing easy navigation from point to point within the content.
DTB's are played back on either hardware or software players. Dolphin Computer Access produce software players as well as the authoring solutions for either converting analogue talking books into the DAISY format or creating new DAISY books by recording digitally.
DTB's produced to the DAISY standard are independent of distribution media types. This means that a book that is distributed on CD may also be distributed on any other form of storage device - available now or in the future.
- Full audio with title element only:
This is a DTB without navigation structure. Only the title of the book is displayed as text. The actual content is presented as linear audio only. Direct access to points within the DTB is not possible.
- Full audio with Navigational Control Center (NCC) only:
This is a DTB with structure. That provides both sequential and hierarchical navigation. In many cases, the structure in this type of DTB resembles the table of contents of its print source.
- Full audio with NCC and partial text:
This is a DTB with structure as described above, as well as some additional text which is synchronized with the audio. The additional text components may be present where keyword searching or direct access to the text is required.
- Full text and audio:
This is a DTB with structure and synchronized text and audio.
- Full text and some audio:
This is a DTB with structure, complete text and partial audio. This type of DTB could be used as a dictionary where only pronunciations were provided in audio form. The audio and text are synchronized.
- Text and no audio:
This is a DTB containing an NCC and marked up/structured electronic text only. No audio is present. This file may be used for Braille output. There are now some DAISY players (hardware and software) which provide speech for text only DAISY books. See the Tools and Solutions section of this website for details.
Who are DAISY materials created for?
DAISY books can be used by anyone with a print impairment, whether blind, partially sighted, dyslexic or someone with additional literacy needs. DAISY materials are suitable for people of all ages from pre school children to mature students.
Who will benefit from receiving and using Daisy materials?
The creation of DAISY books has benefits for both the creator and the recipient. As an education establishment creating alternative formats there is a strong possibility that the materials will need to reconverted or re-mastered the next year as new students with different print impairments require access in their preferred format. DAISY is a more flexible alternative format and the recipient can choose to listen using a hardware DAISY player or take advantaged of the fully configurable audio, colours and magnification levels of DAISY using a software DAISY player.
“…it might just turn out that being a bit more open about the media you use, and how you use it, improves learning all around”. (Graham Lewis, University of Warwick)
Are people already using DAISY?
DAISY is quickly being adopted worldwide and is the fastest growing alternative format. DAISY is extensively used in the US, Sweden, Norway, Germany and Austria. More recently DAISY was accepted as the format of choice in an extensive Scottish pilot study and is also being adopted by the EU Euain project. A variety of UK and Irish colleges, universities and local education authorities have implemented DAISY creation tools and hardware and software DAISY players for both their visually impaired and dyslexic students.
Who owns DAISY?
No one single organisation owns DAISY as it is a globally recognised consortium of members that are committed to developing equitable access to information for people who have a print disability. The DAISY consortium has developed a recognized technical standard to facilitate the creation of accessible content.
www.daisy.org (external link)
How do I create DAISY?
A variety of DAISY creation tools are now available and range from the simplicity of use of EasyProducer to the sophistication and feature rich Dolphin Publisher. Most DAISY creation tools convert html or word documents and automatically synchronise this with speech output that is either narrated or automatically synthesised by the creation tool.
Read the Tools & Solutions section of the Altformat website for more details.
What DAISY materials are available commercially?
A large amount of DAISY books and resources are available from the RNIB, National Library for the Blind, RevealWeb and The Open University. A variety of US websites also share DAISY materials and books. Many of the UK transcription centres are generating DTBs and large organisations such as BT offer their customer communications in the customers preferred alternative format including DAISY.
Where can you find existing DAISY books?
There are some exciting developments happening in RNIB's Library Services. As tape technology is becoming obsolete and the digital Talking Book Service has been so successful, the analogue Cassette Library which contains a number of academic and reference texts is making a selection of books available on DAISY digital CDs from the RNIB's new Learning & Skills library
How many books from the cassette library will be available as DAISY CDs?
The RNIB will be transferring the most popular 2,000 titles based on numbers borrowed in the last three years. Books will be added to the library every month until the end of the digitisation project in December 2006. Many of the titles in the cassette library are old and out-of-date and will not be made available in the new digital format. This is to ensure that the content of this new library is as current and useful as possible.
How many books can subscribers have in a year?
The number of books that can be borrowed per annum is unlimited. Subscribers are, however, restricted to having four books at any one time from the combined Leisure, Learning & Skills library.
How do subscribers order these new digital books?
If readers normally get their cassette books through the local or university library, a Disability Support Officer, tutor, or other third party, then they will receive CDs in the same way. Or, readers can become a subscriber and join the library direct. If readers are already a customer of the Talking Book library, then they can just add Learning & Skills titles to their selection list.
Is there a charge for using the new library?
Yes. The annual subscription fee is ?50 for customers who purchase their own DAISY player. It is possible to loan a very basic Daisy player, this increases the annual subscription charge to ?70 per annum.
Subscription charges may be covered by Local Education Authorities, Social Services or local Library Services. As a student, costs can be covered through Disabled Students' Allowances.
How can readers get hold of a DAISY player?
Who is eligible to join?
Anyone who is blind or partially sighted in the UK.
Please contact the RNIB customer services team on 0845 762 6843 and get access to almost 14,000 titles.
What sort of DAISY books are available?
There is a wide selection of titles available from RNIB Library Services, such as:
- The Nature Of Space And Time by Stephen Hawking
- A Simple Guide To Creating Your Own Web page by Michel Dreyfus
- The Alexander Technique by Edward Maisel
- Inside Hitler's Bunker by Joachim Fest
- The BMA Family Doctor Guide by Dr Anthony Thoft
- Eating Your Heart Out by Julia Buckroyd
- Easy Way To Stop Smoking by Allen Carr
- The Wars Of The Roses by A.J. Pollard
- Self Esteem by Gael Lindenfield
Can DAISY books be streamed over the Internet?
The RNIB has launched a service that allows visually impaired computer users to listen to Digital Talking Books (DTBs) directly over their Internet connection. For some time now the RNIB have had a sizeable collection of DTBs in their library, and this has now been made available via streaming audio with the BookStream book club.
Learn more about the BookStream book club
- Online advice pages from the Recording Centre for the Blind at Swansea University (external link)
- The DAISY Consortium website (external link).
- Talking Book Service from the RNIB (external link)
- RNIB Online Shop (external link)
- RNIB Library Services (external link)
- Description of DAISY from the RNIB (external link)
- RNIB Bookstream Book club (external link)