OpenOffice.org can now speak in 27 languages

The ÆGIS Consortium is pleased to announce that Vincent Spiewak launched a software add-on that makes it easier to create digital talking books with free and open-source software. dt2DAISY, designed for OpenOffice.org(TM) 3.0 or higher, enables the export of documents into digital talking books in the DAISY format. DAISY is the standard for Digital Talking Books, developed and maintained by the DAISY Consortium and was adopted by NISO as a ANSI/NISO standard (Z39.86). Digital talking books are used by persons with a visual impairment, dyslexia or other impairments that hamper access to printed text.
The odt2daisy project is supported with the financial contribution of the European Commission in the context of the ÆGIS project. ÆGIS partners involved in ODF-related work in AEGIS include Sun Microsystems , Inc. and Katholieke Universiteit Leuven.

A screencast is available here:
http://odt2daisy.sourceforge.net/videos/101_odt2daisy_full_daisy.960x540.avi
http://odt2daisy.sourceforge.net/videos/101_odt2daisy_full_daisy.960x540.m4v
http://odt2daisy.sourceforge.net/videos/101_odt2daisy_full_daisy.960x540.ogm

A sample is available here:
http://odt2daisy.sourceforge.net/PR/odt2daisy_2.0_sample.zip

General
Odt2DAISY is a free and open source software that can be downloaded at http://odt2daisy.sf.net. Odt2DAISY can be run on most platforms, including:

  • Windows (XP, Vista and Windows 7)
  • Mac OS X (Tiger, Leopard, Snow Leopard)
  • Linux
  • Solaris(TM) and OpenSolaris(TM)

After installation, the user will have the possibilities to export in both DAISY XML and Full DAISY (containing both XML and audio).

DAISY 3.0 XML
Odt2daisy enables authoring of rich DAISY 3.0 XML files with multilingual (''Asian'' and ''CTL'' languages are not yet supported) content.
You can convert DAISY XML to several other formats using tools like the DAISY Pipeline,
for instance:

  • DAISY Text Only books
  • Full DAISY books (Text and Audio)
  • Large Printing books
  • Braille books

More information about the DAISY Pipeline is available at http://www.daisy.org/projects/pipeline/.

Full DAISY (Text and Audio)
Odt2daisy enables authoring of rich Full DAISY books (Text and Audio) with multilingual content.
It uses the TTS engines installed on the user’s operating system. For this reason, “Export As Full DAISY” feature can provide different books quality, depending on your platform or your TTS licenses.
On English versions of Windows, the user can author Full DAISY books in English out of the box.
It is also possible to author Full DAISY books in other languages if third-party voices compatible with SAPI 5 (including Cepstral, Acapela, and Dolphin TTS products) are available on the computer.

On Mac OS X, the support is the same, except that the voices should be VoiceOver compatible.

On Linux, Solaris and OpenSolaris, odt2daisy relies on the eSpeak TTS engine.
The user can generate content in up to 27 languages including English, French, German and Spanish. Third-party voices from Loquendo and IBM can also be used.

Quality Assurance
Since the software should be usable by persons without DAISY expertise, quality assurance is an important aspect of odt2daisy.
The Export As DAISY XML feature includes a DAISY 3.0 DTD validation process.
The Export As Full DAISY feature includes a ZedVal Validation process.
Odt2daisy developments are now driven by unit tests. A set of 165 ODT files that covers the full ODF specification is used for regression testing.

Notable Results
Vincent Spiewak started odt2daisy in January 2008 under the name odt2dtbook.
The project won a gold Award from the OpenOffice.org Community Innovation Program 2008.
It is currently used among others by BrailleNet, Curtin University Centre for Accessible Technology
(CUCAT), Alternative Media Access Centre at the University of Georgia (AMAC), Association for the Blind of Western Australia (ABWA) and the Wyoming Department of Education.

DAISY format features
DAISY features include:

  • the ability to navigate to specific pages and sections
  • adding, searching for, and removing bookmarks
  • the ability to skim the text
  • portability

Playing DAISY
Requires a DAISY player (software or hardware)
Software and hardware players available
Software - free to $300
Hardware - $195 to $995
DAISY players also play MP3 files
DAISY players allow you to control speed and pitch

Freely available software players include:

DAISY

DAISY is the standard for Digital Talking Books, developed and maintained by the DAISY Consortium and was adopted by NISO as a ANSI/NISO standard (Z39.86). It is the world’s most widely used format for Talking Books for blind, visually impaired, print-disabled or learning-disabled people.

DAISY is:

  • DAISY Standard: An open-source standard for digital audio
  • DAISY Consortium: Group that oversees the standard
  • DAISY format: The format for DAISY books
  • DAISY books: Electronic books in the DAISY format
About OpenOffice.org

The OpenOffice.org Community is an international team of volunteer and sponsored contributors who develop, translate, support, and promote the leading open source office productivity suite, OpenOffice.org. OpenOffice.org's leading edge software technology (UNO) is also available for developers, systems integrators, etc. to use in OpenOffice.org extensions or in their own applications.

OpenOffice.org uses the OpenDocument Format OASIS Standard (ISO/IEC 26300) as well as supporting legacy file formats such as Microsoft Office, and is available on major computing platforms in over 100 languages. OpenOffice.org software is provided under the GNU Lesser General Public Licence (LGPL) and may be used free of charge for any purpose, private or commercial.

The OpenOffice.org Community acknowledges generous sponsorship from a number of companies, including Sun Microsystems, the founding sponsor and primary contributor. OpenOffice.org is considered by Public administrations and people working at all levels of government (local / federal / regional / national etc) as their ideal software solution.

Download the press release (pdf).