Well, I've come back up for air briefly and wanted to quickly point out to folks a really important announcement we made yesterday. We're teaming up with the DAISY consortium to build translation tools that will convert OpenXML documents into the DAISY format (Digital Access Information System). DAISY is a standard already widely in use today that allows people to distribute accessible reading materials.
Doug had a post yesterday that gave all the details: http://blogs.msdn.com/dmahugh/archive/2007/11/13/open-xml-to-daisy-xml-translator.aspx This is another great example of the types of tools we'd had in mind when we first started doing the work to support XML in Office all those years ago. If we moved into an open, fully documented XML format, it would then be possible for others to create translation tools to go into the formats of their choice. There are projects now that convert OpenXML into XHTML; ODF; UOF; and now DAISY (I'm sure there are even more than that).
Here's a great quote from George Kerscher, secretary general of the DAISY Consortium, who describes the DAISY translator plug-in project this way:
"Microsoft's announcement is monumental in greatly facilitating the availability of text in DAISY books. It provides a clear, production path for organizations and universities who will be able to use the Microsoft plug-in to move into DAISY XML. Putting tools in the hands of people who create content is a giant step toward creating equal access to information ... It's going to move DAISY ... from the niche of the libraries for the blind community into the mainstream."
If you want to go take a look at the project, it's available up on Source Forge: http://sourceforge.net/projects/openxml-daisy
AIC Limited – Canada
"In this age of ubiquitous connectivity, we rely on a document format that allows us, our industry, content providers and users choices for accessing billions of legacy documents and, going forward, creating countless more documents. The Open XML open standard achieves that goal. We look forward to seeing Open XML become an ISO standard."
- Sam Stravato – CTO