Make reading easier for learners with visual impairments

A while ago I wrote about the announcement of the work that Microsoft were doing to develop a DAISY XML translator. The DAISY Consortium was set up to help those with visual impairment (or ‘print disabilities’) to access digital content easily, and enhance their use of the materials. We’ve been working with DAISY to develop a Word plug-in which allows Open XML documents to be translated into DAISY XML, which has become a globally accepted standard for digital talking books – for example, it’s used by the RNIB’s Talking Book Service.

DAISY stands for Digital Accessible Information System, which lets you work with digital content in many ways, synchronising audio with display output, generating braille versions, or allowing text to speech conversion.

The free Word Add-In has now been released, and adds a “Save as DAISY XML” option to the Word menu. The convertor is released as an open source project, and can be downloaded from the Open XML Community site. The beauty of this software is that it makes a specialist facility available within the core of Office – offering a broader reach for solutions that help visually impaired learners. It makes it easier for all staff in your university to be able to prepare materials in a way that could be used by all learners.

The Save as Daisy XML function works with Word 2007, Word 2003 and Word XP.

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