As of 22 April 2009 this website is 'frozen' in time — see the current IFLA websites

This old website and all of its content will stay on as archive – http://archive.ifla.org

IFLANET home - International Federation of Library 
Associations and InstitutionsAnnual 

64th IFLA Conference Logo

   64th IFLA General Conference
   August 16 - August 21, 1998


Code Number: 118-124-E
Division Number: III.
Professional Group: Libraries for the Blind
Joint Meeting with: -
Meeting Number: 124.
Simultaneous Interpretation:   Yes

Disabilities Information Resources; Accessible Website Building Merges Daisy on the Internet

Hiroshi Kawamura
Information Center
Japanese Society for Rehabilitation of Persons with Disabilities (JSRPD)
Tokyo, Japan


People with disabilities are challenged by rapidly growing World Wide Web. Contracting with the Ministry of Health and Welfare of Japan, the Japanese Society for Rehabilitation of Persons with Disabilities (JSRPD) is building an accessible multimedia website to disseminate information on disabilities. Software including non-visual browser, telephone-browser and DAISY compliant recording software have been developed. The website is being developed following the international open standards of DAISY Consortium and Web Accessibility Initiative of W3C.


1. Accessibility issues of the WWW and WAI

World Wide Web (WWW) has been exploding across the world with wide range of visual and audio contents in addition to traditional texts. The platform for most common browsers and contents authoring tools use Graphical User Interface (GUI) which has been building the most current and important information resources beyond barriers against visually impaired people.

The US President Bill Clinton gave a warning on the situation in April 1997 and encouraged the society and industry to develop technology and guidelines to make website accessible by everybody. In response to emerging request for accessibility, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), a non-governmental organization responsible for international standardization of WWW, set up the International Program Office (IPO) of Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) in 1997.

"Worldwide, there are more than 750 million people with disabilities. As we move towards a highly connected world, it is critical that the Web be usable by anyone, regardless of individual capabilities and disabilities," said Tim Berners-Lee, Director of the W3C and inventor of the World Wide Web. "The W3C is committed to removing accessibility barriers for all people with disabilities - including the deaf, blind, physically challenged, and cognitive or visually impaired. We plan to work aggressively with government, industry, and community leaders to establish and attain Web accessibility goals."

"Universal design" is the key concept of the work of WAI. WAI is working in collaboration with major industry players of the Internet, researchers and information service providers to people with disabilities including the DAISY Consortium.

There are three working groups on guidelines in WAI:

The DAISY Consortium joined the WAI meeting at MIT in August 1997 for the first time. George Kerscher, Project Manager of the DAISY Consortium, is one of the Steering Committee members of WAI. DAISY has been one of the driving forces of Synchronized Multimedia Integration Language (SMIL) which enables audio and/or motion picture synchronizes with text and graphics.

2. Information Center of JSRPD

JSRPD was founded in 1964 to promote the activities of people with disabilities in every way possible both within and outside Japan. The Society started a training course for professionals and people with disabilities from developing countries in 1984 under agreement with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). Entrusted by the Ministry of Health and Welfare, the Society is managing the National Welfare Center for Disabled Persons. The Annual National Rehabilitation Conference has been organized by the Society since 1987. The Society has been active to promote the Asian Pacific Decade of Disabled Persons of UNESCAP.

Contracting with the Ministry of Welfare, the Society is currently running Normanet (www.normanet.ne.jp), a mainframe based nation wide network among organizations of/for people with disabilities, and the Disabilities Information Resources (www.dinf.ne.jp) on the Internet.

The Information Center of JSRPD was set up in April 1997 to manage those two networking/information systems. The Center has currently 6 full time staffs and a director. The Center has joined IFLA as a member of the SLB and SLDP. The Center is maintaining the online International Directory of Libraries for the Blind of SLB/IFLA

The Disability Information Resources (DINF) contents is bilingual, Japanese and English. A search engine, Japanese version of Search97, gives convenient full text search service. It covers United Nations and other international organizations documents, CSUN and other major conference papers, and books and journals in the field of rehabilitation of people with disabilities. Although it has just started to build a collection, the center has established a good partnership with major organizations related to disabilities.

The DINF has three equivalent websites. The main and complete website including Japanese web pages is located in Tokyo. There are two mirror sites for English contents, one in Princeton, New Jersey (www.dinf.org) and the other in Geneva, Switzerland (www.dinf.ch).

Accessibility of the website is one of our key concern. To ensure full access by the visually impaired users, JSRPD has been working with Labyrinten, Sweden, Productivity Works, USA, Shinanokenshi and NEC, Japan, to develop necessary software and the Network Access Laboratory in the Information Center.

JSRPD has been developing Sigtuna Digital Audio Browser, Sigtuna Digital Audio Recorder, and Sigtuna Telephone Browser. Sigtuna is the project code name picked up from the place name in Sweden where we met to discuss the DINF project as early as May 1997. Those software products are all based around the DAISY 2 file specifications.

JSRPD will release Sigtuna Digital Audio Browser both in English and Japanese free of charge. The Sigtuna Digital Audio Recorder will be released to DAISY Consortium full and associate members free of charge.

The Telephone Browser, which gives internet access including website navigation through the ordinary telephone unit. The output is totally aural. JSRPD is entitled to release the Telephone Browser to non-profit organizations. The software will be free of charge but without any support.

For further information on available software products, please contact our software download page

JSRPD has been one of the active members of the DAISY Consortium. During fiscal 1998, the Center is going to set up a national DAISY production/distribution system in collaboration with libraries serving the print handicapped across the country. This is a new launch for JSRPD to extend a multimedia national network for people with disabilities on the Internet.

3. DAISY and synchronized multimedia

A number of major talking book producers throughout the world formed the DAISY Consortium in May 1996 to establish a world standard for compatibility among the next generation talking book systems. The comprehensive system for the next generation of information to be delivered to blind or print disabled persons is called "Digital Audio-based Information SYstem" (DAISY), and the organizations working together are called the DAISY Consortium. The Consortium, which consists of non-profit organizations, intends to develop an open standard based on existing international standards, which can be used by any manufacturers. With an open standard, manufacturers of playback machines and others in the world will find one integrated, large market, which will benefit both end users and service providers of talking books.

Most talking books are still recorded on cassettes, which presently provide the most accessible reading medium for visually impaired people. However, it is difficult to look up information in a talking book or even to simply turn pages. Books used in schools or at work require contents pages, indices and other "structure" for quick and efficient reading. The next generation of digital talking books will provide this functionality.

The need to digitize audio collections around the world is clear. Currently, each country has its own system and format for serving its clients. Some countries use the common two-track cassette. Other libraries use a four-track system and still others use a six-track format. The lack of standards severely limits inter-library cooperation. All of the libraries produce books for their blind and print disabled clients and all have seen the end of the analog cassette quickly approaching. With the rise of the compact disc and now the mini disc, the traditional analog cassette is gradually falling into disuse. This is leading to a shortage of inexpensive audio cassettes and the equipment used to produce and duplicate cassette recordings.

The International Standards Organization (ISO) and the W3C already have developed International standards that can be used by the DAISY Consortium to fulfill the mission. These existing standards need to be applied for the specific purposes of Digital Talking Books. Standard Generalized Markup Language (SGML), ISO 8879 is the framework in which the DAISY Consortium intends to work. Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) and Extensible Markup Language (XML) are both applications of the SGML accepted standard. Likewise, the DAISY Consortium intends to "apply" these existing standards in the development of DTB. In other words, the Consortium will use existing standards in the development of the new standard for digital talking books (DTB).

Synchronized Multimedia Integration Language (SMIL) (pronounces smile) is an application of XML and allows content creators to combine video, audio, graphics and text in a time-based presentation. Primarily it is the HTML structure and text and the audio characteristics of SMIL that are used in the DTB. It is also simple to include graphical images and associated audio descriptions, if that should prove to be useful in DTB. The specification is in proposed recommendation status at the time this document was submitted. The Sigtuna software products will be SMIL compliant when it becomes official recommendation of W3C.


JSRPD Information Center will continue to develop multimedia website to pioneer the accessible website building as well as for dissemination of most current disability related information throughout the world.

Our software development will keep close contact with the DAISY Consortium and W3C to follow the international standards.

With its wide range of international relationships in the field of disabilities, JSRPD Information Center will act as one of the most active focal points for full participation and the equalization of information access of people with disabilities.

As we see the copyright problems just beyond the technical issues, JSRPD is going to investigate the current copyright legislations in the light of the right of access to information of people with disabilities for further development of accessible website building.

Appendix: contacts of DAISY Consortium

Official DAISY Website is http://www.daisy.org

DAISY Foundation:

Executive Committee: