A position paper for the W3C Workshop on Publishing using the Open Web Platform submitted by Romain Deltour, Software and Standards Developer for the DAISY Consortium.


The DAISY Consortium was established in 1996 to identify and develop standards to make reading and publishing accessible. Our vision is that people have equal access to information and knowledge regardless of disability, a right confirmed by the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The DAISY Consortium actively participates in the use case identification, requirements gathering, specification development as well as development of guidelines, samples, and the implementation of open source software for digital publishing. In October 2011, the DAISY Consortium officially endorsed EPUB 3 for the distribution of fully accessible digital publications.

One of our missions is to help authors and mainstream publishers build digital inclusion into their publishing processes. However, we’re still far from reaching the ideal where all published works are commercially available at the same time, and the same price, to persons with disabilities. DAISY Consortium Members, for the large part libraries serving persons who are blind and disabled, continually have to re-publish printed works in a variety of accessible formats, both digital (e.g. DAISY Digital Talking Books, EPUB) as well as large print or Braille.

As part of its strategy to help creators, distributors and service providers of access-enhanced publications be more effective, the DAISY Consortium is notably engaged in the development of an open source automated production system, the DAISY Pipeline project. This project leverages W3C technologies such as XProc, XSLT and XPath to achieve versatility and sustainability in access-enhanced content publishing.

Point of View

The DAISY Consortium has long been advocating the benefits of a "single source" publishing approach to provide a powerful and needed alternative to layout-oriented publishing tools that too often generate suboptimal, inaccessible content. Our experience of leveraging the W3C XML stack to implement advanced publishing workflows has been very promising. The XML tooling enables a sustainable development model where newer publishing formats can effectively be produced from previous versions or different formats, with no vendor lock-in. However, there seems to be a risk of a growing chasm between the XML tooling and the no-XML standards part of the Open Web Platform. We’re interested in learning and exploring to make sure that the XML stack can keep playing a role in the future of publishing.

In addition, while the Open Web Platform is in good position to become a universal and comprehensive solution to the production and description of content, some specific use cases are still poorly supported. For instance, print Braille is often defined by very strict and specialized rules that cannot be accurately described by CSS or XSL-FO.

Finally, we believe that user-adaptability will be a key focus of development in the future of publishing. This area is particularly important to us since personalization folds in accessibility naturally. Technologies like CSS Media Queries already offer possibilities, but there are many other aspects of personalization to consider. One example is complex infographics that can be adapted to more accessible versions. Another is content that can be adapted to the user’s understanding level.

We’re profoundly interested in seeing the Open Web Platform evolve into a set of standards that support a truly inclusive publishing model, providing equal access to information to people that read with ears, eyes or fingers.