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E-Books '99 Conference Report

From: Harvey Bingham <hbingham@acm.org>
Date: Fri, 08 Oct 1999 17:48:47 -0400
Message-Id: <4.2.0.58.19991008111057.0224c100@pop.tiac.net>
To: w3c-wai-eo@w3.org
Summary: I believe that e-books provide a significant
opportunity to provide accessible content effectively. That
publishers are showing interest is a positive step.
Electronic books are definitely coming, and work is
progressing on delivering them digitally. WAI folk need to
monitor this work, so accessibility will be a focus.

E-Books '99 Conference: Second one, September 21-22, 1999
in Gaithersburg MD had over 600 attending. Co-sponsors were
the US National Institute for Science and Technology (NIST),
and the US National Information Standards Organization (NISO).

Publishers: see the recent legislation trends, and are finally
beginning to address the responsibility to make available
electronic versions of their books. They also are realizing
that they can avoid the distribution, inventory, and
remainder costs, and possibly reduce the lengthy preparation
and pre-press work. The success of on-line ordering suppliers
(like amazon, barnsandnoble, and borders) is forcing some
reassessment of the paper publishing medium itself. Print on
demand, at or near the purchaser, is an option. Another is to
let the purchaser get only the electronic version and do any
(high cost local) printing as desired.

Significant issues discussed: included publisher/author
compensation for intellectual rights, copy protection, and
library lending policies. Encryption, timed availability,
and purchaser scope of license (across owned machines?
for lifetime?) Others included micropayments and rental
vs. purchase, third-party use for rights management,
distribution, and payment to publishers. Some authors feel
they will be able to bypass the publishers.

DAISY: George Kerscher described the need for accessible
documents. He spoke of the work of the Digital Audible
Information SYstems (DAISY) consortium. His use of the
DAISY 2.0 Document Control Center to navigate his talk was
well received. It was probably the only presentation with
both visuals and audio, and the only non-Powerpoint style
presentation. [I have been the consultant to help develop
an XML DTD for version 3 of the digital talking books,
with marked-up text accompanying the professional narrations
in SMIL 1.0. See http://lcweb.loc.gov/nls/niso/ .]

WAI Quick Tip Cards: George summarized the major work on
Web Accessibility that directly applies. He noted that
the quick tip cards summarize appropriate means to make
e-books accessible. He thanked me for bringing them.
About 575 of the 600 cards I had were picked up. A number
of folks reacted favorably to them.

PDF: is a final form delivery alternative for e-books. [It is
not explicitly mentioned in the OEB 1.0 document.] Adobe has
said their upgrades and Acrobat reader will have text
available, so will be accessible. Not sure what that means.
Where do meaningful values for alt="..." on objects/images
come from? [I note that one of the sponsors, NIST, is principally
responsible for pushing PDF as the acceptable final form
delivery means for electronic material submitted to the
US federal government agencies.]

Regards/Harvey Bingham
Received on Friday, 8 October 1999 22:14:33 GMT

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