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ARCHIVED - The Council on Access to Information for Print-Disabled Canadians

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Starling Access Services

Some Technical Standards for Electronic Information

Collected by Chuck Letourneau
Starling Access Services


  • ICAAD, the International Committee for Accessible Document Design
  • DAISY Consortium
  • Open eBook standard
  • IMS Global Learning Consortium
  • Government of Canada

ICAAD, the International Committee for Accessible Document Design

Begun in or around 1992. I believe that ICADD has since been absorbed into other standards efforts and has no independent existence.

Originally looking at use of the Standardized Generalize Markup Language (SGML) for electronic publishing to permit automatic transformations of content into alternate formats. Unfortunately, SGML was too complicated for developers and publishers to become widely accepted and used.

HTML, a small subset of SGML primarily intended to share content on the World Wide Web achieved rapid acceptance after 1994 - that language was almost too simple, but it was capable of being made accessible fairly easily. ICADD began looking at using HTML instead of SGML as its standard.

Original member list

  • Jim Allan - IBM
  • Stig Becker
  • Curtis Chong - AFB
  • Guido Corona - then at IBM Canada
  • Judy Dixon
  • Alan Edwards
  • Jan Engelen
  • Neal Ewers
  • Larry Goldberg - NCAM
  • Richard Jones
  • George Kersher - RFB&D
  • Fred Leung
  • Greg Lowney - Microsoft
  • Jolie Mason
  • Gary Moulton
  • Tim Noonan - Au
  • Mike Paciello - DEC, WebAble
  • Yuri Rubinsky - SoftQuad canada
  • Larry Skutchan
  • Uli Strempel
  • Joe Sullivan
  • Greg Vanderheiden - Trace R&D
  • Douglas Wakefield - US Access Board
  • Tom Wesley

Many of the founding members of ICADD moved directly into the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) when the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) launched it in 1997.

DAISY Consortium

DAISY = Digital Audio-based Information System

On the Web:


That all published information is available to people with print disabilities, at the same time and at no greater cost, in an accessible, feature-rich, navigable format.


To develop the international standard and implementation strategies for the production, exchange and use of Digital Talking-Books in both developed and developing countries, with special attention to integration with mainstream technology to ensure access to information for people with print disabilities.

Major Goals:

  • To create and promote the worldwide standard for navigation and structuring of digital talking-books;

  • To encourage and foster the establishment and development of digital talking-book library services in both developed and developing countries;

  • To maximise the accessibility and utility of electronic books and multimedia documents for people with print disabilities;

  • To secure the recognition and adoption of the DAISY standard for navigable multimedia documents among mainstream product developers and book publishers; and

  • To encourage and foster the establishment and development of a global talking-book library, which transcends geographic boundaries and linguistic differences, and which embraces cultural diversity.

The DAISY format is based on the W3C defined SGML ISO 8879 applications XHTML 1.0 and SMIL 1.0. Using this framework, a talking book format is presented that enables navigation within a sequential and hierarchical structure consisting of marked-up text synchronized with audio.

DAISY Members (not including a long list of associate members)

  • Australia New Zealand Blindness Agencies
  • (Association of Talking Book Libraries, Germany)
  • Canadian DAISY Consortium
  • (Danish National Library for the Blind)
  • (Dutch Federation of Libraries for the Blind)
  • Japanese Society for Rehabilitation of Persons with Disabilities
  • Korean DAISY Consortium
  • (Spanish National Organization of the Blind)
  • Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic, RFB&D (USA)
  • Royal National Institute for the Blind, RNIB (UK)
  • (Swiss Library for the Blind and Visually Impaired)
  • (Swedish Library of Talking Books and Braille) together with (Swedish Association of the Visually Impaired)

Canadian DAISY Consortium includes

  • CNIB Library for the Blind, Toronto, Ontario
  • Government of British Columbia, Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Library Services Branch, Burnaby, B.C.
  • Institut Nazareth et Louis Braille, Longueuil, Quebec
  • Langara College, Vancouver, B.C.
  • Atlantic Provinces Special Education Authority, Halifax, NS
  • Ontario Audio Library Services, Trent University, Peterborough, Ontario
  • La Magnetotheque, Montreal, Quebec
  • Alberta Learning Resource Centre, Alternate Format Services, Edmonton, Alberta

Canada's Visuaide of Montreal makes one of the only two Daisy talking book devices available now. The Victor won a feature and usability "contest" at the CSUN conference last year.

Open eBook Standard

On the Web:

Initiative announced in 1998 sponsored by the US National Institute of Standards and Technology

The Open eBook Publication Structure (OEBPS) is an XML-based specification for the content, structure, and presentation of electronic books. The OEBPS is maintained by the Open eBook Forum (, a group of over 85 organizations involved in electronic publishing. The current version of OEBPS is 1.0.1.

Q: How is accessibility being addressed by the Open eBook Publication Structure?

A: The Publication Structure incorporates features that ensure that content can be made accessible to persons with disabilities. Specifically, the Publication Structure incorporates accessibility features similar to those defined in W3C's HTML 4.0 and recommendations from the W3C's Web Accessibility Initiative Web Content Authoring Guidelines Recommendation. The OEBPS Working Group is also collaborating closely with members of the accessibility community and with the OeBF's Accessibility SIG.

Current members:

  • Adobe Systems Incorporated
  • American Foundation for the Blind
  • American Library Association
  • American Printing House for the Blind
  • Association of American Publishers
  • Autotext A/S
  • Baker & Taylor
  • Cast, Inc.
  • ContentGuard, Inc.
  • CYTALE Boulogne
  • Daisy Consortium
  • Franklin Electronic Publishers
  • FX
  • Gemstar eBook Group
  • Giant Media
  • GlobalMentor, Inc.
  • GSLIS, University of Illinois,
  • Harcourt Worldwide STM Group
  • HarperCollins Publishers
  • IBM Corporation
  • Intertrust Technologies, Inc.
  • isSound Corporation
  • Library of Congress,
  • MarkAny, Inc.
  • Maryland State Department of Education/DLDS
  • McGraw-Hill
  • Microsoft
  • netLibrary, Inc.
  • Nokia
  • Overdrive, Inc.
  • Palm Digital Media Group
  • Quark, Inc.
  • Questia Media, Inc.
  • Random House, Inc.
  • Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic
  • Royal National Institute for the Blind
  • RR Donnelley & Sons Company
  • Samsung Electronics Co.,
  • The Software & Information Industry Association
  • Thomson Multimedia, Inc
  • VisuAide, Inc.

IMS Global Learning Consortium

In 1997, IMS came into existence as a project within the National Learning Infrastructure Initiative of EDUCAUSE. While IMS got its start with a focus on higher education, the specifications published to date as well as ongoing projects address requirements in a wide range of learning contexts, including of course K-12 schools and corporate and government training.

The scope for IMS specifications, broadly defined as "distributed learning," includes both online and off-line settings, taking place synchronously (real-time) or asynchronously. This means that the learning contexts benefitting from IMS specifications include Internet-specific environments (such as web-based course management systems) as well as learning situations that involve off-line electronic resources (such as a learner accessing learning resources on a CD-ROM). The learners may be in a traditional educational environment (school classroom, university), in a corporate or government training setting, or at home.

Access Working Group includes

  • Chetz Colwell - Open University
  • Madeleine Rothberg - NCAM
  • Jutta Treviranus - ATRC UofT

Contributing Member Organizations

  • ADL CoLab (Department of Defense)
  • Apple Computer
  • Artesia Technologies
  • Blackboard
  • The Boeing Company
  • British Educational Communications and Technology Agency
  • California State University
  • Campus Pipeline
  • Can Studios
  • Carnegie Mellon University
  • Cisco Systems
  • Click2Learn, Inc.
  • Committee on Institutional Cooperation
  • Department of Education, Training and Youth Affairs - Australia
  • Digital Learning Interactive Inc.
  • DigitalThink
  • Docent
  • Educational Testing Service
  • Educause
  • Eduprise
  • Fretwell-Downing Group
  • GIUNTI Interactive Labs
  • IBM Mindspan Solutions
  • Industry Canada (Yuri Daschko)
  • Joint Information Systems Committee
  • Learning Objects Network
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Miami-Dade Community College
  • Microsoft
  • National Institute of Standards and Technology
  • NYUonline
  • Open Universiteit Nederland
  • Oracle
  • Pearson Education
  • PeopleSoft
  • Prometheus
  • R5 Vision Oy
  • Saba Software Inc.
  • Scottish Ufi Ltd.
  • SCT Inc.
  • Thinq
  • Thomson Learning
  • Ufi Limited
  •, LLC
  • University of California - Berkeley
  • University of Michigan
  • University of Wisconsin - Madison
  • University System of Maryland
  • U.S. Department of Labor, ETA
  • Virtual Education Space
  • WebCT Educational Technologies Corporation

Government of Canada

Treasury Board Secretariat

Common Look and Feel standards and guidelines and WATS
On the Web:

The Common Look and Feel policy relates to three aspects of Federal Web site design: consistent branding of all Federal Government programs, consistent and equitable application of Official Languages policies, and consistent and equitable application of accessibility standards.

In brief, the accessibility standards for Federal Web sites require developers to meet all priority 1 and 2 checkpoints of the W3C's Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (version 1.0) recommendation. This document can be found on the Web at:

To help federal Web masters and developers understand the requirement for accessible design, and to help them identify problems with their current or emerging designs, the Treasury Board Secretariat has a project called the "Web site Accessibility Testing Service", or WATS. Web masters and designers are invited to watch and learn as persons with disabilities using assistive devices attempt to navigate their Web sites. Information about WATS can be found on the Common Look and Feel Web site.

Other Federal Participation in Standards

The Government of Canada, through funding from the Treasury Board Secretariat, is a supporting sponsor of the W3C's Web Accessibility Initiative. Mary Frances Laughton of the Assistive Devices Industry Office is co-chair of the WAI's International Steering Council. Mary Frances also keeps a close watch on DAISY and other standards relating to electronic information.

Industry Canada (through a different group) is a member of the IMS Global Learning Consortium. Yuri Daschko of Industry Canada was instrumental in getting Canadian expertise involved in the accessibility working group.

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