By Peter Korn on Nov 10, 2009
Yesterday Vincent Spiewak announced the availability of the odt2daisy add-on to OpenOffice.org that will create full DAISY talking books for the blind and others with print impairments. Combined with the free and multi-platform OpenOffice.org office suite, the odt2daisy add-on enables for the first time completely free creation of digital audio talking books for the blind and print impaired - in both DAISY 3.0, and ANSI/NISO Z39.86 formats. As both OpenOffice.org and odt2daisy are multi-platform running on Windows, Macintosh, Solaris/OpenSolaris, and GNU/Linux systems, this further means that virtually any desktop computer user can utilize these tools (and when combined with OpenSolaris or GNU/Linux, the entire software stack is free).
When combined with the open source, cross-platform eSpeak text-to-speech engine, OpenOffice.org and odt2daisy can generate talking books in 27 different languages - including creating multi-lingual talking books where different portions of the document are pronounced correctly in the language they came from (see some of Vincent's screencasts to see how this is done -> simply mark the range of text as belong to a specific language in OpenOffice.org and odt2daisy will take care of the rest).
Finally, it is worth noting that this release of odt2daisy is one of the first shipping results of the AEGIS project, which recently wrapped up its first year of work.