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ACP 08 - Adaptive Content Processing Conference 2008

Amsterdam, 6th/ 7th November 2008 Session: ACP for Developers and Technicians

Title: MEDIBUS – ACP projects in Germany

Author: Dr. Thomas Kahlisch
Director German Central Library for the Blind Leipzig (DZB)
Secretary IFLA Libraries for the Blind Section
Phone: +49 341 7113 150
Fax: +49 341 7113 125
Internet: www.dzb.de | www.kahlisch.de
Email: thomas.kahlisch@dzb.de
Table of contents

  • Introduction
  • DZB
  • Guidelines for DAISY book production
  • DAISY online service
  • ACP projects: DaCapo & cooperation with Libreka!


MEDIBUS is an organisation of talking book and Braille libraries in German speaking countries, which have established a cooperative project for the production and distribution of standardised DAISY contents.
Presently there are over 25,000 titles available, produced by the member organisations. By 2010 the number of titles will be 30,000 and the distribution service of audio cassettes will come to an end. Additionally, MEDIBUS is going to develop a cooperation with the German Association of publishers, to increase the number of available books for people with reading disabilities.

DZB is a member of MEDIBUS.
It is the oldest German Public Library Service for the Blind and is now changing from a Special Library into a Centre for Accessible Media Design. Milestones of the DZB’s history are:

  • 1894 foundation and start of Braille book production
  • 1956 start of talking book and haptic relief production
  • 2002 launch of DAISY book service
  • 2008 collaboration with German publishers


MEDIBUS is coordinating the production of accessible books for all the German speaking countries. As well as for the DAISY Consortium, the ultimate vision of MEDIBUS is that all books in every library should be available in DAISY format. MEDIBUS has the following goals:

  • establishing a general catalogue for accessible books (www.medibus.info)
  • developing MEDIBUS guidelines for DAISY book production
  • developing online distribution services in the upcoming years
  • increasing the number of books that are accessible to blind and partially sighted people

Guidelines for DAISY Book Production

To unify the production and distribution of DAISY books in all German speaking countries, MEDIBUS is developing guidelines, which will be used in all organisations. The guidelines have the following main chapters:

  • A single MEDIBUS DAISY Book Archive for all libraries
  • MEDIBUS Okay (testing)
  • General Standards
  • Standards for the DTBook
  • Interlibrary Book Exchange
  • Further Topics

Currently the first version of guidelines is under review and a new version will be available in spring 2009.

DAISY Online Services

Due to the demand of the users, MEDIBUS endeavors to establish this service. There are technical, judicial, and organizational questions which have to be answered. Secure Online DAISY Book Distribution includes the following topics:

  • Digital rights management by using watermarks
  • Use of content only by blind and visually impaired people
  • Acceptance of library terms and conditions by the users is required
  • Personalized playback is available and affordable for the user
  • Closed procedures for online distribution are developed
  • There are existing roles for breach of terms and conditions
  • The workflow is transparent for commercial publishers

By following these items MEDIBUS is currently negotiating with the German Association of Publishers to undertake the development of online distribution services according to copyright law.

ACP projects

DaCapo and DaCapo II, founded by the Federal Ministry for Work and Social Health, are projects to improve access to music scores for blind people: Project goals:

  • Semi automatic transcription of music scores into Braille notation
  • Improving this process by using digital data provided by the music score publisher
  • Establishing an internet-based transcription service

The »Symposium on Braille Music Notes« is a conference on Braille music notation. It will be held on November 13th and 14th at DZB Leipzig. The conference will focus on discussing current questions of software development, cooperation with publishers and teaching of Braille music. More information is available at: www.dzb.de/dacapo/
Cooperation with Libreka!

Libreka! founded by the German Association of publishers, is providing an internet-based platform to make content available in a digital format.
German Publishers use Libreka! to provide a full text search into all books, published by the member organizations. MEDIBUS is planning to cooperate with Libreka!, to establish a workflow to further develop the preparation process of accessible books in Germany. The aims of a new project are:

  • developing methods for semi automatic transformation of publishers data into DAISY V. 3 XML application
  • creating tools and workflows to translate XML data into German Braille, synthetic speech and large print
  • establishing Internet-based retrieval and distribution facilities, that can be used by blind and visually impaired people
  • migrate the developed functionality into the global library for people with reading difficulties, which is designed by IFLA and the DAISY consortium

Thomas Kahlisch became blind when he was 14 years old. He studied computer science at the universities of Dresden and Karlsruhe. The PhD thesis he wrote is about the field of human computer interaction.

Since 1999 Dr. Thomas Kahlisch is the director of the German Central Library of the Blind in Leipzig [DZB]. The DZB, founded in 1894, is the oldest public library service for blind and visually impaired persons in Germany.
He is member of the board of MEDIBUS [Mediengemeinschaft für blinde und sehbehinderte Menschen e. V.], the associations for the special library services in Germany, and a member of the board of the German association of blind and visually impaired persons DBSV [Deutscher Blinden- und Sehbehinderten-Verband e. V.].

Dr. Thomas Kahlisch is involved in a lot of DAISY working groups and activities. He has published many articles in the field of accessibility and improving access to information for persons with disabilities.

2008 he started working as the Secretary of the IFLA Libraries for the Blind Section.