odt2daisy: exporting OpenOffice.org documents to Daisy

On 12 septembre 2008 by dom

odt2dtbook is an OpenOffice.org writer extension, enabling export to DTBook XML (part of the Digital Talking Book specification), including
support of Mathematical content conforming to the MathML Modular extension of DTBook.

odt2dtbook is very simple to install and to use. Video tutorials have been designed to provide an easy start to users (installation, use). One shows how to install it, one how to use it. They are available on the project web page: http://odt2dtbook.sourceforge.net.


Digital Talking Book is developed and maintained by the DAISY consortium and was adopted by NISO as a ANSI/NISO standard (Z39.86). It is the world’s most widely used format for Talking Books for print disabled users.

DTBook is part of the Digital Talking Book Specification. It consists of an XML element set which represents the content and structure of books and other publications presented in a digital talking book format. The DTBook format has been adopted by a large number of Digital Libraries for the blind, not only for Talking Books, but also as a storage format (TPB – Swedish Library for the Blind, Library of Congress in the US, BrailleNet in France, etc…). Indeed, it is possible to produce any kind of document suitable for print impaired people from a DTBook document: Braille print, large print (at whatever size and settings) or XHTML files usable with a simple browser together with a screen reader.

Additionally, in the framework of the US IDEA (Individuals with Disability Education Act, 2004), NIMAS 1.1 (National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard), the format for provision of accessible, alternate format versions of pedagogical documents is aligning with Daisy.

Mathematical content

Mathematical contents of a Scientific document are embedded in DTBook using the MathML standard, by means of the MathML Modular extension MathML-in-Daisy. MathML is supported by a number of specific tools usable by print impaired people, and can also be converted to any format. For instance the UMCL allows conversion to various Mathematical Braille codes: at the time of writing this report French, British, German Marburg, Italian and Nemeth Braille codes are available.

Integration within Daisy tools

The odt2dtbook project enables authoring of any DTBook document from within OpenOffice.org, and can also be used to create fully functional DAISY books. We have been working together with the DAISY consortium to ensure compatibility with other DAISY tools, especially the DAISY Pipeline, which allows full DAISY books to be created from a DTBook file.

Among other proposed ways to produce DAISY books, Microsoft is developing an OpenXML DAISY project but, for the moment, this does not support Maths and is not, obviously, built around a free open source platform.

The only open source and accessible alternative to author DTBook

OOo with odt2dtbook is therefore the only rich, cross-platform, accessible, free and open source authoring environment for authoring DAISY books, which would be a tremendous addition to the disability community. It can be used by libraries for the blind who need to convert documents from any format supported by OOo (including ODT, Ms Word, etc.) to DTBook, by teachers who need to provide accessible documents for disabled students and by resource centres who produce accessible documents for the print impaired in schools and universities.

As OOo has improved accessibility features, odt2dtbook makes it possible for print disabled people to author DTBook documents.

odt2dtbook was developed initially as a student project that I proposed to a Master Student in UPMC, Vincent Spiewak.


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