A communiqué from Lloyd G. Rasmussen (US Library of Congress) reports on the Digital Talking Book Standard being balloted by the members of NISO (US National Information Standards Organization) until December 17, 2001. The draft standard "defines the format and content of the electronic file set that comprises a digital talking book (DTB). It uses established and new specifications to delineate the structure of DTBs whose content can range from XML text only, to text with corresponding spoken audio, to audio with little or no text. DTBs are designed to make print material accessible and navigable for blind or otherwise print-disabled persons. The standard provides specifications applicable to all aspects of digital talking book production and rendering, including authoring tools for DTBs, hardware- or software-based playback devices, and compliance-testing software. Its purpose is to ensure interoperability across service organizations and vendors providing content and playback systems to the target population." XML DTDs are presented in Appendices 1-6 of the specification; in addition to the main DTB DTD, the specification provides a DTB-Specific SMIL DTD, an NCX DTD for Navigation Control, a DTD for Portable Bookmarks/Highlights, a DTD for Resource File, and a Distribution Information DTD.
Bibliographic information: File Specifications for the Digital Talking Book. Draft Standard (subject to change). Draft ANSI/NISO Z39.86-200X. 132 pages. ISSN: 1041-5653. ISBN: 1-880124-52-1. Ballot Period: November 1, 2001 - December 17, 2001.
From the Foreword: "Analog recordings do not allow users to interact with the book, placing bookmarks, highlighting material, and so forth. A DTB offers this capability, storing the bookmarks and highlights separate from, but associated with, the DTB itself. Talking book users have long complained that they do not have access to the spelling of the words they hear. As will be explained below, some DTBs will include a file containing the full text of the work, synchronized with the audio presentation, thereby allowing readers to locate specific words and hear them spelled. Analog audio offers readers only one version of the document. If, for example, a book contains footnotes, they are either read where referenced, which burdens the casual reader with unwanted interruptions, or grouped at a location out of the flow of the text, making them difficult for interested readers to access. A DTB allows the user to easily skip over or read footnotes. The Digital Talking Book offers the print-disabled user a significantly enhanced reading experience -- one that is much closer to that of the sighted reader using a print book. This standard describes the various files that make up a DTB and specifies how each must be formatted... The DTB goes far beyond the limits imposed on analog audio books because they can include not just the audio rendition of the work, but the full textual content and images as well."
- File Specifications for the Digital Talking Book. HTML version. Also in PDF format [cache]
- NISO Z39.86-200x Version 1.0.0 DTDs [cache]
- ANSI/NISO Z39.86 Supporting Documentation
- NISO Committee AQ - File Specifications for the Digital Talking Book
- Contact: Michael Moodie (Chair of NISO Committee AQ; National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, Library of Congress)
- "NISO Digital Talking Books (DTB)" - Main reference page.