Microsoft and Daisy will make Word speak

Microsoft will make a Daisy plug-in available on Sourceforge early next year which will read Word 2003 and 2007 files out-loud.

Daisy Consortium logoMicrosoft is extending its lead in assistive technology alongside the Daisy Foundation.

Microsoft will make a Daisy plug-in available on Sourceforge early next year which will read Word 2003 and 2007 files out-loud.

The plug-in will act as a converter between the Open XML format (also called OOXML) used by Word and the Daisy format. Daisy was formed in 1996 to enable the creation of digital talking books.

Microsoft has long held a lead in the area of assistive technology, with most screen readers used by blind users requiring Microsoft Windows. The new project is open source.

Having a standard format for readers to use should enable more books to be saved in a digital, readable format.

Members of the consortium include organizations aimed at helping the blind around the world. Many leading companies in the assistive technology field, including Microsoft, are listed as "friends and developers."

Greg Kearney creator of DTBMakerPerhaps the best-known American individual associated with the group is Gregory Kearney, creator of the DTBMaker programs which enable the creation of Daisy files under several operating systems, including Windows, the Macintosh and Linux.

In addition to being a support professional at the Wyoming Medical Center in Casper, Kearney also does newspaper cartoons, and was a finalist for the 1995 Pulitzer Prize in community service.

In an interview for Daisy, Kearney said his motivation for helping is that he is profoundly dyslexic. 

I mention this because we usually associate Daisy, and other assistive technologies, with blind users. Many very smart people also have dyslexia. Like Kearney, and like my daughter.

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