Unit 1: Module 5

DAISY versus WordTalk


About this course

What is WordTalk?

What is DAISY?

Understanding DAISY and WordTalk

Answers to exercises (no cheating!)

About this course

This self-study course has been developed by Load2Learn, a service providing accessible curriculum textbooks and images to support dyslexic, partially sighted or blind learners who have difficulty reading standard print.

It is part of the “Creating and using accessible curriculum resources self-study course” available on Load2Learn. Licenced under Creative Commons.

What is WordTalk?

You were introduced to WordTalk in Unit 1, Module 4. Here is a recap.

WordTalk is freely available add-in to Microsoft Word. It provides a toolbar which will sit on your menu bar in Word and gives you the ability to have text read back to you.

You may wish to watch the on YouTube again.

Downloading WordTalk

WordTalk is available for free download from the WordTalk website.

Important: you will need to download the version of WordTalk that is compatible with your version of Microsoft Word.

What is DAISY?

DAISY stands for Digital Accessible Information System. The DAISY digital talking book (DTB) format has been developed over many years by members of the DAISY Consortium.

The DAISY format provides flexible access to digital multi-media material via enhanced navigation. So, the same way a sighted learner may want to skip through the front matter of a book, find chapter headings, a specific page, certain parts of the text, or read a book from cover to cover - this is all possible within a DAISY book.

The beauty of publishing a book in the DAISY format is that all the functionality can be built-in at the beginning by the producer (including full text, images, audio, print page numbers, footnotes etc). Depending on the functionality that the producer has included in the DAISY book, and the playback system that is used, the learner can then decide how they want to access the material. For example, they may only want to listen to the audio, or if they are partially sighted they may want to access the images as well, or if they are dyslexic they may want to listen to the audio, and see the synchronised text on screen.

Find out more about DAISY on Load2Learn’s training and guidance pages.

AMIS software

AMIS is a software program that you can use to read DAISY books. It is self-voicing, meaning that no specialized screen-reading software is needed in order for it to be used by visually impaired people. AMIS is open source software and is provided free of charge.

Further information can be found on the DAISY Consortium website.

Activity 1

Watch the video of on YouTube.

Activity 2

Watch the video on YouTube. Listen to WordTalk reading out a structured Word document. It is being read using WordTalk and Ivona’s “Brian” voice.

Understanding DAISY and WordTalk

Activity 3

To best understand how DAISY works, download AMIS from the DAISY Consortium website.

Read a DAISY document: 

  • Open AMIS
  • Go to the “Help” menu and select “Contents”
  • a DAISY document will open for you to read.

You may wish to turn off the self-voicing to make AMIS a bit less “noisy”.

  • Go to the “File” menu and select “Preferences”.

Activity 4

If you’ve not done so already, download WordTalk and install it. Have a play to get a sense of how it can help your students.

Activity 5

Think back to each of the case study learners, would you recommend WordTalk or DAISY to any of them?

Exercise 1

Are these statements true or false?

  1. Both, DAISY and WordTalk allow you to save the document as an MP3 file.
  2. You need to convert a file into the DAISY format.
  3. Both WordTalk and DAISY allow you to highlight text as it is being read out.
  4. WordTalk and DAISY are formats that require specialized hardware.
  5. WordTalk can work immediately on any Word document.
  6. In WordTalk and DAISY, clicking on any text will automatically read that text out.
  7. A DAISY reader and WordTalk both allow you to navigate the document with both text and audio at the same time.
  8. Only DAISY can use both text-to-speech and audio narrated by a person.

Answers to exercises

Exercise 1

  1. True, only WordTalk allows you to save the document as an MP3 file. But DAISY books are often supplied with their own MP3 files already created.
  2. True, you need to convert a file into the DAISY format
  3. True, WordTalk highlights the individual words as they are being read. DAISY has different highlighting options.
  4. False, DAISY requires a specialist software reader like AMIS but WordTalk just requires a software add-in for Word to read out loud. Hardware DAISY readers are also available but not required.
  5. True, WordTalk can work immediately on any Word document.
  6. False, in a DAISY reader, any text you click on is read out but WordTalk requires you to use a special button or a keyboard shortcut.
  7. False, in WordTalk you have to navigate first and then start the audio using specific buttons from the tool bar. A DAISY reader allows you to navigate the document with both text and audio at the simultaneously.
  8. True, only DAISY can use both text-to-speech and audio narrated by a person.

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