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April 2012 Software Development Update

2012 April 25
by Amaya Webster
Poet and DAISY Image Coverage Checker

As an adjunct the Poet image description tool, DIAGRAM has also released for beta testing an open source DAISY Image Coverage Checker. The tool is available from the Poet landing page, and allows users to upload a DAISY 3 book to receive a report that includes counts of images with prodnote, alt, or caption text. The report will also compile the contents of prodnote, alt, and caption in order to provide a quick view to the user of the image-related text. With this tool, users will be able to quickly assess the image description coverage of a DAISY book without needing to use Poet. We plan to create similar checker tools for EPUB 3, hopefully coordinating and integrating with broader accessibility checker tools already being planned by others.

Field testing of Poet continues and improvements to the UI based on user feedback are also forthcoming, in addition to support for the DIAGRAM content model and for EPUB 3. We’ve had a lot of interest in Poet from publishers and content distributors as well and will continue to work these groups to understand their image description workflow needs.


The 1.7 version of Tobi, the DAISY Consortium’s multimedia authoring tool, will be released on April 28 with a new image description workflow incorporating the DIAGRAM content model. The workflow enables authors and publishers to provide various textual descriptions, including long, succinct, and simplified versions. Descriptions can also include audio using either human voice recording or synthetic voice generated by text to speech engines. Tobi also enables insertion of alternative depictions of main images, such as tactile, simplified, or high contrast versions, substituting the original image for special needs.   Users can embed image descriptions in new and existing DAISY books using the latest new feature and play them with their DAISY 3 supported player.

Tobi 1.7 is available from the Tobi project site [] , along with the image description reference manual [] and quick start instructions [] to get acquainted with the image description feature.

Tobi’s new image description features were showcased on April 19 in a webinar on “Tobi – How to Make Images More Accessible Using the New Image Description Editor”. A recording is available at this link:

NASA Space Apps Challenge and MathTrax

Benetech led some exciting math description projects in the NASA Space Apps Challenge, a global hackathon sponsored by NASA that took place April 21-22. Led by Gerardo Capiel, we took the opportunity to reinvigorate NASA’s MathTrax, a graphing tool for middle school and high school students to graph equations, physics simulations or plot data files. The graphs produced by MathTrax are accompanied by descriptions and sonification. NASA mathematicians created MathTrax in 2006 and its underlying Math Description Engine (MDE) is open source. We hoped to build a new community around MathTrax and leverage it for improved accessibility tools. A demo of the work accomplished at the NASA apps challenge can be found at this link:

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