Innovation for RNIB once came in the shape of gramophone records – ten heavy shellac discs per talking book. Thankfully, we've come a long way since then...
Cumbersome as they were, those early recordings were miraculous in their day, but navigating to specific chapters, pages or paragraphs almost needed a second miracle.
With DAISY, today’s talking books are easy to read, skim and explore – but how exactly?
What is DAISY?
Short for Digital Accessible Information System, DAISY is now the technical standard for talking books. It’s how we transform them from recordings you can play, to books that you can absorb and interrogate.
Our talking books are available on DAISY CDs that hold around 25 hours of audio, all playable on the DAISY player of your choice. They’re loaded with chapters and sections so that our members can jump around the text at will – giving blind and partially sighted people the same reading opportunities as sighted people.
What makes DAISY so useful?
As well as pre-loaded chapters and navigation options, readers can also bookmark sections for themselves. Anyone old enough to remember listening to music on cassette will remember the pains of searching for specific songs or even just rewinding an album to the beginning – now imagine doing the same for a 700-page epic novel.
Features like this come in especially handy when you’re trawling through study materials or hunting for something specific in a recipe book. DAISY allows the reader to navigate a book on up to six levels. So, for instance, the DAISY TV listings produced weekly by RNIB can be browsed by day, channel, time and programme – all quicker than it takes to find the remote.
Do you need a DAISY player?
Not necessarily. DAISY CDs can be played on a computer with DAISY software and some CD players with the ability to play mp3 files also support DAISY functionality. For the best reading experience, though, various hardware DAISY players are available in our shop.
Different DAISY players suit different people. Someone who reads mostly at home may prefer a desktop player that can be positioned next to a chair or bed, while lightweight, portable alternatives are also available for those who like to read or listen on the go. If your talking book is on a USB stick, you can also play it through a cheaper USB player, although you won’t be able to navigate through the structure as you would using a DAISY player.
Is your book available as a DAISY book?
RNIB’s library has the largest collection of unabridged DASIY books in the world – and it’s expanding every month. You can search this vast library at any time, and, importantly, all the books in our range are made to order – so if it exists, then it’ll always be “in stock”. Made to order DAISY books usually take around four to six working days to produce and deliver.
If we don’t have it, then don’t give up yet, as we welcome suggestions for additions to our DAISY range - member requests are one of the main factors helping us to decide which talking books to record next!