Microsoft and the DAISY Consortium have announced the availability of a new “Save as DAISY XML” add-in for Microsoft Office Word which enables anyone to create content and documents for blind individuals.

The “Save as DAISY XML” add-in for Word was developed as an open source collaboration project on SourceForge.net, and enables any Open XML-based Microsoft Word file to be saved into DAISY XML, the globally accepted standard for reading and publishing digital talking books. The tool can be downloaded for free directly at www.sourceforge.net/projects/openxml-daisy.

160 million people around the world are blind or have significant impairment to their vision. Yet only about five percent of published materials have been accessible to them. To help bridge the technological digital divide for people with print disabilities, Microsoft and the DAISY Consortium came together to create open source tools that offer easier access to information created and accessed through the world’s most widely used desktop productivity application, Microsoft Office Word.

The DAISY Consortium has also released today a version update of The DAISY Pipeline, a transformation suite that supports the seamless conversion of DAISY XML into DAISY Digital Talking Book (DTB) format. This is also available free of charge at http://www.daisy.org/projects/pipeline/

Together, these tools represent a comprehensive solution for converting Microsoft Office documents into accessible formats that can be read by millions of users with print disabilities, bringing them closer to accessing the same information as their sighted peers at the same time and at the same price.

More information about these tools and how they are being used is available online at: http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/presskits/DAISY/default.mspx.