TechEd: Microsoft targets plug-in to turn text into audio

Microsoft wants to create a plug-in that will simplify the process of exporting Word documents to applications that make texts accessible for the visually impaired.

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Microsoft wants to create a plug-in that will simplify the process of exporting Word documents to applications that make texts accessible for the visually impaired.

The project was launched on Monday with the Digital Accessible Information System Consortium (DAISY) on the Sourceforge software development site. The DAISY consortium publishes a specification for converting text into an XML Extensible Markup Language (XML) format that can be used by other audio readers or other software programs.

The format makes it easier to convert text to Braille or audio and to present content from complex and long documents, such as encyclopaedias, where features such as search and navigation are crucial.

The plug-in will appear as the menu option "Save as DAISY" in Microsoft's Word program. It will convert documents from Microsoft's Open XML document format to DAISY XML.

The plug-in, which will be available early next year, will be free and work with Word XP, Word 2003 and Word 2007.

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