DAISY is a system for producing, storing and playing digital books, chiefly developed to visually impaired. DAISY is in Norway used as additional learning material, where dyslectic disorders are the main reason for the use. Few broad investigations on the use and useful- ness of DAISY have been carried out. Studies conducted mainly come from a pedagogical perspective, and are qualitative. The results from such studies are hard to transform into clear, measurable criteria for the improved development and design of DAISY. This study, on the other hand, provides results fitting for software development - quantitative data on features used, their importance and the quality of playback devices. It investigates functional perspectives of use and usefulness of DAISY from a software engineering point of view.
This thesis look into how DAISY is used in the educational system, by whom, why and the most common playback tools. Focus is on evaluating the usefulness, with special attention to functional usefulness, and whether or not DAISY can be established as potentially a universally designed tool for reading. Data is mainly collected through two questionnaire surveys - one targeted to students and one to their teachers - sent out to almost 600 Norwegian schools. Further investigations into important aspects of the use has been made through expert evaluation and user tests with observation and semi-structured interviews. The data is analyzed using both traditional statistical methods and two feature analyses, in addition to ”the laddering technique” and quantification of qualitative data. The strengths of the study are concrete, measurable benchmarks for improvement derived from the results, and methodological transparency and repeatability. The results show that the large ma jority of student users have general reading and writ- ing difficulties or dyslexia. They typically use DAISY audio books, independently, at home, for homework, and quite frequently - usually several times every week. The training students receive seems limited, unorganized and very basic, and have no impact on evaluations of ease of use. Teachers are usually not given user training, nevertheless almost half of them try to assist their students with the use of DAISY. The students use DAISY because it helps them learn more, easier and more efficient. The most important features in DAISY are the navigational, in addition to full text and audio narrator. The playback device mostly used is free-ware, assumed to be TPB Reader. Software strongly dominates as playback tool.
The overall assessment is that DAISY is useful, both regarding functional usefulness, and related to users’ emotional satisfaction. Instead of continuing to add new features to the standard - aiming for universal design, improved implementation of existing features, and especially of six core features, is suggested - aiming to suit the needs of current users. For further improvements, focus should be on the robustness of the free playback softwares, and on the learnability and flexibility of all software interfaces. In addition, both teachers and students lack systematic knowledge of DAISY, which is perceived as a hinder for maximum benefit of the system, and contributing to sustain digital divides.