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Fred’s Head, offered by the American Printing House for the Blind, contains tips, techniques, tutorials, in-depth articles, and resources for and by blind or visually impaired people. Our blog is named after the legendary Fred Gissoni, renowned for answering a seemingly infinite variety of questions on every aspect of blindness.

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Monday, October 04, 2010

How can Design Science products make math accessible?

From their website:

Design Science is committed to designing the types of software tools the education, scientific and publishing communities need to make math accessible. If you create math content, you will want to learn more about our current math authoring products like MathType, WebEQ and MathFlow, all of which can assist you in creating accessible math content. If you want to gain access to math on the web, or in other digital environments, using screen reading technology, then you will want to find out more about MathPlayer, our free technology for Internet Explorer. Our MathType product also provides special accessibility features that make it easier for someone with low vision, a physical disability, or hand-writing problems such as dysgraphia to complete math homework assignments, take tests, or create original math materials.

Creating Accessible Math Content

Textbook publishers, test publishers, and instructional software developers all need to create universally designed math content that can be equally accessible to students with and without disabilities. By using MathML authoring tools, anyone can create math equations which are visually appealing whether viewed in print or on a computer screen, but which are also accessible to people with disabilities using assistive technologies. In this way all students can use the same content as soon as it is created, which ensures that students with disabilities will have accessible versions of math materials at the same time as their non-disabled peers, and provides for compliance with Federal and State accessibility provisions.

MathType: create accessible math materials

Design Science MathType™ for Windows and Macintosh is a powerful interactive tool that will allow you to create standard print, large print, braille and web-based documents that contain math. MathType is a mainstream equation editor that works with common word processors, presentation programs, page layout programs, HTML-authoring tools and many other types of software, to create equations for research papers, class materials, web pages, slide presentations, journal articles, books, and tests. MathType is especially convenient for people who want to author math materials in Microsoft Word that can then be exported to a web page with accessible math equations using MathType's MathPage feature.

MathType can also be used to create braille math materials with supported translation software. Duxbury Braille Translator version 10.7, for example, includes support for direct import of Microsoft Word documents containing mathematical equations created with MathType, allowing users to author math with MathType in MS Word and then translate those materials to braille.

WebEQ: author and edit accessible math on the web

WebEQ™ Developers Suite is a comprehensive toolkit for building web pages that include interactive, accessible math. Because WebEQ is based on Java and MathML technology, solutions you develop will be platform and browser independent. The world's leading e-learning companies, content developers and education portals are implementing WebEQ components to create web-based learning environments that help educators engage their students in math and science on the web. Since WebEQ creates MathML output, all the math equations can be made accessible to the end user.

MathFlow: math accessibility workflow tools for STM publishing

The Design Science MathFlow™ product consists of several components that can be integrated into XML publishing workflows where MathML is used. MathFlow provides an easy-to-use interface with functionality to support all steps of the production process. MathFlow can be an effective solution for publishers who are required by Federal and State mandates to produce accessible versions of their products.

Providing Alternative Access to Reading Math in Web Documents and Textbooks

MathPlayer: providing math accessibility to the end user

Design Science MathPlayer™ makes math accessible to the end user by enhancing Internet Explorer to display, enlarge and speak mathematical expressions authored in MathML. Blind and visually impaired individuals who use screen readers such as Window-Eyes, HAL, Supernova, JAWS, MAGic, and Serotek System Access can use MathPlayer to speak the math in the page along with the words. For those with learning disabilities, MathPlayer also works with Read & Write and Browsealoud, both from TextHelp. MathPlayer implements Microsoft's Active Accessibility (MSAA) interface so that assistive software, such as screen readers, can seamlessly take advantage of MathPlayer's math-to-speech technology. Most screen readers make use of this standard interface. MathPlayer is available to anyone free of charge.

Providing Alternative Access to Writing Math Using a Computer

Many people with low vision, a physical disability, or hand-writing problems such as dysgraphia find writing math with pencil and paper impossible. With MathType, anyone who uses a computer as a common writing accommodation can also have the independence to complete math homework assignments, take math tests, or create original math materials without having to resort to a human scribe. Teachers can use MathType and Microsoft Word to prepare classroom materials, homework assignments, and examinations for all students, and then provide an electronic copy of the Microsoft Word document to their special needs students for them to edit electronically using MathType's accessibility features. Other users may wish to use MathType's accessible math entry features in order to cut-and-paste MathType’s MathML output into other applications. Some students may also wish to use MathType to speak equations out loud using their standard screen reader.

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