If it’s Digital, is it Accessible? Part I-Math

If it’s digital, it’s accessible right?   It will read aloud, right?

What about symbols and scientific notation?

If you use a scanner and software to try to make a file with math expressions into an electronic format, chances are the expressions will end up as a picture. You could describe the picture, sure. But the person who cannot see the screen or has difficulty processing print may not understand that there are numbers above and below letters, or decipher symbols like pi and square root, and get a full understanding from the description. Plus it takes more time on the front end.

There is a better way. Creating the document in Word gets us off to a good start. Using either the equation editor in Word or a third party program, MathType allows you to create documents with typed and properly formatted mathematical expressions. Then the document has to be converted to Math mark-up language (mathml, like html on the web). And using MathType or Save as DAISY (see the previous blog post) can get it converted.

At this point the math still can’t be read aloud. If a person is blind, they will use their screen reading software. By having it in the math mark-up language, the screen reader will be able to read it.

If the person can see but is unable to process print, they will need MathPlayer, a free download from Design Science, the creators of MathType. http://www.dessci.com/en/products/mathplayer/

By positioning the cursor over the equation and right clicking the mouse, the equation can be read aloud by selecting Speak Expression. Every symbol in the equation will be read properly, such as fractions, open and closed parenthesis, square roots, etc.

Adding speech to a math or scientific document may take a bit of effort, it’s true. But it also adds in another dimension to the learning environment that is of benefit to all students.



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