At the ATIA 2009 Conference (Assistive Technologies Industry Association) we announced the release of the MathDaisy beta, an add-on for the DAISY Consortium's DAISY Pipeline and Microsoft's Save As DAISY products, which were also announced as betas at ATIA.
CSUN is the biggest conference on accessibility, at least in the US if not the world. They claim over 4,000 people attend each year. This year, CSUN is March 16 - 21 in Los Angeles. They recently posted the schedule for talks.
I'm excited that a paper I wrote with some MathML in DAISY committee colleagues (Dennis Leas, Emilia Persoon, and Michael Zacherle) has just been published in the Oct-Dec issue of IEEE Multimedia. The article is a nice overview (said with all due humility) to many aspects of DAISY, covering not only the technical aspects of DAISY books, but how they are produced, what they look like when played, and users' experiences reading them. It should come as no surprise to readers of this blog that the paper has an emphasis on putting math in DAISY books.
A few weeks ago, I wrote about the first step towards making PDF math accessibility an ISO standard. I said that the international ISO meeting in Beijing was going to consider a proposal for including MathML tags into PDF (officially known as ISO 32000). This was a proposal that Design Science made to the PDF/UA committee, who approved it and sent it to the US ISO committee who also approved it.
A couple of weeks ago, the University of Kentucky's study, "Supported Math Accessibility Reading Tool" (SMART), reported positive findings from a pilot study. The study involved middle school students with print disabilities such as dyslexia. It was designed to see if assistive technology (AT) that took advantage of MathML might help these students and the early results are quite positive: students using AT learned more math, with the benefits increasing as the math grew more complicated.
I've been a member of the AIIM PDF/UA (Universal Accessibility) working group for a couple of years and the group is close to submitting a proposal as to what is required for a PDF document to be accessible. Not too surprisingly, my focus has been on making the math accessible. At Design Science, we've done a lot of background work and came up with a plug-in to Acrobat and Adobe Reader that does pretty much what the MathPlayer plug-in for IE does: convert math to speech (and soon braille), sync highlight, and magnify the math. The key to making this work is getting MathML into PDF.
We are often asked that question and we want to help you find the answer. Design Science works constantly with assistive technology (AT) vendors to help them add math support to their products. For a comparison of a number of AT products, take a look at our new resource page, Which Assistive Technology Products Have Math Support. Be sure to bookmark this page for future reference. We'll be updating this page as vendors improve math support in their products and announcing changes in this blog.
I'll be participating in a panel session at the American Council of the Blind Annual Convention, July 5-12 at the Galt House Hotel & Suites in Louisville, Kentucky. The American Council of the Blind is one of the nation's leading membership organizations of blind and visually impaired people.
Creating braille from Word documents containing math just became a lot easier. Duxbury has just come out with v. 10.7 of their Braille Translator featuring direct import of mathematical equations in Microsoft Word documents. This will allow math materials authored using Word and MathType to be quickly converted to braille.