Math speech: "we are all individuals"
In Monty Python's "Life of Brian", Brian stands before a crowd of followers who repeat everything he says. He tells them they are all individuals and the crowd responds in unison "We are all individuals". Sadly, when people think about math accessibility, they forget that everyone has different needs and assume some static text is good accessibility. MathPlayer 3 changes all of that because it was built with the idea that we are all individuals and our math accessibility needs are different.
MathPlayer 3's speech is controlled by thousands of rules. These rules look at user and author preferences to generate the speech or braille the user experiences. To allow users to set preferences, MathPlayer 3 includes a Windows control panel dialog. The control panel currently allows you to specify your impairment, the language used, the "speech style", how terse or verbose the speech is, what the subject matter is, and what braille math code is desired. Here's what the control panel looks like:
The MathPlayer online manual gives a complete description of each option.
As an example of why it is important to generate different speech for different people, someone who is blind needs to know when a fraction begins or ends. If you choose the "Blindness" option in the control panel, MathPlayer might say "fraction x plus 1 over x end fraction plus 2". For someone who can see the screen but needs the verbal reinforcement of speech, choosing the "Learning disabilities" option would change the speech to "x plus 1 over x [pause] plus 2".
Another example involves the amount of speech. If you are new to the concept of square roots, you probably want to hear something like "3 times the square root of 2". But if you are very familiar with them and have many expressions that involve this phrase, you are probably much happier hearing just "3 root 2".
If you haven't already done so, download MathPlayer and listen to the differences yourself. We realize these options don't begin to address all of the options that people may want to set. Future versions will likely have more settings. We welcome your feedback on what you would like to see improved; either add a comment below or email us your suggestions.