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SBIR Phase II: Accessible Electronic Mathematical Content
Phone: (562) 432-2920
Phone: (503) 297-3588
This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II project makes mathematical expressions in common electronic formats seamlessly accessible to people with print disabilities. Print disabilities include blindness, low vision, dyslexia and other learning disabilities. While others have explored aspects of accessibility in stand-alone applications, none have integrated access to mathematical content for those with print disabilities into users' existing screen readers or other assistive technology. The advantage of this project's approach to math accessibility is that it allows documents containing math to be read with standard browsers and document viewers. The electronic formats supported by this project are web pages that encode math using MathML, Microsoft Word documents, and PDF. Accessibility is achieved by providing software add-ons to Internet Explorer, Word, and Adobe Reader, and modifications to the industry leading authoring and publishing workflow tools to embed MathML into these formats. The project brings together work on various aspects of making mathematical content accessible. It pushes forward the state-of-the-art in audio rendering of mathematical expressions, navigation of mathematical expressions with audio feedback, and audio rendering synchronized with highlighting of the sub expression being spoken. The project provides a platform that allows other NSF-funded research projects to convert MathML to Braille math codes and other formats. Accessibility of electronic content is a requirement of the Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1998, Section 508. Many states have adopted similar requirements for state-funded entities. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) mandates accessibility of school materials. Accessibility laws apply to all forms of content, not just textual content. Current solutions for math accessibility are so costly and time consuming that access to materials in a timely manner is not always provided to those that need the access despite legal mandates. The results of this project will present a fast and inexpensive route for publishers of textbooks with mathematical content to satisfy these laws. It will also provide a simple and painless way for people who author documents with math in them to make the document accessible to people with print disabilities. The availability of books and other material coupled with accessible authoring of mathematical content has the potential to dramatically enhance the way students with print disabilities are taught and learn mathematics, science, engineering and other technical fields.
* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *