[om-a] Press Release: Design Science Awarded NSF Grant to Research Mathematics Accessibility

Bob Mathews bobm at dessci.com
Wed Dec 10 20:15:50 CET 2003


If you are interested in MathML, or involved in scientific 
publishing, research or education, you may find this of 
interest. The full press release is pasted below, or you can 
read it on our site.


Please contact Bruce Virga at brucev at dessci.com if you have any 

Bob Mathews
For Immediate Release

Design Science Awarded NSF Grant to Research Mathematics 

Plans to Bring Math Web Content under Section 508 of the 
Rehabilitation Act

LONG BEACH, California - December 9, 2003 - Design Science 
announced today it has received a National Science Foundation 
(NSF) grant to research ways of making mathematical content 
accessible to people with vision disabilities. Section 508 of 
the Rehabilitation Act mandates that federal agencies make web 
content accessible to those with visual disabilities, including 
blindness, low vision, dyslexia and other learning disabilities. 
While assistive technologies exist today that make textual 
content accessible to such people, making the same technology 
work for mathematical content has been problematic. With this 
grant, Design Science hopes to make significant progress toward 
the goal of making math accessible.

The ultimate goal is to enable those with vision disabilities to 
be able to work with mathematical content in web pages. The 
research project will explore the audio rendering of math as an 
enhancement to commercially available screen reader software 
that can already speak the non-math text in web pages to the 
reader. Some of the enhancements to be examined are keyboard 
navigation within a mathematical expression, highlighting of 
sub-expressions as they are spoken, and enlarging the visual 
size of math expressions for partially sighted readers. "The 
current practice of publishing math on the web as PDF or 
equation images makes the math essentially invisible to the 
vision-impaired reader. Embedding the math in the web page as 
MathML allows us to do much better." said Dr. Neil Soiffer, 
Senior Scientist at Design Science and the grant's Principal 

MathML is an XML-based language for representing mathematics 
that was published as a Recommendation by the World Wide Web 
Consortium (W3C) in 1998. Since MathML captures the meaning and 
structure of mathematics, it enables a wide range of 
applications. In addition to making it possible to have math 
spoken to visually disabled readers, it also enables searching 
for mathematical expressions within content and interoperability 
with the growing number of computational applications that 
understand MathML. "MathML enables a new generation of web 
technology that focuses on the meaning of math and science 
concepts, not merely its display. Mathematics is the language of 
science and technology -- it deserves to be just as accessible 
as textual content." said Dr. Robert Miner, Design Science's 
Director of New Product Development. Design Science is an 
industry leader in MathML technology, with extensive MathML 
expertise, several MathML-based product-lines and market 
penetration into education and research. So developing new ways 
of adding value to MathML-aware content is a natural step for 
Design Science.

About Design Science, Inc. Founded in 1986 and headquartered in 
Long Beach, California, Design Science develops software used by 
educators, scientists and publishing professionals, including 
MathType, Equation Editor in Microsoft Office, WebEQ, MathFlow, 
MathPlayer and TeXaide, to communicate on the web and in print. 
For more information please visit <http://www.dessci.com>.


Bruce Virga
VP, Sales & Marketing
brucev at dessci.com

Design Science, Inc.
"How Science Communicates"
MathType, WebEQ, MathPlayer, MathFlow, Equation Editor, TeXaide
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