[Blindmath] Reading, Doing and Writing math for a newcomer

Tamara Smith-Kinney tamara.8024 at comcast.net
Thu Jun 4 11:41:58 CDT 2009

Hey, Michael,

Thanks for the comprehensive rundown and informatin!  I'm new to the list,
but have been lurking sine I'm still trying to lay the groundwork to get
back into doing math and software development and the like.  I've wanted to
eavesdrop on how others -- especially math students and those in
math-related professions -- use the available technology and how they prefer
to process math and scientific/computer notation.  And, of course, graphs!

You've just answered a bunch of questions I've had and saved me hours of
future research.  /smile/  It may be quite some time before I can round up
what I need, since I live in one of those states where voc rehab has been,
er, disappointing for quite a fiew years and is not in the process of
becoming non-existent.  Sigh.  But I do love to hear how the technology is
advancing and what works for people and why.

Tami Smith-Kinney

-----Original Message-----
From: blindmath-bounces at nfbnet.org [mailto:blindmath-bounces at nfbnet.org] On
Behalf Of Michael Whapples
Sent: Thursday, June 04, 2009 5:48 AM
To: Blind Math list for those interested in mathematics
Subject: Re: [Blindmath] Reading, Doing and Writing math for a newcomer

Firstly welcome to the list, I hope you find it useful.

I will discuss some of the things you have heard of and explain how they 
may fit in.

InftyReader is some OCR software for converting maths in an image file 
(IE. that image can have come from a paper source being scanned into the 
computer) into an editable for such as LaTeX or mathml (I will discuss 
these formats later).
ChattyInfty is another product from the infty project, it is a self 
voicing maths editor for maths and can handle the output from 
InftyReader. ChattyInfty is a wysiwyg (What you see is what you get) 
editor like Microsoft word is. This type of editor may fit in with your 
style of working for producing and editing documents, but many do prefer 
working with things like LaTeX.
Wintriangle is another editor like ChattyInfty, but I believe that 
wintriangle uses its own format/notation which isn't quite standard 
(although it is meant to be very easy to learn and readable by sighted 
people familiar with maths notation.
I have mentioned LaTeX, this is a plain text format where you insert 
commands into the text to tell the LaTeX software what to do (eg. for a 
fraction x over y you would write "frac{x}{y}"). The format is commonly 
used in mainstream scientific communities so output is very professional 
looking and you will find plenty of information on it on the internet. 
Obviously for this you need to know the command you want to use, so it 
certainly has a steep learning curve at the beginning. You will have to 
decide whether the initial learning time is worth it for you, and you 
may feel such a way of working is not for you.
Related to LaTeX you probably will want to find a good text editor, one 
for windows which has been mentioned here is edsharp (sorry I don't have 
a link for it). I believe edsharp has some scripts to make jaws speak 
LaTeX more naturally, these scripts are from the latex-access project on 
sourceforge (http://latex-access.sf.net).
MathML is a standard for putting maths on the internet, it is not 
designed for users to hand edit. If you have MathPlayer from design 
science installed you can read maths in MathML in internet explorer with 
the main windows screen readers.
Daisy is a format for audio books and recently it has had maths added to 
the standard. To read a daisy book you will need a daisy player, only a 
few support maths, I think some are listed on the daisymath page.
DaisyMath is a plugin from design science for exporting word documents 
to the daisy format. DaisyMath only deals with the mathematical part so 
you will need to also install the daisy plugin for word (info about this 
required plugin I think is on the DaisyMath web page).
You may have heard of dots plus and the tiger printer. This is an 
alternative to standard mathematical Braille. Dotsplus uses raised 
graphic like symbols for the mathematical notation and lays the maths 
out as in print. Dotsplus is meant to be fairly easy to learn and 
symbols are close to the print version. Due to the graphical nature of 
the symbols this is why a tiger printer would be needed for dotsplus. 
Also a tiger printer can produce graphs and other raised line diagrams. 
One drawback in my mind with dotsplus is that you have no way to write 
dotsplus or view dotsplus on a computer Braille display. This makes it 
purely a reading format and so you probably would want to learn standard 
maths Braille for making notes/working out.
Braille, well you know what it is, from what you said you have only 
started reading it. Due to it being different to print significantly 
(eg. requiring symbols to show changes which would normally be a 
positional thing in print like superscript) it may take some time to 
learn. For myself where print of any size is not possible I feel Braille 
is the best format for making notes and for working out. Also as I know 
Braille it also is my preferred reading format for maths, although if it 
was purely for reading I think dotsplus is a tempting option. Braille to 
me wins over speech by along way as Braille allows me more freedom to 
skip about and refer to particular parts of equations, read down columns 
in tables, etc. One problem with Braille is that translation software 
isn't always reliable (particularly for non-US codes, I am in the UK 
which is a different Braille code to the US one).

I think that covers quite alot of what there is and gives a good general 
overview, I am sure there is plenty of other things people could mention 
but I don't want to go through them all in one go, it may be best if you 
ask about specific things if you have further questions, then I/others 
can cover the things important to you.

Michael Whapples
On 04/06/09 03:10, Philip So wrote:
> Hello All,
> My name is Philip.  I am rather new to this and would appreciate it
> very much if you could advise me on how to make math texts accessible
> by ear, do math and write math with the computer.  I began using JAWS
> and reading very simple Braille 2 months ago.  Previously for many
> years, I was able to read large print and had been using Zoom-Text.
> My Bachelor's degree is in Economics, and I don't want my most recent
> vision loss to stop my plan to pursue a graduate degree in a
> quantitative-leaning social science field in the near future.
> I have come across names like Infty Reader, Abby Fine, Chatty Infty,
> WinTriangle, Daisy, Math Daisy, etc. and would especially appreciate
> if you could share with me how all these work together to do the 3
> tasks: read math texts, math equations and tables by ear, do math, and
> write math.
> Thank you very much for your very kind help.
> Best regards,
> Philip
> Email:pcs2001 at caa.columbia.edu
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