[Blindmath] Mathematical document accessibility

Neil Soiffer Neils at dessci.com
Fri Mar 13 00:45:59 CDT 2009

I'm not aware of Java-based MathML-to-Braille translators, but there is
liblious (C++, http://code.google.com/p/liblouis/) and UMCL (XSLT).  Both
have COM bindings that allow you to call them from other languages.
Essentially, that means you just need to give them the MathML and they give
you back a Braille translation.  I think that the COM part has only been
compiled for Windows, but COM is supported on the Mac and probably linux and
they probably would work there also:

Neil Soiffer
Senior Scientist
Design Science, Inc.
~ Makers of MathType, MathFlow, MathPlayer, MathDaisy, WebEQ, Equation
Editor ~

On Thu, Mar 12, 2009 at 9:29 AM, Michael Whapples <mwhapples at aim.com> wrote:

> Hello,
> After going quiet for a a bit I have decided as there's not much else going
> on for me I should get back to trying to work on my maths to Braille
> translator (BrlTex), except I've decided to take a look at things before
> diving back into it. In fact this may mean starting something new instead of
> trying to work on the old BrlTex ideas.
> The first question is where are things and what is actually needed? What is
> the state of mathml, accessibility of mathml, etc and is there still such a
> great need for LaTeX? I know also people new to LaTeX say it can be hard to
> get started with, so might a simpler authoring system be desireable (eg.
> RestructureText (RST) from the python docutils (http://docutils.sf.net))
> with may be an extension for math (may be using LaTeX inside a math
> directive, I think that should be possible).
> Currently for BrlTex I am using plasTeX (http://plastex.sf.net). This
> seems to work reasonably well for the LaTeX processing (I don't think I had
> any problems with it on well formed LaTeX files except for one which was
> pretty awful to read anyway and did fail even with one of the main LaTeX
> compilers (something like it worked with the latex command but not pdflatex
> or the other way round)). However I feel plasTeX will limit me to latex
> files unless I create an internal representation system for BrlTex which
> might get too much for me.
> The alternative, and why I asked about mathml, is that I now know java so
> wondered what TeX/LaTeX stuff is there for java and I stumbled over
> snuggletex (www.ph.ed.ac.uk/snuggletex) which is a LaTeX to mathml
> translation library. Now if I were to create a mathml Braille translator
> then I possibly get LaTeX support nearly for free by using snuggletex as an
> input filter. Any open source java based mathml Braille translators worth me
> looking at to save on my work? Also this design would permit dropping the
> intermediate (between LaTeX and Braille) as a MathML file. Also with the
> correct design then may be other outputs would be possible, eg. daisy book
> format, etc.
> Java is also tempting for other reasons, eg. swing and SWT for the GUI are
> cross platform compatible (I haven't found anything which really matches
> either of these in python), other standard interface systems such as web
> applications using J2EE (I know python can be used for web applications but
> I think it depends on what system you choose, there isn't a single obvious
> choice), etc.
> So any thoughts on the above or any other suggestions.
> Michael Whapples
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