[Blindmath] LaTeX to braille

qubit lauraeaves at yahoo.com
Sat Apr 17 00:01:40 UTC 2010

I think there should be a course for blind students to take prior to or in 
parallel with regular classes that covers the access methods used in math 
courses at that university.  I think it is unrealistic to expect most 
students to just learn it on their own as they take math courses -- it's 
like taking a course without taking the prerequisits.  It can be done, but 
it's not a good idea.
I think the math teachers should put together a 1 credit hour class and give 
assignments in that class with examples of math where the student has to 
turn in homework.
I was still using cctv's when I was in college and not braille. I keep 
wanting to go back to my old major and perhaps continue in it but I feel 
illiterate about braille math.    I only know a little Nemeth code.  I 
really wish DotsPlus would become the standard as it is a good union of 
spatial layout and braille symbols.  Latex is good for preparing material 
for the instructor to grade.  Even if the instructor isn't versed in latex 
he/she can process it and see the print math.
I also think that preparation is not just for the student. If a blind 
student signs up for a class, the instructor may have a little homework to 
do to prepare.
Just my $0.02
Take care.

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Michael Whapples" <mwhapples at aim.com>
To: "Blind Math list for those interested in mathematics" 
<blindmath at nfbnet.org>
Sent: Friday, April 16, 2010 5:57 PM
Subject: Re: [Blindmath] LaTeX to braille

I think Susan raises an interesting question, one which I am unsure
really what the answer is. The question of whether a student should
learn a new system when they move on to university. I guess it really
depends on the student (their background and how well they pick up new

Using myself as an example, I had gone to specialist school from about
the age of 11, so for school work I had really good support (no problems
getting good quality Braille) and so I really was able to concentrate on
studying and did very well. When I moved onto university I had a big
step in getting support (the specialist knowledge wasn't there to check
the Braille, even if the university had been prepared to proof read it),
so how realistic was it to continue working as I had in the past. Well I
personally came to the same conclusions as Susan has laid out, what
worked for me in the past had served well, why put on extra load of
having to learn a new way of working. Looking back now, I wonder whether
that really was the right choice, I found the course hard to keep up
with and while other things may have impacted on my final grade, I do
feel that access to written material may have played a part. As my
education up to university has been very good and most of the first year
in my course had been focusing on bringing people all to the same level
(so not introducing a huge amount of new stuff for me), I wonder whether
I should have used that opportunity of the first year to really learn
something like dotsplus which may have served me better in the following

I can understand that this may not be such a possibility for others if
there school education isn't so good and so need the first year to bring
them up to the same standard, so removing that "easier" first year. I
also generally feel that you only really effectively learn something
like Braille when you start using it practically, so a student having a
gap year to learn the new system might not really help (others give your

Also yes I very much back up the idea of discuss things with the
student, in a way they really are the expert here (they know what they
use, they know what tends to work for them, etc, unfortunately
disability services don't always have much knowledge in specialist areas
such as maths).

Michael Whapples
On 04/16/2010 11:10 PM, Susan Jolly wrote:
> You've gotten some good information here but I do think it is
> essential to contact the student and find out what he or she has been
> using in the past. If the student has gotten into University one would
> assume that they have already developed an effective means of learning
> maths and are proficient in at least one method. This is not a simple
> or straightforward question and there are actually a number of
> possibilities. Michael is perfectly correct that the odds are that if
> the student is from the UK, he or she is more familiar with the BAUK
> braille maths than with the extremely different US Nemeth maths.
> However there is always the possibility that the student uses spoken
> maths rather than braille maths.  And in any case, there is the
> separate issue of access to diagrams, graphs, etc.
> The visually-impaired students with whom I'm familiar who have
> attempted to learn a new methodology simultaneously with starting
> college have done quite poorly.  I would almost liken it to going to
> college in a foreign country where one does not know the language and
> attempts to learn the language at the same time as starting one's
> studies.
> Sincerely,
> Susan Jolly
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