[Blindmath] Mathematics Textbook Accessibility

Daniel Christopher Weems weems at unm.edu
Mon Oct 4 12:53:16 CDT 2010

Currently at UNM we are using the P.I.A.F. (Pictures in a Flash) machine.  We insert Braille labels and clean up the images using Photoshop.  Then we run the images through the PIAF and it creates raised images.
Hope this helps.
Thank you,
Daniel Weems
Program Specialist
Accessibility Resource Center
University of New Mexico

>>> "Tina Hansen" <th404 at comcast.net> 9/29/2010 11:18 PM >>>
As a student aiming for a General Studies degree at my local community college, I need at least two mathematics courses, Elementary Algebra and Intermediate Algebra, to meet the requirements.

In the past, I, and probably many other blind students, have been reluctant to take such courses because of accessibility issues. I know that while most mathematics texts, including the one used at my community college, are offered electronically, there are still a few problems. The maine one is that even though the narrative is OK with access software, there are serious issues with any visual data, such as graphs, tables, figures, and the like. Any attempt to convert this to audio using software alone would probably read like garbage, and the text file just throws out a bunch of numbers with little clarity.

While Virtual Pencil is going a long way towards working problems and showing work, I know that there is still a long way to go when dealing with graphs. While a sighted person can look at graphs and see all the data, it's a bit of a challenge for a blind person to do that. I, for one, have not been strong at creating graphs, and interpreting them can be a bit of a challenge. And, how does a blind person create graphs in the first place?

I know that this situation is not unusual, which is why I'd be interested to hear what is being done to address these issues. What low-tech solutions have you used to address these problems, and what high-tech solutions have been, or are being developed, to address these issues, particularly access to visual data and mathematical equasions?

Finally, if you're developing software, what plans are in place so that schools, community colleges, or individuals can actually buy the software without hurting the pocketbook? If anyone has any information on addressing these concerns, please fill me in. Thanks.
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