[Blindmath] Reading and Writing Math: LEAN versus MathSpeak

John Gardner john.gardner at orst.edu
Sun Apr 15 13:45:30 CDT 2012

Hello Susan, MathSpeak is a spoken form of Nemeth braille and has all the
advantages and disadvantages of that braille code. It was developed to
permit communication between Nemeth braille users and sighted people who
were reading to them.  It does have a learning curve but serves its purpose
of making it possible for sighted tutors to communicate unambiguously to
blind Nemeth users.  It is not the only way to communicate math
unambiguously, but MathSpeak is constructed to have a one-to-one
correspondence with Nemeth.  Which makes it good for Nemeth braille users
but peculiar for others.

LEAN is also unambiguous and (at least I sure hope) it is a lot more
intuitive than MathSpeak for most people.  My intention is to make it read
decently with screen readers of today, and in particular to be very easy to
"step through" equations.  Personally I get lost when an equation is longer
than a few characters, and I need to step through, break it up into bits and
pieces, etc.  LEAN makes that all very easy to do.  Not always easy with


-----Original Message-----
From: blindmath-bounces at nfbnet.org [mailto:blindmath-bounces at nfbnet.org] On
Behalf Of Susan Jolly
Sent: Saturday, April 14, 2012 1:29 PM
To: blindmath at nfbnet.org
Subject: [Blindmath] Reading and Writing Math: LEAN versus MathSpeak

Hi John G.,

It would be helpful for my (and perhaps others') understanding of LEAN if
you could explain the differences between your new LEAN notation and
MathSpeak.  MathSpeak, as I'm sure you know, is a spoken form of Nemeth
braille that is similar to the "verbal math" option in MegaDots.  (John
Boyer knows more about the latter than I do so it would be great if he wants
to add some additional information.)

MathSpeak was orginally proposed by Dr. Nemeth but over the last few years
ghBraille has undertaken a large research effort to test and update
MathSpeak as necessary to ensure that the latest version of MathSpeak is
comprehensive, easy to learn and understand, and avoids ambiguity.

Susan Jolly 

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