[Blindmath] writing equations and graphing calculator

Michael Whapples mwhapples at aim.com
Tue Dec 11 10:05:23 UTC 2012

Firstly dealing with the graphing calculator. As far as I know MathTrax 
is possibly about the best option if you want something which is free. I 
have just tried it with Jaws 14 and also with NVDA and a quick check 
seems to say it is still accessible (NOTE: I am using the jar file, 
which is listed on the MathTrax website as the Mac version although 
being a Java jar file it will work on any OS but requires a Java runtime 
environment and access bridge installed). There is one bug to be aware 
of, there seems to be a point where using tab to go through the controls 
doesn't work (when you get the message about "Use left and right arrow 
keys"), at this point you will need to use shift+tab to approach that 
from the other direction.

Should you be willing to pay, or have funding to pay for it, then you 
may want to consider the Audio Graphing Calculator from ViewPlus 
(www.viewplus.com). That can self-voice and recently work has been done 
to make it work better with screen readers for those who prefer to use 
the speech and Braille output of their screen reader rather than the 
self-voicing features. Anyway there is a free 30 day trial you can try 
and decide whether it will be worth using.

Now to writing Maths. I am not sure what your intent of use for writing 
in Nemeth is, it would be useful to know how such documents might be 
used and by whom. If you mean to input Nemeth and have it backtranslated 
into standard Maths, I am not sure this is very possible. I think I did 
hear about an attempt to try to write a backtranslator but I have not 
heard much about it recently and I think only one company was doing such 
a thing. How accurate it was, I really don't know, I personally would 
have my doubts considering accuracy of Braille translation, which is a 
task attempted by more companies. All I can say is, if going this route 
then investigate it thoroughly.

Personally I would tend to go down the route of using Word with 
MathType. To input equations using MathType you would use the LaTeX 
notation which allows about any maths notation you will want to use, 
then you would select the equation and press alt+\ (alt+backslash) and 
MathType converts it into a equation object. As its only the equations 
you need to write using LaTeX, the amount of special notation to learn 
is quite little. Also should you want to produce Braille from one of 
these documents then there is software which can do this (ViewPlus's 
Tiger Software Suite and Duxbury Braille Translator are two such 
examples). MathType isn't free but they do have education licenses which 
aren't bad on pricing and probably well worth it if you are going to do 
lots of Maths.

Other alternatives do exist, some being free and others possibly being 
paid. You could go the route of just using LaTeX for the whole document, 
while free the amount of notation is significantly more and so does 
require a much greater investment of time to learn it. The great 
advantage of LaTeX and MathType is that they are mainstream products so 
getting support should be much easier. Then there are editors such as 
WinTriangle, LAMBDA and ChattyInfty which are specialist editors 
designed for the blind.

Michael Whapples

On 11/12/2012 00:33, Danielle Sykora wrote:
> Hello everyone,
> For my math and science classes, there are many symbols I need to use
> which I am unable to create properly in Microsoft Word. I have been
> mostly making up my own symbols; however, I am looking for a better
> way of doing this. Is there a way in which I can write equations using
> correct Nemeth Code on a computer?
> Also, are there any accessible graphing calculators available? I
> currently have Mathtrax; however, it does not seem to be compatible
> with jaws.
> Danielle
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