[Blindmath] Used Braille College Text Books

Dan Burke burke.dall at gmail.com
Wed Jun 20 10:59:05 CDT 2012


I worked in a disability services office for 17 years, and supervised
alternate text production the last half of my time in higher ed.
You've gotten some good advice and suggestions. I would like to add a
couple of things and emphasize some points.

1.  The college has the option of offering what the law calls "a
reasonably effective alternative." That is what they are doing with
the offer of readers and recorded audio.  However, if your son is
Braille literate, and especially in Nemeth the argument that Braille is the only
effective alternative carries greater weight in math or
technical courses. It might be a harder argument to make in an English
or History class, but is very strong in Math.

2.  Under Section 504 of the Rehab Act, your son's college must
provide access to his Math texts.  Since it's a private school, the
$50,000 price tag may be considered an "undue burden" under the law,
but that would depend on its overall financial assets; most private
schools have substantial foundations. It's a complicated matter in the
case of private colleges. It's much simpler in the case of state
institutions.  Recently, Florida State was sued by the NFB on behalf
of two blind students who were denied Braille textbooks for courses in
Math and computer science.  The students were in higher-level classes
than Calculus.  I don't know what the school had for cost estimates or
if they were similar, but they balked at the price of the several
books requested.  Florida State settled
out of court with the students. It very likely cost them more than the
books would have.

3.  Your son's college should find some other possible sources for
Braille and tactile diagrams for his math class.  They,as one poster
suggested, haven't looked far enough.  APH may be able to provide a
list of qualified transcribers, as well as the National Library
Service fro the blind.

4.  Good suggestion that they can focus on the sections of the book that the
instructor plans to use, thus saving time and cost.

5.  Used Braille text books are more than likely to be out of date -
an earlier edition. Editions change minimum of every 2 years in higher
ed it seems, and that can mean a lot of confusion in which parts of
the book to be actually working on, if the book is even close to being
useful. In this digital age, it is unthinkable that a college would be
looking for a book that might  be two or more editions behind, but I
know of one that was considering buying a 2001 Braille math book for a
2012 class, and even then groused about the $900 price tag. If your
school considers a used book, it *must* be with the approval and
willingness of the instructor to work with your son to make sure he's
getting the same instruction. The chances of this being workable are
small, however.

6.  What about the online portion of the class. Sengage and Pearson
are the primary publishers, and increasingly their textbooks are
delivered online to students via learning management sites. While you
can still buy a book or get the publisher's files (Sengage has been
great about this), the supplemental stuff is still problematic -
including exams. Your son's college needs to get a plan in place for
these, as well.

7.  Don't know what your son plans to major in or if he plans to
continue with math courses, but if he does he needs to consider some
serious tools, such as Duxbury, learning math coding options and/or
using a refreshable Braille display. I overlook the obvious use of a
screen reader, assuming he is already using one.

8.  Even with a Braille book, he will need to be able to produce math
homework or exams in something readable to the instructor - he may be
able to do this with Duxbury or a math code or a scribe, but he won't
be able to turn in a Nemeth assignment.   This is something he should
eventually learn to do independently if he plans to pursue any furhter
math courses, etc.

9.  Some additional reading/tutoring may be important, even with a
Braille book, depending on your son's interest and proficiency in Math.

10.  I recommend the Sensational Blackboard for quick, explanatory
tactile renderings of in-class lectures or tutoring sessions.  It is
not a full course solution, but a simple and cheap way for your son to
have some control of fast-moving information. It's $30, and I
purchased one of the first ones for a nontraditional student to use
last fall with her tutor and a fellow student serving as in-class note
taker for graphs on the white board.



On 6/20/12, Neal <neal at duxsys.com> wrote:
> I must correct, what I believe, is a misstatement of fact.
> Duxbury Systems invests a lot in  continuing development on the math
> braille
> front as Duxbury Systems works very closely with user and
> groups of users in multiple countries to constantly improve and refine our
> math braille quality.
> We have made great strides in the last two years in the continuation of
> over
> twenty years supporting math braille translation.
> I cannot comment on the quality of braille translation in products other
> than DBT WIN and Mega Dots.
> Those two products produce excellent braille math.
> Those two products support virtually every braille printer around as well
> as
> embedded tactile graphics in your braille document,
> If your embosser supports tactile graphics on the fly..
> DBT WIN version 11.1 sr4 does a very good job of translating math to
> braille
> in Nemeth, UEB, BAUK, and unified French braille math codes.
> You can also combine your selected braille math code with your language of
> choice.  That is how it is being used in India to create Hindi braille with
> Nemeth.
> It is used successfully in many nations around the world for braille math
> production at the elementary, high school, college, and university level.
> Duxbury systems has worked with Design Science and Mackichan Software to
> constantly improve the quality of braille translation and improve the
> ability to utilize inexpensive main stream math tools such as Math Type &
> Scientific Notebook as well as specialized products such as INFTY READER
> Sincerely,
> Neal Kuniansky
> Email: Neal at duxsys.com
> URL: http://www.DuxburySystems.com
> Duxbury Systems, Inc.
> The name for Braille since 1975.
> -----Original Message-----
> From: blindmath-bounces at nfbnet.org [mailto:blindmath-bounces at nfbnet.org] On
> Behalf Of John Gardner
> Sent: Tuesday, June 19, 2012 6:53 PM
> To: 'Blind Math list for those interested in mathematics'
> Subject: Re: [Blindmath] Used Braille College Text Books
> Okay, this discussion has finally gotten my temperature up a bit.  I can
> tell you that $50,000 to make a braille science book is not unusual.  I
> have
> heard of books that cost quite a bit more.  Why?  There are two reasons
> that
> braille books are expensive.  One is that, for whatever reason, it is
> commonly assumed that a braille reader must have a book that meets all BANA
> standards perfectly.  If you have ever read those standards you will
> understand that they can be met only if a great deal of human effort is
> devoted to preparing and proofing the text.  That costs a lot of money for
> any text and considerably more if the text has math, chemistry, etc.
> The second reason that braille science books are expensive is that only an
> expert (ie expensive) human being can transform the figures into acceptable
> tactile diagrams.  Which is why science books cost so very much more than
> non-science books.
> A company that turns out really good braille books has to charge a great
> deal of money - often $50,000 to $100,000 to translate a science bookd to
> braille.  Universities and non-profit agencies have the advantage of
> talented, low-cost student labor and/or volunteers to reduce costs
> considerably.
> The reason my temperature is going up is that if we took full advantage of
> modern technology, the cost of braille could be hundreds of dollars instead
> of tens of thousands of dollars.  Of course they would not be quite as
> perfect as BANA would wish, but they would be plenty good enough for any
> competent braille reader to read them.  Why isn't "good enough" not good
> enough?  I find it incomprehensible.
> Let me tell you how to make an inexpensive good-enough braille science
> book.
> 1. Transform the book to MS Word format.  It is usually easy to transform
> the regular text even if the book has to be scanned from paper copy and
> optically recognized.  Math may be recognized by Infty Reader if the book
> is
> not too "cute".  Otherwise a human being must re-enter math.  Entering the
> math may be the most costly part of the whole transformation process, but
> still it shouldn't cost more than a few hundred, or in the worst case some
> thousand dollars or so to do this.
> 2. If the math is simple, you can translate the document with Duxbury or
> with the ViewPlus Tiger Formatter.  Duxbury doesn't do too well on complex
> math, but the Formatter works well.  It uses liblouis as its translator,
> and
> Nemeth by liblouis is excellent.
> 3. Emboss it.  Now you have the text and math, and I can tell you that it
> is
> plenty good enough.  There are always some translation bugs, but as time
> goes on those get fewer and fewer.  For example, Susan Jolly recently
> pointed out to me that there is some incorrect spacing in liblouis Nemeth
> translation of trig.  Even so I could read it, and I'm not a good braille
> reader.
> 4. Use IVEO Creator Pro to input figures that need to be translated.
> Relatively little editing is needed for most physics, math, chemistry,
> computer science, electrical engineering figures.  Geology, biology, and
> other such figures may need a bit more editing.  When embossed and read by
> Iveo audio-touch, all labels are read aloud, making many figures accessible
> with no additional effort.  A human being should add annotations for any
> objects that are not obvious to the touch.  Few figures should take more
> than 15 minutes of time by a person who understands the subject matter.
> If you follow my recipe, a $100,000 advanced physics book may cost several
> thousand dollars to produce.  The student may notice some not-quite-correct
> formatting, but the braille translation should be near perfect.  And she
> would need to use a computer and IVEO Viewer to read the figures.  Isn't
> this "good enough"?
> John Gardner
> If one just puts a Word file into the Tiger Formatter, presses the button,
> and lets it translate, all text and math is translated "well enough".  Not
> perfect for two reasons.  One is that there still may be small bugs in the
> liblouis translator, for example, some spacing in the Nemeth braille is not
> quite right presently - something that Susan Jolly pointed out to me
> recently.  Fools me, because I don't know the braille rules perfectly so I
> didn't realize that the spacing was not quite what it should be.  Even
> though I am a poor braille reader I could read it.
> -----Original Message-----
> From: blindmath-bounces at nfbnet.org [mailto:blindmath-bounces at nfbnet.org] On
> Behalf Of Jordyn Castor
> Sent: Tuesday, June 19, 2012 2:46 PM
> To: Blind Math list for those interested in mathematics
> Subject: Re: [Blindmath] Used Braille College Text Books
> Hi all,
> I just want to throw this out there.
> I took Calc I last semester and my Resource Center for Person's With
> Disibilities produced the book for me. I was told it cost around $6000.
> The book was also high quality, with high quality graphics.
> They are also producing my Calc II and physics books for next year.
> It's crazy a company would charge 50-70,000 for a textbook.
> Jordyn
> On 6/19/2012 12:15 PM, Susan Mooney wrote:
>> The university needs to talk to other people.  Yes, there are budget
>> crappy transcribers out there.  The overwhelming majority of us are
>> professionals, however.  Braille Plus (www.brailleplus.net) is a
>> fabulous outfit which prides itself not only on accuracy and fast turn
>> arounds but they are a joy to work with and for.  Again, most
>> instructors are not going to use the entire text so it may be worth
>> getting only the portion of the books needed.  I can't imagine trying
>> to do physics and chem and math without braille.  I have transcribed
>> many level college texts w/o doing the entire book. It doesn't matter
>> if your son is the first or the 121st blind student.  The university
>> needs
> to get its butt in gear.
>> SM
>> On Tue, Jun 19, 2012 at 12:08 PM, Tammy Berg<tdberg72 at yahoo.com>  wrote:
>>> Thank you everyone for your feedback and responses. After talking
>>> with the disability services department more, I was provided with the
>>> following information regarding where they received their pricing for
>>> the books being transcribed to Braille. My son will be the first
>>> blind student to attend their univesity so it's going to be a
>>> learning
> experience for all of us.
>>> They are offering audio books, readers, and scribes; however, we were
>>> really hoping to get the books in Braille so he can be more
>>> independent and have the material at his fingertips. We will continue
>>> to push for the Braille books.
>>> "The estimates were done by Arizona State University's Disability
>>> Services Office that does the work in-house for their students.   Others
>>> confirm that they deliver the
>>> highest quality produced at a reasonable cost.
>>> I have a list of other agencies that do Braille texts, but have been
>>> warned that not all are equal in quality or production time.  Most
>>> conversion agencies require one year in advance to convert texts to
>>> Braille.
>>>   College level science and math pose another challenge:  it is
>>> important that the agency employs converters that know the subject
>>> matter well enough to accurately convert it.
>>> The ASU estimates (sans two) for Fall 2012 semester were as follows:
>>> --Basics of Engineering Economy  = $18,000 (could be a "hybrid" for
>>> $8000)
>>> --Chemistry: The Molecular Nature of Matter = $55,000  (not cheaper
>>> as a hybrid due to more labor involved in making the text/images to
>>> audio with screen-reader) --University Physics = $72,000 (could be a
>>> "hybrid" for $38,000 if student is accustomed to listening to math)
>>> --Calculus = $71,000 (could be a "hybrid" for $40,000 if student is
>>> accustomed to listening to math)"
>>> ________________________________
>>>   From: Tammy Berg<tdberg72 at yahoo.com>
>>> To: "blindmath at nfbnet.org"<blindmath at nfbnet.org>
>>> Sent: Wednesday, June 13, 2012 1:50 PM
>>> Subject: [Blindmath] Used Braille College Text Books
>>> My son will be attending a private university in the fall and we have
>>> just been notified that they will not be able to provide his texts
>>> books in Braille due to the cost of $50,000-$60,000 per text that
>>> they were quoted for having them converted to Braille. Are there any
>>> resources for used Braille math and science college text books.
>>> The texts that he will be using in the fall are:
>>> Calculus, 6th Edition
>>> James Stewart
>>> ISBN-13978-0495011668
>>> Publiser: Brooks Cole
>>> Chemistry
>>> The Molecular View of Nature, 6th Edition Jespersen, Brady, Hyslop
>>> Publisher:  Wiley University Physics
>>> by Young&  Freedman 13th edition 2012
>>> Publishers: Addison&  Wesley
>>> Thank You - Tammy
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