[Nfb-announce] Fwd: Press Release: Design Science and ETS receive grant to boost math accessibility

David Andrews dandrews at visi.com
Tue May 24 23:18:44 CDT 2011

>Subject: Press Release: Design Science and ETS receive grant to 
>boost math accessibility
>Date: Tue, 24 May 2011 11:11:00 -0700

>We are sending this message because you asked us to keep you informed
>about our products and technologies.
>We are happy to announce that Design Science, along with Educational
>Testing Service, have received a U.S. Department of Education grant to
>jointly develop math-to-speech tools.
>This will be of interest to those involved in STEM education,
>accessibility and publishing. The press release has been published on
>our website and is included below.
>Best Regards,
>Bruce Virga -- brucev at dessci.com
>EVP of Sales & Business Development, COO
>Tel: +1 (562) 432-2920
>Fax: +1 (562) 432-2857
>Mobile: +1 (949) 233-8212
>Design Science, Inc. -- www.dessci.com
>140 Pine Avenue, 4th Floor
>Long Beach, California 90802 USA
>~ Makers of MathType, MathFlow, MathPlayer, MathDaisy, Equation Editor ~
>New Math-to-Speech Technologies to Help Blind and Visually Impaired
>Students Master Mathematics
>Long Beach, Calif. - May 24, 2011 - Design Science and Educational
>Testing Service (ETS) have announced they are working jointly to modify
>MathType(TM) and MathPlayer(TM), so that classroom materials, tests and
>other documents containing mathematical content may be clearly spoken by
>computers. This new math-to-speech technology will provide students who
>are blind or have other visual impairments, the tools they need to
>learn, practice, and take math and science tests on a more equal footing
>with their classroom peers.
>Some of the country's leading subject-matter experts and developers of
>assistive technology for students who are blind or visually impaired,
>will assist on the project which begins July 1, 2011, and is supported
>by a $1.5 million Institute of Education Sciences grant.
>"Existing assistive technology that provides synthetic speech for
>electronic text does at best a limited job of making math accessible for
>this group of students," explains Lois Frankel, an ETS Assessment
>Specialist and the leader of the effort. "The current technology falls
>short because it generally does not 'know' how to describe mathematical
>expressions, especially in a way that provides access to their nonlinear
>"ETS and Design Science will work together to enhance MathPlayer, the
>tool that voices the math encoded in MathML, so that it sounds more like
>what students - particularly those in Algebra I - are used to hearing,"
>Frankel says. "We also plan to work on a number of customizations to
>MathType, including a feature to allow teachers and other users to
>select how mathematical expressions are described. For example, they
>could select whether the machine says 'four over five' or 'four fifths.'
>Another customization we plan to add is keyboard navigation that allows
>blind or visually impaired users to go back and replay voiced segments
>in mathematically meaningful 'chunks.' Our goal is to provide students
>and teachers with a better system for voicing mathematical notation that
>includes some truly useful functionality."
>"It has been a long-term Design Science goal to make math accessible,
>and our team have been working hard at it for over six years," said Neil
>Soiffer, Senior Scientist at Design Science. "It's a great opportunity
>to be partnering with an organization the stature and importance of ETS,
>to push the state-of-the-art forward."
>Working with Frankel and Soiffer on the effort are ETS Assessment
>Specialist Beth Brownstein, Research Scientist Eric Hansen, and Senior
>Research Scientist Cara Laitusis. Among the other organizations and
>consultants who will take part in the project are:
>- Dewitt & Associates, specializes in accessibility training, learning
>systems and support, and will provide advice on the implementation of
>MathML accessibility tools and assist in the development of training
>modules for students and teachers.
>- GW Micro, a leading firm in the adaptive technology industry, will
>modify its Window-Eyes screen reader software to work seamlessly with
>the tools developed by the project.
>- Jim Allan, the accessibility coordinator and webmaster for the Texas
>School for the Blind and Visually Impaired.
>- Maylene Bird, a teacher of mathematics to visually impaired students
>at the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired.
>- Christine Hinton, a Program Development Specialist for the New Jersey
>Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired, will help recruit
>student participants from inclusive schools in New Jersey.
>- Gaylen Kapperman, a professor of Education who is also blind, with
>specialization in research and development projects pertaining to
>mathematics instruction and assistive technology used by individuals who
>are blind or are visually impaired.
>- Abraham Nemeth, the author of The Nemeth Braille Code for Mathematics
>and Science Notation, and a blind expert in making mathematics
>accessible to blind individuals.
>- Susan Osterhaus, a secondary mathematics teacher and statewide
>accessibility expert at the Texas School for the Blind and Visually
>"The criteria for success in this project will be three-fold," explains
>Marisa Farnum, Vice President of Assessment Development at ETS. "First,
>will students using the tailored tools over the status quo be better
>able to solve algebra problems at an appropriate level? And, are they
>better able to correctly identify the structure of algebra-level math
>expressions when using the tools? Second, will math teachers be able to
>use the authoring tools developed by this project to quickly and easily
>create math materials that are accessible to their students with visual
>impairments? And finally, do the teachers and students who participate
>as subjects in these development efforts find the tools provided usable
>and convenient?"
>About Design Science
>Founded in 1986 and headquartered in Long Beach, California, Design
>Science develops software used by educators, scientists and publishing
>professionals, including MathType, Equation Editor in Microsoft Office,
>MathFlow, MathDaisy and MathPlayer, to communicate on the web and in
>print. For more information please visit www.dessci.com.
>About ETS
>At nonprofit ETS, we advance quality and equity in education for people
>worldwide by creating assessments based on rigorous research. ETS serves
>individuals, educational institutions and government agencies by
>providing customized solutions for teacher certification, English
>language learning, and elementary, secondary and post-secondary
>education, as well as conducting education research, analysis and policy
>studies. Founded in 1947, ETS develops, administers and scores more than
>50 million tests annually - including the TOEFL(r) and TOEIC(r) tests,
>the GRE(r) tests and The Praxis Series(tm) assessments - in more than
>180 countries, at over 9,000 locations worldwide. www.ets.org.
>Design Science Contact:
>Bruce Virga
>brucev at dessci.com
>+1 (562) 432-2920
>Design Science, Inc.
>140 Pine Avenue, 4th Floor
>Long Beach, CA 90802
>ETS Contact:
>Tom Ewing
>tewing at ets.org
>+1 (609) 683-2803
>Education Testing Service
>External Relations
>Princeton, NJ 08541-0001

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