“Automating the Impossible”
That is the title of the paper which I will be presenting in my capacity as Chairman of the Braille Production Group of UKAFF (UK Association for Accessible Formats), at a World Blind Union’s “Braille 21” conference in Leipzig this September. Many blind people worldwide who are capable of reading braille are either not getting learning materials in braille, or not being taught math at all. The reason for this has been quite simple. Many teachers, even those specializing in mathematics, have not had the software tools to enable them to produce math braille.
Working closely with Duxbury Systems, Inc., a leading developer of braille translation programs, I have spent the last 18 months working through the UK’s math braille code by using MathType to include equations in Microsoft Word, then importing the Microsoft Word file into the Duxbury Braille Translator (DBT). Working on the principal of a “single-source document”, the very same Word file can be used, with no further editing, to produce large print math where both text and MathType equations are enlarged to suit an individual student’s needs. The end result is a major breakthrough for anyone involved in preparing mathematical material for blind and partially sighted people.
Details of the “Braille 21” conference can be found on the web at http://www.braille21.net
George Bell is Managing Director of Techno-Vision Systems Ltd., a company who have largely specialized in braille over the last 25 years. He is also Chairman of the Braille Producers section of the UK Association for Accessible Formats (UKAAF).