This project is significant as the first attempt by an organization to adapt core science and mathematics curricula into the ANSI/NISO Digital Talking Book format for use by all print disabled students. Additionally, this is the first effort to incorporate MathSpeak™ into DTB's and the DAISY/NISO DTB standard.
There is a strong need for better math and science education among print disabled students. Currently, secondary school age students are in large part unable to receive accessible instructional materials in mathematics and science. The natural result of this lack of materials is a general deficit in knowledge and skills and in math and science by students who are print disabled. This lack of accessible instructional materials has unfairly limited students who are print disabled in that they often lack the opportunity to study math and science. Because of a lack of access to science and math instructional materials the print disabled are ultimately unable to seek employment in the growing high tech job sector. If print disabled individuals have an equal opportunity to study mathematics and science, many new career opportunities will be opened up to this class of individuals that were previously not viable options.
The ultimate goal of this project is to provide print disabled students an opportunity to learn mathematics and science. To further this goal, gh is developing a module for the gh PLAYER™ capable of interpreting MathSpeak™ and rendering both visually and aurally the information encoded therein. This MathSpeak™-compliant software player will be a key commercialization outcome of the project. Although the MathSpeak™ specification itself is intended to be an open specification, there are some aspects of this project which are proprietary, including the gh PLAYER™ itself, which has unique parsing and rendering features so as to make a viable and competitive commercial product.
Additionally, by working with Dr. Nemeth, gh is continuing to refine and codify the MathSpeak™ specification, incorporating the use of both VoiceXML and MathML in the execution of the desired outcome. The eventual result will be a robust specification for spoken math, which will be introduced as a potential addition into both the National File Format standards for K-12 Instructional Materials, and both the ANSI/NISO and DAISY specifications for Digital Talking Books. gh is also committed to is making MathSpeak™ available as an open specification for anyone to build from.
The cornerstone technology of the project is the gh PLAYER™. The gh PLAYER™ integrates six types of accessible media - e-Braille, e-Large Print, Digital Talking Books, Foreign Language, Captioning, and Sign Language - allowing a broad range of people access to information sources from textbooks and publications to training manuals.
Although the gh PLAYER™ technology and the DTB media type have already been developed by gh, there is an incomplete portion of the ANSI/NISO and DAISY 3.0 standards that limits the utility of these solutions. This incompleteness is that Math and Science information is not currently addressed as part of the DTB solution. gh has developed, in conjunction with Dr. Abraham Nemeth, a technological solution for voicing mathematical and scientific information called MathSpeak™. This work is an extension of the basic MathSpeak™ grammar and lexicon originally developed by Dr. Nemeth for use by a human reader. The basic principle of MathSpeak™ is that print mathematics can be rendered aurally in parallel with both the print and Braille versions of the text. The sample books and test converted for this project demonstrate the ease of use and power of the MathSpeak™ standard.
In sum, gh is working hard to ensure a bright future for students with print disabilities. By developing new technological solutions for the aural rendering of math, gh hopes to provide better access to math and science for students with disabilities. Over the course of this ongoing research project gh has had the opportunity to work with numerous students and to witness positive impact on the lives of disabled students - an impact that will hopefully carry forth for years yet to come.
To learn more about the MathSpeak™ Initiative, just follow the topics listed below:
- Goals and Expected Results
- The Fundamental Problem of Spoken Mathematics
- Research into MathSpeak™ Theory
- Automated Production of MathSpeak™
- Development of the MathSpeak™ TTS engine
- Rendering the MathSpeak™ product
- Sample Textbooks
- Project Timeline