LaTeX and MathML - Mathematical Documents and Webpages for Braille Readers
LaTeX, pronounced LAH-TEK or LAY-TEK, is a typesetting application that is widely used by publishers, and in colleges and universities worldwide. A LaTeX user can produce documents containing beautiful mathematics formulas and equations, the kind you would see in a mathematics textbook.
MathML is a "mark-up language" that can be used to display mathematical expressions on the internet. MathML is to mathematical expressions posted to the internet what HTML is for text expressions posted to the internet. Prior to the use of MathML, mathematics expressions posted to the internet were actually photographs of expressions produced in some other format. The problem for blind readers trying to access webpages containing mathematical expressions using a screenreader is that the screenreader was unable to "read" the photograph. Such a photograph was also inaccessible to a blind reader using a device with a refreshable Braille display for the same reason.
The reason why I, a teacher of Braille readers, am so excited about using LaTeX and MathML is that it can easily be converted into mathematical Braille, with the push of a button. Using a couple of inexpensive apps available in the Google Play and Apple App Stores, a teacher can easily convert hand-written mathematics expressions into LaTeX and MathML. These converted mathematics expressions (in LaTeX and MathML) can then be emailed to me at [email protected] for conversion into Braille. Regarding how to post mathematics to the internet so that Braille readers using a screenreader or a refreshable Braille device can hear and "see" them, I will be adding a detailed page and uploading a PowerPoint on how to do this later.
Here are some links that will be helpful:
- Ideal Math Writer: This app can be used on an android phone or tablet to convert hand-written mathematics expressions into LaTeX and MathML. Demonstrations showing how to use Ideal Math Writer are available on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JgLgq7x2DqI Here's the link to the Google Play Store: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.idealgroup.mathwritevo2&hl=en
- MyScript MathPad: This app for the iPad and iPhone also converts hand-written mathematics expressions into LaTeX and MathML. Here's the link: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/myscript-mathpad-handwriting-latex-generator/id674996719?mt=8
- The LaTeX Project: This organization is promoting the use of LaTeX. On this page are links to download Mac and Windows applications into which you can paste the LaTeX from Ideal Math Writer or MyScript MathPad to make your own LaTeX print documents. If you save the document you make in .tex format, you can forward that to me by email, and I can open it in a Braille conversion application. Here's a link to the organization's website: https://www.latex-project.org/get/
- Web Text Editors: To produce mathematics on the web, you will need a web text editor. I can suggest two good ones for the PC platform; I'm sorry, I can't do the same for Mac, but I know they are out there. Here are two: Notepad++: https://notepad-plus-plus.org/download/v7.5.1.html ; Atom: https://atom.io/