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Mr. Mike Cheverie » Use of OCR to Convert Mathematical Braille to Print Mathematics?

Use of OCR to Convert Mathematical Braille to Print Mathematics?

I recently discovered that Google Docs can automatically, by using optical character recognition, convert an uploaded picture of a document into an editable Google Docs document. This caused me to start thinking about how this application could be used to allow my Braille-using students to convert their Braille mathematics into mathematics that can be read by their sighted teachers, either in a printed document, or in electronic format, like pdf. I posted the following "New Idea" to the Google Docs forum: 

I am a teacher of blind students in Granada Hills, CA. My students are very academically motivated. They are currently taking advanced placement chemistry, and most likely will go on to take an advanced placement mathematics class, like statistics or calculus.


There have been great advances in the area of getting mathematics to blind Braille readers. MathML and LaTeX make it fairly simple to provide my students with mathematics in the mathematical Braille code known as Nemeth. Going in the opposite direction, converting Nemeth Braille into print mathematics, is more problematic. Pearson publishing company has developed an on-line application it calls the Accessible Equation Editor. The downside to this editor, as far as I can determine, is that it does not allow for creation of mathematics documents that can be printed and given to sighted teachers.


I would really like to see Google further develop their optical character recognition capability in Google Docs to include OCR of Nemeth Braille, chemistry Braille, music Braille, contracted (Grade 2) and uncontracted (Grade 1) in Unified English Braille, as well as Braille for other languages. Duxbury Systems, Inc., one of the leading companies in the field of providing technology for the blind, has a free application called Perky Duck, which allows for the production of Braille using a QWERTY keyboard. An application of this type allows Braille to be printed as dots on the page. It seems to me that if print can be scanned using OCR, then dots on a page can be as well. 


Such an application would allow my students to write and print out, or save as a pdf, documents in Nemeth or some other form of Braille, which could then be translated by Google docs into as print document with the appropriate characters (letters or mathematical symbols, etc.). Such an application would give blind users greater autonomy in handling conversion of their documents into a print format.


This may be something of a cross between Google Docs' ability to do OCR, and Google Translate. In any case, it would be very beneficial to my students.



I hope that this will get some traction with Google.