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For Immediate Release

Design Science Receives Additional Funding to Make Mathematics Accessible

Research to Target Microsoft Word and Adobe PDF

LONG BEACH, Calif. — August 10, 2005 — Design Science, Inc. announced today it has received a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant (No. 0522308) to continue research in making mathematical content accessible to people with vision disabilities. The grant leverages efforts of the company’s pioneering work in making mathematics in web pages accessible, by extending mathematics accessibility to Microsoft Word and Adobe PDF documents. The company also intends to add support for Braille and improve its speech generation algorithms.

"The prevalence of Word and PDF documents in science and education makes bringing math accessibility to these formats the next logical step. Our aim is to develop a robust, market-ready system." said Dr. Neil Soiffer, Senior Scientist at Design Science and the grant's Principal Investigator.

The urgent need for readily accessible mathematics was highlighted in the recent U.S. Department of Education announcement, “Raising Achievement: A New Path for No Child Left Behind”, that now focuses institutions on providing a more sensible and informed approach to the testing of students with persistent academic disabilities. Furthermore, while assistive technologies exist today that make textual content accessible to those with visual disabilities, extending this same technology for mathematics for a variety of mainstream documents will directly address the needs of federal and international agencies to comply with content accessibility charters.

This grant reinforces Design Science’s position as the leading vendor of MathML-based solutions. Prior NSF-funded research into mathematics accessibility has already been incorporated into Design Science’s MathPlayer™, a tool enabling Microsoft Internet Explorer users to display and speak mathematical notations in web pages. MathPlayer’s accessibility features, based on MathML technology, enable individuals with visual disabilities to hear mathematical expressions read aloud. Users can navigate through an expression using arrow keys to listen to parts of an equation several times in order to build up a complete mental picture. Future versions will simultaneously highlight the terms being read aloud to help individuals with low vision and learning disabilities such as dyslexia. MathPlayer is currently the only mathematics accessibility solution that seamlessly integrates with leading screen reader software, such as JAWS, Window-Eyes, HAL, Read & Write, and BrowseAloud.

About MathML

MathML is an XML-based language for representing mathematics that was published as a Recommendation by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) in 1998. Since MathML captures the meaning and structure of mathematics, it enables a wide range of applications. In addition to making it possible to have math spoken to visually disabled readers, it also enables searching for mathematical expressions within content and interoperability with the growing number of computational applications that understand MathML.

About Design Science, Inc.

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, WebEQ, MathFlow, MathPlayer and TeXaide, to communicate on the web and in print.



Zsolt Silberer
Vice President, Marketing

Design Science, Inc.
140 Pine Avenue, 4th Floor
Long Beach, CA 90802, USA

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