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