For Immediate Release
Design Science Releases MathPlayer 4 Beta
Enables math to be spoken in assistive technology products.
Long Beach, Calif. – March 5, 2015 – Math and
science tests by their graphic nature are difficult for students who are blind
or who have visual impairments. A major step toward overcoming this barrier is
being realized with today’s public beta release of Design Science’s MathPlayer
4, with new math-to-speech technology that enables such test takers to learn,
practice, and take math and science tests on a more equal footing with their
Design Science has been working jointly with Educational Testing Service (ETS)
and assisted by some of the country's leading subject matter experts and
developers of assistive technology. The effort is supported by the U.S.
Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences through a grant award
of approximately $1.5 million.
In supported environments, the initial release works with
NonVisual Desktop Access (NVDA) screen reader to speak and Braille mathematical
content in Microsoft Word and PowerPoint, Internet Explorer and Firefox. Users
can also navigate within any equation to listen, study and learn at their own
pace. In addition, MathPlayer 4 continues to have the most complete support for
MathML and supports both visual rendering and speech in Internet Explorer
(requires Enterprise Mode in IE11).
“MathPlayer 4 makes it possible for people with visual
impairments to hear math as it would be spoken by a teacher and to navigate the
question piece by piece, something that hasn’t been possible before,” says Dr.
Lois Frankel, Senior Assessment Specialist at ETS and the project’s principal
“Since our founding in 1947, ETS’s mission has included
serving test takers and learners with disabilities,” adds Beth Brownstein, a
Senior Assessment Specialist at ETS and the project’s co-principal investigator.
“We have designed and contributed to advances in assessment design and
application in this area and this project is a wonderful contribution to
improved accessibility for this important population.”
"NVDA breaks down barriers to information access for blind
and vision impaired users by enabling them to access Windows computers via
speech or Braille for no more cost than their sighted peers. However,
accessing mathematical content has remained a major challenge. Existing
solutions require specially prepared material, utilize special standalone
applications, have a steep learning curve, or lack features such as interactive
navigation that are necessary to understand complex math," said James Teh,
Executive Director of NV Access Limited. "With NVDA and MathPlayer, blind and
vision impaired users can now read and explore math in mainstream applications
at no extra cost, lowering yet another barrier to access."
“Interactive exploration of mathematics has been the
critical missing piece to digital math accessibility. This is the most
meaningful step forward in access to mathematics for the blind since Dr. Abraham
Nemeth's Braille code. Such unparalleled access to digital mathematics will have
an incredible impact in the lives of blind students and professionals,” said
Sina Bahram, President of Prime Access Consulting. “I’m so pleased to have
helped shape this meaningful solution to the problem!” added Mr. Bahram, a
computer scientist who is blind, and a contributor to MathPlayer's design.
"NVDA is the first screen reader to include MathPlayer support in browsers and
Microsoft Office," says Dr. Neil Soiffer, Senior Scientist at Design Science.
“This allows assistive technology vendors to start incorporating MathPlayer and
enhancing what they offer to their customers. I expect we will start seeing a
long string of announcements from other vendors that are including MathPlayer.”
MathPlayer 4 will debut today at
the California State
University, Northridge's Annual International Technology and Persons with
Disabilities Conference in San Diego, during the session on Accessible Math
presented by Dr. Soiffer, Dr. Frankel, and Ms. Brownstein. A free download of
the public beta is available on the Design Science website.
About Design Science
Founded in 1986 and headquartered in Long Beach,
California, Design Science develops software used by educators, scientists and
publishing professionals, including MathType, MathFlow, and MathPlayer, to
communicate on the web and in print.
At nonprofit ETS, we advance quality and equity in
education for people worldwide by creating assessments based on rigorous
research. ETS serves individuals, educational institutions and government
agencies by providing customized solutions for teacher certification, English
language learning, and elementary, secondary and post-secondary education, as
well as conducting education research, analysis and policy studies. Founded in
1947, ETS develops, administers and scores more than 50 million tests annually —
including the TOEFL® and TOEIC® tests, the GRE® tests and The Praxis Series™
assessments — in more than 180 countries, at over 9,000 locations worldwide. www.ets.org.
About NV Access Limited
Founded in 2007, NV Access is a global non-profit
organisation, based in Australia, dedicated to the ideal that access to
technology should not incur an extra cost for blind and vision impaired users.
NV Access develops NVDA (NonVisual Desktop Access), which is award-winning
screen reading software for the Microsoft Windows Operating System that
is completely free to users. NVDA allows a blind or vision impaired
person, regardless of their location, language or economic status, to
gain independence through access to computers. www.nvaccess.org
Design Science Contact:
+1 (562) 432-2920
Design Science, Inc.
140 Pine Avenue, 4th Floor
Long Beach, CA 90802
+1 (609) 683-2803
Education Testing Service
Princeton, NJ 08541-0001
NV Access Contact:
+61 7 3149 3306
NV Access Limited
10 Bunowen Street