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MathPlayer Can Speak!

MathPlayer's New Math-to-Speech Technology

MathPlayer 2.0 contains an early version of Design Science's math-to-speech technology and is intended as only a demonstration to stimulate interest in math accessibility. Design Science plans to improve the quality of what is spoken and realizes that much more work needs to be done before acheiving a truly accessible interface. In December, 2003, Design Science was awarded an NSF grant to research ways to improve the accessibility of mathematics. Two features that Design Science is investigating are (a) user navigation of expressions for better comprehension of complex mathematical expressions and (b) support for various mathematical braille formats for output to braille displays and embossers. Users with certain learning disabilities would benefit from synchronized speech and subexpression highlighting, and Design Science is investigating including this into MathPlayer as well.

Making MathPlayer Speak the Math in a Web Page

You can make MathPlayer speak the math embedded in a web page two ways:

  • Right-click on an equation and choose the Speak Expression command.
  • Use a screen reader product that will read the entire web page and invoke MathPlayer to speak the math.

Just as a test, right-click on the equation below and choose Speak Expression:

α 2 + β 2 1

In order for this demonstration to work, you must have a MathPlayer-compatible text-to-speech engine installed on your computer. If you don't have such an engine, MathPlayer will display a dialog directing you to this page. Please follow the instructions for installing a text-to-speech engine in the next section. Users with low vision may also benefit from MathPlayer's MathZoom feature; simply click on the expression and an enlarged version will appear -- click again to close it.

Installing a MathPlayer-compatible Text-to-speech Engine

If you are not running Windows XP, an additional download of a text-to-speech engine may be required. You can download a free text-to-speech engine from Microsoft. First download and install Microsoft Reader and then download and install the text-to-speech engine mentioned on that page. The installer will suggest that you "activate" Microsoft Reader -- this is not necessary for MathPlayer. You can change the voice that it is used to speak the math, along with the rate and volume of the speech using Window's Speech Control Panel. Select the "Text to speech" tab to see your speech options. Many people prefer the female voice for speaking math.

Higher quality text-to-speech engines can be purchased from other vendors.  For example, AT&T Natural Voices are compatible with MathPlayer's "speak expression" command and can be purchased at one of the sites listed on their Web page.  Other speech engines should work if they support Microsoft's SAPI 5 interface. 

Using MathPlayer with Screen Readers

MathPlayer 2.0 implements Microsoft's Active Accessibility (MSAA) interface so that assistive software, such as screen readers, can seamlessly take advantage of MathPlayer's math-to-speech technology. Most screen readers make use of this standard interface. As of this writing, screen readers known to work with MathPlayer include Window-Eyes 4.21 and 4.5, HAL, Read & Write v6, and JAWS (v5.00.844).   

If math accessibility is important to you, contact your screen reader vendor so that they will consider supporting some of the planned accessibility enhancements to MathPlayer.  Without your input, vendors may not make math accessibility a priority.

Some Sample Equations to Speak

It is very common for textbooks and technical papers to embed snippets of math such as x 2 MathType@MTEF@5@5@+=feaafeart1ev1aqatCvAUfeBSjuyZL2yd9gzLbvyNv2CaerbuLwBLnhiov2DGi1BTfMBaeXatLxBI9gBaerbd9wDYLwzYbItLDharqqtubsr4rNCHbGeaGqiFu0Je9sqqrpepC0xbbL8F4rqqrFfpeea0xe9Lq=Jc9vqaqpepm0xbba9pwe9Q8fs0=yqaqpepae9pg0FirpepeKkFr0xfr=xfr=xb9adbaqaaeGaciGaaiaabeqaamaabaabaaGcbaGaamiEamaaCaaaleqabaGaaGOmaaaaaaa@37C3@ , t 1 MathType@MTEF@5@5@+=feaafeart1ev1aqatCvAUfeBSjuyZL2yd9gzLbvyNv2CaerbuLwBLnhiov2DGi1BTfMBaeXatLxBI9gBaerbd9wDYLwzYbItLDharqqtubsr4rNCHbGeaGqiFu0Je9sqqrpepC0xbbL8F4rqqrFfpeea0xe9Lq=Jc9vqaqpepm0xbba9pwe9Q8fs0=yqaqpepae9pg0FirpepeKkFr0xfr=xfr=xb9adbaqaaeGaciGaaiaabeqaamaabaabaaGcbaGaamiDamaaDaaaleaacaaIXaaabaaaaaaa@37BE@  or sin(θ) MathType@MTEF@5@5@+=feaafeart1ev1aqatCvAUfeBSjuyZL2yd9gzLbvyNv2CaerbuLwBLnhiov2DGi1BTfMBaeXatLxBI9gBaerbd9wDYLwzYbItLDharqqtubsr4rNCHbGeaGqiFu0Je9sqqrpepC0xbbL8F4rqqrFfpeea0xe9Lq=Jc9vqaqpepm0xbba9pwe9Q8fs0=yqaqpepae9pg0FirpepeKkFr0xfr=xfr=xb9adbaqaaeGaciGaaiaabeqaamaabaabaaGcbaGaci4CaiaacMgacaGGUbGaaiikaiabeI7aXjaacMcaaaa@3BC4@  inline. Even short equations and inequalities such as α 2 + β 2 1 MathType@MTEF@5@5@+=feaafeart1ev1aqatCvAUfeBSjuyZL2yd9gzLbvyNv2CaerbuLwBLnhiov2DGi1BTfMBaeXatLxBI9gBaerbd9wDYLwzYbItLDharqqtubsr4rNCHbGeaGqiFu0Je9sqqrpepC0xbbL8F4rqqrFfpeea0xe9Lq=Jc9vqaqpepm0xbba9pwe9Q8fs0=yqaqpepae9pg0FirpepeKkFr0xfr=xfr=xb9adbaqaaeGaciGaaiaabeqaamaabaabaaGcbaGaeqySde2aaWbaaSqabeaacaaIYaaaaOGaey4kaSIaeqOSdi2aaWbaaSqabeaacaaIYaaaaOGaeyizImQaaGymaaaa@3E55@  are common. In fact, upwards of 90% of all math expressions in technical papers are short, inline expressions.

Here are some larger examples of display math:

MathType@MTEF@5@5@+=feaafeart1ev1aaatCvAUfeBSjuyZL2yd9gzLbvyNv2CaerbuLwBLnhiov2DGi1BTfMBaeXatLxBI9gBaerbd9wDYLwzYbItLDharqqtubsr4rNCHbGeaGqiFu0Je9sqqrpepC0xbbL8F4rqqrFfpeea0xe9Lq=Jc9vqaqpepm0xbba9pwe9Q8fs0=yqaqpepae9pg0FirpepeKkFr0xfr=xfr=xb9adbaqaaeGaciGaaiaabeqaamaabaabaaGcaa@35DB@

Fraction example:

y 123 5α 2 MathType@MTEF@5@5@+=feaafeart1ev1aqatCvAUfeBSjuyZL2yd9gzLbvyNv2CaerbuLwBLnhiov2DGi1BTfMBaeXatLxBI9gBaerbd9wDYLwzYbItLDharqqtubsr4rNCHbGeaGqiFu0Je9sqqrpepC0xbbL8F4rqqrFfpeea0xe9Lq=Jc9vqaqpepm0xbba9pwe9Q8fs0=yqaqpepae9pg0FirpepeKkFr0xfr=xfr=xb9adbaqaaeGaciGaaiaabeqaamaabaabaaGcbaWaaSaaaeaacaWG5baabaGaaGymaiaaikdacaaIZaaaaiabgsMiJoaalaaabaGaaGynaiabeg7aHbqaaiaaikdaaaaaaa@3DFE@

Superscript examples: a 2 (a+1) 3 MathType@MTEF@5@5@+=feaafeart1ev1aqatCvAUfeBSjuyZL2yd9gzLbvyNv2CaerbuLwBLnhiov2DGi1BTfMBaeXatLxBI9gBaerbd9wDYLwzYbItLDharqqtubsr4rNCHbGeaGqiFu0Je9sqqrpepC0xbbL8F4rqqrFfpeea0xe9Lq=Jc9vqaqpepm0xbba9pwe9Q8fs0=yqaqpepae9pg0FirpepeKkFr0xfr=xfr=xb9adbaqaaeGaciGaaiaabeqaamaabaabaaGcbaGaamyyamaaCaaaleqabaGaaGOmaaaakiaacIcacaWGHbGaey4kaSIaaGymaiaacMcadaahaaWcbeqaaiaaiodaaaaaaa@3C7C@ , t n1 (t+1) n MathType@MTEF@5@5@+=feaafeart1ev1aqatCvAUfeBSjuyZL2yd9gzLbvyNv2CaerbuLwBLnhiov2DGi1BTfMBaeXatLxBI9gBaerbd9wDYLwzYbItLDharqqtubsr4rNCHbGeaGqiFu0Je9sqqrpepC0xbbL8F4rqqrFfpeea0xe9Lq=Jc9vqaqpepm0xbba9pwe9Q8fs0=yqaqpepae9pg0FirpepeKkFr0xfr=xfr=xb9adbaqaaeGaciGaaiaabeqaamaabaabaaGcbaGaamiDamaaCaaaleqabaGaamOBaiabgkHiTiaaigdaaaGccaGGOaGaamiDaiabgUcaRiaaigdacaGGPaWaaWbaaSqabeaacaWGUbaaaaaa@3EB7@ , p MathType@MTEF@5@5@+=feaafeart1ev1aqatCvAUfeBSjuyZL2yd9gzLbvyNv2CaerbuLwBLnhiov2DGi1BTfMBaeXatLxBI9gBaerbd9wDYLwzYbItLDharqqtubsr4rNCHbGeaGqiFu0Je9sqqrpepC0xbbL8F4rqqrFfpeea0xe9Lq=Jc9vqaqpepm0xbba9pwe9Q8fs0=yqaqpepae9pg0FirpepeKkFr0xfr=xfr=xb9adbaqaaeGaciGaaiaabeqaamaabaabaaGcbaGabmiCayaafaaaaa@36DE@

Sum and integral examples:

i=1 1 i 2 MathType@MTEF@5@5@+=feaafeart1ev1aqatCvAUfeBSjuyZL2yd9gzLbvyNv2CaerbuLwBLnhiov2DGi1BTfMBaeXatLxBI9gBaerbd9wDYLwzYbItLDharqqtubsr4rNCHbGeaGqiFu0Je9sqqrpepC0xbbL8F4rqqrFfpeea0xe9Lq=Jc9vqaqpepm0xbba9pwe9Q8fs0=yqaqpepae9pg0FirpepeKkFr0xfr=xfr=xb9adbaqaaeGaciGaaiaabeqaamaabaabaaGcbaWaaabCaeaadaWcaaqaaiaaigdaaeaacaWGPbWaaWbaaSqabeaacaaIYaaaaaaaaeaacaWGPbGaeyypa0JaaGimaaqaaiabg6HiLcqdcqGHris5aaaa@3ED5@

0 2π xsinxdx MathType@MTEF@5@5@+=feaafeart1ev1aqatCvAUfeBSjuyZL2yd9gzLbvyNv2CaerbuLwBLnhiov2DGi1BTfMBaeXatLxBI9gBaerbd9wDYLwzYbItLDharqqtubsr4rNCHbGeaGqiFu0Je9sqqrpepC0xbbL8F4rqqrFfpeea0xe9Lq=Jc9vqaqpepm0xbba9pwe9Q8fs0=yqaqpepae9pg0FirpepeKkFr0xfr=xfr=xb9adbaqaaeGaciGaaiaabeqaamaabaabaaGcbaWaa8qmaeaacaWG4bGaci4CaiaacMgacaGGUbGaamiEaiaadsgacaWG4baaleaacaaIWaaabaGaaGOmaiabec8aWbqdcqGHRiI8aaaa@41F1@

Example of roots: x x1 n MathType@MTEF@5@5@+=feaafeart1ev1aqatCvAUfeBSjuyZL2yd9gzLbvyNv2CaerbuLwBLnhiov2DGi1BTfMBaeXatLxBI9gBaerbd9wDYLwzYbItLDharqqtubsr4rNCHbGeaGqiFu0Je9sqqrpepC0xbbL8F4rqqrFfpeea0xe9Lq=Jc9vqaqpepm0xbba9pwe9Q8fs0=yqaqpepae9pg0FirpepeKkFr0xfr=xfr=xb9adbaqaaeGaciGaaiaabeqaamaabaabaaGcbaWaaOaaaeaacaWG4baaleqaaOGaeyOeI0YaaOqaaeaacaWG4bGaeyOeI0IaaGymaaWcbaGaamOBaaaaaaa@3B9F@

Example of a table:    ( a 11 a 12 a 21 a 22 ) MathType@MTEF@5@5@+=feaafeart1ev1aaatCvAUfeBSjuyZL2yd9gzLbvyNv2CaerbuLwBLnhiov2DGi1BTfMBaeXatLxBI9gBaerbd9wDYLwzYbItLDharqqtubsr4rNCHbGeaGqiFu0Je9sqqrpepC0xbbL8F4rqqrFfpeea0xe9Lq=Jc9vqaqpepm0xbba9pwe9Q8fs0=yqaqpepae9pg0FirpepeKkFr0xfr=xfr=xb9adbaqaaeGaciGaaiaabeqaamaabaabaaGcbaWaaeWaaeaafaqabeGacaaabaGaamyyamaaBaaaleaacaaIXaGaaGPaVlaaigdaaeqaaaGcbaGaamyyamaaBaaaleaacaaIXaGaaGPaVlaaikdaaeqaaaGcbaGaamyyamaaBaaaleaacaaIYaGaaGPaVlaaigdaaeqaaaGcbaGaamyyamaaBaaaleaacaaIYaGaaGPaVlaaikdaaeqaaaaaaOGaayjkaiaawMcaaaaa@47ED@

This ambiguity test is one on which MathSpeak does poorly:

n+1 n +n+ 1 n +1 MathType@MTEF@5@5@+=feaafeart1ev1aqatCvAUfeBSjuyZL2yd9gzLbvyNv2CaerbuLwBLnhiov2DGi1BTfMBaeXatLxBI9gBaerbd9wDYLwzYbItLDharqqtubsr4rNCHbGeaGqiFu0Je9sqqrpepC0xbbL8F4rqqrFfpeea0xe9Lq=Jc9vqaqpepm0xbba9pwe9Q8fs0=yqaqpepae9pg0FirpepeKkFr0xfr=xfr=xb9adbaqaaeGaciGaaiaabeqaamaabaabaaGcbaWaaSaaaeaacaWGUbGaey4kaSIaaGymaaqaaiaad6gaaaGaey4kaSIaamOBaiabgUcaRmaalaaabaGaaGymaaqaaiaad6gaaaGaey4kaSIaaGymaaaa@3F82@

A double angle formula:

cos(2x)= cos 2 x sin 2 x MathType@MTEF@5@5@+=feaafeart1ev1aaatCvAUfeBSjuyZL2yd9gzLbvyNv2CaerbuLwBLnhiov2DGi1BTfMBaeXatLxBI9gBaerbd9wDYLwzYbItLDharqqtubsr4rNCHbGeaGqiFu0Je9sqqrpepC0xbbL8F4rqqrFfpeea0xe9Lq=Jc9vqaqpepm0xbba9pwe9Q8fs0=yqaqpepae9pg0FirpepeKkFr0xfr=xfr=xb9adbaqaaeGaciGaaiaabeqaamaabaabaaGceaabbeaaciGGJbGaai4BaiaacohacaGGOaGaaGOmaiaadIhacaGGPaGaeyypa0Jaci4yaiaac+gacaGGZbWaaWbaaSqabeaacaaIYaaaaOGaaiikaiaadIhacaGGPaGaeyOeI0Iaci4CaiaacMgacaGGUbWaaWbaaSqabeaacaaIYaaaaOGaaiikaiaadIhacaGGPaaabaGaeyypa0JaaGOmaiGacogacaGGVbGaai4CamaaCaaaleqabaGaaGOmaaaakiaacIcacaWG4bGaaiykaiabgkHiTiaaigdaaeaacqGH9aqpcaaIXaGaeyOeI0IaaGOmaiGacohacaGGPbGaaiOBamaaCaaaleqabaGaaGOmaaaakiaacIcacaWG4bGaaiykaaaaaa@5D0D@

And finally, no math page would be complete without the solution for the quadratic equation:

x= b b 2 4ac 2a MathType@MTEF@5@5@+=feaafeart1ev1aqatCvAUfeBSjuyZL2yd9gzLbvyNv2CaerbuLwBLnhiov2DGi1BTfMBaeXatLxBI9gBaerbd9wDYLwzYbItLDharqqtubsr4rNCHbGeaGqiFu0Je9sqqrpepC0xbbL8F4rqqrFfpeea0xe9Lq=Jc9vqaqpepm0xbba9pwe9Q8fs0=yqaqpepae9pg0FirpepeKkFr0xfr=xfr=xb9adbaqaaeGaciGaaiaabeqaamaabaabaaGcbaGaamiEaiabg2da9maalaaabaGaeyOeI0IaamOyaiabgglaXoaakaaabaGaamOyamaaCaaaleqabaGaaGOmaaaakiabgkHiTiaaisdacaWGHbGaam4yaaWcbeaaaOqaaiaaikdacaWGHbaaaaaa@42CC@

All of these examples were written in Microsoft Word and MathType and exported to MathML using MathType’s “MathPage” technology. MathPage technology was added to MathType in version 5.0. No special work is needed to author the expressions to make them accessible. Any product that exports MathML will produce pages that MathPlayer can speak.

For a larger real life example, see this page. Also, MSN Encarta uses MathML on many of their web pages that contain math, so much of their Math should be accessible using MathPlayer.

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