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For Immediate Release

MathPlayer 2.0 Makes Math in Web Pages Accessible to Visually Impaired Readers

LONG BEACH, Calif. -- July 22, 2004 -- Design Science announced today the release of version 2.0 of its free MathPlayer mathematics display engine for Microsoft's Internet Explorer 6.0 web browser. MathPlayer enables Internet Explorer to display, and now speak, mathematical notation embedded in HTML and XHTML web pages using MathML. Its new features include math-to-speech technology, compatibility with screen reader software used by the visually impaired to read web pages, increased cross-browser compatibility via XHTML support, and improved mathematical formatting. MathML is an XML-based language for representing mathematical notation standardized by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) in 1998.

The accessibility of online content to visually impaired readers is already a requirement in many environments. Section 508 of the US Rehabilitation Act mandates that government web sites be useful to the visually impaired and accessibility is virtually required for online educational material. Visually impaired readers often use software packages, called "screen readers", to speak the content of the web page using a computer-synthesized voice. Until the release of MathPlayer 2.0, screen readers were unable to speak the math embedded in a web page because equations were often merely bitmapped images. Using Microsoft's Active Accessibility (MSAA) interface, screen readers can now take advantage of MathPlayer's math-to-speech technology to read web page text and math together, providing a seamless experience for the reader. Screen readers known to work with MathPlayer include JAWS, Window-Eyes, HAL, Read & Write, and BrowseAloud. Another MathPlayer 2.0 feature, MathZoom, aids partially sighted readers by providing an enlarged view of an equation whenever the reader clicks on it.

MathPlayer 2.0 also includes better cross-browser compatibility by supporting the XHTML+MathML format also supported by the Mozilla and Netscape browsers. This allows online content providers to publish a single web page format for which a compatible browser is available on virtually all platforms, and eliminates the need for a special stylesheet to provide browser-compatibility. MathPlayer 2.0 also provides better math formatting than earlier versions and, with the addition of expression alignment, provides virtually complete MathML support. According to Paul Topping, Design Science's CEO, "With the release of MathPlayer 2.0, we have made it possible for scientific, technical, and educational publishers to have a powerful new way to add value to their online content. Not only will MathML-enabled content make it possible for the visually impaired to hear the mathematics in web pages, MathPlayer also allows engineers, scientists, and studentssighted or notto copy math from a web page into MathML-enabled computational software packages."

In an effort to accelerate the adoption of MathML in the math, science, and education communities, MathPlayer can be downloaded free from the MathPlayer product area of the Design Science website (www.dessci.com/mathplayer). Anyone publishing web pages that include MathML can use the company's "Download MathPlayer" button on their web pages, linking their readers to the free software.

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, Equation Editor in Microsoft Office, WebEQ, MathFlow, MathPlayer and TeXaide, to communicate on the web and in print. For more information please visit www.dessci.com.

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Contact:

Bruce Virga
Vice President Sales
brucev@dessci.com
800-827-0685
562-432-2920

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

 

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