[nabs] Math on the computer
dornetta at gmail.com
Thu Dec 9 23:11:43 GMT 2010
Hello: I am interested in your opinion on AGC. I made attempts to use it
this past summer and found that it was too complicated for my "beginners"
level and figured it was awaste of my hard-earned money! I just decided to
purchase the talking scientific caluculator instead and while I could not
complete graphs, I remember enough about them from HS to instruct someone to
draw them for me. :-) Like you I am interested in a math editor since I
have several math classes with statistics being one of them to complete.
"Just because you are blind, does not mean you lack vision"-Stevie Wonder
----- Original Message -----
From: "Birkir Rúnar Gunnarsson" <birkir.gunnarsson at gmail.com>
To: <nabs at acb.org>
Sent: Thursday, December 09, 2010 10:14 AM
Subject: Re: [nabs] Math on the computer
I am a newcomer to this list and am hoping to be able to answer some
questions, especially as it relates to access to math. I also hope to
learn a lot myself.
Disclaimer: I recently took up an accessibility product manager for
one of the companies that makes math processing software. My job there
is not necessarily to sell products (the reason I am not specifying
which company) but to work for improved math accessibility in general,
which will benefit the industry as a whole and, what excites me much
more, give us a better chance at academic and professional success in
I am blind, got two degrees from Yale Uniersity in 2002 (finance and
computer science), but want to independently try to go back to some
college math using no readers and only technology.
This being said, here are some thoughts for some of your questions,
let's share as much as we can.
Game theory and probability: I took a similar course in cllege, only
managed a B but it was a lot of fun and one of my favorite courses.
Truth tables you could just construct in notepad really, usually truth
table is just combination of values, something like
if a is 0 and b is 1, then a and b is 0 (and is only true if both are
true), a or b is 1 (true if either is true) a xor b is 1 (only true of
one of them is true) etc.
You could also use Excel (I've found, after college when I started
working, that Excel can do a lot of things fairly accessibly).
For a probability tree you could imagine starting in, say, sell h2
with the route, then you can go to g3 for one branch and i3 for the
other branch and makr the probabilities of each, say, 0.5, this way
you might be able to construct a fairly readable tree in Excel with
the root at the top.
For drawing those, I am not sure, it's tricky. I know ViewPlus Iveo
might help if someone draws the trees for you, I think there is also
the TTT which does a similar thing.
Lo tech, someone might just draw this on a plastic sheet for you.
In terms of math editors, this is really one of our biggest problems
An accessible LaTeX editor would be TexNic center (just Google it). In
"tools, options, there is something called "turn on accessibility" or
"screen readers" which you have to check. After that TexNic is a very
I have a document on how to get it working (you have to install a Tex
compiler and point the editor to it), feel free to contact me directly
if you want the instructions. This is freeware.
A good book on LaTex is:
The only other editors that are blind friendly and allow you to input
non-text or ascii symbols would be ChattyInfty (goes with the
InftyReader scanning program), and lambda (Italian company, the idea
is very good but since the EU research funding ran out it seems the
customer service and improvements have gone way down too).
lambda has braille support, ChattyInfty does not really.
These editors are not free, I think lambda is around $160 and I can't
remember the ChattyInfty one, probably similarly priced.
You can also learn to use the R language (very good for statistics and
graphs), juts google R or R project.
We can use the command line interface fairly easily (again, if you are
interested, send me an email off-list and I can walk you through the
It has limitations and is not a good "editor" but it is very powerful
and can calculate all sorts of probabilities, handles matrices and
advanced statistical stuff very well.
I just obtained a copy of the Audio Graphing Calculator (AGC) from
ViewPlus. I've heard good things about it, but I cannot vouch for it
yet. I will post back once I have played with it a bit.
I am mostly interested in how accessible the books you ask for in
science turn out to be. I think we need to fight for better and
timelier delivery of text books and not just muddle through using
readers (as I did).
I believe the only two accessible options for text books would be
Daisy with math ml exposed (wich you can play with Daisy players from
GH or Dolphin). By exposing the math ml in the text book A.T. vendors
can do a much better job of processing it and delivering it in an
accessible manner. This is, hopefully, going to be a part of the NIMAS
format for K-12 education as early as February of next year, but at
the post secondary level there are no accurate regulations. Mostly we
get pdf files from publishers that are questionably accessible at
best, I believe, at least this was the case last year when I was
taking a course (refresher on statistics).
The other way would be to have the equations in the LaTeX code as part
of your text in a text book.
As far as I am aware there is no other way to really deliver
accessible math text books to students.
For probability and statistics youcan always try to Google "game
theory excel workbook" or something similar.
This is often a quick way to catch up on basic things using Excel (no,
I am not affiliated with Microsoft *grin* but learnt to use Excel in
all sorts of scenarios at work).
Please keep this up, I'm very interested in your experiences with math
at the college level so I hope it is ok if I can follow your success,
and I hope to both answer questions and learn new solutions as part of
this list too.
Cheers and good luck
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