Math2Braille - Making Maths Accessible

Release Version Dated 24th February 2005

Updated Technical description of component files and section on providing support for unknown symbols.

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The work is based on recent experience of multimedia modelling techniques and the development of software for producing Braille Music. The intention is to marry this experience to build software which will make mathematics available to a far wider audience of visually impaired people. 

Over the last six years, FNB have been at the forefront of making information accessible for the print impaired. FNB was a founding member of the DAISY Consortium and remains active in this forum. FNB have been active in a large number of European Commission funded projects. The Testlab project examined the provision of materials in accessible formats at a European level and was responsible for policy shifts in member states, such as Greece, Italy the United Kingdom and Ireland. The Multireader project examined complex navigation through digital materials, and the TEDUB project covered a similar area for graphical information. In the field of music, FNB has helped to shaoe emerging multimdeia music technologies. Initial work began on the Cantate project, followed by the Harmonica concerted action. In particular, this period has seen the development of the Miracle system for distributing music in alternative formats, and of Talking Music, a wholly new approach to making music scores accessible. In addition, FNB have been closely involved in the Music Network. The co-ordination action on accessible information provision EUAIN further demonstrates FNB’s pivotal role in this field.

Further information about each of these projects is available at

A great deal of work relating to the presentation of Braille has already been undertaken during the construction of the Braille Music plugin. This work has gained considerable recognition in the specialist, academic and industrial music communities. For further information, and for more detailed descriptions of the approach taken and the justifications for this approach, the following documents are recommended:

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For any questions or requests for additional information send an email to:

Release Version Dated 24th February 2005- Functionality

  1. Takes in a MathML file and allows you to view it in a form which makes the structure readable.(i.e. Internet explorer standard)
  2. The math2braille module then converts the mathML to Braille.
  3. During conversion, a progress bar, allows you to see which stages of conversion are being performed, and also provides a level of debugging, i.e. warnings and errors.
  4. The progress bar will flag any unknown symbols and allow a symbol to be associated with these.
  5. Assuming the transcriber is happy with the output, which can be viewed on a separate output tab. From here it can be printed using the print module. The print module allows a printer or embosser to be chosen from those installed, and also lets the transcriber define the lines per page and the characters per line. Alternatively the file can be saved in the standard save path as a text file and carried on to whichever program or document it is required in. There are two options here, you can save the formatting or the decoding. This gives access to different stages of the Braille which points towards the software’s use as an a open source tool.
  6. If the transcriber is not happy with the output, there are several options.
    1. There is a log journal which gives details on any warnings flagged by the progress bar.
    2. Each of these stages can be highlighted for inspection using the debugging tool, and if necessary the progress can be stopped at any of these stages.
    3. The Braille is saved for each part of the process in the standard output path and can be edited by hand.
    4. Should there be a repercussion of unknown symbols these can be added to the Braille Protocols for FNB stored in: Version0930\XmlDB\Dictionaries\nl-NL
    5. There are further XML based files, for ordering, structuring, formatting etc. These will be covered in documentation for the open source release, but anyone fluent in the XML family of languages should find this information very easy to find due to the intuitive structure of the software design. Whether the transcribers are trained to update these files is the decision of the production. With a simple xml tool such as XMLSpy the work is no different from using a spreadsheet.


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What input is possible to the system?

The mathML can be imported from MathType software running under Microsoft Word. There are other programs for creating MathXML, but these have never been tested with the software. Should you wish to use different software, testing must take place to ensure that the output is suitable for input to the software. If the output is not suitable for the software then a set of input filters can be written. To do this, there are XSLT filters for Mathtype which can be used as templates.
These files can be viewed:

C:……/Math2Braille/ MathTypeAdapterXmlDB

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