RE: Use of MathML to Improve Access to Technical Information for the Blind

Year: 
2008
Resolution Number: 
2008-13

RESOLUTION 2008-13
RE: Use of MathML to Improve Access to Technical
Information for the Blind

WHEREAS, while screen access programs and Braille translation software have given the blind unprecedented access to information that is fundamentally coded as literary text, it has been more difficult for these technologies to provide efficient and effective access to information that, at its core, contains scientific and mathematical expressions; and

WHEREAS, publishers of printed textbooks have demonstrated that they have the capacity to provide literary text content as marked up electronic text that can be converted into an accessible format in a relatively straightforward manner, but thus far it would seem that they have supplied mathematical equations and other technical material as images--images that today cannot be converted into accessible formats using automated tools; and

WHEREAS, Mathematical Markup Language (MathML) offers a method for storing and transmitting mathematical expressions and information that does not rely upon the visual appearance of the information but rather its intended meaning; and

WHEREAS, the World Wide Web Consortium, the body that determines the specifications underlying the World Wide Web, is actively engaged in the promulgation of MathML as the key means for the dissemination of mathematical information through the World Wide Web; and

WHEREAS, MathML offers a much greater potential for rendering mathematical expressions in a format that is accessible to the blind as compared to images of the same information: NOW, THEREFORE,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this fifth day of July, 2008, in the city of Dallas, Texas, that this organization call upon publishers to use Mathematical Markup Language as the means for electronically encoding mathematical information instead of images of mathematical equations, which cannot, in and of themselves, be converted automatically into formats that are accessible to the blind; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization call upon the companies who produce and maintain screen access technology and Braille translation software to move without delay to incorporate the ability into their various products to render information coded in MathML in formats such as Nemeth Braille and synthesized speech that are accessible to the blind.

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