[tex4ht] The need for STEM braille materials (slightly OT)

Susan Jolly easjolly at ix.netcom.com
Wed Oct 26 21:36:44 CEST 2011


I don't know how to estimate the number you asked for.  There are something 
like 50,000 blind and visually-impaired K-12 students in the US and many 
many more in other countries, including much larger numbers in China and 

You might want to look at the archives of the international Blindmath list 
to get a sense of the need.
However I should warn you that you could start a flame war if you were to 
post your query to blindness organizations as it would be considered as 
quite insulting.
You can also search on the term "math" in the profiles posted in conjuction 
with the recent Braille21 international conference:

Note that this question is somewhat of a chicken and egg question.  While 
there are many braille readers around the world who would love to have 
better access to advanced technical materials such as those on arXiv, there 
are likely a much greater number of capable blind students who've dropped 
out of math, science, and engineering courses because they could not get 
accurate and timely braille transcriptions of needed materials.  (Here in 
the US it costs upward of $5000 to transcribe a single technical book to 
http://www.atpc.net/index.php?Page=BFee&Action=SetToDefault )

Many college professors prepare course materials in LaTeX and many 
braille-using students are reduced to reading LaTeX source rather than 
braille math.  I know that as a sighted person with a strong background in 
math I find it very difficult to come to a good mathematical understanding 
of math expressions in unrendered LaTeX so I can only imagine how tedious it 
must be for a braille reader.

The fundamental point is not whether access to arXiv per se is needed but 
that any solution to that problem would likely be a solution to the more 
general problem of providing better access to technical materials. You can 
read more about the general problem here.

Susan Jolly

P.S.  Paulo if you are interested in helping with this problem I suggest you 
start by contacting your UC Berkeley Disabled Students' Program or find out 
what your own department is doing in this area.

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