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

Paulo Ney de Souza desouza at math.berkeley.edu
Thu Oct 27 02:40:12 CEST 2011

  Thanks! This is quite helpful in gauging the need. I have some 
resources that I can place in a project like this one, but I need to be 
able to justify it - no insult meant... but I should have sent it only 
to you rather than the list - there are probably no-one (in the list) 
here that can gauge the need, as well as you. I did not ask for the 
sizes in order to be dismissive, I asked so I can't justify it to the 
best I can.

I do know DSP here in Berkeley very well and have interacted with them 
in many occasions... but that does not help me know the numbers of 
interested people.

It is shame that there are no Braille drivers for TeX. In the beginning 
of the 90's when there was a driver for every printer/screen/computer 
around the world, it seemed that one was going to pop up any day. It is 
also a task that does not seem very complex, but people that understand 
way more than I do would have to be consulted here.

TeX4ht may not be the best forum for this one, I don't think that 
technically (even given Eitan's interest, more on that later) there is 
much of a symbiosis going between tex4ht and a Braille DVI driver. At 
the same time, there is quite a bit of work already done in the subject 
and one can find litter all over the web:



TUG supports many specific project development and this is certainly one 
that is well worth it. Some TUG directors read this mailing-list, but 
this is better brought up with them directly.

On the specific issue of the ArXiV. Has anyone ever brought up this 
issue with them ? They do have moneys and some of it strictly dedicated 
to the issue of accessibility.

Paulo Ney

PS. The more I read about how Braille works, the more I get convinced 
that the right way to do it would be to insert micro-pieces of 
information on the DVI file that would guide the translation, and the 
more I understand why Eitan was interested - this was his court!

On 10/26/2011 12:36 PM, Susan Jolly wrote:
> Paulo,
> 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 India.
> You might want to look at the archives of the international Blindmath 
> list to get a sense of the need.
> http://nfbnet.org/pipermail/blindmath_nfbnet.org/2011-October/date.html
> 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:
> http://www.braille21.net/en/braille-ambassadors
> 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 braille.
> 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.
> http://www.access2science.com/
> 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.
> http://dsp.berkeley.edu/

Paulo Ney de Souza
University of California, Berkeley

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