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Announcing ICCHP 2016

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Project "MathInBraille" completed successfully

Launch of the innovative web service MathInBraille

A unique service from the University Linz and the Relief Organization for Austria's Blind and Visually Impaired revolutionizes access to mathematical formulae for the visually impaired.

The illustration of mathematical formulae is one of the most difficult tasks in Braille. Through the newly developed online platform www.mathinbraille.at blind people have the possibility to convert inaccessible mathematical codes into readable Braille and voice output free of charge

man sitting in front of the laptop, using the braille display

Throughout the world there is still no standardized Braille for the illustration of mathematic, mainly because of the national distinction between Braille. Blind and visually impaired People therefore have big difficulties reading math. The project MathInBraille attended to that Problem. The project was founded by the Relief Organization for Austria's Blind and Visually Impaired in cooperation with the Institute Integriert Studieren at the Johannes Kepler University in Linz in 2010.

"Access to literature in Braille did get better over the years unlike access to mathematical code which is either not provided or provided insufficiently," Klaus Miesenberger from the Institute Integriert Studieren at the JKU sums up the initial situtation. "With MathInBraille we are offering a basic, internet based solution, which can be used in everyday life, in school and at University. Since it's fast and easy to use it can clear up some of the problems arising in the trendsetting MINT-subjects." the project manager explains the potential of the online platform.

The project collaborators from the Relief Organization, Klaus Höckner and Daniela Marano, are satisfied with the findings so far and are pointing out the advantages of the free, web-based service: "The user does not have to install software to convert mathematical formulae. Mathematical text that can be converted into Braille and speech readable formats can be created from every computer with access to the internet."

Extensive Development Work

During the extensive development of the innovative web service there were many challenges that needed to be overcome. An 8 point braille system for mathematical formulae that can be read with the braille display needed to be developed. The visual illustration of two-dimensional formulae (e.g. roots and fractions) needed to be converted into one dimension. To generate a usable voice over a verbal mathematic system needed to be defined. That is a regulation how mathematical content has to be read out to be understandable. Computer Scientists at the University Linz developed the software module for the implementation into the online service MathInBraille.

Contribution to Education with Inclusion

The online platform is a good example on how the internet can reduce barriers: "MathInBraille is an important contribution to the digital gap and an innovative step towards education with inclusion", assures Irene Vogel, director of the Relief Organization. Pupils and Students and other blind and seeing impaired people, who are working or are interested in scientific documents can profit from MathInBraille.

Funding through IPA

The support programme Netidee 2010 of the non-profit internet foundation austria (IPA) has financed the project MathInBraille. This is a follow up project of the successfull webservice "RoboBraille-Deutsch" which was also financed by IPA. www.robobraille.at

Questions? Please Contact:

a.Univ.-Prof. Dr. Klaus Miesenberger Tel. 0732 2468 3751
E-Mail: klaus.miesenberger(/\t)jku.at

Bakk. tech. Peter Heumader Tel. 0732 2468 3762
E-Mail: peter.heumader(/\t)jku.at

More Information + Pictures on the web:
http://www.mathinbraille.at
http://www.hilfsgemeinschaft.at/index.php?id=116#c1918

Press Review (german only):
news@ORF.at
wien@ORF.at
derStandard.at
nachrichten.at (OÖ Nachrichten)
WienerZeitung.at
IT-Press.at
futurezone.at

ORF report about MathInBraille (german only):
link to the video