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January 2014 Software Development Update

2014 January 31
by Amaya Webster

Microsoft Funds MathMLCloud
Diligent readers of this newsletter may recall that last year Benetech, the Shuttleworth Foundation, and the Inclusive Design Research Centre held an accessibility “sprint” which brought together leading software developers to discuss, envision, and prototype tools for creating, discovering, and reading accessible rich and interactive eBooks. One of the challenges this group tackled was to find a way to make mathematics in eBooks display consistently and accessibly across devices. See Kathi Fletcher’s excellent summary of the ideas that were generated to solve this problem during the sprint.

Fast-forwarding now just eight months later, the DIAGRAM Center is delighted to announce that Microsoft has agreed to fund a proposal, born from last year’s accessibility sprint, for the development of open-source software and a new service called MathMLCloud. Using a server-side environment, MathMLCloud will

  • enable automated text descriptions of math expressions to be generated for the majority of reading devices that do not read MathML
  • provide links to the original MathML

This means that content producers can author mathematical expressions in MathML knowing that their product will be backwards-compatible with all reading devices and provide minimal and advanced levels of accessibility for their users.  We could not be more excited that this work will now be moving forward. For those of you interested the technical details, visit this SlideShare presentation where you can also download a PDF version with text describing the process. Stay tuned to this space for further developments as they emerge.

Tools Working Group Update 
The DIAGRAM Tools Working Group will hold its first quarterly meeting of the year on Monday, February 3, 2014 at 9:00 a.m. Pacific time. The group welcomes Keith Creasy of the APH as its newest member. Please let co-chairs Gerardo Capiel or Geoff Freed know if you have ideas to contribute for the next quarterly meeting. Past meeting notes are available on the Tools WG wiki.

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