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April 2014 Software Development Update

2014 April 30
by jnoblitt

gh, LLC Updates WAVES Math Tool to Enable Internet-based Use
Submitted by Wunji Lau

The original WAVES software, developed by gh, LLC under a grant from the DIAGRAM Center, is a small Windows application that provides accessible math input and output for blind and visually impaired users. The Web Accessible Virtual Electronic Scratchpad offers a streamlined interface for quick selection of mathematical symbols, voice output for math expressions, and flawless MathML conversion to and from user-inputted math. In early 2014, gh completed work on a major upgrade to WAVES, called JSWAVES (for JavaScript WAVES).

The new JSWAVES update consists of almost entirely new code, duplicating most functions of WAVES, but in a form that doesn’t require anything to be installed on the user’s computer. Instead, JSWAVES can be run in a web browser directly from a website, so any computer with an Internet connection can have access to the tool.

WAVES JSWAVES
Program is installed on local hard drive Program runs on a remote server, and is accessed via the Internet
Limited customization options: toolbar contents, button arrangement Extensive customization options: complete graphical themes, icons, order of character entry (e.g., Reverse Polish notation), and operator precedence (e.g., how complex fractions are displayed)
Voice feature reads math out loud No voicing
Designed for accessible math input/output Designed as a “sandbox” for developers to build from

Website owners can make JSWAVES available to visitors to their site, providing an easy-to-use accessible math reading and input interface for a wide range of applications. JSWAVES is currently tested on Internet Explorer, Chrome, and Firefox browsers.

Tools Working Group Update
The DIAGRAM Tools Working Group held its last quarterly meeting for the program year on April 21, 2014. The main topic of conversation was the idea of using a protocol handler instead of a browser plugin to launch assistive technologies and other applications for mathematics.  Detailed notes of the discussion are on the Tools WG wiki, but please also see Gerardo’s write-up of the proposed approach.  Comments are welcome at the bottom of that page (you don’t need to login, but please sign your name at the end of the comment). Please let co-chairs Gerardo Capiel or Geoff Freed know if you have any questions.

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