Blind students who read Braille are all too familiar with waiting for Braille versions of their school textbooks. Some blind students can wait up to six months to receive an accessible version of a textbook if they get one at all, leading to a gap in education. The lack of Braille is particularly problematic in STEM subjects.
As blind mathematician and longtime member of the National Federation of the Blind, Dr. Al Maneki says, “A Braille formula enables a person to touch and compare various pieces. Having the computer pronounce a formula for you is not adequate for a blind reader any more than it would be adequate for a sighted reader.”
With a grant from the American Action Fund for Blind Children and Adults, along with support from the National Science Foundation, a working group of members of the National Federation of the Blind and other researchers is developing an automated method for creating textbooks in Braille. The American Institute of Mathematics (AIM) just announced the production method and a week-long workshop to explain and improve on it.
“The National Federation of the Blind is an organization of blind Americans working to solve our own problems and set our own priorities, and as such we take seriously our leadership role in developing solutions that benefit all blind people,” said Mark Riccobono, President of the National Federation of the Blind. “Braille literacy and the availability of Braille textbooks are keys to educational success, particularly in STEM fields. We are proud of our work to use cutting-edge technology for the timely production of Braille textbooks so that blind students, like my two daughters and thousands more, do not needlessly struggle or fall behind their peers.”
Read the official AIM press release.