What does an accessible math equation sound like? Use NASA's Swing components
By Peter Korn on Aug 29, 2006
NASA's Johnson Space Center Learning Technologies have been working for a while on making science accessible to people with vision impairments. In particular, Dr. Robert Shelton has developed the Math Description Engine for programatically describing (in text) and conveying (in audio) 2 dimensional mathematical equations. MDE consists of a set of reusable Java classes, and several embeddable Swing GUI elements (like the CartesianGraph component) that can be embedded in Java applications that want to render accessible 2D graphs. MDE will provide English descriptions of 2D equations in "math mode" or "visual mode", and will also generate and audio file to convey the graph (or specific tones to be played for specific points for folks who want to explore the graph).
In addition to this engine, Dr. Shelton and his team have put this engine into the MathTrax Java application, which you can download for Mac or PC. This app, as well as MDE itself, have been tested with screen readers on Windows, and are known to work with JAWS (and MathTrax for Windows itself includes a Java Runtime as well as a copy of the Java Access Bridge).