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Re: [techs] When MathML is not supported, providing alternatives

From: Neil Soiffer <NeilS@DesSci.com>
Date: Mon, 10 Jan 2005 11:01:17 -0800
Message-ID: <029101c4f746$c3e4a710$6601a8c0@raindrops>
To: <wendy@w3.org>, "Al Gilman" <Alfred.S.Gilman@IEEE.org>, "wai-gl" <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
Cc: "Max Froumentin" <mf@w3.org>

[Regrets for missing the call -- I was traveling and my connectivity, both
electronically and with airplanes :-(, was not too good]

>WRT Wednesday's discussion about alternatives for MathML [0,1], a good
>place to start seems to be "XSLT stylesheets for MathML" [2] not only to
>think about using xslt to generate an alternative but for information
>about which browsers have MathML support (i.e., includes a support
>matrix). Next question: which combinations of assistive technology and
>user agent support MathML?

MathML is supported natively in Mozilla-based browsers (Netscape 7, Mozilla
1.x, and Firefox, ???).

MathML is supported via a plug-in in Windows IE6.  MathPlayer [a] is the
common (free) plug-in, but one or two others have announced or pre-announced

The MathML site [b]  has a "Universal Math Style Sheet" (UMSS) [I think the
page is in the process of being updated, and may change sometime soon].  The
UMSS serves to three functions:
1).  It deals with difference between browsers so that a single source can
invoke mathml.  The need for this died away when MathPlayer 2.0 came out
with MIME filtering.
2).  It maps content MathML to presentation MathML for those renderers that
don't have a default presentation associated with content (Mozilla-based
3)   Stylesheets for rendering MathML directly via CSS.  The results are not
great, but are definitely recognizable as the intended Math.
The downside of the UMSS is that for security reasons, IE will not execute
an XSLT stylesheet that is not located on the same server as the
XHTML+MathML document, which means you simply can't reference the UMSS but
have to have a local copy of it and reference a local copy.  With the UMSS,
I think that Opera and maybe other browsers with good XSLT and CSS support
can be considered to be able to render MathML (mostly).

MathPlayer supports MSAA and is known to work with more recent versions of
JAWS, Window-Eyes, and HAL.  It might work with other screenreaders, but I'v
e only tested it on those.  It also works with TextHELPs browsealoud product
( LD software).

>[0] <http://www.w3.org/WAI/GL/WCAG20/tests/test135.html>
>[1] <http://w3.org/2005/01/05-wai-wcag-irc#T15-21-52>
>[2] <http://www.w3.org/Math/XSL/Overview-tech.html>

I'm sorry I wasn't able to participate in the discussion on Wednesday.  From
what I can tell of the discussion in [1], the issue is not really about what
do with MathML is a UA doesn't handle MathML, but what to do about *any*
non-HTML in XHTML.  The same issues apply to SVG or any other extension.
Until UA figure out a way to gracefully handle unknown extensions, I don't
see a way out of the problem.

FYI:  MathML supports "alttext" and "altimg" attributes on the Math tag.
However, if a UA doesn't understand MathML, it won't understand that it can
use these instead.  I'm unaware of any applications that generates them.

[a]  <http://www.dessci.com/en/products/mathplayer>
[b]  <http://www.w3.org/Math/XSL/>
Received on Monday, 10 January 2005 19:00:52 UTC

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