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Re: Formula

From: Matthew Smith <matt@kbc.net.au>
Date: Thu, 27 Jan 2005 19:24:54 +1030
Message-ID: <41F8AC5E.8080406@kbc.net.au>
To: Budy Harnata <budy.harnata@u21global.com>
CC: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org

Budy Harnata wrote:
> How do I implement accessibility for mathematical formula without 
> MathML? Do I need to spell out the formula in the alternate text? What 
> is the correct way to create an alternate text of a complex formula, 
> like the following:

You certainly need to provide an alternative to using an image; I even had to 
fiddle with your e-mail to view it as I don't use HTML mail.

Presenting the formula in MathML is good, but I don't think that every user 
agent (browser) will be able to render it.  There is also the accessibility 
issue of presenting maths to non-mathematicians!

I'm no expert in this field, but will present my thoughts on the matter:

You could consider writing it as you might when programming, for instance, the 
square root of 2 could be represented SQRT(2).  You could then improve on this 
by defining what we mean by SQRT thus:
<abbr title="square root">SQRT</abbr>(2)

A square can be represented as x^2.  We could use our abbr again as:
x<abbr title="to the power of">^</abbr>2.

Greek letters could be given their names (alpha, beta, gamma, delta, ....)

At the end of the day, any formula is just a short-form notation which we should 
be able to express - albeit in a more long-winded manner - in English (or the 
language of our choice).



Matthew Smith
Kadina Business Consultancy
South Australia
Received on Thursday, 27 January 2005 08:55:20 UTC

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