# Re: Comment on WAI-ARIA Role

From: Neil Soiffer <Neils@dessci.com>
Date: Thu, 21 Feb 2008 09:45:50 -0800
Message-ID: <d98bce170802210945x4b416c98ufa0f83e6f5115bb7@mail.gmail.com>
To: "Michael A Squillace" <masquill@us.ibm.com>

Adding subtypes sounds very sensible.  I'm not sure physics is really
separate, but definitely chemistry formulas are read differently than math
expressions.  Biological structures (eg, DNA) have their own renderings and
tend not to look much like math (at least the ones I've seen), so I'm not
sure they would belong in the same category as a formula.

Neil Soiffer
Senior Scientist
Design Science, Inc.
neils@dessci.com
www.dessci.com.
~ Makers of Equation Editor, MathType, MathPlayer and MathFlow ~

On Thu, Feb 21, 2008 at 5:35 AM, Michael A Squillace <masquill@us.ibm.com>
wrote:

> I like this idea but would suggest that we have a role like 'formula' and
> math-formula might be one subtype. One could imagine other formulat types
> like chemistry, physics, biology, etc.
>
> --> Mike Squillace
> IBM Human Ability and Accessibility Center
> Austin, TX
>
> W:512.823.7423
> M:512.970.0066
>
> masquill@us.ibm.com
> www.ibm.com/able
>
>
>
>             "Neil Soiffer"
>             <Neils@dessci.com
>             >                                                          To
>             Sent by:                  w3c-wai-pf@w3.org,
>             t@w3.org                                                   cc
>
>                                                                   Subject
>             02/21/2008 01:25          Comment on WAI-ARIA Role
>             AM
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> I work for Design Science, which is a W3C member.  I am a member of the
> MathML Working Group and have been since its inception.  I am also chair
> of
> the DAISY/Math Working Group.  That WG developed a spec that added MathML
> to DAISY; it was approved about a year ago.  Our company developed
> MathPlayer, the standard "plug-in" for IE to display MathML both visually
> and aurally.  MathPlayer works with JAWS, Window-Eyes, TextHELP, and other
> AT to make math encoded with MathML accessible.  It is capable of
> generating speech, synchronized highlighting, and braille from the MathML.
>
> I have a request for an additional "role" to further support math
> accessibility.  First, some context...
>
> Because of browser implementation issues, MathML adoption has not been as
> widespread as it should otherwise be.  A lot of people/sites, including
> wikipedia, still use images for math.  However, the images often include
> alt text or embedded comments that could be used to make the image
> accessible.  An idea that Design Science has been thinking about is
> writing
> JavaScript that grabs the alt text or embedded comments and provides some
> level of accessibility.  For example, if the image contains embedded
> MathML
> and MathPlayer was installed, then the javascript could rewrite the page
> as
> one containing MathML and MathPlayer could take over display and
> interaction with AT.  If MathPlayer wasn't installed (for example, someone
> is running Firefox on Linux), the JavaScript could still do the
> translation
> of MathML to speech and braille.  It wouldn't be able to magnify or sync
> highlight.  If TeX or some other known format was found, the JavaScript
> could translate it to MathML and then make it accessible.
>
> The same JavaScript accessibility issues arise with this idea as with
> other
> JavaScript -- AT doesn't know about the JavaScript and doesn't know that
> the image (or div/span for JSMath) is really math.  If it did know, then
> it
> could call on our interfaces (or eventually some standard expert handler
> interface) and get an appropriate string to speak or string to send to the
> braille display (math has it own braille codes and they are not identical
> to what is spoken).
>
> Now for the suggestion...  ARIA should have a way to say 'this element is
> actually math'.  My non-expert suggestion for how to do this would be to
> add a "math" role to the list of known roles.  'math' would be similar to
> 'grid' in that it represents document structure and contains other
> elements.  Ideally, an extensible mechanism would be desirable, but math
> is
> an obvious case that maps onto an existing W3C standard and would enhance
> existing pages that don't use MathML.
>
> As a real life example from Wikipedia [
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nth_root], the first image in the XHTML could
> attribute as
> <img class="tex" alt="\sqrt[n]{a}" role="math" src="
>
> .
> ">
>
> [Note:  the alt text is present on the Wikipedia page.  The TeX was used
> to
> generate the image in the first place]
>
> Adding role="math" says that the alt text or comments in the image
> contains
> information that can be used for accessibility purposes.  It alerts AT
> software so that they can call on some expert math handler to get
> information about how to handle the element.
>
> Neil Soiffer
> Senior Scientist
> Design Science, Inc.
> neils@dessci.com
> www.dessci.com.
> ~ Makers of Equation Editor, MathType, MathPlayer and MathFlow ~
>
>
>
>
>

Received on Thursday, 21 February 2008 17:46:15 UTC

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