Web Posted on: December 9, 1998

# SPEECH RECOGNITION + VOICED MATHEMATICS = ACCESSIBILITY

**Dr. Henry L. Gray**

**Charles F. Frensley**

Professor of Statistics and Mathematics Southern Methodist University

Author of ArithmeticTalk(TM), MathTalk(TM), MathBrailleTalk(TM), and MathTalk Pro(TM).

Vice-President, Metroplex Voice Computing.

**Nancilu McClellan**

President, Metroplex Voice Computing, Inc.

http://www.mathtalk.com

long@onramp.net

P.O. Box 121984, Arlington, TX 76012.

In the United States today, students are choosing to avoid mathematics and science at an alarming rate.

There is , however, a rich untapped reservoir of children, and young men and women (namely the physically impaired) who, given the opportunity, could contribute to relieving the shortage of young talent in science and mathematics. It is an unquestionable reality that there are numerous children, and young women and men, who are forever barred from science and mathematics because of physical handicaps. One only has to look at Stephen Hawkins to see that, through proper use of computers, the barriers to these individuals can be removed.

The language of science is mathematics. With the possible exception of some areas of biology, without some skill in this language, the student is forever barred from science. Past arithmetic, it is virtually impossible to learn mathematics if one cannot "write" a logical string of symbols, and without learning arithmetic, there is no stepping stone to higher mathematics.

Rapid improvement of speech recognition systems over the past few years has provided the technical expertise for development of voiced mathematics.

This presentation will demonstrate the results of combining the new technology with custom programming research and development. This combination has removed numerous barriers for the physically impaired who cannot use a keyboard or mouse and has provided the opportunity to remove additional barriers for the visually impaired.

## ARITHMETICTALK:

The beginning of mathematics is arithmetic. ArithmeticTalk was developed in response to educators' comments that higher mathematics programs were useless unless the student understood the basics. ArithmeticTalk meets this basic need. Dr. Gray wrote it to match the textbooks for grades two through five/six. The program utilizes MSWord (R)97 and DragonDictate(R).

The cast of characters in ArithmeticTalk competing for arithmetic knowledge are:

- Professor Wise Owl - the ultimate teacher
- Max - a big bull dog who says no one can learn to add - he does
- Miss Henny - a bashful chicken who learns to subtract
- Benny the Bunny - learns to multiply
- Gus - The Great Green Dragon - learns to divide
- Susie - the Turtle - competes with Gus

The following is a live presentation of ArithmeticTalk showing how to do addition, subtraction, multiplication and division with voice. Notice how the voice commands make the student "voice" arithmetic language such as carry the 1, one's place, ten's place, dividend and divisor. Students can do arithmetic, and the program can assist teachers in preparing lessons/homework.

MathTalk was created for students in grades 6 through Ph.D. With over 4,000 voiced math commands, MathTalk users can voice from beginning algebra, advanced algebra, calculus and to Ph.D. professional.

Numerous frequently used formulas such as quadratic formula, binomial formula, three d wave equation , Bessel function, and others can be executed by just saying the command.

The program uses Word97, MathType(TM), and DragonDictate. Mathematics is voiced in MathType and a toggle command allows movement to Word for text insertion and back to MathType for mathematics. The user can do math lessons or , for the advanced math student, prepare complex papers/presentations. Also, there is a version that uses NaturallySpeaking Professional(R) in Word97 - MathTalk Deluxe(TM). Teachers and professionals will find this a useful tool for preparing lessons/papers.

We will now show a demonstration of MathTalk and Mathtalk Deluxe.

## MATH BRAILLE TALK:

This program was specifically designed for a sighted teacher of the visually impaired to very easily and rapidly prepare math lessons/papers that are quickly translated and embossed into Braille.

The program uses the Duxbury Braille Transltor(R) (DBT) for Microsoft Windows(R) ,version 10.2, and DragonDictate.

The teacher does not have to remember hundreds of keystrokes or the Nemeth Math Code. The math commands are voiced, translated to Braille, and embossed. Users have said the time saving is about 50% over manual methods. Complex formulas such quadratic formula, 3 x 3 matrix, binomial formula and many more are available with a voice command.

We will now demonstrate Math Braille Talk.

## MathTalk PRO:

MathTalkPro voices Scientific Notebook(TM) and Scientific WorkPlace(TM). These are two powerful companion mathematics programs. They incorporate Maple(TM) and LaTeX(TM) capabilities and are most useful from grades 6 through graduate school and for professionals who use advanced mathematics.

These programs will solve problems from beginning algebra to advanced calculus. Now you students, don't get too excited, Dr. Gray has provided teachers the option to "turn off" the solving commands.

The programs also have graphing capabilities. 2D polar, 3D polar. and 3 D rectangular are examples of voicing graphs.

We will now demonstrate MathTalkPro and we will show you how it solves and graphs - all with voice commands..

## CURRENT RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT:

It is possible that accessible mathematics for the visually impaired can be a reality if voiced programs can accomplish the following:

- Provide an echo of a voiced math command so that the student knows what the computer placed on the screen.
- Provide a correction technique for occasions when there is a misrecognition.
- Provide a method for the student to review lengthy strings of commands, such as components in the quadratic formula , and have a method to correct or change a component in the string. Options being considered are "read back" techniques ( Henter -Joyce,Inc. and Mark Nelson, Foundation for Blind Children are working with us on this - reading back mathematics is not the normal screen reading situation.); embossing the work to be proof read or using attached hardware such as Blazie Braille Light 40 or PowerBraille.

Provide a method for printing and embossing the student's work product.

The following are ongoing research and development of the foregoing programs to include the necessary visually impaired components.

## ARITHMETICTALK:

The plan is to voice arithmetic lessons in Word97 with an echo, read back, and correction. Then, copy the lessons into the Duxbury Braille Translator for Windows (DBT) for translation/embossing into Braille.

The echo and read back techniques are perfected. The correction technique is being studied. Duxbury System's Inc. is working on having DBT emboss the arithmetic in columnar form just like the lessons appear in the text books.

## MATHTALK:

The echo and a portion of the read back/correction options are completed. The major hurdle for this program is to find some way to get the work translated/embossed.

## MATH BRAILLE TALK:

The echo and a portion of the read back/correction options are completed. With the DBT capabilities, translation/embossing is not an issue.

## MATHTALKPRO:

MAVIS (Mathematics Accessible For Visually Impaired Students) at New Mexico State University and Texas School for the Blind are working with us on MathTalkPro ( Scientific Notebook/Scientific WorkPlace).

MAVIS has developed a Nemeth Braille Filter that will translate the voice created mathematics into Braille.

The echo, read back, correction situations are being studied. Embossing the graphs is being tested by a couple of firms who manufacture embossing equipment. They are confident that the graphs can be embossed.

MathTalkPro is the leading candidate for eventual use by the visually impaired.

Dr. Gaylen Kapperman, Northern Illinois University, is developing a Nemeth Math Code tutor. He is working with us to have the tutor program be a part of the visually impaired package.

We will now demonstrate the current status of the visually impaired mathematics accessibility program.

We feel the technology is available to create voiced programs for the visually impaired student. The only barrier now is time and money. We have demonstrated the voice products to the US Department of Education and the National Science Foundation and have advised them of the visually impaired research and development. Applications for grants to assist in rapid development of the visually impaired products have been submitted to each agency.

We hope we have a future presentation entitled:

- SPEECH RECOGNITION + VOICED MATHEMATICS = ACCESSIBILITY FOR THE VISUALLY IMPAIRED.

*(C), (TM), (R) - Metroplex Voice Computing, Duxbury Systems, Inc, Microsoft, Dragon Systems, Inc., Design Science,Inc., MacKichan Software,Inc. (c) - Metroplex Voice Computing, 1998, All Rights Reserved*