February 2019 WAPL Transcript
Nate Evans: Hello, everyone. This is Nate Evans, manager of the digital content and accessibility team within MSU IT. We had a great but packed web accessibility policy liaison meeting last Friday. I genuinely apologize for those who came to the meeting. We packed the room, which was great, but we also put too much information into the session and went a little bit over. It got really chaotic towards the end, so I apologize. I just missed it on that, and we're gonna make sure that we try to avoid doing that going forward.
Nate Evans: In case you missed the meeting, we had a lot of stuff we covered. ITNEXT is an event that's coming up that's gonna align with Global Accessibility Awareness Day in May. We also had an update, or I should say an opportunity for a Microsoft 365 discussion and an investigation, I'll call it, and then we had the one, the only Kate Sonka from the College of Arts and Letters talking about their digital accessibility program. Really, really great work that's going on over there. We also hosted a few folks from the RCPD. Steven, Leslie and Lena talked about how do we get started with accessibly math. It's a really, really great resource. If you're an instructional designer, academic specialist, or faculty member, I really, really encourage you to take a listen to that portion of the episode.
Nate Evans: Then also, if you head on over to webaccess.msu.edu, go to tutorials, the training that they've provided is now available on the website. So, go check that out. It's downloadable, printable. However you learn best, we have it available for you there. So, definitely check that out. Looking ahead, our next web accessibility policy liaison meeting will be on Friday, March 1st at 1:00 over in the natural science building. So, all that to say I hope you join us, and enjoy the episode.
Nate Evans: Good morning. How's everybody doing? [crosstalk 00:01:58] Raise your hand ... Is anybody like a human Popsicle? A couple? Yeah? I'm with you. I was ready to get out of the house. I was getting a little ... Yes. Thank you so much for coming to the February WAPL meeting. Super excited. We've got a pretty full agenda today. Here's our agenda at a glance. We're kicking things off with College of Arts and Letters to talk a little bit about their digital accessibility program. Again, in the same theme, we want to share more and more about what you all are doing within your programs kind of each month to give you a little slice of what's going on.
Nate Evans: We have an opportunity around Microsoft 365 that Nick Noel is gonna talk a little bit about. I have a very fun announcement around Global Accessibility Awareness Day in May. So, we talked a little bit about that at the last meeting, and we'll mention at least a save a date for that, and then we also have a getting started with accessible math session. This is something we've gotten a lot of feedback on over months and years, and so I'm excited to partner with Steven and Leslie on this to present a little bit more on accessible math, as well as Lena. Where's Lena?
Steven: Sitting over here.
Nate Evans: Thank you. Hey, Lena. So, excited to share a little bit more about that. We have some resources on Web Access that are gonna be shared. We can probably share those after the meeting maybe, Jim?
Jim: They are up now at https://webaccess.msu.edu/Tutorials/mathtype.html.
Nate Evans: Yay. All right, good. Then the last thing is we're gonna continue the digital accessibility program retrospective that we started last month, and that was to get some feedback about where we've been in 2018, some things that worked out really well, things we need to improve going into this year, and then cast some vision going forward. So, we've got more folks that weren't at the January meeting, so Dr. Jess Knott, she's gonna lead our discussion for a few minutes to gather a little bit more feedback from you all on that, and then we'll start to cast some ideas and get your feedback going forward as well. So, sound good? All right. Okay. So, I am so excited to introduce Kate Sonka. I lovingly joked ... We met for coffee on Christmas, and I said, "Kate, how is your back feeling?" She's like, "Wait, what?" I was-
Kate Sonka: I was like, "I don't know. I went to the chiropractor recently."
Nate Evans: I was like, "For carrying CAL and MSU forward with digital accessibility," because that would hurt. Right? Bad, bad joke. Okay, got it. All right. Kate and the College of Arts and Letters have been doing so much great work. You've got accessible learning that's been a fantastic initiative for the last few years. She is the lead Teach Access representative from Michigan State University, which has been a fantastic program. They're doing so many things with their digital accessibility interns and improving their course quality for digital accessibility, lots of ... I should just let you talk about.
Kate Sonka: Or not, and I'm gonna sit down. No, it's great.
Nate Evans: I love it, so thank you.
Kate Sonka: No. Okay. Yeah.
Nate Evans: Great partnership, and I'll give it to you.
Kate Sonka: Perfect. Thanks. Nate gave you a great preview of some of the stuff that we're working on in College of Arts and Letters. So, first of all, welcome to Wells Hall. Many of you come in and out of here often, I know, but we are in the B wing, which is where our language faculty, foreign language faculty are located, along with some of our other programs. Our college is spread across seven buildings on campus, so when anyone in our team needs to meet with faculty, often I like to meet with them here because so many of them are in this building, but there's a variety of other buildings that we are in, so that does logistically make things interesting trying to work with our faculty, but we get it done.
Kate Sonka: To that end, one of the things that we did last year, and I know Jeremy's in the back as well, but LaTonya, could you wave your hand, right here in the middle of the room? LaTonya Motley joined our team in spring of last year, and she splits her time between College of Arts and Letters, the academic technology office, as well as Jeremy Van Hof, who's in the back, from Broad College of Business, and she is an accessibility, and UDL, and QM, and instructional designer, and a lot of things. She knows a lot of great stuff. She splits her time between our colleges, helping with a variety of projects.
Kate Sonka: It looks a little bit different between our colleges, what she works on, but for us, it's a variety of things supporting accessibility, as well as some other instructional design type things. You've probably seen her around campus talking about UDL or universal design for learning. She knows a lot about that, as well as quality matters. So, that's one thing that we did in College of Arts and Letters to expand our capacity, was to bring in another teammate, and we're happy to have her because she's awesome.
Kate Sonka: ALC, or the Accessible Learning Conference, how many of you have attended that? So, almost all the hands in the room are going up. So, this is a conference. I won't say too much about it since you're familiar, but in case there are some who are not, we had our fourth iteration of it in December, and this is a conference where we bring people together to talk about accessible learning. That's kind of changed identity over the past few years, and moving forward, I'm sure we'll look at some different things around who our audience is, but in general, it ends up being a variety of people coming together to talk about either what's happening in their classrooms, how they're supporting their faculty or staff.
Kate Sonka: One of the core components of this conference that will remain forever is student involvement. So, I'm passionate about experiential learning and making sure students have an opportunity to try and learn in a variety of ways. Academic conference is a really specific type of thing, which many of you probably can imagine or know, so giving students the opportunity to help with planning, so students on our team in the academic tech office help us with planning, everything from what is the CFP process like, how do we ... We send the proposals out to another group to review, but then how do we build the schedule? What does programming look like? What does engagement look like? How do we make it an accessible event? Then students from all over are invited to come and present if they're accepted, and also attend, and learn how to network with people in the field, learn how to just be around people in an academic setting, conference setting, and so forth. So, that is ALC.
Kate Sonka: Teach Access, which Nate mentioned, how many of you are familiar with Teach Access? A couple of you have maybe heard me talk about it. So, Teach Access got started about three years ago, three of four years ago, and this is a group of tech industry people and universities coming together to see how can we get accessibility into the curriculum. So, we have a distinction. It's not about teaching accessibly. It's about teaching accessibility. So, that's not to say that ... Obviously, accessibility is important in things like our course documents, and obviously making sure our websites are accessible. Absolutely. We absolutely need those.
Kate Sonka: Teach Access supports that, but that's not the work that we do as Teach Access. What we're looking at is how do we help people teach accessibility, faculty, so that students, as they're graduating, are able to move into jobs, careers, work, where they know something about accessibility. Matt May, who is at Adobe, once said, "What we have right now is just a few people who know a lot about accessibility, and what we want is a lot of people who know a little bit." That's not to say that we still always won't need the experts who know a lot, but it benefits everybody when we all know a little something about.
Kate Sonka: I imagine those of you are feeling that in your colleges, right? As you have faculty and staff learn more about accessibility, then they start talking to other people, and it goes from there. So, out of Teach Access, we have the ability to have the large companies come and talk to faculty, so if you have faculty who are teaching accessibility, and they're like, "You know what? I'm about to talk about IOS mobile design, and I want an hour of some expert from Apple to come and talk to me about what that looks like," I can help facilitate someone from Apple calling into your course. So, Teach Access is open and available to come and talk in class.
Kate Sonka: The study away is a program I developed, so we take students out, and Justin is sitting in the back. Wave your hand, Justin. So, Justin went with us on the initial one, the inaugural one that happened in May of last year, and we'll be going out again in May of this year. So, this is a chance for a group of students from a variety of universities to go and spend a week in Silicon Valley visiting these different companies each day, and learning about what accessibility looks like in these companies, how do they handle it, what are the challenges that they face, what does it mean to do accessibility work at these companies, et cetera.
Kate Sonka: I also created or suggested that we create a faculty grant program, so we secured funding from some donors to be able to give out 5,000-dollar grants to faculty across the country to develop curricular material. So, the idea here is that we know what happens when we want to introduce a new course. Right? It has to go through a curriculum committee, and then it has to go to the dean, and then up, and then down, and up and down, and it takes a long time, and that's absolutely something that we'll continue to work on.
Kate Sonka: But sometimes someone might have a half an hour, an hour here and there in a semester where they might be able to, at the very least, introduce what is accessibility. So, having these faculty grants has allowed us to expand our ability, or kind of our curriculum pool, if you will, that we will be able to share out, and so maybe you have an hour, and you could pull from this pool, and it makes sense for your course, whether it's an online or face-to-face course. There's other stuff that we're doing out of Teach Access, but that's a thing that I do. So, if you're interested in it and want to know more about it, come and talk to me.
Kate Sonka: The PALs, the pedagogical accessibility liaisons, so Steven and Jeremy, raise your hands in the back, as well as Leslie and Ashley, also in the back, and Jess, also in the back. Everyone's in the back, at least from where I'm standing. So, the WAPL, what we're in right now, is a phenomenal group. It's a phenomenal place for us to network around digital accessibility, but something that I kept feeling like I wanted to explore some more was what does accessibility mean for pedagogy. Yes, UDL is a thing. We can certainly talk about that, but there's still some elements around accessibility that I want to explore, that I'm interested in exploring, and those people I've identified were in a similar boat.
Kate Sonka: So, we've kind of created this ad hoc group called PALs, because what's a group at a university without a good acronym? So, together we meet about once a month, more or less, depending on what's going on, over lunch, and we just do some idea sharing, and that might look like, hey, I have a first year TA who is teaching a Spanish 101 face-to-face course, and they received a visa two weeks before the semester for a student who's blind, and what do we do, because this instructor was relying so much on visuals, or is going to rely on visuals for teaching them vocabulary and concepts and all of that?
Kate Sonka: So, of course, there's the standard kind of what does the visa say, and what are the accommodation things, but I think there's more there. What does that do to that instructor and how they think about teaching? How do they think about pedagogy? So, they do these things for the student at the request of this accommodation, but what does that mean moving forward? How does that impact their teaching overall? So, we don't know yet is the answer to that, but we're working on it. So, if you're someone who's interested in pedagogy and accessibility, let me know. So, those are big scale things, I would say, that I do in the name of CAL, College of Arts and Letters, and definitely in the name of MSU, specifically in our college ... How much time do I have, by the way? I realize I'm just going for a while.
Nate Evans: Maybe another minute or two.
Kate Sonka: Superb. We've had students working with us on accessibility since Phil was an undergrad, Phil Deaton, who many of you know. So, that's been going on since I've been here, which is almost five years. So, students help us do website reviews. They help us do course reviews similar to all of you in the room, or many of you who do that work, and yes, they're doing that sort of work with us, and then we have a student, Anderson Day, who some of you might know. He's been working with the IOS design lab, which is a new project on campus, so figuring out how to infuse accessibility into that project.
Kate Sonka: In terms of overall as a college, I've got my administration very much onboard with this. They very much support this, so our dean, Dean Chris Long, and our associate deans are all in favor and support it, all of our chairs, our web developers, or developer, our marketing and communications team. So, I get messages all the time from people who are like, "Hey, I'm trying to write this alt text, and I don't really know ... What do I do? How do I say this?" So, we've really worked hard in the College of Arts and Letters to create an environment and a culture of care around accessibility. That's where most of our efforts, I would say, have been going in the last few years, is how do we get people to care about it and know about it, and then yes, that means they'll come and ask us. Totally fine. That's what we want to have happen, but how do we get these conversations going, especially that I don't have to be a part of them all the time?
Kate Sonka: I'm not the only one who in a room is raising my hands saying, "Can we talk about accessibility?" People are doing that outside of me, which is lovely. So, one thing Nate wanted me to touch on is what we might improve on, and definitely our course reviews. We just don't spend as much time with that as, of course, the other things I've mentioned. So, I would say that's where we always have room to grow, is just doing more course reviews, but our goal in creating this culture of care is that if faculty know that this is something they should do in the name of student success, or however they want to name it, that then at least they know to come for us and ask for help when it's time, or the chairs have contacted us to say, "Hey, we have this new instructor. Will you go talk to them?" So, yeah. Any questions, or no? Are there questions?
Nate Evans: That's a great ... Any questions for Kate?
Kate Sonka: That was a lot.
Jessica Knott: Why are you so great?
Nate Evans: Make sure to repeat the question.
Kate Sonka: The question was from a Dr. Jessica Knott. She wanted to know why I was so great, and I don't know have a question for that. I'm powered by cheese and hotdogs, for the record. Other questions? Yes, LaTonya's question. Go ahead.
LaTonya Motley: What do you think is the most common problem that you see most often around faculty in accessibility?
Kate Sonka: A phenomenal question from LaTonya. She wants to know what I think the problem I see the most is around faculty in accessibility, and I think it's working with them on an individual basis to help them understand how to balance all of this. Right? So, I think often we want to get to a place where we're like, "Here's the stuff. Everybody do it, and you're all the same. We know that they're not, but here, everybody follow this thing," and that works for some, but then we definitely have faculty who are in unique situations of what they're teaching, or their research, or the service that they're doing, and the outreach they're doing.
Kate Sonka: So, I think it becomes it isn't possible to apply the same method to every faculty member, just like it's not for our students, as we know. So, for me, it's going to a faculty member, and they might have heard, "Well, I talked with Nate over here, and he said that he did this with this faculty. That doesn't work for me," and it's like, "Cool. We'll figure out something else that works for you." So, that's, I think, what I see, is figuring out the balance between how much can we kind of be effective around, or efficient, I should say, but then how much do we still have to just understand who is that specific faculty member, and what is it that they're feeling like they can't do or that they're not sure how to manage, or how do we kind of bring those two together? Does that help? That's a ... Yeah. Other questions? James Bender?
James Bender: So, how did you do get LaTonya, and what was her role? What did you administratively with that person?
Kate Sonka: Cool. So, the question from James was how College of Arts and Letters and Broad College of Business came together to hire LaTonya, the fabulous, wonderful LaTonya. Yeah. No, I'm not kidding. That's true. So, the question was around administratively. I have a long answer, but the short answer is really it was demonstrating need, and being able to show maybe at the moment neither one of our units had the capacity to bring on a full-time person, but that we needed help in some way, and so there's that piece of, well, if we can't bring on a full-time person, what if we bring on a half-time person, or someone who spends half their time with us? But then also, I think ... I just lost my train of thought. What was the thing I was gonna say, though, about ... I know. I was building up to it. I need more coffee. So, it was demonstrating our need, and-
Jeremy Van Hof: Could I just get in-
Kate Sonka: Yeah.
Jeremy Van Hof: I would say that our two units, our two colleges, communicate very clearly [crosstalk 00:19:16]
Kate Sonka: That's what it was. Thank you. So, Jeremy saved me, as per usual, and it was about our colleges communicating ... It was about collaboration. So, thank you, Jeremy. Well played. So, our college, as some of you maybe are aware of, maybe not, our dean is super into collaboration. He wants to be taking with people in different disciplines, et cetera, et cetera, and so that was also part of our conversation, was we work all the time with College of Natural Science ... You guys, something's happening up here. I know. We work all the time with other colleges. We haven't done as much with Broad College, and this is a way that we could work together with them. So, it was, one, demonstrating need, but two, thinking about where is there collaboration that we haven't already really explored or started to explore, so yeah. I lost my train of thought like five times in that, which means I'm gonna sit down.
Nate Evans: Well played. Thank you, Kate.
Kate Sonka: Okay.
Nate Evans: I will turn it over to Nick to give a quick update on Microsoft 365 opportunity.
Nick Noel: Okay. I'm gonna be real quick because I cannot adjust my audio from this distance. Hi, everyone. My name's Nick Noel. I work for IT Services. I am an instructional designer. One of the projects I'm working on is bringing general awareness about Office 365 to campus, and one of the ways we're doing that is trying to show the ways that it can be used in teaching. Instead of just going from a strictly technologically training aspect, we're gonna show, hey, in addition to how you use it, here's why. So, I've kind of formed a little informal group that is exploring kind of analyzing what we need and what these things can do, and then hopefully moving into designing kind of workshops and other training activities around those things.
Nick Noel: So, if anybody wants to join that, is anybody interested? We meet up once every two weeks or so for now. Pretty much we're just in a discussion/analyze phase, so any perspective you could bring to that would be great, like hey, this is how we're using it, or this is why I hate you. That's fine, too. Hopefully, not too much of that, but we just want to hear what people are doing and what they need. So, contact me. You can find me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Look me up under Nick Noel. Contact Nate, and he'll forward everything to me, too. That's about it. So, do you have any questions? I can take them right now, or you can email me later. Jessica Knott?
Jessica Knott: Nick, why are you so great?
Jim: What was the question?
Nick Noel: Oh, thank you. So, Dr. Knott asked why I am so great. When I was very small, I lived under a cupboard, and then I got a ... It's like an owl came and then took me to this magical thing. Anyway, it's boring. Fought an evil wizard, won. Anyway, now I do this.
Jessica Knott: Thank you. Thank you.
Nate Evans: I feel like Nick gets a round of applause for that one, too. That was really good. That was good. Awesome. Okay. Very brief, I want ... We talked at the last meeting about ITNEXT briefly. Dawn Baker, MSU IT chief of staff came, talked a little bit about this idea, which is an event that IT does. It usually is annual, I think, and the last one was on IT security. This one, she came to me with this idea and said, "Hey, we'd love to talk about accessibility and inclusion, and I've heard about this Global Accessibility Awareness Day. Does MSU do anything around that day?" I reached out to a few people, and I said, "I don't know, but let me ask," and it looks like we don't.
Nate Evans: So, we thought we should, so save the date. The next Global Accessibility Awareness Day is May 16th, 2019. It's a Thursday. I would recommend saving the morning portion of that day. I don't know how that looks, but I would love to have a conversation with all of y'all, anyone who's interested, about, hey, what would be beneficial to bring awareness on Global Accessibility and Awareness Day? So, we'll be having more conversations about that, but I'd be grateful for your feedback on that. So, with that, I'll leave it there. We're gonna transition at this point to getting started with accessible math update, so bear with us. Give us 60 seconds to kind of switch stuff around, and then we'll get started.
Steven: Hello. I'm gonna let Leslie-
Leslie: Here. I think we need to ...
Steven: ... who set up the PowerPoint, and I also have Lena with me. I want to introduce them. I have been here at MSU for a long time. I've accepted, next year, to share a lot of the assistive technology with the world by working with a number of NGOs, and they're constantly calling me, so I'm really busy, but I'm gonna be traveling and doing some of those other things, and Leslie here is gonna be taking my place at the RCPD, so it's great having you with us. Lena is the one that really should be presenting all of the things we're gonna talk about today because she's the one that sits there for hours and converts mathematics and other things into accessible formats. But I'm excited because this handout ... Everyone has the handout, right, Making Math Accessible Using MathType?
Nate Evans: Do you mind coming around on this side?
Steven: Okay. Right over here. Very good. There's our presentation. Wonderful. Thank you very much, and you're gonna be demonstrating in a little bit here this thing. On the screen is a young lady on the left. Her name is Jordyn Castor. How many of you know her? Now, she's one of the developers that helped us spearhead some of the things that I'm gonna share with you today, and I'm gonna try to get through this in 15 minutes because at the end we want to have a few minutes for questions, because there's gonna be a lot of them. But I'm gonna answer one question right now. MathML is what we're gonna focus on today, and MathML within Word.
Steven: The question would be, why haven't we shared this stuff sooner? Why have we waited till today, 2019 in January, to share this stuff about MathML in word? Well, the reason has been it wasn't mature. It was a kind of method that we used with Jordyn. Jordyn was a student about two years ago, and she used MathML to read equations. She's blind, and she was one of our students that helped us discover ways that JAWS, her screen reader, would read math, and MathML was the key. But during those days, we had to do all kinds of really strange things. We had to lock down the browser. Still today, not all browsers read MathML independently. There's Mathura and other things.
Steven: But recently, Microsoft Word, and we also did other things with her ... Do I go this way? We have some 3-D things that we did, and the professors here really were helpful. Professor Schmidt worked with Jordyn using these 3-D symbols for getting through calculus. Can you imagine taking calculus as blind? It's really hard when you're blind to do math. We have a number of students now that are learning math, but it's a challenge because ... I mean, I'm an engineer. I remember spending two hours on one equation, one integral, solving these things, the methods. If you work with tutors and you're blind, you don't have that option. You have to just learn it quick.
Steven: Getting people independence is important, and this is an important presentation about the new things that have happened in Microsoft Word. What is accessible math? Is it six things, and five things that I said to Jim a while ago. It's a way to make it visible without being an image. It's a way to use the character set in Word that has ... These are ASCII characters in different ways of structuring it, and Word has incorporated MathML into Microsoft Word now, and they've done this with a product that we used with Jordyn two years ago. It was an application created by Design Science called Scientific Notebook.
Steven: We're still using that at the RCPD to make our equation in MathML, and then we put them into an HTML document that Jordyn could read, or other students can read, but now we can put them within Word because Word had adopted Design Science's product called MathType, which is another way of typing math equation, and the other characteristic of an accessible math equation is one that a screen reader can read and step through it character by character. An image can't do that. The other thing is a braille display. I have a braille display here that displays braille dynamically.
Steven: So, as you step through a document, you can feel and read the braille in here, and young people that are blind in schools are learning math called Nemeth Braille. Nemeth is a standard for braille that most all of our students are using, and this product that Microsoft has incorporated into Microsoft Word can speak the equation out, so it'll be read correctly, and well as feeling it on the braille display. So, JAWS interprets the MathML and displays it. So, the other characteristic, and these are the last two or the last three, I guess, that make math accessible, is the ability for the blind student to manipulate the equation. You can listen to the equation, but if you can't write it and you can't change parts of it and solve it, that doesn't really answer the question.
Steven: The other thing that they have to do is put it back into a format that they can send back to their professor. So, these are characteristics that are important. Some of these are really not fully developed in Microsoft Word yet, but they will be. The other thing that it does is it makes it searchable. One day, we're gonna be able to use AI to go out and look and search for equations to help us solve different things. Computers themselves will be able to use these equations to give us information. So, the world is not yet there. We still have a lot of equations all over the internet that are just images. They're of no use to artificial intelligence whatsoever, but through this technology that we're gonna be sharing with you in Word, that will become possible.
Steven: So, MathType, you have a handout. I'm just gonna tell you about it. You're gonna follow the instructions. I don't think we're gonna have time to go in and demonstrate everything. It's an add-in. You go into the insert menu. You go to the store, the Microsoft store, and Leslie's gonna tell us a little bit about the Mac version of that, and you download it. The thing that made this presentation today very vital is that the add-in is now free. Design Science in that past had MathType for Word that they had developed, but it cost a certain amount of money for everyone, and I told Paulette Granberry-Russell, I said, "All our professors at MSU should be using this MathType, but it's $40 a copy," and we wanted to buy it, but in the meantime, in looking for ways to purchase it, it became free. So, it's now free. It may not be that way forever, so grab it when it's free, and put it into your Microsoft Word.
Steven: So, I already talked about MathType. When you incorporate it into Word, it enables the screen reader, JAWS, to be able to read the equation correctly, as well as the braille display, display it. It also enables other features, too, which I'm gonna share. So, what is MathML? That's something that everyone probably wonders what it is. XML is a syntax that you write in. MathML is nothing more than XML syntax making markup language, and it's a way to present math equations. If you want to know any more details about it, you can go to WC3 and search for math, and they have a long explanation. They've been pushing for this for a long time, so it's a good thing.
Steven: Math equations can be written in different forms, and there are some editors in Microsoft. If you go and read about how to install it and use it, we have this handout online as well thanks to Jim, who put it there. It works in Microsoft Word as well as Mac, and I think I'm into a point here where I can turn this over. You also have the option, too, and this is something that math professors want to have, once you install the MathType free into Word, you can then go into the equation editor. You can hit it by hitting the alt key and the plus key, and equals, I'm sorry, alt, plus, equals, and you hit those two keys, and it'll launch the equation editor.
Steven: You can input LaTeX. A lot of our professors use LaTeX for writing math equations. So, that's also included in this product. So, you can type the equation, put it in there, and it outputs the equation correctly in MathML, which you can then extract and put it into other documents like your HTML document. So, that basically ends my part, but you're gonna talk a little bit about the Mac.
Leslie: Yeah, and I just wanted to cover this because ... Why is accessible math important? Obviously, there's many reasons, but there was a presentation that was maybe a year ago. It was by Dave-
Leslie: ... Schleppenbach, and he talked about this, and it really hit home to me because math equations can be written different, but if you're speaking them, sound exactly the same. So, the example was there's these two different equations. The first one is one and a fraction over X plus one, so if you said one over X plus one, or the other equation is one over X plus one, they're obviously very different equations, but they're going to sound the same. So, using MathML is how you could make them sound differently so you could solve them correctly. So, I think that just really illustrates why it's so important to have them written correctly so the students get them correctly.
Leslie: The nice thing about MathType, which we were kind of talking about, is it works in a lot of different applications, so Microsoft Word for PC, Microsoft Word for Mac, all of the Apple, Office, iWork programs, also Google Docs and D2L, and it's really nice because no matter which application you're using, it looks exactly the same. So, you can easily use it in whatever you typically use, if you're using it to make equations in math. So, the handout that you guys have and will be posted on the Web Access site does have step-by-step instructions to download it for each different type, and there's also a helpful resource in there. MathType is now with WIRIS, is the company that-
Steven: Yeah, W-I-R-I-S.
Leslie: Yeah. So, they have a lot of information on their website about how to use the MathType in all the different applications that you would need it in, and it's pretty easy to use, which is great.
Steven: WIRIS is a division or a part of Design Science. They're the same.
Leslie: Mm-hmm (affirmative). So, I don't think we have much time to kind of go through how it works. I don't know.
Steven: I just wanted to mention one thing. We do have a math grant. It's a small one, but we have been developing a tool for making math HTML pages. Word documents are great, and our students that are blind will be able to read equations in Word, but we want to open this up to the worldwide web more by making HTML documents that have MathML in them, because there's a lot more opportunity for utilizing that in many different ways, for learning and searching online and so forth. So, we're developing or streamlining a way to do that. You can do it yourself by taking the MathML from Word or from our online editor. We have an online tool for typing in the text, or for using the Waves toolbar for making MathML. It's MSU Math Online.
Leslie: I was just gonna just show real quick, in Microsoft Word, just the tool.
Steven: Thank you.
Leslie: If you're in here, obviously it's gonna look a little bit different. This is the Mac version, but under the insert area, which now I can't even find it, there is an equation option, and this would bring up to allow you to insert the equations in-
Steven: There's a little dropdown thing right up there where you type your equation that allows you to change the way the equation is displayed. You can have Unicode, or you can have MathML, LaTeX, and other things.
Leslie: Yep. It's pretty easy to use if you understand the math equations and what you're trying to write.
Steven: Yes. So, questions so far?
Nate Evans: My question would be, does it work the same between Mac and PC on the inward-
Steven: Pretty much, the same.
Leslie: Yeah. They look very ... Oh, yeah. The question was if it would look the same in Microsoft Word, for Mac or PC, and the answer is yeah. The equation editor will look almost identical in the two.
Steven: Yes. Yes, question? James?
James Bender: Does the version of Word have to have a built-in reader? Have you tested it to make sure the reader works with it?
Steven: Okay. That's a ... Go ahead.
Leslie: The question was does the Word have to have a built-in reader, and if we've tested it. I think you guys tested it with the built-in Microsoft reader. I was using voiceover and it read it great with the MathML, so it's like fraction start, so you would be able to understand it.
Steven: Yeah. Within Word, there's a read aloud function, and that does read the equation correctly. The interpretation is in there. Within JAWS, of course, it reads it as well. So, yes. Before this new version of MathType was available from W-I-R-I-S, you had to download from Design Science a thing called MathPlayer, but they've incorporated that together, so now you only need to have the MathType add-on installed for the readers to work correctly.
Steven: The other methods for reading webpages, they used to have to use Mathura, and in your HTML documents, and this is a big area where we're not sure which direction we're gonna go for our HTML pages, but Mathura is good because it's an interpreter that helps the screen readers and the browser to display the math and read the math correctly. It's a good way to go. It's a call to a server somewhere else, and you can use the Mathura server, or in D2L's case, they've incorporated the Mathura within D2L, so you don't have to install that. But there are still browsers out there that don't read math correctly and display it correctly without the Mathura add-in or some other method. So, these are problems that we're gonna face in the future. Yes?
Jeremy Van Hof: For course content remediation, the big problem we run into is it's not creating new documents. It's remediating existing stuff created by people who did not have access to this or don't care, and it's sometimes it's even hand-written, scanned PDFs. It's terrible, right?
Steven: Yep. Yes.
Jeremy Van Hof: Is there an easy way to do that, to look at existing content?
Steven: The question, we have to repeat. Remediation is the most difficult challenge that we have here at MSU. The question is, is there an easy way to convert already existing non-accessible formats into accessible equations, and I can answer part of that question. The RCPD is doing this. That's why [Lena Wu 00:02:35] here is so busy, because she is having to retype many of these equations. One of the options in Word is handwriting an equation. If you have hand-written equations, there's two methods. One is to try to copy and paste the image into word and try to let it do its thing. It's not worth the trouble. That was my feeling, but maybe it'll get better.
Steven: There's also another application, which you might try to use, called InftyReader. It's like infinity, the beginning of infinity, reader, and it is a OCR character recognition program for math, and it does make equations, but they typically have to be proofread very carefully. If you get a lot of equations, it's easy to miss things when those things work. So, we just kind of use the grunt approach and just sit there and just type them in, and that's what Lena spends most of her time doing, is just retyping it.
Steven: We use Scientific Notebook because we have it, and it works very well, but it works the same way as MathType, so either one would work, if that answers your question. Remediation, too, of ... So, there are some formats out there that we might be able to convert, LaTeX. We have the online converter, and then, of course Word is doing that now as well. So, if you have it in LaTeX, you can convert it to MathML using our tool that we made or using the Word, if that answers the question. It's hard. That's why we want to get this news out there. Professors need to be using these tools, because if they don't, we have to remediate everything manually. Yes?
Speaker 11: So, have you come down to a recommendation? Is HTML5 better than having it in a Word doc? Are you to the point where you can make that recommendation?
Steven: The HTML5 is gonna be great. It's not quite there yet as far as the browsers all being able to read it. I know James White here put up this handout yesterday, and he wanted to put the equation up there. If we go and read that with different browsers, some of them are gonna work better than others in reading equations. So, we need to spend more time investigating and finding out what is the best way to present those, and that's what we're doing. That's what we're working on. But right now, use MathML as much as possible. If you're making webpages, try to put it in MathML, if you can. That's the answer I will give, and maybe-
Speaker 12: Firefox browser that is [inaudible 00:42:53] now. I don't know about this Fire browser. I didn't have a chance to test it. AquaBrowser, which the documentation says it works, it doesn't work at all for me, so [crosstalk 00:43:06] areas. Don't even bother with [inaudible 00:43:09] your internet [inaudible 00:43:10], because you won't get anywhere at all. I mean, you'll see a piece of the equation, DDX, something or other, but it won't have the over and all that good stuff, but the Microsoft Word document shows it flawlessly without any extra installations and everything as long as you have the current Microsoft Word.
Steven: With MathType.
Speaker 12: No, you don't even have to have MathType installed. It'll just display it correctly.
Steven: Yes. They've incorporated MathML, but MathType helps you put it in. That's true. Okay.
Lena Wu: Yeah, yeah. I've seen that, where I can stick in the [crosstalk 00:43:44]
Steven: Lena, come up here.
Lena Wu: ... with the MathML.
Steven: Come up here and talk into the mic.
Lena Wu: Yeah. I think I would like to second. That's very important. So far, I feel that the MathML in Word is very good enough for a student and also our center, resource center for RCPD to give the [inaudible 00:44:04] to students. So, if a professor, they can use Word, nowadays Word has a built-in math editor, and also the MathType. So, it's good enough for a student and a faculty to provide accessible math in Word. So, I think for now, it's good. So, please to spread the words out. Okay?
Steven: That was very good. Thank you.
Leslie: All right, all right.
Steven: That's awesome. All right.
Leslie: Thank you.
Steven: Thank you.
Nate Evans: Thank you all very much. Suffice to say, I think we just are at the tip of iceberg on this.
Steven: We are, yes.
Nate Evans: We'd really be grateful to hear what ... Those questions were good. I hate to cut them off because I know we have some other things to cover, but if there are other questions, can they reach out to you directly, Steven?
Steven: They can contact us, yes.
Nate Evans: Or you can email us at Web Access, and I'll make sure it gets to the right place, but really, really important conversation, and like Steven mentioned, this handout that Steven and Leslie and Lena put together is on Web Access, so you can check it out now. I think it's maybe available, downloadable, too, printable, so we're trying to use a universal design approach there. So, check that out if you're interested. I think it's under tutorials.