ATPC Accessible Math Project: A Promising Practice for Creating Accessible Math Textbooks

DO-IT Factsheet #400

The Alternate Text Production Center (ATPC) [1] of the California Community Colleges [2] is a publicly funded, system-wide resource dedicated to serving the alternate media needs of the largest postsecondary educational system in the world. The ATPC creates alternate media products for use by California Community College students with print-related disabilities. These products include electronic text and electronic Braille files, hard copy Braille materials, and tactile graphics. The ATPC also produces Braille text for other learning institutions outside of the California Community College system on a for-fee basis.

To expand alternative media production, the ATPC created a partnership with the California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation (CDCR) [3] to establish vocational alternative media production training, which includes math production capabilities. This program gives state inmates opportunities to develop skills while also increasing the number of accessible textbook materials available to students with disabilities.

As part of this program, inmates learn how to help create accessible math materials using a math equation editing program called MathType [4]. Inmates are trained and loaned computer equipment to facilitate accessible math material production. Textbook materials are scanned and then the file rendered using optical character recognition (OCR) software. After that, the inmates edit the files with Microsoft Word and MathType to insert the accessible equations. The resulting document is then exported to a web-based format with MathML [5] equations. This format can then be used with synthetic speech software, printed as large-type materials, or converted to Braille.

The promising practices of ATPC result in more books, including very complex math texts, being reformatted quickly and accurately to accommodate the growing demand for digital files. Additionally, increasing numbers of students with disabilities have access to textbooks they can utilize to promote their academic success.

For more information on accessible math consult the DO-IT Knowledge Base articles Why is accessible math important? [6] and What legal issues are associated with accessible math? [7]