What is MathSpeak?

Date Updated

For most of us, reading a web page containing mathematical calculations is simple. As we read, we automatically translate the mathematical expressions into operations and equations. Looking at a formula, we know which operations to perform and in what order. Now imagine, rather than viewing the equation, having it read to you character by character from left to right. Even a simple equation like "One over one plus two plus two" can be interpreted many ways with different results. In order to assure that mathematical notation is communicated without ambiguity, there must be precise rules for how notation must be verbalized. MathSpeak is one of several approaches to addressing this problem.

MathSpeak was developed by mathematician Abraham Nemeth, who is best known as the inventor of Nemeth Braille (a tactile system for communicating math and science notation). He developed the MathSpeak language because as a blind mathematician he needed a method for dictating his work so that others could transcribe it.

MathSpeak continues to be a popular system for communicating math orally, and is used by many screen readers to read mathematical expressions, such as those written in MathML.

For current information about tools and technologies that support MathSpeak, consult MathSpeak.com and The MathSpeak Initiative. There are also many relevant articles linked from the Design Science Reference page.