[Athen] Success getting LaTex source files from textbook publishers?

Brian Richwine blrichwine at gmail.com
Thu Feb 16 07:37:55 PST 2017

Some of our students have been able to read LaTex directly... One could
even write a complete LaText document and compile it into a PDF so he could
turn his work into a sighted instructor. But, that student was truly gifted
(he as a piano performance major).

If you have the MathType editor, then converting LaTex equations into
MathType objects in word is very easy. There are menu commands, or one can
simply press Alt+\ when your cursor is on an equation to toggle it between
MathType and LaTex (or all LaTex equations in a selection).

We either supply MathType in a word document (NVDA will read this as long
as MathType and MathPlayer are installed), or push to DAISY, or run the
word document through Duxbury to get braille.

One has to be careful that the MathType or LaTex equations are designed
with this purpose in mind (think about how they will be read by AT). There
are many constructs in both LaTex and MathType that are really improper
(formatting for display purposes instead of semantic) just like one can do
with HTML.

So, in general,

If a student reads LaTex, we provide LaTex in a word file so we can still
place headings for document structure.
If a student needs to hear it, we convert LaTex into MathType, and then
provide MathType in Word or DAISY (we are looking into EPUB).
If a student wants braille, we convert LaTex into MathType, run it through
Duxbury Braille Translation software, and then provide braille.


On Mon, Feb 13, 2017 at 1:34 PM, Russell Solowoniuk <SolowoniukR at macewan.ca>

> Hi Brian,


> If one is able to obtain the LaTex file from a publisher, would the math

> content in this file then be readable by a screen reader, or would the file

> need to be converted to some other format? I'm not at all familiar with

> LaTex, so apologies if this is a stupid question! :)


> Thanks,


> Russell


> Russell Solowoniuk

> AT Educational Assistant, Services to Students with Disabilities

> MacEwan University

> 7-198 D4, 10700-104 Ave.

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> >>> Brian Richwine <blrichwine at gmail.com> 2017-02-10 2:31 PM >>>

> Hello,



> I'm wondering if any schools have been successful at negotiating publisher

> contracts to allow quick access to LaTex or other publishing source files

> for textbooks as needed to facilitate more efficient alternate media

> conversion. I'm not talking about the PDFs that ATN always wants to send. I

> mean the raw source files for the textbook that contain semantically usable

> information that facilitates alternate media conversion.


> Does anyone know of any higher ed groups working on such a project?


> We were just successful at getting the LaTex source files for a advanced

> mathematics textbook from a major higher ed textbook publisher. However it

> took weeks and contact from many university officials to get them to

> release the files. We just received the files and we are now 5 or so weeks

> into the semester. Even still, it will literally save us thousands of

> dollars in editing costs and will greatly increase the speed at which we

> can produce the rest of the book in braille.


> If the publisher would have responded earlier, we could have saved even

> more money and provided a better result to the student by focusing our

> staff energies on tactile diagrams and other efforts.




> The LaTex source files for mathematics texts are great, because they can be

> very easily (read quickly and accurately) converted into a format the

> Duxbury Braille Translation software will process. This prevents the

> laborious retyping of each equation into MathType. (we tried the most

> recent Infty Reader with very frustrating and poor results; it crashed on

> most every source page).


> We originally requested a publisher copy of the textbook via ATN. ATN's

> system did not offer LaTex as a request format choice (it only offered

> PDF).


> However, it was fairly obvious to those familiar with LaTex that the

> textbook had been typeset in LaTex/Tex. So, we tried a special instructions

> ATN request for LaTex. ATN's response was a flat out the publisher does not

> have a LaTex version of the textbook.


> Through various channels we have directly with the publisher, we got them

> to admit that they did indeed have the LaTex source, only we'd have to wait

> until they could get their permissions department to release those. It took

> us several weeks of contacting them repeatedly before their permissions

> department gave permission to release the files.


> Thanks,

> Brian Richwine



> Manager, UITS Assistive Technology and Accessibility Centers, Indiana

> University


> https://atac.iu.edu


> (812) 856-2757 [Direct Line]


> (812) 856-4112 [Office Number]


> brichwin at iu.edu


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