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Educational Math Program For Blind

LOOK, MATH, NO HANDS - Pablo Aguilar, a junior taking statistics at Southern Methodist University, can watch mathematical formulas appear on his computer screen as he speaks -but does not type. Aguilar, who is paralyzed and cannot use his hands, is benefitting from MathTalk, the first computer software able to understand not just words, but mathematical expressions when spoken. Henry Gray, an SMU professor, has developed several versions of MathTalk: another is called MathBrailleTalk, and it translates formulas into Braille, which can then be "printed" by an embosser. Jason Balusek, a blind math student at another Texas university, comments that "right now there are no math textbooks in Braille - just tapes. This will open a lot of doors." Gray also developed a simpler version for schools, called ArithmeticTalk, aimed at grade school students who are unable to write or type into a computer. And some professional mathematicians who can type are using it just to save keystrokes.