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MathML in NIMAS

A June 2012 OSERS letter specifically encourages State Education Agencies (SEAs) and Local Education Agencies (LEAs) to "ask publishers to use the MathML3 Structure Guidelines recommended by the [NIMAS] Center when requesting NIMAS files."

MathML is a markup language used to display equations and other mathematical expressions on the web and in other formats such as NIMAS. MathML 3 is the current version of this XML-based math mark-up language.

The availability of a viable and robust technical standard for the inclusion of mathematical content in K–12 instructional materials significantly facilitates the creation of valid XML files containing mathematical content. This will in turn will allow these files to be transformed into student-ready versions—such as digital text and braille—that are far more accessible to print-disabled students than image-based math files.

MathML in NIMAS is an application of the MathML in DAISY modular extension. The MathML module in DAISY details requirements for the use of MathML in a digital talking book (DTB), while the inclusion of the MathML module in NIMAS only refers to requirements relative to creation of the following:

  1. XML source files that conform to DTBook DTD-Z39.86-2005 (and subsequent revisions), and
  2. OPF package files in NIMAS filesets.

Note: Other aspects of the MathML in DAISY modular extension are not currently relevant to MathML in NIMAS.

The MathML in DAISY specification has not been updated since the release of MathML 3. The DAISY specification does indicate that the latest specifications of MathML should be used. Therefore, all NIMAS compliant files should be using MathML 3 as illustrated in our NIMAS and MathML Exemplar.

To include MathML in a NIMAS fileset: in the XML source file the DTBook DTD must be updated to include

  • the MathML module
  • the actual math content encoded in MathML

MathML in DAISY Structure Guidelines

The MathML in DAISY Structure Guidelines provides guidance on the correct application of MathML to the XML element set in DTBook, a key component of the ANSI/NISO Z39.86 Standard to which DAISY and NIMAS conform. The MathML in DAISY Structure Guidelines detail best practices in the application of MathML in the mark-up of instructional materials of the type commonly found in elementary, secondary, and post-secondary educational curricula.

MathML & Images

The current version of the MathML in DAISY Structure Guidelines states that, " while MathML does not require the altimg and alttext attributes to be present on the <math> element, the MathML in DAISY Specification does require these attributes to be specified. These attributes provide a fallback mechanism for basic DAISY players that are not capable of rendering MathML.

The resolution of the image referenced by the altimg attribute should be such that it is readable when scaled for large print. The alttext value should unambiguously describe the mathematical expression" (MathML in DAISY 3 Structure Guidelines). Since the specification referenced requires images, so does the NIMAS. Further, the NIMAS v1.1 states that filesets that do not follow practices outlined in the Structure Guidelines are not conformant to the NIMAS Standard.

Best practices also dictate that images be provided because braille transcribers benefit from image files of math content to assure accurate braille rendering. The above is consistent with the DAISY/NISO Z.39.86 technical specification, the MathML in DAISY modular extension, the DAISY/NIMAS Structure Guidelines, and, from a policy perspective, the control letter sent by OSEP to New Mexico in January, 2008.

Please note that requiring both MathML and images is an interim requirement. It is currently necessary to have a fallback. When MathML is more widely supported, images will no longer be required.

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