Last week's "Math Person of the Week" asked you to identify a common characteristic for a listed group of great mathematics. That characteristic was being blind. Rereading the list (e.g. Euler, Smale, Plateau), it is amazing to look at their great accomplishments in mathematics, often in geometry.
In a newsletter on technology issues for people
with visual impairment and blindness, Philip Cain describes both the problems and opportunities of using technology to help blind people work with mathematics:
 Overcoming the fact that reading written mathematics involves "interpreting the relative positions of an enormous array of symbols on a twodimensional surface"...whereas Braille conveys meaning by the ordering of a limited set of symbols in onedimension (linear).
 Beyond trying to write or do mathematics, blind people need access to the published work of their sighted colleagues...but again, the tranlation efforts using computer technologies fall short.
 LaTex has shown promise as a defacto standard typesetting language, but there is no automated way to convert LaTex images into speech or even Braille.
 The problem of accessing mathematical text via the Internet is another problem, with a possible solution being an adaptation of MathML
 The problem of converting/reading diagrams, graphs, or geometrical figures into a form accessible to blind people
The problem needs to be solved...with technology expected to play an important role.
Source: http://www.headstar.com/eab/issues/2002/jan2002.html
