The inclusion of mathematics in DAISY publications was the objective of the MathML Modular Extension working group. It was clear from the onset that MathML was the best choice of standard to build on. The working group looked at a variety of options in the course of developing the specification. As the working group explored the various options, several principles emerged that guided the design.

The specification must:

  • Encourage developers of intelligent reading systems to incorporate support for mathematics as a separate reading mode. A reading system would encounter mathematics and enter into a separate reading mode that enabled the user to explore the mathematics in rich and innovative ways. The player may be an audio-only, visual-only, or both audio and visual player. The working group believes that this intelligent presentation of the mathematics has the greatest potential to deliver a rich experience for the end user.
  • Enable simple playback hardware to present a predefined audio rendering of the mathematics. This means that a player that does not understand mathematics would still be able to play one rendering of the mathematics. These players would not be considered to be mathematics aware, but could present whatever prepared presentation the producer provided.
  • Enable software players that are not mathematics aware to transform the MathML without much difficulty so that an image of the mathematics and a text rendering would be easily presented. These software reading systems would need to be aware that mathematics is present and perform the transformation, but the reading system would still only provide the prepared rendering.
  • Allow producers to create MathML content within the DAISY XML framework and then allow software to generate the needed image, text, and audio renderings.

The working group explored a variety of techniques to create more interesting and innovative mechanisms to manipulate the SMIL and thereby present the mathematics in ways that could emulate what an intelligent reading system might do. The working group rejected this approach for several reasons.

The working group believes that:

  • The best presentation is ultimately provided by intelligent reading systems that incorporate an interactive reading experience to the end user.
  • The techniques that might be used would put a much larger burden on the producer, which we thought was poor design.
  • The techniques would confuse the marketplace and slow down the development of intelligent reading systems.

Finally, the working group settled on a simple and robust mechanism for the inclusion of MathML into the DAISY XML framework. This clean design provides a trustworthy specification so that content can be moved forward in the future through automated processes.

The complete specification:

MathML in DAISY Specification —Revised Draft. Specification for the Digital Talking Book Modular Extension for Mathematics