W3C For Immediate Release

W3C Integrates Math on the Web with MathML 3

HTML5-Compatible Addition Helps Bridge Accessibility Divide



http://www.w3.org/ -- 21 October 2010 -- W3C announces today an important standard for making mathematics on the Web more accessible and international, especially for early mathematics education. MathML 3 is the third version of a standard supported in a wide variety of applications including Web pages, e-books, equation editors, publishing systems, screen readers (that read aloud the information on a page) and braille displays, ink input devices, e-learning and computational software.

MathML 3 is part of W3C's Open Web Platform, which includes HTML5, CSS, and SVG. Browser vendors will add MathML 3 support as they expand their support for HTML5. Firefox and Camino already support MathML 2 natively, and Safari/WebKit nightly builds continue to improve. Opera supports the MathML for CSS profile of MathML 3. Internet Explorer users can install a freely-available MathPlayer plug-in. In addition, JavaScript software such as MathJax enables MathML display in most browsers without native support.

MathML 3 Enhances Math Accessibility for Education

There is dizzying variation around the world in the visual layout of even the most common operations, including multiplication, long division, subtraction, and "carries" and "borrows" for addition. MathML 3 introduces new support for representing this diversity of notational styles while maintaining sufficient mathematical structure so that problems can be spoken comprehensibly by assistive technology such as screen readers.

"We've incorporated MathML vocabulary into the DAISY Standard and it has proved very effective for middle and upper level math and science," say George Kerscher, Secretary General of the DAISY Consortium, a W3C Member devoted to developing and promoting accessibility standards. "With MathML 3 support for elementary math notation, materials used to teach math in elementary schools can now be made accessible. This will make production of math faster, cheaper, and better for those with print disabilities."

MathML 3 Makes the Language of Science More International

Although many people think of mathematics as an international language, mathematical notations can vary greatly from region to region. An extreme case is the right-to-left layout of equations encountered in Arabic texts and other right-to-left languages.

"We have been working for the past five years converting Arabic school books to electronic documents, but, we have always faced problems with mathematical books which rely on custom layout and fonts," says Adil Allawi, Technical Director of Diwan Software Limited, a vendor of Arabic language publishing software. "The right-to-left features of MathML 3.0 will make a real difference in the Arab education field. It makes it possible, for the first time, to build standards-based and truly interoperable electronic maths books for students in the Arab countries."

About the World Wide Web Consortium

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is an international consortium where Member organizations, a full-time staff, and the public work together to develop Web standards. W3C primarily pursues its mission through the creation of Web standards and guidelines designed to ensure long-term growth for the Web. Over 350 organizations are Members of the Consortium. W3C is jointly run by the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (MIT CSAIL) in the USA, the European Research Consortium for Informatics and Mathematics (ERCIM) headquartered in France and Keio University in Japan, and has additional Offices worldwide. For more information see http://www.w3.org/.

Media Contacts

Ian Jacobs <ij@w3.org>, +1.718.260.9447
Marie-Claire Forgue <mcf@w3.org>, +33 6 76 86 33 41