A young man writes on a blackboard while a young woman works on a laptop in a classroom
Innovation Spotlight

Making STEM Accessible With Artificial Intelligence

How can you learn math without equations? While we now have the technology for converting novels like War and Peace or Don Quixote quite easily into accessible formats, complex material and formats, such as those found in science and math textbooks remain a challenge. They are full of images and  graphs that can’t be properly read with a screen reader. The average math textbook contains over 5,000 equations, and it can take three to four months for a human to transform a print math book into accessible formats. Using artificial intelligence, Benetech has been able to reduce that time to minutes.

Bookshare engineers have built and trained an AI engine that uses machine learning, computer vision, and neural networks to identify equations in books. It then feeds the images into a math scanner application that generates the equation in MathML, the accessible math code, with a confidence rating. The equations with the highest confidence ratings are fed back into the book’s digital file immediately, and a human proofreader can review the remaining.

Equations are just the beginning. We are also working on identifying graphs, charts, and more. The result: a scalable solution that makes STEM information accessible to all learners.