CSC News

October 05, 2004

Creator of Nemeth Code to Present Lecture

Dr. Abraham Nemeth, creator of the Nemeth Code for Mathematics and Scientific Notation and retired professor of mathematics, is presenting a public lecture, 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 18, in the Talley Student Center Ballroom at North Carolina State University’s main campus in Raleigh.

Nemeth will be speaking on the topic: “The Nemeth Code: Connecting the Dots to Math, Science, and Technology for Persons with Blindness.” The lecture is free and open to the public. Those who teach mathematics and science at any grade level may be particularly interested in the presentation.

After developing the Nemeth Code, the pioneering system which became the North American standard for Braille mathematical notation, Nemeth earned a Ph.D., then taught mathematics and computer science at the University of Detroit for 30 years. He also has been transcribing Hebrew prayer books, which are distributed upon request by the Jewish Braille Institute of America.

Nemeth, who has been blind from birth, developed the code as a tool for his personal use while a graduate student in mathematics at Brooklyn College in the late 1940s. While working at the American Foundation for the Blind, another individual with a doctorate in physics, who also was blind, had asked Nemeth if he had a table of integrals in Braille. Nemeth taught him his personal system. He then was invited to present his system to the Joint Braille Uniform Committee’s subcommittee on mathematics, where it was quickly adopted.

The Nemeth Code is one of four versions of Braille currently in use worldwide. Others are the Literary Code, the Braille Code for Textbook Formats and Techniques, and the Computer Braille Code.

Although retired from university teaching, Nemeth continues to be active in the blindness community, and has spoken at conferences in the past several years advocating for a unified Braille code.

Nemeth received the 1999 Migel Award, given by the American Foundation for the Blind, in recognition of his service. In addition to the Nemeth code, he has developed Mathspeak, a standard vocabulary for articulating mathematical and scientific terms for those who are blind. It is compatible with the Nemeth Code. Software is available to incorporate codes for MathSpeak terminology into Web pages, enabling current screen-reading tools to read the expressions in a spoken language for those who are visually impaired or blind.

This presentation was arranged by N.C. State’s Office of Disability Services for Students (DSS) and is co-sponsored by N.C. State’ Department of Computer Science, Department of Mathematics, and Office of Diversity and African American Affairs. Additional information about Nemeth is available at the DSS website.

Individuals with a disability who desire any assistive devices, services, or other accommodations to participate in this activity are asked to contact Cindy Hall, at least one week prior to the event, at (voice) 919.515.3767 / (TTY) 919.515.8830, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays, to discuss accommodations.

- rzewnicki-

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