Tips & Tutorials — Creating Accessible Content
How do I create accessible math content?
Accessibility and Mathematics
- The National Science Foundation and Design Science have developed a web site devoted to math accessibility called Solutions for the Accessibility Community.
- The National Center for Accessible Media provides design guidelines for accessible digital media including a section on access to scientific and mathematical expressions.
- The National Center for Blind Youth in Science maintains a web site offering teaching resources, accessible instructional materials, and links to research articles on the topic of accessible mathematics.
- Another older but still useful article on the topic of accessible math may be found at the Web Content Accessibility Home.
There are a variety of methods for delivering math content in an accessible manner. The three competing standards that are specifically intended for delivering math include MathML, LaTex, and OpenMath. The consensus among accessible technology experts is that MathML provides the best support for accessibility.
The W3C Math home page provides links to the MathML specification as well as tutorials, articles, and links to additional information regarding this format. MIT also hosts an informative
Delivering Math Content
MathML is most commonly incorporated into XHTML web pages for delivery via a web browser. Some browsers include native support for MathML while others will require the addition of a browser plugin.
Most major Learning Management Systems provide support for incorporating math content. For example, Blackboard provides both a Math and Science Notation Tool that proivdes a graphical interface for building MathML objects as well as a MathML Equation Editor for building Math objects using raw tags. Moodle provides native support for entering math in LaTeX format using a TeX filter and the optional DragMath applet.
MathML may be included in digital talking books that are authored in the DAISY format.The DAISY consortium has a MathML In DAISY page with more information. The MathSpeak Initiative is focused on developing a standard method for voicing mathematics content within digital talking books.
There are a variety of software applications (both free and commercial) that provide support for authoring and displaying MathML content.The W3C maintains a list of MathML software organized by category.
The MathML at MIT site offers font collections that support the full MathML character set as well as web pages with complex MathML layouts that may be used to verify that a computer is correctly displaying math content.
Microsoft's Microsoft Word 2007 has significantly improved its equation editing prowess. In addition to a new architecture, improved fonts, and your choice of a graphical or linear text user interface for entering equation elements, Word 2007 now includes the ability to export MathML via copy/paste. More deatils are available on the Equations in Word 2007 article on the Microsoft Office Word Team's Blog. A more technical analysis is available in an article entitled High-Quality Editing and Display of Mathematical Text in Office 2007 on Murray Sargent's Math in Office Blog.