Specific Best Practices for Math & Science
See the Portland Community College Mathematics Accessibility Study highlights and report for more information.
There are many ways to create graphs, including Winplot, Excel, Graph, pgfplots, PSTricks, etc. Any graph or graphic, regardless of how it was created, will always be read as an image by a screen reader. As such, appropriate alt text must be included for electronic documents and web pages.
Printing a tactile graph on embossed paper is a very time-intensive process. When working with a visually-impaired student it is possible that Disability Services may ask the instructor to
choose which are the most important images, as not all images may be printed.
Math/Science in word documents
For MS Word, use the MathType plugin to create math and science equations, formulas and notations. Do not use Microsoft's equation editor.
- If you convert to a PDF or export to a webpage, save the original MS Word source document which Disability Services may ask for.
- For LibreOffice, just use the native equation editor which easily converts to an accessible format.
Math/Science in PDFs
Math and science equations, formulas and notations are not screen reader accessible in a PDF, so save the source file with the original MathType or LaTeX equations. Disability Services will ask for source files when there is an accommodation need..
Math in PowerPoints
For MS PowerPoint 2013, use the MathType 6.9 plugin to create math and science equations, formulas and notations. Do not use Microsoft's equation editor.
- If you convert to a PDF or export to a webpage, save the original MS PowerPoint source document which Disability Services may ask for.
- If you are using older versions of PowerPoint or MathType, put the PowerPoint content into a Word document and use MathType to write the equations.
Math/Science in D2L web pages
Use the D2L equation editor which will output
- For additional information on accessible mathematics in Desire2Learn, see the Accessible
Math white paper in the Desire2Learn resource library.
Math/Science in online publisher content
Proceed with caution when dealing with publisher-based content. It should be carefully vetted for accessibility. Contact Iris Hansen to help you evaluate publisher content for accessibility.
And consider switching to WeBWorK which is a much more accessible online homework site.
Math/Science in Tests
- TestGen is not recommended. It does not export to an accessible format; unless instructors wish to re-generate the mathematical content (using MathType or LaTeX), TestGen should be avoided.
- Make sure any tests or quizzes follow the specific document type rules listed above.
- If a student has a time extension which would make taking the test unreasonable to complete in one sitting (imagine taking a six-hour exam in one session!), the instructor should split the test into multiple parts so that the student can take the different parts on different days.
- Statistical Software and Blind Users
- MOLinsight: A web portal for the processing of molecular structures by blind students.
- The TechVision Difference
- Blindmath Gems
- MathTrax: a graphing tool that works with screen readers.
- Teaching Accessible Science
- 4-part webinar series on accessible math and science
- Guidelines for Describing STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) images
- Effective Practices for Description of Science Content
- Texas School for the Blind: Math Home Page
- Resources for Teaching and Adapting Science Lessons for Students with Visual Impairments
- Diagram Center webinars on accessible math tools, accessible complex images