Make Math-Science Resources Accessible

Specific Best Practices for Math & Science

See the Portland Community College Mathematics Accessibility Study highlights and report for more information.

Graphs

There are many ways to create graphs on the computer, including Winplot, Excel, Graph, pgfplots, PSTricks, and more. All graphs, regardless of how they were created, will be read as images 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 images are the most important, as not all images may be printed.

Math/Science in Word documents

When using Microsoft Word, use the MathType plugin to create math and science equations, formulas, and notations. Do not use Microsoft's equation editor.

  • If you convert the document to a PDF or export it to a webpage, save the original Microsoft Word source document because Disability Services may ask for it.
  • If you are using LibreOffice, use the native equation editor; it easily converts to an accessible format.

Math/Science in PDFs

Math and science equations, formulas, and notations are not accessible to a screen reader in a PDF file, so you should save the source file with the original MathType or LaTeX equations. Disability Services will ask for source files when there is an accommodation needed.

Math in Microsoft PowerPoints

For Microsoft PowerPoint, use the MathType plugin to create math and science equations, formulas, and notations. Do not use Microsoft's equation editor.

  • If you convert the PowerPoint presentation to a PDF or export it to a webpage, save the original PowerPoint source presentation because Disability Services may ask for it.
  • 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 accessible equations.

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. You should also consider switching to WeBWorK, a 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 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 (for example, 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.

Additional Resources