Creating Accessible STEM Content

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STEM resources can be very difficult to make accessible for some individuals with disabilities. This can be a unique challenge for  individuals who use screen readers (e.g., blind or low vision users) and/or those who require text-to-speech software to read mathematical and scientific expressions aloud (e.g., individuals with learning disorders like dyslexia or dysgraphia).

 

MATHML and Accessibility

 

MathML is a low-level specification adopted by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) for the presentation of mathematical and scientific content on the web and in electronic documents. It is supported by many assistive technology applications and improves access to STEM content for screen reader and/or text-to-speech users.

 

Tools for Creating Accessible STEM Content

 

Below, we have highlighted a few resources to aid you with quickly creating STEM content that is accessible to all students, in particular those who may use assistive technology applications:

Faculty members should first consider using MathType. MathType is an equation editor that embeds directly into Microsoft Word and/or the LMS (e.g., Blackboard, Canvas). There is also an online version that works with Google Docs and Word on iPad.

PLEASE NOTE: All Mason faculty/staff have access to MathType (Math Editor in Blackboard) directly through the Blackboard LMS. Anywhere you have the content editor you can launch the Math Editor tool (as long as you expand to all three lines of text editor options).

To access Math Editor in Blackboard, do the following:

math editor button in blackboard

  1. Accessing any content editor within your Blackboard course site, click on the Math Editor button.
  2. In Math Editor, start entering equations. You can also copy and paste equations directly into the interface.

For additional information on using MathType and the existing features, please review the following resources:

 

PLEASE NOTE: The ATI owns licenses of standalone copies of MathType that can be provided to faculty and/or academic units on a case-by-case basis. For more information, please contact the ATI.

 

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EquatiO is a standalone application that was designed to make it easy for instructors and students to both access and/or create mathematics and STEM content. It allows the end user to create content via the keyboard, using handwriting recognition, and/or using voice dictation.

It is supported by all of the major platforms (i.e., Google, Mac, PC) and allows instructors to push applications directly to a Word or HTML document. Some feature highlights are listed below:

Using Handwriting Recognition (1:07)

 

Using Speech Input (1:09)

Using Prediction (1:10)

 

Using EquatiO in Microsoft Word for Windows & Mac (2:12)

 

To learn more about what EquatiO can offer and see additional feature videos, please visit *Texthelp’s EquatiO on YouTube.

 

PLEASE NOTE: The ATI owns licenses of EquatiO that can be provided to faculty and/or academic units on a case-by-case basis. For more information, please contact the ATI.

 

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It is recommended that you do not use Microsoft Word’s Equation Editor tool for creating STEM content!

Equation Editor uses Office Math Markup Language (OMML) as the preferred output format. While the content is available to individuals who are visually able to see and process the information, it is not accessible to those individuals who require the use of a screen reader (e.g., students with visual impairments) or text-to-speech application (e.g., dyslexia, cognitive disorders, etc.).

 

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Some STEM resources must be converted into raised tactile drawings or 3D graphics to improve access for some students with visual impairments.

Tactile graphics convey information from raised line drawings, maps, charts, graphs, etc. to students with visual impairments that those without visual challenges can see.

The ATI has resources available to assist faculty and students with creating these alternate resources. For more information, please visit Tactile Graphics.

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Still have questions?

If you have additional questions related to creating accessible STEM content in your course, please contact the ATI.