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Accessibility Workshop for Guttman Community College: Create Accessible MATH MyOpenMath

Making Math Accessible

Math is a world of its own when it comes to accessibility.

  • Current best practice is to author all math equations using code and editors like LaTeX or MathML.
    • LaTeX can be coded by hand
    • MathML typically is made by either an equation editor (like MathType) or through a conversion process from LaTeX (which MathType can do). 
  • Never paste images of math equations, these are not accessible.
    • Many of the math equations one finds in digital environments are simply static bitmaps (digital drawings) of equation images in GIF, PNG, or JPEG formats. These images can be seen with the human eye, but they are devoid of non-visual information that can be utilized by assistive technologies. Such image formats are, by themselves, inherently inaccessible.

MyOpenMath Accessibility and Display Preferences

The Accessibility and Display Preferences in the user profile allow you to personalize how you interact with the system, and allow you to work around technical issues.

Math Display:

This option allows you to customize how math equations are displayed in the system.

  • MathJax: The recommended default is MathJax, which generates high quality display of math and provides the best compatibility with screenreaders and other assistive technology.
  • Katex: provides faster math display with good quality, but not quite as nice as MathJax.
  • Image-based: this uses images to display math. The quality is not as good, but this option can help workaround issue if the browser is having trouble using MathJax.
  • Calculator-style: this uses an inline, text-based, calculator style display, like x^2+4sqrt(x).

Graph Display:

This option allows you to customize how graphs are displayed in the system.

  • SVG: The recommended default, this is the highest quality display, which will look clear and sharp even when zoomed in.
  • Image-based: this option uses images to display graphs. The quality is not as high and will look fuzzy if zoomed in.
  • Text alternatives: this option will replace auto-generated graphs with a text alternative, typically a table of values for the equations or a text description of a chart.

Drawing Entry:

This option controls how answers to drawing questions are entered.

  • Mouse-based: The default, a mouse or touch device is used to plot points on a graph to create the drawing.
  • Keyboard and text alternative: this option provides a text-based alternative for drawing entry, which can also be controlled entirely using the keyboard.

Text Editor:

This option controls how large text entry is done.

  • Rich text editor: The default, this option provides an editor with formatting buttons and "what you see is what you get" editing.
  • Plain text entry: this option provides a basic text entry box with no buttons or other clutter.

Course styling and contrast:

  • This option allows you to customize the contrast styling of the course.
    • Instructor chosen theme: The default, this option uses the instructor chosen styles for the course.
    • High contrast, dark on light: this option overrides the course styles with extra-high-contrast styles, featuring dark text on a light background.
    • High contrast, light on dark: this option overrides the course styles with extra-high-contrast styles, featuring white text on a dark background.

Live preview:

This option controls how the preview of your answers updates as you type.

  • Show as I type: This default option will auto-update a preview of your answer as you type it out. This can help you catch entry mistakes early.
  • Only show a preview when I click: this option will stop the auto-update of a preview, and only display the preview when you request it. This option can reduce the distraction and flicker of the auto-update.

Time Zone:

  • This option allows you to control the time zone that due dates and other times are displayed based on.
    • Use timezone reported by browser: When you log in, the system asks your computer what time zone you're in. By default, this timezone is the one used when displaying dates. You can check the listed timezone to make sure it's the correct one. If it is wrong, you can either adjust your computer's timezone then log out and back in, or override the detected time zone.
    • Use a specific timezone for this session: this option allows you to override the detected timezone for this one login session. The next time you log in, the system will again detect your currect timezone. This option can be helpful if you don't want to change your computer's clock, but want to adjust the timezone temorarily.
    • Always show times based on specific timezone: this option allows you to override the detected timezone every time you log in. This can be helpful if you travel a lot, but always want the times to display based on your home timezone.

Using accessibility features in MyOpenMath

Enable accessibility

  • Clicking your name in the upper right corner of the screen on the user profile page  (MyOpenMath & WAMAP)
  • On the profile page, you’ll be able to adjust your display preferences for math, graphs, drawing entry, text editor, contrast, and auto-preview.

Screen reader users recommended settings:

Math display: MathJax, which provides the best accessibility available. It can integrate with most screen readers. In some screen readers, you may need to enable the accessibility features of MathJax external link.

  • Right-clicking a math equation (or tab to select it and press Space) to active the menu
    • Navigate to Accessibility, then select Assistive MathML, if you want to use your screen reader’s built-in MathML reader
    • Navigate to Accessibility, then Explorer, then select Activate, to use MathJax’s math reader.
    • You will need to experiment to determine which works best with your screen reader.
  • Graph display: text alternatives, which will replace graphs with tables or other alternative.
  • Drawing entry: keyboard and text based alternative, which will allow answering of most graphing questions by selecting equation type and using keyboard entry to enter coordinates.
  • Text editor: plain text entry, for a simpler text-entry experience, or Rich text editor for more markup options.
  • Live Preview: only show a preview when I click the Preview button.  While the default will work fine, this reduces the risk of unnecessary update alerts.

Zoom user recommended settings:

  • MathJax, which will look crisp and clear even when zoomed. It also has built-in capability for showing a zoomed equation when clicked.
  • Graph display: SVG, which will look crisp and clear even when zoomed.

Users who have trouble with fine control of the mouse:

  • Drawing entry: keyboard and text based alternative, which will allow answering of most graphing questions by selecting equation type and using keyboard entry to enter coordinates, rather than requiring careful entry with a mouse or touch device.

Users with seizures or distraction issues:

  • Live Preview: only show a preview when I click the Preview button.  This will disable the default automatic display of a preview while you’re typing an equation, which can be distracting.  The updated area is very small, so unlikely to be a seizure risk, but this option is available if there is concern.

Users needing especially high contrast:

  • Course styling and contrast: High contrast dark on light.  While all themes are designed to meet the AA requirements, this will override the instructor-chosen theme with an especially high contrast alternative.

Useful Sites on Math Accessibility