Disclaimer This page is intended to give an introduction to accessibility issues associated with mathematics. It is not intended to be comprehensive and should in any way be taken as legal advice.
The Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) Accessibility Regulations 2018 requires public bodies (such as universities) to make their online material accessible. So for example a body may make its documents more accessible for people with visual impairments by making them readable by a screen reader. Details on complying with the legislation Government information can be found here: Understanding new accessibility requirements for public sector bodies
Like much legislation there is some interpretation and the London Mathematical Society cannot give advice on legal questions relating to the Act. However, due to the use of specialist software for typesetting mathematics, in particular Latex, mathematicians and other users of mathematics may need some advice on options available. This page is an attempt to provide some links to useful webpages to help the mathematical community comply with the legislation and, more generally, improve the accessibility of mathematics.
Not all content needs to be made accessible. For example, there is a difference between old and new content. Also, like earlier accessibility legislation, there may be exemptions due to reasonable justification clause; see Understanding new accessibility requirements for public sector bodies. It is important to realise that accessibility extends beyond disability and is helpful for those whose first language is not English and those working in noisy environments.
In dealing with the legislation it is important to consider carefully all aspects of what needs to be done. For example, diagrams produced should be accompanied by a description; see, for example, Accessibility: Image Alt text best practices. Reading the accessibility statement of others can be very useful to determine the tasks necessary for compliance with the Act. Here is the accessibility statement at the University of Leeds.
Making Mathematics Accessible
Possibly the largest hurdle to compliance with the Act for mathematicians is the use of Latex for typesetting mathematics but this is an issue with other software such as Word and Powerpoint. The following list aims to give information on dealing with the problems that are particular to mathematics.
- The University of York has a guide for Making equations accessible at the University of York (v1.5)
- Mathew Towers has provided a more technical guide to dealing with pdf files: Accessibility requirements for pdf files. This includes a good introduction to the legislation.
- More generally, Adobe has some information on making pdf files accessible
- Emma Cliffe has produced information on making Word and PowerPoint accessible:Word and PowerPoint
- TeX Users Group page on accessibility
- MathJax statement on accessibility
- Diagram center Information and training on labelling diagrams. In particular Alt text for mathematics. This contains some theory and examples of alt text for graphs, Venn diagrams, and other mathematical pictures.
- Another method to make screen readers is to use audio tags. NEED A GOOD REFERENCE.
- RNIB paper on Teaching STEM subjects to blind and partially sighted learners
- American Association of Blind Teachers has information on Math and Stats and some General Resources for Math and Science.
- BlindMath list "[A] place where interested persons can discuss all issues related to blindness and math."
- Pandoc a universal document converter. Useful for converting different documents to and from LaTeX.
- Accessibility for Desmos and GeoGebra.
- Captioning of video recordings is particularly problematic for mathematics. If you have any suggestions regarding this, then contact the Education Secretary via firstname.lastname@example.org
- The Sigma Network has a special interest group for accessibility matters: sigma network accessibility special interest group
- Microsoft page on accessibility Contains much useful information including guidance on alt text.
- World Wide Web Consortium's Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0
- Perkins E Learning Guide to writing alt-text and image description.
- Information on colour blindness
If you have any suggestions for additional links or any comments on these pages, then please contact the Education Secretary via email@example.com