Deena Kimmel, Marketing Specialist

How to Make Math Accessible on the Web

With all the latest assistive technology today, the World Wide Web is becoming increasingly accessible for all users. Particularly when it comes to individuals with visual impairments or learning disabilities like dyslexia or dyscalculia, there are a handful of resources available for them to use to have the text read aloud, including built-in tools like Browsealoud and universal screen readers like Read&Write.

When it comes to math, however, there are added challenges to accessibility.

Typically, math equations are added to the web in the form of an inaccessible image, which cannot be read by screen readers unless it has Alt-Text included. And even then, the Alt-Text is often built with LaTeX, which read aloud, doesn’t really sound like math at all. Imagine hearing this version of the Quadratic Equation read aloud:

LaTeX version of the quadratic equation

With the introduction of MathML and MathJax, two math languages designed for the web, it has become easier for screen readers to read math aloud. But, a lot of websites haven’t converted their math into those languages or still insert inaccessible graphics because it’s less time consuming than learning math writing "shortcuts" like this one:

MathML version of the square root of x over y squared minus 1

With the need to ensure all students can access content on the web without barriers, it is important that these inaccessible equations be made accessible. That’s where EquatIO’s Screenshot Reader comes in.

With the Screenshot Reader, a premium feature of EquatIO for Google, EquatIO for Windows, and EquatIO for Mac, you can now turn any equation on the web into accessible, editable math.

Here’s how it works. When you're on a web page that has an inaccessible equation, like the Quadratic Equation Wikipedia page for example, click on the EquatIO Chrome Extension to open up the Screenshot Reader floating toolbar or click the Screenshot Reader button on the EquatIO for Windows/Mac toolbar.

screenshot reader floating toolbar

EquatIO for Windows and Mac Toolbar

Take a screenshot of the inaccessible equation to convert it into accessible math, which will automatically be read aloud. Once converted, you can also copy the MathML or LaTeX versions of the equation, which can then be pasted directly into the EquatIO equation editor for edits or insertion into your document.

screenshot reader reading the quadratic equation aloud

You can even use the Screenshot Reader when you’re in G Suite Apps or Microsoft Office applications, including PDFs. Simply look for the Screenshot Reader button in the toolbar, and follow the above instructions. Making math accessible has never been easier!

equatio for google toolbar

Watch this demo video to see the Screenshot Reader in action.

Looking for more tips on how to use EquatIO and all its features in the classroom? Check out Ben Rouse's pre-recorded webinar series on how to make maths (or math) digital in your classroom. Ben is a renowned educator and technology specialist who now works as a Google for Education trainer with AppsEvents. So, he knows what he's talking about! Access the series right here.


Jen 1/30/2020 3:24:46 AM
My 9 year old has dysgraphia and I think this would be brilliant for her, but apparently she’s restricted from using it with her google account due to her age. Can this be rated E?

Deena Kimmel 1/30/2020 2:56:26 PM
Hi Jen - That restriction is on Google's end. Here's an article with more information: Unfortunately, there isn't much we can do on our end to bypass this restriction. However, you do have a couple options:

1) Use Mathspace, or EquatIO Desktop instead of the Chrome Extension
2) Install the Extension under an adult's user account

Hope that helps!


Susan 8/13/2019 4:09:17 PM
I'm trying to learn more about making math accessible (primarily for web), and found this page describing the EquatIO software. But what I don't understand...if a web user is blind, how are they expected to press and drag around the equation?

Deena Kimmel 8/15/2019 8:14:15 PM
Hi Susan,

The EquatIO Screenshot Reader was designed to break down barriers for a diverse group of users. Visually impaired users that may find it hard to make out the letters on the page because they are too small, of poor quality, or badly spaced/written can use the Screenshot Reader to have the math read aloud, boosting their understanding across the web.

For a fully blind user on the web, if EquatIO identifies math on the page, the user can reverse tab to find that identified math and then tab through the EquatIO tools to have it read aloud.

We are in the process of improving our discoverability tool, so we will pass along your feedback to the team to take into consideration.

Thanks again,

Denise 11/7/2018 1:49:52 PM
I must be missing something as I want to have blind students use this but after I click insert, it is an image and talking software cannot read it. How do I get it to be real text in docs?

Lori Tomatz 6/7/2018 6:44:52 PM
Excellent new feature to EquatIO. My son starts high school in the fall; can’t wait to show to him.

When is TextHelp going to add a better spell checker to Read&Write? Google docs sorely lacks this.

Thank you,
Lori Tomatz
Boulder, CO

Deena Kimmel 9/28/2018 1:23:01 PM
Hi Lori! Thank you for your kind words! As for Read&Write, we just launched Check It, a grammar, spelling, and confusable words checker for Google Docs. We are currently rolling it out to all users, so your son should see it on his Read&Write toolbar soon. Enjoy!




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