Why does math need to be accessible? Watch this video, and you will see and hear why.

We rely heavily on numbers to communicate and share ideas every day. From cultural traditions to financial planning, medicine to law, numbers are everywhere and fundamental to how we function.

However, for some, numbers can be their most significant barrier, not because of their math skills but because the numbers themselves are inaccessible.

Screen reader users, users of magnification software, and text-to-speech users are especially affected when equations and mathematical problems are not made accessible. Equations are often presented as images. Writing clear, understandable, mathematically correct ALT text is not always an option. Especially if you are not a mathematician.

Take this equation, for example.

I don’t even know where to begin to write accurate, mathematically correct ALT text. It is highly recommended that you do not present mathematical equations as images.

Fortunately, there are tools available to make math more accessible.

Let’s start with Mathematical Markup Language (MathML), an XML-based language that allows you to describe mathematical equations and symbols in a human-readable and machine-understandable way. "The goal of MathML is to enable mathematics to be served, received, and processed on the World Wide Web, just as HTML has enabled this functionality for text." ~ MathML Core, W3C

Unfortunately, due to its complexity, browsers don't fully understand MathML. Implementations are inconsistent, and the semantic aspects must be more widely supported.

That’s where MathML Core comes in. MathML Core is a specification defining a core subset of MathML suitable for browser implementation. It focuses on the presentation aspects of MathML and is specifically designed for smooth rendering in web browsers. It leverages features from existing web standards like HTML, CSS, and fonts to ensure consistent display.

There are several ways to implement MathML:

- Equation editors allow you to visually build mathematical expressions and generate the corresponding MathML code. Some of those editors are MathCast, Visual Math Editor, and Oxygen XML Editor, to name a few. ( Please note that I have not used these editors and can not endorse them.)

- Conversion tools like MathML Central convert existing mathematical equations to accessible MathML format.

- Manual coding is always an option if you're comfortable with code. You can write MathML directly using a text editor. Similar to HTML, MathML is described using tags and attributes.

Microsoft has an add-in called Accessible Math Editor for creating accessible learning materials and exams. Students using a screen reader and braille display use the math editor to create math expressions to complete a math assignment or answer exam questions.

Screen reader users also have options for "add-ons" to make it easier to navigate and interpret accessible mathematical equations. One such add-on is called Math Capable Assistive Technology or MathCAT. "A goal of MathCAT is to be an easy-to-use library for screen readers and other assistive technology to use to produce high-quality speech and/or braille from MathML."

When making mathematical equations and expressions accessible, remember the tried-and-true (and required) WCAGs. These include proper contrast, font choices, text resizing, and color choices—all the things we do to make **any content** accessible to people with varied abilities.

Video from Facebook:

"Math 2.0 means making math more accessible for all."

Yahee, a high school math teacher with a disability, has some simple suggestions to make math more inclusive & representative .