[Athen] MathML Accessibility Guidelines

Bossley, Peter A. bossley.5 at osu.edu
Mon Feb 13 12:32:25 PST 2017

We’ve only had success with this when the book’s authors have been OSU faculty members.

From: athen-list [mailto:athen-list-bounces at mailman13.u.washington.edu] On Behalf Of Brian Richwine
Sent: Friday, February 10, 2017 6:40 PM
To: Access Technology Higher Education Network <athen-list at u.washington.edu>
Subject: Re: [Athen] MathML Accessibility Guidelines

Thanks Steve,

I had not seen the Hawkes learning resource before.

It does seen that there needs to be guidance on how to design MathML for accessibility... with a a section on design considerations to help publishers understand what can and cannot be accessibly interpreted from an auditory or braille representation of MathML. Especially if there were some examples of what not to do with an accompanying explanation.

I think in this case, the publisher took a textbook that was originally typeset in Tex and converted parts of it into MathML from that Tex and then published that as what they intended to be an accessible HTML eBook. Unfortunately it apparently was not done with an awareness of if the resulting MathML was or was not appropriate for accessibility purposes.

I'm trying to figure out what the best constructive feedback is I can provide to them.

Thanks again,

On Fri, Feb 10, 2017 at 6:05 PM, <steve.noble at louisville.edu<mailto:steve.noble at louisville.edu>> wrote:

Here are a few resources to consider:



There is need for much more documentation of best practices in this area, but little funding to provide the people-hours to write it up. Gives me an idea of a grant proposal I need to write. But, alas, the reviewers probably won't understand the importance and it will never get funded. Perhaps something the Benetech Standards Workgroup is planning to address.

--Steve Noble
steve.noble at louisville.edu<mailto:steve.noble at louisville.edu>

From: athen-list [athen-list-bounces at mailman13.u.washington.edu<mailto:athen-list-bounces at mailman13.u.washington.edu>] on behalf of Brian Richwine [blrichwine at gmail.com<mailto:blrichwine at gmail.com>]
Sent: Friday, February 10, 2017 4:03 PM
To: Access Technology Higher Education Network
Subject: [Athen] MathML Accessibility Guidelines

Do anyone know of a guidance document for creating proper MathML for accessibility? Kind of a WCAG for MathML?

A major publisher provided us what they are calling an accessible HTML textbook. However, the MathML employed in the textbook is designed for display formatting instead of as appropriate for a non-visual user.

By display MathML I mean that the MathML makes heavy use of mtables (including multiple levels of nested mtables) to layout equations and annotation of equations within a multi-columnar/multi-row arrangement. The tables do not linearize logically. When it's not a total mess, the non-visual user would still have to develop an spacial 2D guess as how the math equation is arranged and then analyze the multiple nested tables into a 2D space around that equation before making any sense of the annotation.

If possible, I'm looking for some official or at least respected source of this information so that the publisher will take the feedback as credible.

I'd also be interested if anyone has had successful conversations with a publisher regarding appropriate use of MathML in textbooks for accessibility.

Brian Richwine

Manager, UITS Assistive Technology and Accessibility Centers, Indiana University
(812) 856-2757<tel:(812)%20856-2757> [Direct Line]
(812) 856-4112<tel:(812)%20856-4112> [Office Number]
brichwin at iu.edu<mailto:brichwin at iu.edu>

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