[Athen] LaTex Guidelines

Krista Greear krista at inclusiveinstructionaldesign.com
Tue Aug 28 12:01:34 PDT 2018

Hi Corrine!

Great question. I’m going to share the following with the context that I
used to manage a large content remediation team, and we produced accessible
math files. I offer this as an example of “what one person thinks”.

*Immediate Answers to Your Questions*

- I don’t have recommendations regarding LaTeX Guidelines.
- I recommend avoiding PDFs, especially for STEM Accessibility.


LaTeX is the de facto standard for publishing mathematical and scientific
notation in print. It is a typesetting system. It was “founded” in the
early 80s. Someone can type LaTeX.

MathML is the W3C standard for publishing mathematical and scientific
notation on the web. It is a specific mark-up language. It was founded in
the late 90s. MathML is not designed to be created by hand, but rather
relies on using an equation editor to create the equations visually, with
the actual code generated by the equation editor.

Adaptive technology can interpret MathML and “read” it correctly (assuming
your technology of choice is programmed to read MathML). Because LaTeX was
NOT designed for the web, virtually all adaptive technologies cannot read
LaTeX as math should be read.

*Tools *

MathType is a software that can produce both LaTeX and MathML. In MathType,
you can type LaTeX and convert it to MathML. Or you can create MathML
directly by using the equation editor to create the equations. You can then
work backwards and produce LaTeX if needed. MathType also works as a
plug-in for Microsoft products. I recommend using MathType because it
offers that “back and forth” flexibility between LaTeX (what STEM
instructors use) and MathML (what should be used for digital/online content

*What I Recommend*

I would argue that MathML marked up Word documents is the most flexible
option for various users at this time. Why?

1. I can create or use a MathML marked up Word document, input it into
Central Access Reader (a free text-to-speech tool). Central Access Reader
will then read it aloud (yes, even the math); it can highlight text for me
and I have control over the speed, voice, and can export to an .mp3.
2. I could open a MathML marked up Word document within Central Access
Reader, and export to an HTML file (which contains MathML). Then I can use
that HTML file with Firefox, NVDA (a free screenreader) and MathPlayer (a
free plug-in designed to read math). The blind person can even explore the
math, reading one piece of the equation at a time.
3. I could take those MathML marked up Word documents, send it to
Duxbury (brailling software), and produce embossed Nemeth Braille. Math
Braille is called Nemeth Braille and is now part of UEB (Unified English

I can meet a variety of needs using a basic process when I use MathML
within Word documents.


- The default math system (LaTeX) most STEM instructors use is not
accessible to adaptive technology.
- MathML is the standard for publishing math content online. LaTeX will
should be converted into MathML for any digital or online publication.
- Encourage your instructors to use MathType which can work with LaTeX
and MathML, going between the two since they will keep using LaTeX.
- Avoid PDFs containing math at all costs. PDFs do not currently support
- If you have a blind student who majors in a program that is heavy on
math, they will likely be more successful if they learn LaTeX. And learning
Nemeth Braille is also important.
- If a student knows LaTeX though, providing them with the LaTeX file is
an excellent choice.
- MathML marked up Word documents provides the most flexibility, in my

Krista Greear
Accessibility and Inclusivity Crusader

On Tue, Aug 28, 2018 at 11:17 AM Corrine Schoeb <kschoeb1 at swarthmore.edu>

> Many of our STEM faculty use LaTex to create PDFs documents and wondering

> if anyone can point me towards guidelines for creating accessible LaTex

> documents.


> If student understands how to work with LaTex I'm suggesting that faculty

> provide students with the LaTex file.


> However, some students, particularly freshman, may not understand or know

> how to work with LaTex and I'd like to provide faculty (and my team) with

> guidelines/best practices for creating accessible PDF's from LaTex.


> Appreciate any suggestions you all might have.


> --


> Corrine Schoeb

> Technology Accessibility Coordinator, ITS

> 610-957-6208


> *** Swarthmore College ITS will never ask you for your password, including

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