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AccessibleContentCreation
inMathematics
ChrisHughes
ScotLeavitt
April3,2013
Abstract
Mathematicspresentsmanyaccessibilitychallengesthatotherdisciplines
maynothavetodealwith. PortlandCommunityCollege(PCC)isdedicated
tomakingeducationaccessibletoallandfundedtwofull-timemathematics
facultymemberstoinvestigatethesechallenges.Thisreportsummarizesthe
processandthefindings,includingbestpractices. Themainconclusionis
that there e is s no ‘one-size-fits-all’ answer. . Every y student’s s needs must t be
addressedindividually;however,therearesomecommonpracticesthatcan
helptosupportawiderangeofstudents.Thisisnotsurprisingconsidering
thediversestudentpopulationthatPCCencompasses.
Contents
1 Acknowledgments
1
2 Backgroundoftheproject
2
3 Projectprocessandprogress
3
4 Generalbest t practices
7
5 Specificbestpractices
9
6 Recommendations
12
References
13
A Convertingcontent
14
B Anticipatedquestions
17
1 Acknowledgments
We wouldliketo thank theadministrators that providedfinancialsupport for
this project: : SueQuast,LoraineSchmitt,AndyFreed,IreneGiustini,andDan
Findley. Wewouldalsolike e to thankthedirector ofDisability Services,Kaela
Parks,forhersupportandthemanyenlighteningdiscussionsthatshelead.Thank
youtoSupadaAmornchatandMelanyBudimanfortheirtechnicalsupport.
Wegainedinvaluableinsightfromour timewithMauriceMines–thankyoufor
themanyexperimentsthatyouhelpeduswithandallofthediscussionsthatwe
had. WewouldalsoliketothankWinslowParker–welearnedagreatdealfrom
1
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2 BACKGROUNDOFTHEPROJECT
youandhaveafarbetterunderstandingofmanyoftheaspectsoflifethatablind
persondealswithonaday-to-daybasis.
Finally, wewouldlike tothank k KarenSorensenforher continuedsupport, , en-
couragement,andpositiveattitude. Karenkeptusontrack,keptourspiritsup
whenwehitroadblocks,andmadetheprojectfunandinterestingfromthestart.
2 Backgroundoftheproject
Thebeginning
AtthestartofFallTerm2011,theMathematicsSubjectAreaCommittee(Math
SAC)wasmadeawareofthecollege’sinitiativeofaccessibilityinitsonlinecourses.
Mathematicsfacultymembersquicklyrealizedthatoursubjectmatterpresented
uniquecomplicationsnotfacedbyotherdisciplines. Whileproperly y formatting
documentsfollowingthecollege’sguidelines[15]wouldhelpintheaccessibilityof
thedocumentsfacultycreate,itwouldnotassistmathematics facultymembers
withthesymbolicandgraphicalnatureofourdiscipline.
Fall2011
At thefirst SAC meeting ofthe2011-12academicyear,theMathSACformed
the Mathematics Accessibility y Committee. . Focused d on distance learning (DL)
classes,thiscommitteecreatedseveralsampledocumentsthatcontainedvarious
examplesofmathematicalcontentandinvestigatedhoweachwouldbeconverted
toawebpageandaccessedusingJAWSforWindows,ascreenreadingprogram
forthe PC.Basedonthoseexperiments andthe beginning researchinto other
areas the Mathematics Accessibility Committee wouldneedtoconsider –such
as Braille andNemethBraille Code, , DAISYreaders,Desire2Learn(D2L–our
current learning management t system), LAT
E
X, Microsoft t Word, , and d publisher-
createdonline content – the committee quickly realizedthat t the e scope of this
projectwouldrequiremoretimethananyfacultymembercoulddedicatewhile
alsomaintainingafullteachingload.
May2012
Thiscommittee’sopinionthatreleasetimewouldbenecessarytotrulyinvestigate
thistopicwasfurtherconfirmedatapresentationbyHarisGunadi(representing
OSUatthetime,nowatPCC).Thepresentationfocusedonthedifferenttools
usedtocreatemathematicalcontentandtheaccessibilityoftheiroutput.
Releasetime
The MathematicsAccessibility Committeedeterminedthat itwouldrequirere-
lease timefromclassroomobligations fortwomathematics facultymembers to
investigatethetopicofaccessiblemathematicalcontentindetail.Thecommittee
requestedthereleasetimefortwofacultymembersgiventhescopeoftheproject
andthe various ways members of theMathSAC produce classroommaterials.
Bybalancingthebackgroundsofthetwofacultymembers,thecommitteewould
beabletobringagreaterdepthofexperienceandknowledgetotheproject.
August2012
Inmid-August2012,theMathematicsAccessibilityCommitteewasinformedthat
releasetime hadbeengrantedfor onefacultymembertohavereleasefromone
class for two terms. . While e this was a a positive e step, the e committee e felt t that
theprojectwouldproceedbetterhavingtwofacultymembershavingaone-class
releasefor one term. . Again, , thecommittee felt t that thebenefit of twopeople
withcomplementary backgrounds workingtogetherwasanecessary component
toinvestigatethistopicasfullyaspossible. Happily,therecommendedrevision
totheproject(aone-classreleasefortwopeopleforoneterm)wasapprovedby
thevariousdeansanddirectorsprovidingthefinancialsupporttothework.
Fall2012
Afew weeks prior tothe start of FallTerm2012, Chris Hughes, Scot Leavitt,
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3 PROJECTPROCESSANDPROGRESS
3
AndyFreed,andKarenSorensenmettoplanthegoalsandgeneraldirectionof
theproject.
3 Projectprocessandprogress
For thefollowing section, , “we” willrefer r toChris HughesandScotLeavitt,as
thissectionisanarrativeofourworkfromFallTerm2012.
WemeteveryTuesdayandThursday,oftenaccompaniedbyKarenandAndy.As
the narrativethatfollowswillshow,webalancedour timebetweenresearching
options,contactingthevariouscompaniesthatproduceproductsthatweuse,and
testingpotentialoptionsforourSACmembertouse.
InputfromSAC
We realized that before divinginto what does anddoesn’t work fromtheper-
spectiveofaccessibility,weneededtofindoutwhatSACmemberswereusingto
createanddeliverthecontentusedintheircourses.Beforethestartoftheterm,
weconductedaSurveyMonkeysurveyoftheSACasking:
ifaninstructorsclassesareface-to-face,online,orboth;
whatprogramsareusedtocreatecontentformathematicsclasses;
howthecontentisdelivered;
whatnon-textitemsareused;
hownon-textitemsarecreated;
whattypeofcomputerthismaterialiscreatedon;
whattextbookpublishercontentisused;
howonlinetests/quizzesaretaken;
howhomeworkforonlineclassesissubmitted.
Thisinformationgaveusastartingpointforthecomputerapplicationsandonline
systemsthatwewouldneedtoinvestigatefromtheperspectiveofaccessibility.
JAWS
BasedontheinitialDL-focusedworkdoneintheprioracademicyear,westarted
theprojectfromtheperspectivethatJAWS[6]wastheidealformatfordelivering
accessible content for our classes. . Our r understanding at the time was: : “If f we
can getthe document t intoa webpage that uses MathMLfor all l mathematical
content, thenwe’reset.” ” Basedonthis s understanding,we started d by y focusing
our attentiononmakingsurethedocuments andequations wecreatecouldbe
convertedtowebpagescontainingMathML.
MathML
MathML stands s for r ‘Math h Markup p Language’ ’ (which h parallels s html l standing
for‘Hypertext MarkupLanguage’)andwasfirstdevelopedbytheW3C(World
WideWebConsortium)in1998. Typically,auserdoesnotcreateMathMLfrom
source,butinsteadusesaconversionprocesstogetMathML.Theconversionpro-
cess varies dependingonthesoftwareusedtocreatethemathematicalcontent.
MathMLhashugeadvantagesfromtheaccessibilityperspective,asitcanberead
‘mathematically’by JAWSaslongas the page isrenderedinIE5.5through8
withtheMathPlayerpluginfromDesignScience[10](atthetimeofthisreport).
Survey
We startedby lookingatthemost commonways mathfaculty members create
contentfortheir courses(MicrosoftWord+MathType,MicrosoftWord+Mi-
crosoft’snativeequationeditor,L
A
T
E
X,andLibreOffice/OpenOffice)andhowwe
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3 PROJECTPROCESSANDPROGRESS
couldexport thosedocumentstowebpages containing MathML.Depending on
themethodofcreation,theparticularcontent,andthecomputer-typeused,the
processvariedfrom‘perfect’toimpossible.
MSWord
WhenconvertingaMicrosoftWorddocumenttoawebpagethatusesMathML,
we must have Design n Science’s MathType [11] installed d on n our computer. . It
is actually y MathType, not Word, , that t does s all the e work. . Whether r we e create
aWorddocument anduseMathTypeor Microsoft’snativeequationeditor,we
must stillrelyuponMathTypetocreatetheMathMLwebpage. . Unfortunately,
not allversions of MicrosoftWordandMathTypecanperformthisconversion.
WeelaborateonthismoreinourSpecificGuidelinessectionandintheAppendix.
LAT
E
X
When convertinga LAT
E
Xdocument toa webpage e that uses s MathML, , certain
packages need d to be installed. . When n we have these packages s loaded, , thecon-
versionprocess generally works smoothly. . Equations s arecleanly convertedinto
MathMLandthewebpagesarereadfairlywellbyJAWS.Thisconversionprocess
isexplainedintheappendixofthisarticle.
LibreOffice
UsingLibreOffice’sbuilt-inequationeditingcapabilities,LibreOffice
1
word-processed
documentsconvertwelltowebpagesthatcontainMathML.LibreOfficecandothis
conversionwithoutanyadditionalpluginsorsoftware.
Powerpoint
AfterfindinghowWord,LAT
E
X,andLibreOfficefaired,weturnedoutattentionto
MicrosoftPowerPoint. WhilewecanembedMathTypeequationsinPowerPoint
slides,there is noway to convert theentireslide or slideshowintoawebpage
with MathML. Any attempt resulted with each slide e being g converted into o an
imageandallcontent(mathematicalor not)simply became partoftheimage.
ThereweresomesuggestionsofawaytoconvertfromPowerpointtoWord,but
furtherinvestigationfoundthatthereisnousefulwaytodosoatthistime.The
WorddocumentweobtainfromtheprocesshasaneditablePowerPointslideon
eachpage,butonceweconverttheWorddocumenttoawebpage,theentireslide
isagainconvertedtoanimage.
ScientificNotebook
ScientificNotebook,anapplicationthatnooneintheMathSACcurrentlyuses,
was recommendedtous. . Scientific c Notebook is aPCapplicationthat allows a
user tocreatedocuments containingtext,mathematical l content, andgraphics.
Specifically,KaelaParks(thedirectorofDisabilityServicesatPCC[16])hashad
tremendoussuccessusingthissoftwareasanote-takingdeviceintheclassroom.
ScientificNotebooksavesthesourceasa.texfile,whichcaneasilybeconverted
intoseveraldifferentelectronicaccessibleformats.
TestGen
Some faculty use e Pearson’s s TestGen to o create their r tests. . TestGen n is s a a test-
generating program that, when n combined d with the e test t bank k for a particular
Pearsontextbook,canbeusedtocreateassessmentsinbothprintandanonline
environment.TheoutputfilefromTestGensavesallmathematicalcontent(frac-
tions,expressions,equations)asimageswithoutalttext.Sincethemathematical
contentissavedasimages,JAWScannotinterpretthem. WecontactedPearson
about this,inquiring if they were working on n a way to make the output from
TestGenintosomethingthatusesMathML.Theresponsewas:
ThereisnotawaytoexportaTestGenTesttoascreen-reader-accessible
formatandtheMyMathLabwebsitewillonlytakeTestGen.tstfiles
1
Some may confuseLibreOffice with OpenOffice; see theappendix for some details of the
history
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3 PROJECTPROCESSANDPROGRESS
5
MathJax
Relatedto our investigationofMathML,we learnedabout MathJax. . Quoting
from[9]
MathJax isanopensourceJavaScript displayengine formathematics
thatworksinallmodernbrowsers.
Inother words,MathJax makes mathematicalcontent appear correctly inany
modern web browser on n any y computer, , whether r the e content is stored d on n the
webpageasMathMLorLAT
E
X.
BeforetheadventofMathJax,therewasvastinconsistencyinabrowser’sability
torenderMathMLcorrectly(ifatall). MathJaxprovidesacleanwaytoprovide
uniformrenderingacrossallmodernbrowsers[9]:‘Nomoresetupforreaders. No
morebrowserplugins. Nomorefontinstallation... Itjustworks.’
Twodirections
Atthispoint,ourprojectbegantosplitintotwodirections. Onedirectionwas
focusingononlinecoursesandthevariousonlinesystemsthatmathematicsfaculty
members at PCC use. . The e other directioncame about whenwe met Maurice
Mines.
Web-basedsystems
WhilePCC’s current learningmanagement systemis D2L,many facultymem-
bersmakesubstantialuseofPearson’sMyMathLab(MML),whileothersusethe
MAA’sWeBWorK.
Desire2Learn
D2LhasreceivedtheGoldLevelNFB-NVACertificationfromtheNationalFeder-
ationoftheBlind(NFB)[5].Twooftheoptionalinterfaces(MathMLandLAT
E
X)
of theequationeditor tool inD2L(version 10) are JAWSfriendly. . The e third
(thegraphicaleditor)isnot. Butnomatterwhicheditorastudentorinstructor
usestocreateanequationinD2L,thecodeobtainedfromtheequationeditoris
MathML.ThismeansthatJAWScanreadthediscussionpostings,e-mails,etc.
thathaveequationsembeddedinthem.
Pearson
The MathSAC currentlysubscribes to Pearsonfor the majorityofitscourses:
MTH60,65,70,95,111,112,243,and244. AllMTHcoursesthataretaughton-
linecurrentlyuseaPearsontextbook,exceptforMTH20. Assuch,whenconsid-
eringonlinepublisher-basedcontentwedecidedtofocusexclusivelyonPearson’s
MyMathLab.
MyMathLab
We exploredMMLbycreatingasamplecourse andexperimentedwiththeac-
cessiblenatureofoptionalcontent forthecourse. . Weaskedfor,andeventually
obtained,aVoluntaryProductAccessibilityTemplate(VPAT)forMML.While
wehaveobtainedtheVPATforMML,itisnotincludedinthisarticleaswewere
toldbyPearsonthat
this(VPAT)isprovidedsolelyfortheirevaluationofPearson’sproducts
andnottobedistributedoutsidetheorganization.
TheVPATconfirmedwhatwehadbeenabletolearnonourown:Pearsonistrying
tomakemore MMLcontentaccessible,butthere aresomedefinitelimitations.
Asofthiswriting,Pearsonclearlystates[12],
MyMathLabsupportsaccesstoselectedsingleandmultipleanswermultiple-
choice and free response e questions s with h the e JAWS S 12 (only) ) screen
reader.
On 13 December r 2012 we, , along withseveral other invested staff members s at
PCC,took part in n a phone conference witha senior r product manager r and an
6
3 PROJECTPROCESSANDPROGRESS
accessibility representative e from Pearson. . The e conversation proved to be very
encouraging. BesidesgettingthehistoryofhowPearsonendedupwithsomuch
Flashcontent,theyexplainedwhatPearsonisdoingtomoveawayfromaFlash-
baseddeliverysysteminfavorofaMathMLwithMathJaximplementation. This
movewouldhavebigimplicationsinterms of the accessibility oftheircontent.
Theydohaveatime-linetorolloutanewversionofMMLthatwillmakeuseof
thenon-flash-basedcontent,but the soonest weexpecttohaveitcommercially
availableis12monthsfromnow.
However,theoptimismcreatedbythemeetingisonlyapplicabletonewly-developed
booksatPearson. Theonlinecontentandquestionlibrariesforestablishedtext-
books,whichtheyrefertoas‘legacy’textbooks,willberetrofittedwhenpossible.
FormorespecificrecommendationsaboutMML,pleaseseetheSpecificGuidelines
andRecommendationsectionsbelow.
VPAT
AVPATisacompany’sownassessmentofhowtheirproductconforms toU.S.
FederalAccessibilityStandards(definedbySection508[17,18]).
Ifaschoolor department islookingintousinganyonlineresources,besureto
askfortheVPATfortheonlineresource. AVPATgivesaschoolordepartment
a starting point t from whichto o assess the accessibility of those resources. . We
alsoencouragetheschoolordepartmenttoexperimentwiththeproduct,asthe
VPATtendstobeanoverallassessmentoftheproductandmightnotlistallthe
particularpiecesoftheproductthattheschoolordepartmentwillbeusing.
WeBWorK
WeBWorKisanopen-sourcehomeworksystemsupportedbytheMAAandthe
NSF.SeveralPCCmathematics faculty membersuseWeBWorK for boththeir
online andon-campus courses. . Because e WeBWorK is open-source and canbe
installedlocally,itgivesseveraladvantagestootheronlinesystems:
Eachcollegecaneither use problemsfromtheNationalPublic Library or
createitsownlibrariestofittheparticularcollege’sneeds.
Usingthemostcurrentversionallowsfor theimplementationofMathJax,
whichinturnsmakesallsymbolicmathematicalcontentaccessibleforJAWS.
MauriceMines
About four weeks s into o our project, we were introducedto Maurice Mines s and
thiswasadefiniteturningpoint inthe project. . Mauricewasreferredtous s by
Kaela Parks because he has a strong educationaland technicalbackground,is
blind,andKaelaknewthebenefit ourproject wouldreceivefromincludingthe
experience of an enduser. . During g the five sessions s we e had with Maurice, , we
were able to ‘test-drive’ ’ all of the e ideas and d sample e files that we believed d to
be accessible. . Additionally,Maurice e was abletogiveusbothapersonalanda
historicalperspectiveonourproject.
Itbecamesoobvioustous(ChrisandScot)oncewestartedworkingwithMaurice
thatJAWSwasnot thesolutiontoourentireproject. . Instead,theruleoffour
(discussedindetailonpage7) becomesmuchmoreimportant,especially inan
accessibility context. . Dependingontheindividualstudent,theaccommodation
neededmightinvolveJAWS,printedBraille,a.brffileforanrefreshableBraille
device,printedtactilegraphs,orsomethingelseentirely. Mauricewasalsoable
toexplainthedifferencebetweenGrade1,Grade2[3],andNemethBraille[13]
andthendemonstratethedifferencebetweenthem.
WinslowParker
WewereintroducedtoWinslow Parker,retiredleadtechnicalspecialist for the
4 GENERALBESTPRACTICES
7
OregonCommissionfortheBlind(OCB)[14],viaSonyaRedmond,amathematics
faculty member r at PCC. . We had two o incredibly enlightening g discussions s with
Winslow(onephone,andoneface-to-face). Hetoldus s thattheOCBisastate
agency that receives 90%of its funding from m the federalgovernment t and10%
fromthestate. Itsmainfocusistohelppeoplewhoareblindreceivejobtraining,
andtogetthemintotheworkforce.
Visuallyimpaired
Thereareclearlymanydifferenttypesofaccommodationsthatwe,asfaculty,may
berequiredtomake. Someaccommodationswillcertainlybeeasiertoimplement
thanothers. Our r researchandmeetings withMaurice andWinslowleadus to
focusmostofoureffortsontryingtoaccommodatestudentswhoareblindorvi-
suallyimpaired;inwhatfollowswewillthereforemostlydiscussaccommodations
fromthisperspective.
Disclaimer
The findings described inthis reportare basedonmany experiments,hours of
reading,andmeetingswithexpertsonaccommodations. Attimeofwriting,we
believe the e results to be accurate; ; as s software e programs evolve over time e the
specific findings may becomeobsolete, , but t the general l principles s remainvalid.
Anyinaccuraciesareourown.
4 Generalbestpractices
Ruleoffour
The rule of four is one of the most usefulguidingprinciples s bothin teaching,
andfromthe perspectiveofaccessibility. . Explicitly,whena a concept or ideais
introducedanddiscussed,wetrytodosoinfourdifferentways:
algebraically
numerically
verbally
graphically
Dependingonthestudentthatweareworkingwith,andtheparticularaccom-
modationsthatthestudenthas,oneormoreofthesedifferentdescriptionsmay
beharderforthestudenttoaccessthantheothers.
For example,ifweare accommodatingastudentthat ishearingimpairedthen
theverbal descriptionwillneedtobeaccommodated. . Thiscanbeachievedina
numberofdifferentwayswhichinclude: usingasignlanguage e interpreter;cap-
tioningvideosandotheraudiocontent. Astudentwhoisvisuallyimpairedmay
havemoredifficultyaccessingeachofthedifferentdescriptionsexcepttheverbal.
Onesize?
Accommodationswillvaryfromstudenttostudent,andthereisnota‘one-size-
fits-all’ solution. . This s parallels the reality y of working g with h a a diverse e student
population,eventhosethatdonotneedanyaccommodations;everyoneisunique
andneedstobetreatedasanindividual. Thisisthemainaccommodationthat
wecanmake.
Equallyeffective
Theruleoffourisaparticularlyusefulreferencebecause,asinstructors,wealways
hope thatwe areabletouseeachonewithanequivalent levelof effectiveness.
Oneofthemostimportantprinciplesofaccessibilityistoprovide
anequallyeffectivelearningexperience.
Inparticular,whenconstructingalectureoranactivity,wemustbesuretocreate
8
4 GENERALBESTPRACTICES
equallyeffective activitiesthat providea similarlevel of learning out-
comes.
Notethat this appliestoevery single class,whether itcontains astudentthat
has an accommodation or r not. . In n the current era of technology we are often
temptedtohaveourlecturesandactivitiesexplodewithanimations,slide-show
presentations,interactiveapplets,etc. Ifthepurposebehindthemediahasnot
beenwell-thoughtout,thenitcertainlyrisksbeinglostonthestudents.
Oneofthemanyadvantagestocreatingcontentthatisequallyeffective,isthat
wenaturallyreflectandthinkabouthowvaluabletheactivityactuallyis:dowe
needthisinteractiveapplet?doesthisanimationbenefitthestudent,orisitmore
distracting? whatdoIwantthestudenttogetfromthisactivity-isitjustfun,
oristherealearningobjectivebehindit?
UniversalDesign
TheRuleofFouriscloselyalignedwithUniversalDesign[21]whichis
a way to describe the e concept t of designing g all products and d the e built
environmenttobeaestheticandusabletothegreatestextentpossibleby
everyone,regardlessoftheirage,ability,orstatusinlife.
Accessibleformats
Throughoutthisreportwedescribe‘accessible’formats.Therearemanydifferent
typesofaccessibleformats;forexample:
fortheJAWSscreenreader,themost accessibleformatis awebpagethat
contains MathML, opened in IE 5.5-8 8 with Design n Science’s s MathPlayer
plugin;
forarefreshableBrailledevice,themostaccessibleformatisa.brffile;
forsomestudents,apapercopythatsimplyhasenlargedfontmaysuffice.
Thecommonlinkbetweentheseandalloftheotheraccessiblefileformatisthatif
DisabilityServicesistocreateoneoftheseaccessibleformats,thesourcefilemust
beavailabletoDisabilityServicesiftheyare tobe abletocreate these accessible
formatsforthe student. . Thismeans s thatwemustalways keepour.docx,.tex,
.odt,etcfilesreadilyavailableandD2Lusersshouldhaveasinglefolderinwhich
thesourcesfilesaresavedintheircourseshell.
Itshouldbenotedthat conformingtodocumentformattingstandards (suchas
usingstyle-basedheadings,for example)willassistinproducingaccessible for-
mats,buttheremaybeunforeseeableissuesthatarise. Maintainingup-to-date
versionsofsourcefilesisstillavitalbestpractice.
Inaccessibleformats
BasedonourexperimentswiththeJAWSscreenreaderandonourconversations
withDisability Services, , wehavegenerallyfoundthe following filetypes s tobe
inaccessible.
pdffileswithMathematicalcontent;
Flashapplets;
Javaapplets;
Bysayingthesefilestypesareinaccessible,wemeanoneormoreofthefollowing:
JAWScannotaccessanycontentofthefile,
DisabilityServicescannotmakemakeuseoftheanypartofthethefile,
5 SPECIFICBESTPRACTICES
9
themathematicalcontentinthefileisinaccessibletoJAWS,or
themathematicalcontentinthefileisinaformatthatisunusabletoDis-
ability Services and it would need to o be e recreated d manually y in n order r for
DisabilityServicestomakeanaccommodationforastudent.
Important
PCC ensures s equalaccess s throughthe complementary approaches of proactive
alignmentwithbestpracticesandgoodfacilitationoftheaccommodationprocess.
We shoulddesigncourses ‘fromthe ground up’ to be as universally accessible
as possible. . More e explicitly, almost all of the content should be screen-reader
accessible,keyboardnavigable,andnotrelyexclusivelyonimagesandothermedia
that arenot accessible to all. . We e will thenbe well prepared to accommodate
studentswithoutmuchadditionaleffort.
Evenifwehaveaclassthatdoesnothaveastudentwhorequiresaccommodating,
weshouldstillnotuseinaccessibletoolsunlessanequallyeffectiveandaccessible
toolisalsoavailable.
5 Specificbestpractices
Creatingcontent
Therearemanydifferentwaysthatwe,asMathfaculty,createourcontent. The
waythatweaccommodateeachstudentis,ofcourse,goingtovaryfromstudent
tostudent.Somestudentsmayprefertouse.brffilesontheirrefreshableBraille
devices,others maypreferBraille-embossedpaper,others willpreferawebpage
thatJAWScanread,andsomemaypreferanycombinationofalloftheabove.
One of the e most important facts to o remember is that we, as faculty,
arenotexpectedtoperformtheconversiontothese(andother)outputs
ourselves.
DisabilityServiceswillbehappytoworkwithusintheproductionofsuchalter-
nativemedia,buttherearecertainstepsthatwecantaketoassistthemwiththe
process.
Aswediscussthefollowingideasandoutlines,rememberthateverystudenthas
differentneeds. Thefollowingservesasaguidetobestpractices,butshouldnot
bethoughtofasgoldenrulesthatwillalwayswork.
Standalone
Wewillusethefollowinglegendtohelpusindiscussingspecificsoftware,butit
isimportanttonotethatwewillnotrelyonthislegendexclusivelyasthatwould
notbeuniversallyaccessible. Rather,wewilluseitasanequallyeffectivevisual
aid:
greencheckmarks(X)representcontentformatsthatwillstandalonefrom
anaccessibilityperspectiveandarerecommended;
orangecircles()representcontentformatsthatmight standalonefroman
accessibilityperspectiveandcautionshouldbeexercised;
redcrosses(×)representcontentformatsthatwillnot standalonefroman
accessibilityperspectiveandarenot recommended.
Arecommendeditemmeans thatwe mayconsider usingthegivenformat ina
stand-alone,accessiblefashion. Anitemthatisnotrecommendedmeansthatwe
mayusethegivenformat,buttheremustbeanequallyeffectivetooloractivity
toaccompanyit-inthissense,thegivenformatdoesnot standalone.
10
5 SPECIFICBESTPRACTICES
For example,duringadiscussionordemonstration,itis not appropriateforus
to use a GeoGebra (Java-based) applet t exclusively. . However, , it t is s acceptable
todirectstudentstoaGeoGebraappletprovidedthatthereareequallyeffective
alternativetoolsthatstudentsmaychoosetouseinstead.Inthissense,GeoGebra
isnotrecommendedasastand-alonetool.
MSWord
Recommended if used in conjunction with MathType. . When n using Microsoft
Wordtoproducedocuments,theestablishedprotocolsforstructuringdocuments
must befollowed,includingusingheadings,formattedlists,etc. . Pleasesee[15]
foradditionalinformationonproperlystructuringdocuments. Toincludemath-
ematical content, use DesignScience’s MathType andnot the native equation
editorwhichusesMicrosoft’sOfficeMathMark-upLanguage(OMML).
MathTypeX
Recommended. MathType[11]is s anequationeditor createdby DesignScience
thatiscompatiblewithmanywordprocessinganddesktoppublishingprograms.
Disability Services is s able to convert a Word d document t containing MathType
mathematical content to an accessible e electronic c format. . PCC C has purchased
campus licenses for eachcampus,soallstaffmembers andstudentscaninstall
acopy ofMathTypeontheirhomeandwork computers. . This s waythereis no
financialburdenonanystafforstudenttousethisoption.
MicrosoftOMML×
NotRecommended. Microsofthasanativeequationeditorinthefollowingver-
sionsofWord:Word2007(PC),Word2010(PC),andWord2011(Mac).
Disability Services is s not able to convert a Word d document t containing mathe-
maticalcontent createdwithMicrosoft’s nativeequationeditor toanaccessible
electronicformat. MathematicalcontentcreatedusingMicrosoft’snative e equa-
tioneditorwillbeconvertedintoimageswithoutalttagswhenDStriestocon-
vert a a document into an accessible electronic format. . Since e PCC has licenses
forMathType,we recommendtheuse MathType instead ofMicrosoft’s native
equationeditor.
SometimesMathTypecanconvertequationsmadewithMicrosoft’snativeequa-
tioneditorintoMathTypeequation,butthisdoes notwork perfectly allofthe
time. UsingMicrosoft’snativeequationeditorrunstheriskofhavingtoretype
themathematicalcontentusingMathTypesothatDScanusethefile.
LAT
E
XX
Recommended. LAT
E
Xisamark-uplanguage;convertingLAT
E
Xdocuments into
anaccessibleformatisusuallystraightforwardastheaccessibleformatsarealso
mark-uplanguages.
However,notallpackages willwork nicely withtheconversionprocess. . Given
thatthereareover three thousandconstantly-evolvingpackagesonctan(Com-
prehensiveT
E
XArchiveNetwork),itwouldbeveryhardtogiveacomprehensive
listofthepackagesthat doanddonotwork. . Wehavedetailedsomeresultsin
theappendix,butbepreparedtomakeadjustmentstodocumentsasandwhen
theneedarises.
LibreOfficeX
Recommended. LibreOffice e (withits native equationeditor) converts easily to
an accessible format. . DS S has less s experience of f working g with LibreOffice e and
MathType.Additionally,LibreOfficeandMathTypearenotcurrentlycompatible
ontheMacOS.
ScientificNotebookX
WhilewehighlyrecommendScientificNotebookfromtheperspectiveofcreating
accessibledocuments,wedonotrecommendthat peoplechangetheir currently
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