Reading Mathematics

One of the biggest obstacles I've encountered throughout my career is the amount of mathematical equations. Text-to-speech software, such as VoiceOver, cannot read equations. However, there are some math editors available that have made improvements in screen reading mathematics. Many of these programs are focused on creating accessible web content, but there has also been some success in using these editors in other programs.

Mathematical Markup Language (MathML) is an XML application developed by the World Wide Web Consortium to describe mathematical equations and other scientific content. In layman's terms, it allows you to type math just like you would type in Word. The goal behind MathML is to make this material interactive for readers. Although VoiceOver can only read limited MathML, there is a lot of potential for improvements to make equations accessible for the blind and visually impaired. For more information about MathML, click here.

MathJax is an open source JavaScript software which displays mathematics with in Web browsers and other platforms from MathML, TeX, or ASCIImath input. In layman’s terms, it detects MathML (in addition to LaTEX and other types of markup) and renders it to the user. MathJax can be accessible with your screen reader, depending on the screen reader you use—namely if it has JavaScript support. For more information about MathJax, click here.

MathType is an interactive equation editor which helps you write mathematical content using MathML, TeX, or LaTEX. This is different from MathJax, as it does not deal with rendering output. For more information about MathType, click here.

MathPlayer^{TM} is a math reader that enables math written with MathML to be read aloud using text-to-speech software. The goal of MathPlayer is to make math accessible for all. Additionally, MathPlayerTM is available for free from Design Science. For more information about MathPlayer, click here.