WebAIM - Web Accessibility In Mind

E-mail List Archives

Re: screen readers and notation for science


From: _mallory
Date: Oct 30, 2015 3:08AM

There are some options out there, but the student or researcher will
still run into issues likely.

For Braille there are math-specific notations (and I've seen chemical
ones) like Nemeth. Nemeth might just be very US-based, I'm not sure,
and again, it's a Braille thing.

Writing as much math in MathML would be good, but haven't heard if
there's a chemistry-ML out there.

More commonly, people try to write the notations in LaTeX. This means
both the author and the reader needs to have learned LaTeX, but you
can pretty much say anything and everything with it. There are caveats
for when an author makes a mistake (can make the whole rule unreadable).
It can also be ported to MS-Word apparently.

Lastly, I know if it's more simple/basic mathy stuff, a screen reader
user can often turn on a bunch of settings they'd normally have off,
like the caps you mentioned. There's a list of settings (kinda JAWS
oriented but mentions NVDA too) at
but this won't do for really hairy stuff.


On Thu, Oct 29, 2015 at 02:43:02PM -0500, Jessica White wrote:
> Hello,
> My question is regarding screen-reader compatibility for webpages about
> scientific concepts. Genetics alleles like *Bb*, *bB*, *bb*, and *BB*, or
> chemical compounds like Pb(NO3)2 could be confusing because the
> capitalization and parentheses are important for the meaning. Is there
> anything special I should be doing when putting this type of content on a
> webpage?
> If it appears in alt text I could specify the notation in words,
> "capital B lowercase b",
> "P b parenthesis N O 3 parenthesis 2",
> but is that necessary?
> And what about when that notation appears in the body of a webpage? .
> I know that NVDA has an option to say "cap" or to beep before capital
> letters, but I can only seem to get that to work when typing, not when
> reading a page. Also, there will be cases where just saying the chemical
> name (such as lead nitrate) doesn't convey as much info as the formula, so
> that's not always an option.
> > > >