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I have created two accounts in math.stackexchange.com. This is the new one because I forgot my password the the old account. I have ask many questions before and until now I have problems writing equations in MathJax because my screen reader cannot read them.

I could probably study the format to write it that way, but I have no way of knowing if the equation is correctly written.

More importantly, since the equations are usually written using MathJax, I always have trouble reading equations in answers and so asking answerers to change them into text format so I can read them. I feel always asking users to change equation format from something the community prefer vs to text format which only blind people might benefit from is overall not a good approach because we might waste time talking about the readability of equations rather than solving them.

I've thought hard about this and I honestly can't think of any solution. What should I do?

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  • $\begingroup$ You say your screen reader cannot "read MathJax." Could you give more detail why? For example, are you sight-impaired and using text-to-speech? $\endgroup$ – Joel Reyes Noche Nov 18 '15 at 12:44
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    $\begingroup$ @Joel Reyes Noche "are you sight-impaired and using text-to-speech?" - yes I am blind. $\endgroup$ – morbidCode Nov 18 '15 at 12:59
  • $\begingroup$ @morbidCode, does screen readers read math anywhere in Internet? I haven't tried math with screen readers, thought I have tried many popular screen readers (since I work with visually impaired at times)! $\endgroup$ – Jesse P Francis Nov 18 '15 at 13:24
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    $\begingroup$ This link provides some software on math text to speech: metrc.uoregon.edu/index.php/resources/math-text-to-speech/…. What operating system and what internet browser are you using? $\endgroup$ – Joel Reyes Noche Nov 18 '15 at 13:27
  • $\begingroup$ @Jesse P Francis I can't speak for all screen readers, but AFAIK the only screen reader that is capable of reading MathJax content is JAWS for windows 16.0 and later. I only have JAWS 13.0. $\endgroup$ – morbidCode Nov 18 '15 at 13:36
  • $\begingroup$ @Joel Reyes Noche my browser is firefox, operating system is windows 7 $\endgroup$ – morbidCode Nov 18 '15 at 13:36
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    $\begingroup$ More about math-to-speech reading conventions can be found here: metrc.uoregon.edu/index.php/resources/math-text-to-speech/…. For example, the MathJax text $1+\sqrt{x+y}-7$ can be read as "one plus start root x plus y end root minus seven" (using MathSpeak) or as "one plus the square root of x plus y end root minus seven" (using Simple Speech) or as "one plus the square root of x plus y ... minus seven" (using ClearSpeak). $\endgroup$ – Joel Reyes Noche Nov 18 '15 at 13:36
  • $\begingroup$ I have to sleep now. But maybe someone else can point you to some software that can convert MathJax to speech for Firefox on Windows 7. $\endgroup$ – Joel Reyes Noche Nov 18 '15 at 13:38
  • $\begingroup$ @morbidCode, ones Joel Reyes Noche pointed out should help you, but multiple screen readers are always a headache. If you are ready for a bit of hardwork, instead of spending on newer version of JAWS (ver 17), you can use the trial, just that you have to restart your system every 2 hours. $\endgroup$ – Jesse P Francis Nov 18 '15 at 13:42
  • $\begingroup$ Davide Cervone mentioned screen readers in this answer. I found this list, but it was edited the last time in 2013: List of math enabled screen readers. $\endgroup$ – Martin Sleziak Nov 18 '15 at 15:56
  • $\begingroup$ @MartinSleziak, thanks for pinging me on this. Peter Krautzberger, part of the MathJax team, has since made a thorough response (below) outlining the MathJax situation and the recent work we have been doing to make its output more easily accessible to those using screen readers. $\endgroup$ – Davide Cervone Nov 18 '15 at 22:17
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Disclaimer: I'm part of the MathJax team. Also, this got a bit long.

tl;dr Try out NVDA with MathPlayer 4 on Firefox here on math.SE

JAWS 13 is a bit old (2011) and the situation of screenreaders with respect to math and the web has changed drastically since then. As already mentioned, JAWS 16 was the first version to introduce direct MathML support but as far as I know earlier JAWS versions played well with MathPlayer 3 on IE<10. For the longest time, MathPlayer was the only solution for rendering MathML accessibly on the web though it only worked on IE. With IE10 deprecating plugins like MathPlayer 3, MathPlayer 4 is now more of a third-party library. As far as I know, MathPlayer 4 drives most screenreaders claiming math support. Notable exceptions are Apple VoiceOver and Google ChromeVox. While neither matches MathPlayer's output quality, VoiceOver comes built into all Apple products and ChromeVox is both a Chrome extension and built into Chrome OS and Android Talkback (it is also open source which is great).

MathJax converts its input into MathML internally and then converts that to HTML or SVG so that it renders well visually. This is a problem for accessibility since MathML itself cannot be used, so even those screenreaders that support (some) MathML won't see it (well, actually, ChromeVox and Texthelp hook into MathJax to get the MathML and match it with MathJax's visual output but that's only possible because they work in the browser directly).

To improve the situation, we developed a new extension (AssitiveMML.js) as part of the MathJax v2.6 release. This is currently in beta testing here on math.SE. The extension embeds MathML alongside the visual rendering hiding the visual rendering from AT and the MathML from being visible. That's clearly not ideal - in fact, usually bad practice - but it's the pragmatic solution we followed after feedback from AT vendors and accessibility experts.

For more information on the extension and the kind of screenreader support you can expect see our documentation. For Firefox, both JAWS 16 and NVDA+MathPlayer 4 worked well in our tests.

In case you prefer reading TeX source directly (which some AT users do), then you could use one of the scripts from the community here to prevent MathJax rendering.

For what it's worth, we (MathJax) are also working on a stand-alone, on-the-fly accessibility solution that is designed to work with all screenreaders supporting ARIA live regions. I think JAWS 13 supports them though it might not be compatible with recent browser versions; I'll try to find the time to add it to our tests.

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As you pointed out, JAWS 16+ reads math better, and you said you use JAWS 13.

You can always install JAWS 16 or 17 (present version) trial alongside JAWS 13 (You are allowed to install two versions simultaneously according to JAWS FAQ). Trial versions of JAWS works normal except that it will demand system restart every 40 minutes.

I tried JAWS 17, and it works OK for basic math content, though still got glitches like "three dots" are read as "vertical ellipses". I guess that will be the best option for you.

Other options, as pointed out by Joel Reyes Noche in comments are listed in

http://metrc.uoregon.edu/index.php/resources/math-text-to-speech/speech-demonstrations.html

Adding: Being a huge Firefox fan I hate to say this; but this video

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TairRxyy_Hs

claims that screen readers like math in Internet Explorer more than Chrome/Firefox.

Freedom Scientific claims JAWS 16 and 17 works with Internet Explorer, and I don't know about other browsers. Still I did not notice much difference in reading math on Firefox and Internet Explorer, so I assume you can continue using Firefox.

ChromeVox and FireVOX won't help much.

Update: MathPlayer

http://www.dessci.com/en/products/mathplayer/default.htm

Is a free app which can read math, but it require lower version of Internet Explorer, hence I couldn't try. Looks like it will work.

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