If you are a professor teaching a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, or Mathematics) course, one consideration when creating content online in Canvas is to ensure that assistive technology such as screen readers will read the content correctly. On this page, you will find tips on how to create accessible STEM content such as equations, math and chemistry formulas, and complex graphics such as diagrams. Canvas has a native equation editor tool that enables you to create accessible formulas using LaTeX or MathML/ChemML. We also have a campus license for a third-party product called Equatio, which can help you in making your existing STEM content accessible without having to retype everything from scratch.
The Canvas Equation Editor can help you create accessible equations. There are two methods of entering equations within the Canvas Equation Editor. There is the Basic View method and the Advanced View method. The Advanced View is based on LaTeX. Using LaTeX helps create complicated mathematical text, like matrices and interval notation, more accessibly. An easy and time efficient option for creating LaTeX is using the EquatIio application. You can create the LaTeX for an equation by taking a screenshot of an equation with Equatio. You can then copy and paste the LaTeX into the Advanced View method within the Canvas Equation Editor. Here is a quick reference video on using the Canvas Equation Editor coupled with Equatio. Note: you will need to log in to your UNT Microsoft 365 account in order to view this video.
Visit How to Use the Canvas Math Editor for more details.
If you wish to download and use Equatio to create accessible equations and formulas, you can download the Google Chrome extension by following the steps in this list:
Follow these steps to download the desktop application on your device.
Important note: Make sure you are logged into your UNT Microsoft 365 account to access all the Equatio features.
If you wish to learn more about other ways to use Equatio for yourself or your students, including how to use the speech input feature, visit Equatio User Resources.
When choosing a textbook publisher make sure that their materials are deemed accessible by reviewing the VPAT, (Voluntary Product Accessibility Template). A VPAT is a document that shows how accessible the publisher’s content is. Some things you want to look for when reviewing a VPAT are the date in which it was created, does it meet WCAG 2.1 standards, and has it been tested with a variety of Assistive Technology? Visit the DSI CLEAR website for more details about choosing a Publisher and Third-Party Content Accessibility tips.
When creating your STEM multimedia specifically math content, give a lot of details about concepts, and be deliberate in creating good “Audio Descriptions” that describe on-screen action. Always provide captions for the video. Provide a Canvas page (located after the video lecture) that includes the equations used during the video with time stamps. Visit the DSI CLEAR website for more details about Audio and Video Captioning.
Describing informational images and graphs is essential in making STEM content accessible. This is especially important for students who are using a screen reader or magnifier. The written description placed before or after graphs assists blind and low vision students with interpreting the information that the graph illustrates and helps reinforce important concepts. When describing the information within graphs consider the following:
By following these tips, you will create STEM accessible content in your course!
Affordability is also an important aspect of accessibility, and we have started curating a section dedicated to tools that are accessible and free to you and to your students.
Desmos is an online scientific and graphing calculator that is free and accessible, including to students who are keyboard-only users and screen reader users. Watch the following YouTube video for a quick demo on how this graphing calculator is used by a screen reader user:
For more information about the Desmos graphing calculator, please visit Desmos.com.