| TechNote #112
Last modified: 02/17/05
Guide for Physically Disabled and Low Vision Users
The information in this document applies to:
Microsoft Word (Windows)
Internet Explorer (Windows)
Microsoft Word (Macintosh)
Various other Windows and Macintosh applications
Many low vision and/or physically disabled users would like to use
MathType to enter equations.
To better comply with the
"No Child Left Behind" legislation, teachers would like to
test their mainstream and disabled students using the same examination
material. However, some disabled students are unable to submit
handwritten mathematics, are unable to use a mouse, and/or have low
vision. Teachers can use MathType and Microsoft Word
to prepare examinations for their mainstream
students, and then provide an electronic copy of the Microsoft Word
document to their physically disabled or low vision students for them to
using MathType's accessibility features. Other users may wish to use
MathType's accessible math entry features in order to cut-and-paste MathType’s
MathML output into less accessible products. Some customers
also wish to use MathType to speak equations out loud.
In other cases, teachers, content providers, or disabled students
require an accessible way to generate
accessible mathematical content (MathML) for speech output via
MathPlayer, or to meet
WCAG guidelines for accessible web content or
federal Section 508
guidelines (federal buyers see also our
Section 508 Voluntary Product
Accessibility Template). This can be done
using MathType’s MathPage feature in combination with our
Although MathType is not designed for use by someone who has no
vision, it has special accessibility features that make it
easier to use by someone with low vision, or someone who requires an
extra large on-screen target for a special input device, such as an
Mathematical equations input in MathType can then be transferred to
Microsoft Word, cut and pasted into other vendors' applications using
MathML, or spoken aloud using MathType's MathPage feature in
conjunction with Design Science’s
MathPlayer software for
Windows and optional
screen reading software.
Please see Math Accessibility Solutions to
learn more about accessible mathematics.
Many in the accessibility
community are unaware of these popular MathType accessibility
features. This document is designed to familiarize customers with the
accessibility features included in MathType.
This notice addresses the following topics:
1. Making MathType’s Toolbars Extra-Large for Accessibility
2. Creating Customized Keyboard Shortcuts
3. Exporting Equations into Less Accessible Software
4. Speaking Math in MathPlayer (Windows Only)
MathType contains optional extra large
toolbars for easy accessibility. These toolbars provide an extra-large
target for someone using an assistive input device, such as an eye
movement tracker, or to make reading easier for someone with low vision.
To make MathType’s Toolbars Extra-Large for
- In MathType, choose Preferences>Workspace
Preferences… to open the Workspace Preferences Dialog.
- In the Workspace Preferences dialog, chose the
Large setting for Toolbar size.
- Optionally, in the Workspace Preferences
dialog, chose the Large settings for the Insertion Point Thickness
and/or the Empty Slot Thickness settings, if desired.
- Click the OK button to close the Workspace
Preferences dialog and return to MathType. MathType will remember
your changed preferences in future sessions.
All of MathType's features can be accessed via keyboard shortcuts,
which are completely customizable.
To create a customized keyboard shortcut for a MathType feature:
- MathType will allow you to create customized
shortcuts for commands as well as for symbols and templates.
Optionally, if you wish to create a customized shortcut for a
symbol or template, first use that symbol or template in the MathType equation editing workspace using the normal MathType
equation editing commands. This will cause MathType to add those
symbols or templates to its list of recently used symbols or
templates. This will make it easier to find and select these symbols
or templates in the Customize Keyboard dialog.
- In MathType, choose Preferences>Customize
Keyboard… to open the Customize Keyboard Dialog.
- In the Customize Keyboard dialog:
- Click the
"+" symbols in the "Command:" section to expand the appropriate
category of the command or symbol that you which to create a
customized keyboard shortcut for. Menu commands are found in the
appropriate section for the menu in question, while symbols and
templates can be found in those sections. If you recently used the
symbol or template (see optional Step 1 above), it will also appear
in the list of "Recently Used Symbols and Templates," making it
easier to find. Continue to click the "+" symbols to expand
appropriate categories and subcategories of commands until the
desired command or symbol appears. Once the desired command or
symbol appears in the list, select it to begin creating a keyboard
- Optionally, if an
existing keyboard shortcut is present for the command or symbol, click the
"Remove" button to remove the existing keyboard shortcut.
Commands and symbols may have multiple short-cuts. The status bar
message that appears when you place the mouse pointer over an item
while editing in MathType will always show the factory default
shortcut, unless it has been removed as described in this step. If
the factory default shortcut has been removed, a new short-cut, if
any, will be displayed in the status bar message.
- Enter the
desired new shortcut for the command or symbol in the "Enter new shortcut key(s):" input field.
- Click the
- Repeat Step 3 to assign any additional keyboard shortcuts, as
- Click the "Close" button in the Customize Keyboard dialog to save your new
keyboard shortcut(s) and return to MathType.
For more information on keyboard shortcuts, please refer to the
MathType User Manual.
MathType's accessibility features can be used to enter mathematical
equations into less accessible software products. For this feature to
work, the software products must support input in the
MathML W3C standard.
- Configure MathType for accessible equation
entry as described elsewhere in this TechNote.
- In MathType, choose Preferences>Translators…
to open the Translators Dialog.
- In the Translators dialog, chose the
"Transform to other language (text)" radio button.
- In the Translators dialog, chose "MathML 2.0
(no namespace)" from the "Translator" list.
- Click Close to return to MathType.
- Enter an equation in MathType.
- Copy the entered equation to the clipboard and
then paste it into the less accessible software product. If the less
accessible software supports MathML 2.0 importation via
cut-and-paste, equations should appear correctly in other vendor's
software. (Note that for maximum compatibility, there are additional
options for MathML export in the "Translator" list in step 4, as
well as options for export in various TeX-based formats.)
- Blind users: have a sighted colleague complete
Steps 2 through 9 for you the first time around. Then
continue reading at Step 10 below.
- Make sure the MathPlayer product is installed.
is available as a free download from the Design Science web site.
- Make sure Microsoft Internet Explorer is configured as your
default browser. Instructions for making Internet Explorer the
default browser may vary between versions; the instructions here are
for Internet Explorer for Windows version 6.0. From Internet
Explorer, choose Tools>Internet Options… to open the Internet
Options Dialog. Choose the Programs tab, and check the
"Internet Explorer should check to see whether it is the default
browser" box. Click "OK" to return to Internet Explorer. Chose File>Close to exit Internet Explorer. Restart Internet Explorer. If a
dialog appears asking to make Internet Explorer the Default Browser,
- Windows XP SP2 users should configure Internet Explorer to allow
active content to run from local files on their computer. In Internet
Explorer, choose Tools>Internet Options... to open the Internet
Options... dialog. Click the Advanced tab near the top right of the
dialog. Use the scroll bar in the dialog to scroll down to the
Security section near the bottom. Make sure the "Allow active
content to run on files on My Computer" option in the dialog is
checked. Click "OK" in the dialog to return to Internet Explorer.
Chose File>Close to exit Internet Explorer.
- Open Microsoft Word and use Word and MathType
to create mathematical content to be spoken in MathPlayer.
- In Microsoft Word, choose File>Save to open
the Save As…dialog. Enter an appropriate filename in "file name"
box, then click "Save" to save the file and return to Microsoft
- In Microsoft Word, choose MathType>MathPage…
to open the MathPage dialog.
- In the MathPage dialog:
- Optionally enter a Title for the page.
- Check the "Display in Default Brower" box.
- Choose the "MathML using:" option.
- Choose the "MathPlayer (IE behavior)" from the list below the
"MathML using" option.
- Choose "Internet Explorer 5 or newer (Windows) - faster download"
as the Target Browser.
- Click OK in the MathPage dialog to generate
the page and return to Microsoft Word. An information window will
appear in Word as the page is generated. After a few moments, an
Internet Explorer window should open. Windows XP SP2 users who chose
not to complete Step 4 above may see a warning message in Internet
Explorer about an "Information Bar" or "Blocked Content";
if so, first clear any "Information Bar" Dialog that appears
by clicking "OK", then click the "To help protect your security…"
bar and select "Allow Blocked Content." To speak the math on the
page, have your optional screen reader software read the page. If
you do not have optional screen reader software installed,
right-click the equation and select "Speak Expression" from the
- Blind users: Once your sighted
colleague has configured MathType as described in Steps 2 through 9, MathType will remember your MathPage settings in future sessions. If
screen reading software is installed, you should be able to use
MathType to speak equations created by others in Word files by using the following keyboard short-cuts
from inside Word: Control-s to ensure the document is saved, Alt-m
followed by 'x' to bring up the MathPage dialog box, and the Enter
key to generate the web page and then bring up Internet Explorer to
speak the accessible math in MathPlayer.