Steve Noble, Accessibility Research Consultant (Guest Author)
Late last week, the US Department of Education issued a "Dear Colleague" letter to State Departments of Education and local school districts recommending that when they request content containing mathematics from publishers, they should require that math be expressed using MathML 3 in order to maximize accessibility to students with print disabilities. This follows the closely related DAISY accessible content standard which just recently adopted MathML 3. These recommendations will be part of their new Structure Guidelines to be issued shortly by the NIMAS Center.
With this announcement in hand, States that are planning math textbook adoptions for upcoming school years can confidently add MathML 3 to their requirements to make the equations in them accessible. With the new Structure Guidelines in hand, there's no reason to put off math accessibility.
And while we're on the topic of MathML 3, I should mention that there are a number of accessibility improvements in the new standard--like the ability to support elementary-level mathematics, including upright addition and long-division problems. For a bit of an introduction to this capability--along with a brief video demonstration of MathPlayer's ability to take advantage of it--check out MathML 3 Elementary Math Examples.
The Department should be sending out a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to update the official NIMAS regulation soon, so stay tuned! We'll certainly announce it here when it happens.
Steve Noble is a research consultant with a core focus in mathematics accessibility and assistive technology. Currently he serves on grant-funded research projects with both the University of Kentucky and Bridge Multimedia, and previously served as Director of Accessibility Policy for Design Science.