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CSUN 2018 Takeaways: Pearson’s Accessible Equation Editor Teaches Us More Than Math

Brian McNeilly 04/20/18

Did you attend CSUN this year? If not, we can bring a little bit of CSUN to you! We asked our Levelers to share about some of the interesting sessions they attended. 

icon of a person reading brailleAt CSUN 2018, among other sessions, I attended a session on the Pearson Accessible Equation Editor. The Accessible Equation Editor provides a method to input math equations using either a keyboard or braille display.

One major theme throughout the presentation was the importance of ensuring users who are blind are able to use methods other than just speech to read and input content. While this specifically applies for math, and other fields where ambiguities in speech (15 or 50?) can lead to mistakes, a generalized lesson from this presentation is on how content creators expose information to users.

As creators, we may have an idea about how a user will work with our content; however, we cannot predict every way that every user will interact with our content. Unless we build tools in such a way that all users, regardless of modality, are able to interact with our content, we will fail some segment of our user base.

While in some instances, such as the Accessible Equation Editor, solutions may require custom scripting to ensure access, most everyday components just need a healthy dose of universal design.

Assume that users will modify the display of elements, including:

  • Changing colors
  • Changing fonts
  • Adjusting positioning of items

And that they will use a variety of means to activate items, including:

  • Braille displays
  • Keyboards
  • Switches

When we ensure that we create useable experiences for everyone, our content itself is more robust. These benefits are then passed along to other modalities, such as mobile environments. Though it’s a common adage within the community, this instance more than anything else conforms with the notion that good accessibility is good usability.

To view Level Access slide decks, please visit this page to Download 2018 CSUN Presentations.

Brian McNeilly is an Accessibility Consultant in our San Francisco office.

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