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Getting started with LaTeX: Digital math

A teacher-friendly guide to basic LaTeX math symbols used to make math equations accessible.

What is LaTeX?

LaTeX (pronounced as “Lah-tech” or “Lay-tech”) is a robust mainstream document preparation system and is most often used for technical or scientific documents. Frequently used in the VI field, LaTeX is a publishing system that renders math and equations accessible with a screen reader. In a nutshell, it is a math markup language. Most blind professionals in STEM fields regularly use and recommend LaTeX for college students and careers.

Useful guide to LaTeX 

Most of the LaTeX guides are lengthy and complex. . . and not an easy read for the majority of us who are not math majors. To increase my knowledge about available digital math tools, I have been avidly reading threads on NFB’s BlindMath listserv. This is a great listserv created for people to share information and ask questions about accessible math. Over the years, I have read so many questions from college students who are blind or low vision asking about LaTeX. Recently posted on the BlindMath listserv is Jonathon Fine simple, teacher-friendly LaTeX math symbols guide. This teacher-friendly guide demonstrates the LaTeX math markup symbols and applies the symbols to very simple math equations. Example: 

We often refer math symbols by name, making it easier to type. (Example: “times” instead of “x”.) Before the typing the name of the math symbol, type a backslash.

Words: Two times two equals four.

LaTeX: 2 \times 2 = 4

Render: 2 x 2 = 4

This guide is a work-in-progress andJonathan is working on adding content. If you have specific math equations that you would like to see, please let us know!


Jonathon’s background

Jonathon, who is retired, has experience in STEM document production, teaching mathematics and mathematics research. He continues to work with several blind college students enrolled in math courses. Jonathon is also active on the BlindMath listserv and facilitates the TeX Hour math open discussion group.

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