Screenshot of an HTML worksheet with numbered math problems

How to Read Math Expressions with a Screen Reader on a Windows Computer

In this post, you will learn how students can access math materials digitally on a Windows computer using the NVDA screen reader.

In this post, you will learn how students can access math materials digitally on a Windows computer using the NVDA screen reader.  Your student will need the following tools:

MathPlayer is a free piece of software from Design Science that enables a screen reader to speak mathematical expressions.  Using a typical install, MathPlayer will automatically integrate itself with NVDA and Firefox.  However, if you need to access the MathPlayer settings, you can do so by going to the Control Panel of your computer.  Students can also access information in braille via a braille display.  However, please note that at this time Nemeth Code is the best supported code for accessing materials this way.  In addition, the student will have to connect his braille display via the Preferences, Braille Settings menu in NVDA. 

Here’s a short video of Brice navigating a simple worksheet as a student would.


Accessing the Worksheet (NVDA commands)

The student will need to know a few basic NVDA commands in order to access a worksheet.

General Navigation in Browse Mode (not zoomed into math expressions)

Digging Down-Using the Math Equation Viewer

Once the cursor encounters math, the screen reader reads the entire mathematical expression—the math expression has focus.

For example of why zooming in and out is useful look at problem 5 on the sample worksheet, the screen reader will read the entire expression as “the fraction with numerator x plus 6 and denominator x minus 4”.  If students “zoom in” one more level by using the down arrow, the screen reader will then focus on just the numerator or just the denominator such that it will say “in numerator x plus 6” or “in denominator x minus 4”.  Then, if students zooms in yet another level, they can use the left and right arrows to reach each individual character.  Once escape is hit, the students are back in Browse mode which will allow them to navigate line by line. 


Accessing math materials on a Windows device works best when the student just needs audio support or audio support with Nemeth Code.  There currently seems to be issues with the UEB produced when accessing materials this way. 

Remember, once in the Math Equation Viewer, don’t forget you need to hit escape to get out of the Viewer.  Otherwise you will be stuck in the equation!

For more information on how the Sample Worksheet was created please see the post Creating Digital Math Worksheets that can be Accessed on Windows Computers.





By Shannon Pruitt

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