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Make Math Equation Editor Accessible

Make Math Equation Editor Accessible

This idea has been developed and deployed to Canvas


My understanding is that the built-in math editor is not accessible and is not compatible with screenreaders. A proposed solution is to enable MathJax.

MathJax is a display engine for mathematics that works in all browsers, is compatible with screenreaders, and provides zoom. Enabling MathJax would allow Canvas to automatically recognize mathematical commands/formulas and display them. Other (potentially) attractive aspects of MathJax include the ability to click/toggle through a sequence of text (e.g. hints/directions for exercise), add mouse over text (e.g. remind students of important definition), and shorthand for typesetting chemical equations.

Community Participant

Perhaps this feature request would get more attention and votes if the title were changed to something like "Make the Math Editor Accessible".

Right now, my understanding is that the built-in math editor is not accessible.  The alt text generated is in LaTeX, which is not compatible with screen readers.  Screen readers work with MathML or of course English (preferably, MathSpeak natural language descriptions).  See: Accessibility at Penn State | Equations: MathML, Images and LaTeX 

Someone elsewhere claimed that the Math Editor puts both LaTex and mathML in the alt text, but we tested it out with standard screen readers and none worked with it.

So the workaround now is, after adding an equation using the math editor in Canvas, you have to manually edit the alternative text to have an English description.  The issue here is what if your English description is inaccurate.

Conversely, MathType/WIRIS (which costs money after a free period), automatically generates an English-language description.  3rd party math homework tools like MyOpenMath and Ximera use MathJax and have nice accessibility features and MathML support.

So if the built-in math editor could support MathML or just use MathJax, it would help prevent inaccurate or inaccessible math equations and science formulas.

Community Participant

This should also be accessible in the Annotation tool (especially the Point Annotation tool).

New Member

I wish the equation editor was available for all question types within a quiz. For example, you can't type an equation into "Multiple Drop Downs". 

Community Member

Microsoft quizzes allows this so it would sure be nice if Canvas did as well.

New Member

Yes Please!!!

New Member

Please allow math equation editor available to students!

Instructure Alumni
Instructure Alumni
Status changed to: Completed
Comments from Instructure


For more information, please read through Canvas Release Notes (2020-10-17)