Equatio logo for top

Math Input into Google Docs through Equatio

Equatio for google docsTexthelp has produced a great way for you to add math equations into Google docs with their tool called Equatio.  This tool can be added for free into Chrome Browser from the Google Play Store.  The paid version gives   even more power to this amazing tool.  Let’s look at the five free areas.  Once you install it, it appears on the toolbar to the left of the address bar in Chrome.

After you open a blank Google doc, select the icon for Equation which  appears beside the address bar in the browser after installation.

Once that occurs, you’ll see the following tools at the bottom of your screen:

Equation bar showing the fire tools we are covering in this blog post

1  Equation Editor  

This tools is designed to allow you to type in equations and to select mathematical symbols, operators and even Greek letters.

You may type standard numbers, letter and any other content from your keyboard into the text field.  But to help you generate mathematical expressions.  These are selected from for tools.

Math Operators

math operators

As you can see from the graphic to the right, you can insert division, multiplication greater than or equals and many other operators into your math equations.  One the populate the field, you can select individual letters or numbers in the expression and change them to something you can type.


math symbolsAdditional operators or symbols can be found to the right. Here is the whole list.  It includes union and intersect, equivalent, plus or minus degree, etc. These symbols you cannot alter.



Common Functions

Math expressions that are frequently used appear in the functions panel:

Greek Letters

Its all greek to me, but below you will see the selection you have for adding greek letters to your equations:

Choice of greek letters







2  Latex Editorlatex icon for the editor

Here is a description of LaTeX Taken from Wikipedia:

LaTeX is widely used in academia[3][4] for the communication and publication of scientific documents in many fields, including mathematics, statistics, computer science, engineering, chemistry, physics, economics, linguistics, quantitative psychology, philosophy, and political science. It also has a prominent role in the preparation and publication of books and articles that contain complex multilingual materials, such as TamilSanskrit and Greek.[5] LaTeX uses the TeX typesetting program for formatting its output, and is itself written in the TeX macro language.

So for those who know how to use it, this enables the preparation of mathematical expression by using conventions of LaTeX.

Here is an example:

latex expressino converted to math expression

You see if you type a^(2)+4ab-2b^(2) converts to the math expression we want in our Google doc.

By the way, as a side note, you can learn a lot about LaTex by reversing math expression.  I usually just use the handwriting tool  to generate the math expression, and then return to LaTeX editor to see how it is type with LaTex.

3 Graphic Editorgraphic editor

With this tool you are able to plot math expression in graphical forms.

Here I’ve plotted 4 sin (x)

 graphic showing wave form of sin plotted for x

4 Handwritinghandwriting tool

This tool allows you to use you mouse to write mathematical expressions.  Basically you will see this (always clear out previous math expression before using the tool.

handrwriting tool








Of course the quality of your handwritten expressionhandwriting example is important here (also note that in the free version you are limited to how many times you can use this tool to insert math into Google docs).

But when converted, here is what I found in the math window:

math expression example

Now we are about to enter a very cool are that I had never seen before.  That is adding math content using your voice.  Speech to text has been around for a while, but not for speaking mathematical expressions.

Speech Input

This is a tool you have to see to believe.  Of course you have to know how to read mathematical expressions for this to work well.  A misreading of a fraction will give you a poor result for example.

speech to math expression

If you’d like to learn more, I’ve made a video that demonstrates these features and shows how math inserted into a google document can be read by TextHelp’s Read and Write tool:

Thanks Texthelp!

text help logo


Equatio logo for top



Free and Useful Speech to Text Extension for Chrome

VoiceNote II is a speech to text software for a multitude of languages  (I tried Spanish and English) that is offered in the Google Play Store as a free application extension for Chrome Browser.  It provides a window in which you can type using your voice.  [Video Demo]

First you would want to select a language in which to type with.  English provides you with different types such as British, American and Australian.  There are like 50 different language choices.  [Could be useful to those studying foreign languages]

To use the program you will have to use a mouse especially when it comes to making Corrections. You may find the tool useful in writing emails or other internet content online, but it is not a full-featured voice activation software. You’re not able to control the mouse with your voice nor are you able to select words you’ve written using voice commands.
To replace a word that you have spoken,  you can’t simply double-click on the word and type over it with your voice. No you have to type in new text, and cut and paste it over the word — very frustrating.  You can click the undo to remove the last item spoken.  So editing is severely limited — but this is freeware after all.

Below is that the screenshot of what it looks like:

screenshot of voice note 2

New Microsoft Accessibility Features

Recently I ran across a couple of accessibility features in Microsoft Word and Microsoft OneNote that I hadn’t paid much attention to in the past.  These free enhancements make it easier for folks to write papers and to read them. Both are wonderful for those who struggle using a keyboard for typing or have difficulty in reading speed and comprehension.  Students and faculty should know about them.Accessibility in Word and OneNote

Typing Using Your Voice

Voice input is available for both MS Office 365 OneNote and Word. You basically click a button and begin speaking.  The software converts your speech into word.  Though it is not a full featured software like Dragon Dictate, it is free.

Free is good and especially for students.

To do this on MS Word PC, you should look for the microphone icon located on the far right of the ribbon.Dictate icon
The underlying voice activation software on the PC is found in a place called Ease of Access Center. However, that voice input system requires training, and this voice input feature does not.

Immersive Reader

Also added as an accessibility component is immersive reader. To find that you have to look at the view ribbon. This tool allows you to change the text size, set a reading voice, set font size and spacing so that documents that you are working with can be read out loud with  a quality voice.immersive reader on view ribbon
These tools also exist in OneNote. I think they are very useful when someone doesn’t have those features available to them.
Below you will find a screenshot of what immersive reader looks like. [Here is my video on the subject.]

immersive reader screenshot showing play button


Testing for Accessibility of WordPress

WordPress one the most used content management system (CMS) platforms for the web. I use WordPress to create these blog posts about the world of academic accessibility.  A minor irritation is that I also have as part of my job the testing of WordPress as a tool and that means I have to test the use of this blog as part of that training.  WordPress is used here at the university for student, faculty and staff blogs, but it is used for much more than that here.  WordPress is now the prime means of creating websites for the university.


A sever restriction to our campus staff, students and faculty is the limitation on which theme you cna use.  Themes allwo for the design of the online content.  Because their are security, accessibility and other design concerns our IT department went through and limited what themes can be offered here.  Below are the themes that everyone here can use:

  1. Courage
  2. Air Balloon
  3. Anderson
  4. Blue Zinfandel
  5. Bold headline
  6. Dynamic New
  7. Dynamic News Lite
  8. Emphaino
  9. Momentous
  10. Openstrap
  11. Rubine
  12. Smart Line

I don’t know what has gone into the planning of what themes can be used, but the regular WordPress creation site provides for at least 70 free themes and a huge number possibly in the hundreds of themes that you can pay for. The limits were most likely designed to control security and other technical issues such as accessibility.  Of course if you are a developer, you may prefer to write your own theme.

My experience tells me that the site that I have is hidden away, and therefore limits the readership. I’m not sure exactly how the analytics work or why, but in the past I’ve had a much larger readership for my blogs.  It is not very motivating to write blog posts that no one will see.  Without feedback, one cannot develop content that is user specific.  I try to write content for myself instead.  Especially when it covers a topic that is very niche.  WordPress then becomes a archive of information which I can refer people when asked about a topic.

Current Testing

The current testing that I’m doing is to see if I can use my blog site with the assistive technologies employed on this computer. I will also have to tested on a Macintosh.

When using this tool with NVDA screen reading software or Jaws, I found that I could do everything (not that it was easy). What made it most challenging was the fact that there is so much content  that you can see visually, which means it required extra effort for someone using a screen reader. For instance when trying to find the add alt tag command for an image, I had to navigate through a great deal of content. I don’t expect any other blog tool to be any better.  I think with diligent practice and patience, some with a disability can handle all aspects of WordPress, but I doubt all add-ons, widgets and the like are fully accessible.

Dragon dictate professionalDragon Dictate Premium

DragonDictate premium allowed me to type into the screen if I had the extension added to chrome. However making corrections was much more difficult than typing into a word processor. In this paragraph the word premier is supposed to be capitalized. I neglected that, so to correct it I say “select premium” and then I should be able to capitalize the word premium. However, that selection isn’t working for some reason. So what I would normally do in a case like this is to type the entire document using WordPad, Microsoft Word, a text file, or another means of typing a document, then selecting the document and cutting and pasting that content into the WordPress panel hearing Google Chrome. Not very efficient!  At least all the visual elements could be selected using “Mouse Grid.”  Below is a picture of the mouse grid feature being active on a monitor.  The screen is cut into a numbered tic tack toe board, with 1, 2, and 3 at the top going from left to right.  Each number redefines the size of hte next tic tack toe board, until the user gets the focus exactly to the location they need on screen.  This works well within the WordPress environment.

Dragon's Mouse Grid

References for WordPress & Accessibility


New WordPress Editor: Gutenberg ‘d’ bomb

I’m not sure yet about the coming new editor.  I have tried it on my personal blogs.  I’m also going to have to test it for accessibility this coming year.  I know that the same capacity to edit the html and  the same ability to add headings, alt tags, etc.  should mean it works the same.  What I’m concerned about is how easy it is to use with assistive technology.  Can a screen reading software like Jaws navigate within the boxy structure for creating blogs content?

time bomb that is lit


Other Related Articles about WordPress for Universities

Ten Reasons to Use WordPress for University Websites

How the top 50 of the world’s universities are all using WordPress

Content Management for the Modern University


Blackboard Ally Step by Step — Step 3 Table Headers

Ally icon

Step 3 Adding Headers to Tables

Ally score After Headings were AddedOnce the headings are put in Ally then looked to see if Tables had proper headers.  The score was 68% up from 48%.  Again, Ally identified the tables in the document needing mark up for these headers.  The description for clicking on the “What this means” takes you to the following description:

What are table headers?

Proper table headers help readers understand how tables are organized into columns and rows. Avoid solely using text and cell formatting, such as making the text big or bold to mimic the visual appearance of a table header, as this provides no underlying information about the structure of the table.

In this example, only one Table was identified:

To correct the Table in MS Word so that it has headings for the columns, one must highlight the top row, right click it, and then the dialog box shows up (below):

Table Properties Dialog Box with Row Table circled

Select the Row Tab here, and then click on the tick for the checkbox titled “Repeat as header row at the top of each page.”  Take the check off for “Allow row to break across pages.” This is demonstrated below.

Checkboxes to fix

This is about all you can do in Word.  Tables are not easily made accessible using MS Word.  Usually online tables are in HTML and can be made accessible.  PDF’s tables can be fixed using Adobe Acrobat Pro.  Lynda.com has a full, well designed course for that  Titled “Advanced Accessible PDFs by Chad Chelius.  There is also an introductory course called “Creating Accessible PDFs, but the advance course goes into the details for Table Remediation.  You would have to have Adobe Acrobat Pro to fix tables that are complex.  (See video)

Html design is another way to handle representing tables in a format that  would be accessible if steps were taken to learn how to do that.

After we have completed these three steps, this document received the score we were looking for.

Perfect 100 percent score achieved

Step 2

Blackboard Ally Step By Step — Step 2 Headings

Ally iconStep Two is Headings

Orange gauge at 48% with need to fix headings

When you click the “What this means”  you see:

A ‘heading’ isn’t always a heading

Do not only use visual appearance such as text size, bold or underline to mimic a heading. Always use the program’s native heading styles to ensure headings are properly marked as headings.

In order to fix headings you need to know about Word Styles.  It is easy to repair, once you go to the original document and build in the headings there.  You will be given information for how to do this in Word and in Writer for LibreOffice, but you can also add headings in InDesign.™

First you are going to select the text of the heading.  Set the font and style (i.e., Time Roman, bold face, green color, etc.).  Move to the Home Ribbon and select styles area.  Find the level of heading you chose.  Right click that and select “Update Heading to Match Selection.” (see video).

Home ribbios selected with Styles in focus

Go to Step 1

Go to Step 3

Blackboard Ally Step by Step — Step 1 Alt Tags

Ally iconStep 1

This is a training for how to use Blackboard Ally as a tool for remediation of course content. Blackboard Ally provides a gauge that demonstrates whether a file is accessible for all users. The score will reflect the level of access in the document. When you click on the gauge, you can see the score and you can also see what items need to be fixed.

shows three colored gauges red green and goldThe Green gauge shows that you have a good file. If the score is between 66 and 100% you should see this next to each of your files. That is the goal. (note color contrast is often a factor)

When you see a red gauge, you know that the file is poor. The score will be between zero and 33%. If it has the phrase “this is a picture PDF” then you are starting from scratch.

The gold gauge shows that your file is mediocre. Scores between 34% and 65%. There are obvious issues that need to be fixed in your file. But at least not starting from zero.

shows score for accessibilityIf you click on the gauge, on the right-hand side you will then see at the top your score. You will also see a link to all the issues that were found in your file (below).

shows panel telling use of what needs to be fixed

Underneath you will be given information about the first issue. In this case it was that images in the document did not have alternative text to represent them. Ally will mark in the document each image that needs alternative text with a bright red box with stripes. As you can see below:

shows image of skull and cross bones with ECY purple and gold pirate's hat

You see that there is this button that says “what this means” you can click on that and it will tell you what it means to be missing an alt tag. Then below it you’ll see “how to add descriptions” which will give you information about how to repair that. In this case we are looking at a Word document. Basically, you would right click on the

pword box for adding alt texticture in Microsoft Word, and then click the selection edit alt tag (see video).   Ally wants you to fix that issue and then go on to the next issue.  The score adjusts in all from 27% to 48%.

Step 2


Alt Tags for Blackboard LMS Content

 Accessible LMS Files

Most LMS system provide means for adding accessibility in online course content.  But that does not mean the content added to Blackboard is going to have the appropriate markup.  This blog post covers a few ideas related to adding alt tags to images that are in the content shown in Blackboard, though other LMS system are going to have similar needs. If you want to make your content more accessible, read on.


First, you should know the steps to creating content directly with Blackboard’s “Insert Item” command.  When you add an “item” into Blackboard you can then insert a picture into that item.  An ALT tag can be added to the picture by typing in an Image description.  First you’ll name you new item, then you can type in whatever content you like, plus add a picture.  If you know about web design, you can also switch to the HTML view and add mark Blackboard add item


up to your file.  Below you will see the picture of starting the creation. 

The icon for adding a picture is highlighted.


Or you can edit the code for the file using the buttons for HTML and CSS.adding alt tag blackboard


If you don’t enter a description Blackboard will prompt you with a message:




Are you sure you want to continue without including an Image Description? Without it the image may not be accessible to some users with disabilities, or to those using a text browser, or browsing the Web with images turned off.

Of course, one can add an alt tag using the HTML button, if you know how.

Alt Text in Word and PowerPoint

Depending on what version of Word and PowerPoint you are using.  Generally, you can right click and inserted picture and then find a format picture or edit alt text command.  In this example the description would be “accessibility icon.”

Accessibility icon blue and white

More complex pictures may require a lot more description, and when that description becomes lengthy, like over 2 sentences long, then writing that into the document may be essential.  If the item is only for decoration, then and empty alt tag may be best.

Below: This is what it looks like in Word.  The text reads, “How would you describe this object and its context to someone who is blind.”

adding an alt tag in word

Empty alt attribute

Web-based content is marked up with HTML code that tells your web browser how to display text and images. The HTML image tag looks like this:

<img src=“picture.jpg”>

The empty attribute (also called “null”) looks like this:

<img src=”picture.jpg” alt=“ ”>

This attribute lets the screen reader user know that there is an image but that there is no description for it. The attribute is useful where the image is purely decorative but should not be used when the image holds meaning.

Related Article

Faculty Images and Universal Design for Learning (UDL)










Reading Tables Using Jaws: Basic Commands

Tables whether in Word documents, PDF files, or in HTML, can be read using Jaws and other screen reading software.  But Jaws has a set of commands that makes traversing Tables much more liberating.

Graphic of Jaws log on top of table design

First, if you are in a document that has multiple tables, the rotary command for moving through the document table by table is the T key.  Shift key returns you back to he previous table.

Inside a table, there can be information you can not easily navigate, but which may be read once you arrive at a table, such as the Table summary.

What makes tables tricky to read is whether headings are marked up for rows and columns and for notifying the screen reader user of the umbrella headings — this is a technique used to design complex tables.  An umbrella heading may cover a range of content, such as a year, and then having underneath that the listing on months.  Such as listed here:


Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec

However, you may frequently find several layers of umbrella headings.  In this next example, quarters are inserted in our previous example.


First Quarter Second Quarter Third Quarter Fourth Quarter
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec

Coding HTML is the simplest way to handle the correct design for tables when it comes to these features.  You also have a great deal of latitude for adding in all the structure necessary to make tables accessible within PDF files using Adobe Acrobat Pro.

Navigating in Table

Reading Cells

Once a person using Jaws screen reader arrives at the Table, the screen reader will announce that one is at a table, and then read how many columns and rows the tables has and any content listed the table’s summary.

Then the reading focus will move to the first column first row.  This is usually a  Table Header Row, but often tables are made without proper design structure.  Either way, you can read the content using the following keystrokes design for reading within the cells.

Reading Next Cell

control alt plus right arrow





Reading the Previous Cell

control alt plus left arrow





Next, you’ll want to learn how to read the cell above and below.

Reading the Cell Above

control alt plus up arrow





Reading the Cell Below

control alt plus down arrow





You can read more than the individual cells using Jaws commands.  Most useful is to be able to read the columns and rows.

Reading Columns and Rows

Reading Columns is easy to do and instead of the control key, you just use the Windows key.

Next column

Read the next column





Previous Column

Read the previous column






Read Row Below (next)

Read next row

Read row above (previous)

Read the previous row above





Of course, the ability to read tables has something to do with their design.  As mentioned previously, the umbrella headings can and will impact how the structure is going to read with any screen reader. If the content is code effectively, Jaws will have better information to present to the user.  Accessible has different meanings in tables than most other areas because of these issues.  But the point of this blog post was to give some introductory commands to those just learning to read tables with Jaws.

If you need to advance beyond this, you can always bring up the help file in Jaws.  If you want to test Jaws with a page on the internet that provides tables for testing, then you’ll find the support page at Freedom Scientific useful.  There you can also learn more advanced skills, but the tables built into the page are very good for helping someone train on reading tables with Jaws.



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