Welcome to the Accessible Equation Editor!


This page provides instructions for using the Accessible Equation Editor with either a QWERTY keyboard or refreshable braille display.

Setting the entry mode

The AEE uses three entry modes, one to support input from a Braille display, another to support the entry of print symbols from a QWERTY keyboard, and a third to support six key entry from a QWERTY keyboard. The initial entry mode is set to the Braille entry mode. You should set the entry mode to match the type of keyboard you want to use.

You may switch between entry modes either from the QWERTY keyboard or from the Braille terminal. To switch between entry modes, press Ctrl+q from the QWERTY keyboard, or press Dots 123456, Dots 123456 from the Braille terminal. This command can be pressed again to switch to the next keyboard mapping.

You may also switch between entry modes from the Quick Bar using the “keyboard” button. It looks like a full braille cell, and is located just after the “clear all” button, which looks like a trash can.

Screen Reader Usage

Accessing The Entry Area

From the top of the homepage, press H to move to the Welcome heading. Next, press Tab until you reach the AEE’s entry area. (The prompt for this form field is Equation.) You may now enter Nemeth Braille from the braille terminal and it will automatically be translated into print math.

The AEE is a web application, and when you Tab into the entry area, your screen reader should automatically switch to Application Mode. To exit from the entry area and continue interacting with the rest of the webpage, you will need to use your screen reader’s exit application command. NVDA users press Ctrl+NVDA+Space to do so, and JAWS users press the PC Cursor command twice.

Notes On Braille Entry

  • The equation editor uses the full braille cell, Dots 123456, to indicate that it is waiting for input. For example, whenever you enter a sign of operation, such as plus, the full cell is displayed after it as a prompt for you to enter a value.
  • Occasionally, you will notice that characters, such as number sign and space, are not immediately entered into the entry area when you braille them. Continue brailling the expression as normal, and these characters will be automatically added by the equation editor where appropriate.
  • Be aware that when grouping symbols and fractions are entered, the equation editor will insert the expected notation into the entry area. For example, brailling a left parenthesis would result in having left parenthesis, a full cell, and right parenthesis inserted. No special action is required, continue brailling the expression as normal.
  • Also, when grouping expressions are closed, the AEE marks the expression you’ve just completed by placing a Dot 8 under each character. Use this tactile feedback to ensure that the grouping symbols are enclosing the correct characters. The AEE removes this marking once you continue brailling.
  • Dot 5 is required to terminate an exponent. For example, when entering the expression “x squared plus three,” braille the letter x, then superscript as Dots 45, the number 2, then Dot 5 to terminate the exponent, plus sign as Dots 346, and finally the number 3.
  • Because the Equals Sign and lowercase Greek Kappa are the same in braille (Dots 46, Dots 13), it is necessary to enter Dots 46 two times followed by Dots 13 in order to produce Kappa.

Notes On Speech Output

  • Speech output for the equation editor is turned on by default. To turn off speech output, either press Ctrl+Shift+O from the QWERTY keyboard, or a full cell followed by O on the braille keyboard. The equation editor will announce, “Echo input actions off.” The same command is used to turn speech output back on. (If you enter this command multiple times in a row, please allow three seconds in-between keystrokes to ensure that the status announcement is voiced reliably.)
  • Besides announcing characters as you braille them, the equation editor is also able to read the entire expression you’ve entered. To do this, press Ctrl+Shift+E on the QWERTY keyboard, or a full cell followed by E on the braille keyboard.
  • The equation editor provides another command, read selection, that allows you to read different parts of the math expression. Normally, entering this command speaks the last number that was entered on the equation editor, but it can also be used to read parts of a math expression that have been selected. To do this, press Ctrl+Shift+S on the QWERTY keyboard, or a full cell followed by S on the braille keyboard.
  • The AEE currently uses MathPlayer to voice content for the Read Expression and Read Selection commands. Unfortunately, JAWS for Windows does not support this method of reading MathML.

Palette Navigation

The AEE provides several lists of math symbols, separated into categories called palettes. If you don’t remember how to braille a particular Nemeth symbol, you can use the palettes to find it, and then insert it into the entry area. Each symbol has a print label, a full braille cell for position reference, and the symbol itself shown in braille. The palettes begin with a list of commonly used symbols such as plus, minus, and times, but these symbols can be skipped if you don’t want to read through the entire list. Screen readers identify each symbol as a button, and each palette category as a tab.

Below are some keystrokes that will help you navigate through the palettes:

  • From the entry area, press Tab to navigate to the symbol palettes.
  • Press Tab to move forward by symbols.
  • Press Shift+Tab to move backward by symbols.
  • Press Enter over a palette tab to expand or collapse its list of symbols.
  • Press Shift+Right Arrow to move to the next palette tab and open it.
  • Press Shift+Left Arrow once to close the current palette tab, and twice to move to the previous tab.
  • Press Enter over a symbol to have it inserted into the entry area.
  • Press Escape to return to the entry area from the symbol palettes.

Equation Editor Keystrokes

The following keystrokes can be used inside the AEE’s entry area.

  • Dots 123456, Dots 123456: Toggles keyboard input mapping in-between Braille and QWERTY mode.
  • Dots 123456, K: Clear all.
  • Dots 123456, Y: Redo.
  • Dots 123456, Z: Undo.