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Making maths accessible


LaTeX is excellent at authoring complex documents with rich mathematical notation. However, as of 2024, its PDF output is very poor in terms of accessibility. We strongly recommend that you convert your documents to HTML instead, which is typically more accessible. This can be done automatically and typically with minimal changes to the original documents. You can still provide PDFs, as long as they are accompanied by an HTML or alternative accessible version.

Some options to generate an HTML version of your document are:

  • LaTeXML and BookML: LaTeXML is one of the most mature options and it powers arXiv's new accessible HTML preprints. We recommend using it with BookML (developed by Dr Vincenzo Mantova at Leeds), which enhances LaTeXML with accessibility features, automatic recompilation, and produces SCORM packages that are natively supported by Minerva.
    For Leeds-specific tips and installation instructions, read the Leeds BookML guide which itself is written in LaTeX and compiled with BookML.
  • Lwarp: The lwarp package, which is available both with TeX Live and MikTeX, has been tested and used in a number of modules. See this sample HTML file (produced by Dr Joao Faria Martins, School of Mathematics), which also contains instructions for how to compile xymatrix diagrams into MathJax, using XyJax. Only some MathJax accessibility features are available in commutative diagrams: (i) viewing the original LaTeX source, and (ii) zooming maths expressions.
  • Other tools: TeX4ht is available in TeX Live and MikTeX and can produce high quality HTML, if used correctly. See also Pandoc, plasTeX, HeVeA, or LaTeX2HTML. We do not have guides or recommendations for those. Please test your outputs, and make sure that your equations are not just images.

What about the accessibility, accsup, axessibility, tagpdf packages?

You may find online guides that recommend a number of LaTeX packages that purportedly generate accessible PDFs. Most of those packages are unmaintained and only provide small accessibility improvements. Use them with care, and always offer accessible HTML alternatives whenever feasible.

How do I upload HTML to Minerva?

HTML files are typically not self-contained (e.g. they require additional CSS files): you must create a zip file and follow the ‘Upload a zip package’ instructions. If you are using SCORM packages (generated by BookML), click ‘Create’, choose ‘SCORM Package’, upload your file, disable ‘Grade SCORM’ and click save.


  • The ‘Student Preview’ on Minerva is not reliable with HTML files. Please check with your students that the files work correctly. If not, you must adjust the permissions in the Content Collection (this can be done once).
  • HTML files can bypass conditional availability. Do not rely on conditional availability to prevent access (for instance, to hide homework solutions).
  • These warnings do not apply to SCORM packages, which are fully supported by Minerva.

How do I check my document?

Right-click on the equations to ensure that they are not images and that MathJax is active, and use Accessibility Insights to identify any other potential issues. Note that Ally is likely to give false positives for HTML and PDF files generated from LaTeX (for instance, if a document is split across multiple web pages, Ally may read the first page only).

Markdown and R Markdown

Markdown is a simple plain text file format that can be converted into multiple formats, including HTML, EPUB, PDFs. R Markdown is a variant maintained by R Studio adding several essential features. For some complete solutions based on Markdown, see the following:

The main output is HTML, which can be uploaded to Minerva and tested as explained in the LaTeX section.

Microsoft Word and PowerPoint

Please use the built-in ‘Equation’ tool for any mathematical content (including symbols or variables within a line). Do not use ‘Insert symbol’, superscripts/subscripts, font/style changes to create symbols and equations by hand, or use images of equations.

Existing content created using MathType may already be accessible. However, we recommend converting the equations to Microsoft’ built-in format to gain full compatibility with Office 365 and stop relying on MathType, which may not always be available for editing.

How do I check my document?

Use the built-in tools ‘Check accessibility’ and ‘Read Aloud’ (the location of these tools can vary depending on the Office version). You can also try uploading your file to OneDrive and using the Immersive Reader tool. Blackboard Ally will assign a score to Word and PowerPoint documents and flag potential issues.

Minerva documents

Please type LaTeX code by entering ‘$$’, or launch ‘Insert content’ > ‘Math’. In both cases, the output will be converted to images with alternative text and will remain editable. For more details read Blackboard’s Math Editor page. Do not use superscripts/subscripts or font/style changes to create symbols and equations by hand, or use images of equations.

We do not recommend this method for complex equations, since the accessibility of images with alternative text is very limited.

How do I check my document?

Blackboard Ally will flag potential issues in real time. You can also run Accessibility Insights on the page.