Screen Reader Configuration for STEM Content
Screen readers usually need to be configured differently to read science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) content than for other types of content.
- Announce capital letters
- Capital and lowercase letters are not interchangeable in STEM content.
- Announce numbers written with a slash as fractions rather than dates
- For example, 1/2 should be read as one over two, not January second.
- Announce superscripts and subscripts
- This notation is common and important for STEM content.
- Announce all plus and minus signs
- Often, screen readers are configured not to announce minus signs or hyphens. Notation like -x or −x should be announced as minus x.
- Announce UTF-8/special characters
- Often, screen readers are configured not to announce characters like nabla (∇), plus or minus (±), greater than or equal to (≥), less than or equal to (≤), union (∪), or intersection (∩) that are used extensively in STEM content. The names of these characters should be announced.
- For JAWS®, see JAWS Symbols File.
- Announce alt text for images
- Accessible content in WebAssign uses the
altattribute for images.
- If the
titleattribute is used, its text is the same as the
longdescattribute is not used.
- If the
- Announce all images
- Small images are sometimes used to display symbols in WebAssign content; these images have alt text provided and should be
announced.Note JAWS cannot be configured to announce all images; instead, configure JAWS image settings to the smallest allowable values.
- Update dictionary settings to correctly pronounce STEM terms
- This is something you might want to do on a case-by-case basis when the
screen reader first mispronounces a STEM term. Commonly mispronounced terms include:
- short forms of trigonometric functions like sin, cos, and tan
- the mathematical function lim (announce as "limit on")
- -> or --> (announce as "right arrow")
- != (announce as "not equals")
- Announce a series of underscore characters
- A series of underscore characters — typically five or more — is sometimes used in a fill-in-the-blank phrase. You can announce this with a special word, voice, or sound.
- Voice synthesizer settings
- Choose voice synthesizer settings that are easiest for you to understand
questions with STEM content. WebAssign recommends:
- Use Vocalizer Expressive instead of Eloquence
- Choose a clear voice with precise enunciation like Samantha Premium High
- Use proofing mode
- Set the speed a little slower than normal
- Set the pitch a little lower than normal
JAWS Symbols File
To enable JAWS to announce additional characters, you can edit the symbols file associated with the speech engine you are using. A sample symbols file for the SAPI engine is linked from this topic.
- C:\Users\User\AppData\Roaming\Freedom Scientific\JAWS\version\Settings
Contact Customer Support for help with technical issues with WebAssign. Customer Support cannot provide help with specific assistive technologies used to access WebAssign.