Easy Accessibility for Chemistry

Presented at 9:15am in Plaza Court 4 on Friday, November 19, 2021.



  • Volker Sorge, Dr, Progressive Accessibility Sol.

Session Details

  • Length of Session: 1-hr
  • Format: Lecture
  • Expertise Level: Beginner
  • Type of session: General Conference


We present a web service for easy, automatic generation of accessible and fully interactive chemical diagrams. Accessibility is provided via interaction, self-voicing, highlighting and magnification. The service supports both individual work as well as bulk conversion via an API.


Making chemical diagrams accessible in teaching material is a challenging task. Information is nearly exclusively conveyed by the diagram and providing alternative text is insufficient for comprehension. We present a webservice for the generation of interactive, web-accessible chemical diagrams. After an initial trial period is now publicly available for learners and professionals to generate accessible diagrams from diverse sources including images. A web API enables integration into workflows for bulk conversions and electronic documents.

The resulting diagrams support users with visual impairments and dyslexia by providing an interactive experience in any browser. Molecules can be explored on multiple levels with synchronized highlighting and magnification. Explanations of the inspected structures are automatically generated and voiced to support both users with and without screen readers. In addition diagrams can be converted into a number of alternative tactile formats.


  1. Chemical diagrams can be made accessible fully automatically
  2. Accessibility via information rich interaction goes beyond anything possible with ALT text.
  3. Service supports both individual work and bulk conversion of diagrams.

Disability Areas

Cognitive/Learning, Vision

Topic Areas

Accessible Educational Materials, Alternate Format, Research, Uncategorized

Speaker Bio(s)

Volker Sorge

Volker is Professor in Document Analysis and Accessibility at the University of Birmingham, UK and Adjunct Faculty at IIT Delhi, India. He is working primarily on diagram recognition, mathematical document analysis and handwriting recognition. Practical applications of his research include STEM accessibility with a particular focus on Web technologies and eBooks. He has been working as a Visiting Scientist with Google on math integration into ChromeVox. He is a member of the MathJax consortium responsible for the integration of accessible rendering of mathematical formulas on the web. And with his company Progressive Accessibility Solutions, he concentrates on accessibility technology that exploits image analysis to generate accessible STEM diagrams.