Math and STEM in EPUB, What to Expect and Demand


Presented at 11:15am in Virtual B on Friday, November 13, 2020.



  • George Kerscher, Chief Innovations Officer, DAISY Consortium
  • Rachel Comerford, Senior Director of Content Standards and Accessibility, Macmillan Learning
  • Charles LaPierre, Technical Lead, DIAGRAM and Born Accessible, Benetech

Session Details

  • Length of Session: 45 minutes
  • Format: Lecture
  • Expertise Level: Beginner
  • Type of session: Pre-conference


Math and STEM titles can now be commercially obtained from publishers in EPUB 3. However, the quality of the title depends on the specific techniques the publisher used to enable the accessibility features. We will explain in detail the techniques, and show how to determine, before buying, if the title contains the accessibility techniques.


Math and STEM textbooks and educational materials have long been the most difficult materials to get for students with disabilities. With the advances in EPUB 3, we can now obtain titles that will work for most students, including students with dyslexia, learning differences, low vision, and those who are blind. However, the publisher must have made the effort to encode the math as MathML, and subject-specific experts must have been engaged to create extended descriptions for all the complex, meaningful graphics. Fortunately, there are conscientious publishers serving the Higher Education market that produce such advanced materials. This session will explain exactly how complex graphics must be delivered in the EPUB 3 context, and we will show how Math encoded using MathML can be used by a range of students. Finally, we will show the available techniques to learn about the accessibility features offered in a title before purchasing to determine if it will meet the needs of students.


  1. EPUB 3 now supports MathML and techniques to present extended descriptions of complex graphical content.
  2. Publishers must encode math as MathML, and subject experts must create extended descriptions for graphics.
  3. Accessibility metadata is available for Born Accessible EPUB 3 titles, and it should guide purchasing.

Disability Areas

Cognitive/Learning, Other, Vision

Topic Areas

Accessible Course Design, Accessible Educational Materials, Administrative/Campus Policy, Alternate Format, Assistive Technology, EPUB Track, Faculty Development & Support, Institutional/Campus Change, Legal, Procurement, Teaching about Accessibility in Curriculum, Uncategorized

Speaker Bio(s)

George Kerscher

George Kerscher Ph.D.

“Access to information is a fundamental human right.” 2003 to the United Nations George Kerscher began his IT innovations in 1987 and coined the term "print disabled." George is dedicated to developing technologies that make information not only accessible, but also fully functional in the hands of persons who are blind or who have a print disability. He believes properly designed digitally published materials and web pages can make information accessible to all people. George is an advocate for semantically rich content which can be used effectively by everybody. As Chief Innovations Officer of the DAISY Consortium, Senior Advisor, Global Literacy to Benetech, and member of Publishing Groups in the W3C, Kerscher is a recognized international leader in document access. In addition, Kerscher chairs the DAISY/NISO Standards committee, Chairs the Steering Council of the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI, and also serves on the Advisory Board of the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).

Rachel Comerford

Charles LaPierre