Progress Made on Accessible STEM


Presented at 4:20pm in Cotton Creek II on Thursday, November 21, 2019.



  • Charles LaPierre, Principal, Accessibility and Content Quality Architect, Benetech
  • George Kerscher, Chief Innovations Officer, DAISY

Session Details

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


Digital Educational publications in STEM can be quite complex to make accessible. Mathematics, Physics, Biology, and Chemistry must be visually correct, and accessible to persons with disabilities. Last year we showcased the leading efforts in making math accessible, this year we will provide an update on math and look at making STEM accessible.


Many progressive educational publishers are committed to deliver born accessible EPUB 3 and HTML publications to students in universities. Mathematics, Chemistry and STEM content in general has been the most difficult type of materials to deliver. Now there are techniques that meet the requirements of the mainstream and the disability community using AT. In this session we will demonstrate the techniques now being recommended to publishers for their mathematical, and complex image description content, as well as new techniques being explored for creating accessible chemistry content. These techniques may have shortcomings and we will lay out the work that still needs to be done. Finally, we will show how students, professors and procurement officers can determine in advance of purchase if a publication uses the recommended techniques for accessibility. This year in addition to math we will highlight the best practice recommendations for Born Accessible STEM publishing.


  1. Latest developments on math accessibility in EPUB.
  2. Best practice recommendations for Born Accessible STEM publishing.
  3. How to best add extended descriptions to complex images.

Disability Areas


Topic Areas

Accessible Educational Materials, Alternate Format, Assistive Technology, EPUB Track, Uncategorized

Speaker Bio(s)

Charles LaPierre

Charles LaPierre, Benetech: Principal, Accessibility Standards, and Technical Lead, Global Certified Accessible. Charles has over 25 years’ accessibility development experience and has been a pioneer in accessible product development since 1993. Charles currently a member of the following W3C Working Groups: Publishing Working Group, MathML Refresh, ARIA, APA / Personalization Task Force, as well as a member of the EPUB3 W3C Community Group, and co-chair of the Accessibility Metadata W3C Community Group. Charles is the technical architect of the new Global Certified Accessible initiative at Benetech to certify publisher content as conforming to the new EPUB 1.0 Accessibility Specification. Charles has a bachelor's and master's degree in Electrical Engineering from Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada.

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).

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