Using Markup Languages for Accessible Scientific, Technical, and Scholarly Document Creation

In using software to write a scientific, technical, or other scholarly document, authors have essentially two options. They can either write it in a word processor, or write it in a text editor using a markup language such as HTML, LaTeX, Markdown, or ASCIIDoc.

This presentation gives an overview of the latter approach, focusing on both the nonvisual accessibility of the writing process, and that of the documents produced. Currently popular markup languages and established tools associated with them are introduced. Support for mathematical notation is considered. In addition, domain-specific programming languages for constructing various types of diagrams can be well integrated into the document production process. These languages offer interesting potential to facilitate the nonvisual creation of graphical content, while raising insufficiently explored research questions.

The flexibility with which documents written in current markup languages can be converted to different output formats is emphasized. These formats include HTML, EPUB, and PDF, as well as file formats used by contemporary word processors. Such conversion facilities can serve as means of enhancing the accessibility of a document both for the author (during the editing and proofreading process) and for those among the document’s recipients who use assistive technologies, such as screen readers and screen magnifiers.

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