# How to make math/stats discussion friendly to blind people?

I would like to understand how blind people read this forum and what should we do to make it more friendly to them. Is there a simple guide or write up on this subject?

## migrated from stats.stackexchange.comAug 21 '17 at 17:25

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• Good question, but better on Meta? – Nick Cox Aug 21 '17 at 16:48
• But blind people don't go there – Aksakal Aug 21 '17 at 17:03
• (1) How do you know that? (2) Regardless, questions about use of the forum belong in Meta, I think. – Nick Cox Aug 21 '17 at 17:10
• Pertinent thread: stats.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/1072/… Not the main question, however. – Nick Cox Aug 21 '17 at 17:47
• Do blind people in general use the internet? If yes, how can they do it? How can you build a "blind-friendly" homepage? – Ferdi Aug 21 '17 at 18:01
• @Ferdi, they definitely use internet and read math on it, but I don't know what's most convenient way of doing it. – Aksakal Aug 21 '17 at 18:05
• One simple thing is to always use text not copy in an image and then screen reading software has a chance. – mdewey Aug 21 '17 at 20:25
• We have at least one active blind user: stats.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/3175/…. Hopefully they will comment. – amoeba says Reinstate Monica Aug 21 '17 at 21:19
• Some relevant issues raised here – Glen_b Aug 21 '17 at 22:05
• The data analysis is so heavily dependent on visuals, simple things like qq plots etc. Maybe we need to develop non visual methods more – Aksakal Aug 21 '17 at 22:09
• @Aksakal A qqplot could easily be rendered in sound. Hmmmm, may be time to build that. – Matthew Drury Aug 28 '17 at 3:15
• @MatthewDrury, i'd like to hear qqplot. no idea how it would sound – Aksakal Aug 28 '17 at 3:47
• A couple of links that raise relevant issues Statistical Software from a Blind Person’s Perspective (A. Jonathan R. Godfrey, The R Journal, 2013) and Statistical Software (R, SAS, SPSS, and Minitab) for Blind Students and Practitioners (A. Jonathan R. Godfrey & M. Theodor Loots, Journal of Statistical Software, 2014) – Glen_b Sep 2 '17 at 21:16

I'm not literally blind, but I'm legally blind, with corrected acuity on the order of 20/200. My condition could be more informatively described as "low vision". So I'm just as dependent on my vision as a normally sighted person, but I can answer your question to some extent.

The most important rule is that text should be text. That is, don't use images of text when you could use real text, or at least accompany the image with a transcript or alt-text. For mathematical notation, use MathJax. The advantage here for the visually impaired is that real text, unlike images, can be enlarged without loss of quality, reflowed (trying to read a paragraph that requires horizontal scrolling will drive sane men mad), and read with text-to-speech or a refreshable Braille display. Unrelatedly to accessibility, but perhaps more importantly, text is more useful for software: it can be searched, indexed, and translated; it can be transmitted more easily through media without image support; and it takes up less disk space.

Images are still going to be important in data analysis because of data graphics, like plots. The text-should-be-text rule doesn't get you far here because tick labels etc. aren't very useful to somebody who can't see the image. But I can still make suggestions to help make images legible to the visually impaired. Aim for high contrast (e.g., use black text on white rather than gray text on white or colored text). Avoid color combinations that will run afoul of the most common types of color-blindness (ideally, plots should be legible in grayscale, for the sake of grayscale screens and printouts). Avoid unwanted moiré effects from tightly packed parallel stripes. Edward Tufte's Visual Display of Quantitative Information advocates a sparse visual style that in general makes plots more accessible to the visually impaired, although it doesn't pursue accessibility deliberately.

• So are the formulae here in latex accessible? – Aksakal Aug 22 '17 at 0:08
• @Aksakal I think so, yes. They can be zoomed, and if you're literally blind or have JavaScript off, you can fall back on the raw LaTeX. – Kodiologist Aug 22 '17 at 0:14
• @Aksakal, if you're already accustomed to $\LaTeX$ before you went blind, you should be able to parse most expressions unrendered. – J. M. is not a statistician Aug 27 '17 at 5:57
• @Kodiologist: Not to impose, of course, but if you had any feedback on the new site theme it could be very useful: stats.meta.stackexchange.com/q/5441/17230 – Scortchi - Reinstate Monica Sep 28 '18 at 14:06