How do I read math content with NVDA?
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Written by Soomo Support
Updated over a week ago

While working in a math-focused webtext, you may come across equations that are coded using MathML. Using NVDA will help you navigate these equations more easily.

What tools do I need?

Before you start reading equations in the webtext, make sure you have the right tools installed.

  1. Install the screen reader NVDA.

  2. Install the Access8Math add-on for NVDA.

How do I read the equations?

Once you’ve installed NVDA and the Access8Math add-on, follow the instructions below.

  1. Navigate to an equation in the webtext and press Space. This will open a dialog box with two options: Copy and Interaction.

  2. Choose “Interaction.”

  3. After choosing Interaction, you will be presented with a view of the equation only. Your arrow keys will now only navigate the equation and not the page.

Here are the basic commands for navigating each equation.

  • The up and down arrows will let you zoom in and out of the equation by focusing on pieces of it at a time. Access8Math follows established math rules to present the equation coherently.

  • The left and right arrows will move you through the pieces of the equation after you’ve zoomed in. If you are all the way zoomed out of an equation, the left and right arrow keys will not do anything. This function is especially helpful when you have a long equation with several functions that you need to solve or when you need to understand one piece at a time.

  • The keyboard shortcut Ctrl+C will let you copy the MathML source code if you needed to display it or use it with another assistive technology.

You can also output this math content to a Braille display, which can be far superior to simply reading it using the speech synthesizer. Check out our article on how to set up a Braille display with your screen reader.

How do I change the settings?

To change the Access8Math settings, such as the length of the pause in between parts of the equation, the language the math content is read in, and various other parameters, follow the instructions below.

  1. Press the NVDA key (caps lock or insert) + N.

  2. Navigate to Tools and expand that sub-menu.

  3. Navigate up or down to the Access8Math option and expand that sub-menu.

    1. General Settings will contain the settings mentioned above.

    2. Rule Settings will contain the rules that Access8Math uses to parse the content and provide the meaning of those rules.

    3. There are many other settings related to output and new rule definitions that can be useful for more advanced math content users.

If you’d like to check out some practice equations just to make sure you’ve got the hang of it, check out Freedom Scientific’s page on example math content!

If you have any questions, click the Messenger button in the lower right corner of your webtext. You can also contact us using the information below.


Monday–Friday 9 a.m.–9 p.m. ET

Saturday–Sunday 1 p.m.–9 p.m. ET

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