Preventing and Fixing Accessibility Issues in Your Canvas Course
Your course should include information about disability services and how students with disabilities may receive accommodations.
Your course should include information on technical support and where/how students can get assistance.
Check the accessibility of all tools and software used in the course. Inform students of system requirements, privacy policies, and accessibility.
Use styles and hierarchical orders to support screen readers. Do not use tables for layout purposes.
You should not use color or font size alone to distinguish text or convey importance. Use headers. See How do I add and modify text in the Rich Content Editor?
- Check that color contrast is sufficient using this Color Contrast Checker from WebAIM.
- All math equations and formulas should have alt text or MathML representations. Use the Canvas Math Editor or WIRIS app to insert equations and formulas. Convert hand-drawn equations using tools like OneNote math assistant.
Minimize your use of tables, but when you do use them, set a caption and header row or column in the table properties. Tables should be used to display data only, not for formatting purposes! Do not set the width of a table or table cell to a fixed value, use percentages instead - this allows the table to be responsive to different screen sizes. Reduce the number of columns for readability on mobile devices. See How do I insert a table using the Rich Content Editor?
- Use logically ordered semantic headers to section content
- All tables should have a caption and header row or column
Don’t Copy & Paste
Don’t copy from other courses or websites or documents into Canvas. If you do, the text will copy over just fine (although it may mess up the text styles and fonts), but images will not copy over like they would when copying and pasting into a Word document. Images have to be downloaded from the other site (right click on the image and choose ‘save image as’), and then you can upload and insert the image into Canvas, entering alt text when doing so. When copying content from another Canvas course, use the course import tool to ensure all images and links are fixed. Use the link validator to check for any broken images or links.
Caption videos and provide transcripts for podcasts.
- Speak clearly when recording videos and audio so that automatic captions will be more accurate and save you time with making any corrections. Also, check that in the Canvas Student app the video can play full-screen.
- To add Youtube videos, click the share button to copy the embed code for a video and then insert the embed code in your page. See how to use automatic captions and how to edit captions if uploading your own videos to YouTube.
- Instructions for managing captions or transcripts in Zoom, Panopto, and Microsoft Teams.
When inserting an image, always remember to set the alt text with a description of what is in the image for screen readers. See: How do I embed images from Canvas into the Rich Content Editor?
- Keep image files small (ideally under 100kb). Use a photo editor to resize.
- Text and image color contrast should be at least 4.5:1. Check that color contrast is sufficient using this Color Contrast Checker from WebAIM.
- Complex figures should have rich descriptions and be usable in black and white.
- All images should have descriptive alt text.
- Images that do not provide content should be marked as decorative.
Check that all your links are up to date and have descriptive text. Check Canvas content with the Canvas accessibility checker.
Files & Documents
All files and documents should be checked for accessibility.
- Use the Office Accessibility Checker to make Word and Powerpoint accessible.
- Make PDFs accessible using Acrobat DC and the Accessibility Check or PAVE.
A separate accessible version of content should be made available when there is no other way to make it accessible.
Use the modules page as the primary place where you build and organize your course. Think of it as the table of contents or outline or to-do list for your course. If you have a reading or assignment or discussion for a particular week or unit, add it to the module for that week or unit. This way, everything associated with that week or unit will be more visible to you and your students. You can see in a glance if something is not available or unpublished that shouldn’t be, or if a requirement was not set, and so forth. See How do I add a module? and How do I add assignment types, pages, and files as module items?
Assignments & Quizzes
All assignments and online activities should have clear expectations to help students understand how to do them and why they are doing them.
- Use rubrics and see these transparent assignment templates and techniques.
- Give students extra time or separate due dates on quizzes when needed.
Use the Link Validator tool in Canvas to ensure your course does not have any broken links.
Check the course in student view for broken or inaccessible functionality.
Check the course for usability in the Canvas Student app.
PopeTech Accessibility Guide
The PopeTech Accessibility Guide is a simple, easy-to-use tool that is integrated into the Canvas interface. It allows you to do real-time checks on your content and fix accessibility errors to ensure that your instructional material is accessible for all users. Learn more about this tool and how to use it on our PopeTech Accessibility Guide page.