Create accessible Canvas sites

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Canvas

Accessible content in Canvas

For a student with disabilities, much of the success in using Canvas depends on the accessibility of the content pieces (PDFs, Word documents, PowerPoints, etc.) provided in Canvas. For questions about the accessibility of the documents you are posting to Canvas, see Make digital resources more accessible.

If you are creating content within Canvas using the embedded rich-text editor (TinyMCE), see General Accessibility Design Guidelines.

Tool-specific accessibility hints

General hints

Many tools in Canvas are accessible to students with disabilities who use assistive technologies (for example, screen-reading software). Students with disabilities will generally be able to navigate Canvas and get to the content provided to them by instructors. For users with disabilities, Instructure provides information about Accessibility within Canvas. This guide contains tips on how to use Canvas with assistive technology. Some tools might be more challenging for students with certain disabilities; see below for information specific to the tools you are using.

Rich Content (i.e., WYSIWYG) Editor

The rich-text, or "What You See Is What You Get" (WYSIWYG), editor in Canvas is generally considered accessible. However, it still may prove challenging to non-visual users who use an assistive technology such as screen-reading software. Be aware that any task in Canvas that requires use of the Rich Content Editor may cause difficulties to students with disabilities.

Those who cannot use a mouse (non-visual users or users with physical impairments) will need to know the TinyMCE's Keyboard Shortcuts. The entire TinyMCE interface can be used through the keyboard. The important shortcut keys to learn are:

  • Alt+F10 (Windows, Linux) or ALT+FN+F10 (Mac): Moves the focus to the toolbar. Enter (or Space) selects an option; Esc returns to the editing area.
  • Alt+0: Opens help dialog. Esc can be used here as well.
  • Arrow keys: Move through toolbar items and options
  • Tab: Jumps through dialog window fields

The Rich Content Editor contains several features designed to make Canvas content more accessible:

  • Accessibility Checker: The Accessibility Checker identifies, and provides solutions for, common accessibility issues with content generated within the Rich Content Editor. For more, see How do I use the Accessibility Checker in the Rich Content Editor?
  • Alternative text: When a screen reader passes over an image, it dictates whatever has been designated as the image's alt text. By default, Canvas uses the image's file name as its default alt text. However, when embedding an image via the Rich Content Editor, you can specify its alt text in the "Alternative text" box.
  • Decorative images: Images embedded within the Rich Content Editor can be marked as "decorative". Decorative images are not dictated by screen readers, so only designate images as such if the image in question is not essential for the learning process.

Announcements

The Announcements tool is fairly accessible. Use concise, meaningful, and consistently formatted names for announcements. Also, make sure any attachments are created in an accessible format. Information is available on how to create accessible PDF, MS Word, MS PowerPoint, and other documents.

Assignments

The Assignments tool is fairly accessible. Use concise, meaningful, and consistently formatted names for assignments. Users of assistive technology may not be able to submit media comments using the built-in functionality. If you wish to use this form of submission, be sure to also allow users to upload locally recorded content.

Also, make sure any attachments added to an assignment are created in an accessible format. Information is available on how to create accessible PDF, MS Word, MS PowerPoint, and other documents. Finally, because external tools can be used for submissions, always consider the accessibility of any external tools the student will be redirected to when accessing or submitting content.

Calendar

The default calendar view is not accessible to users of assistive technology, particularly screen-reading software. However, the "Agenda view" is very accessible for all users.

Collaborations

The Collaborations tool has varied accessibility, depending on the chosen external collaboration tool. Therefore, you should use more traditional means (for example, shared documents over email) for student collaboration. Google Docs accessibility has been gradually improving, but this tool may still be difficult to use for users of screen-reading software. For more, see Google's Edit documents with a screen reader and Keyboard shortcuts for Google Docs.

Discussions

The Discussions tool is fairly accessible. Use concise, meaningful, and consistently formatted titles for discussion topics. Users of assistive technology may find it difficult to follow threaded topics with too many levels of replies (for example, a reply to a reply of a reply to the main topic). To simplify the replies, threaded replies can be turned off when creating or editing forum topics.

Files

The Files tool is fairly accessible. Use concise, meaningful, and consistently formatted names for items placed in the Files tool. This includes keeping the display name and the item's actual file name as close to the same as possible; otherwise, users may have trouble finding the file after downloading it.

Also, make sure the items are created in an accessible format. Information is available on how to create accessible PDF, MS Word, MS PowerPoint, and other documents.

Grades

The Grades tool is highly accessible. Users who cannot use a mouse (non-visual users or users with physical impairments) will not be able to adjust their "What-if" scores to see how different values affect their total grade, because this feature is currently not accessible with the keyboard.

Pages

The accessibility of the Pages tool depends on the accessibility of the content created in the WYSIWYG editor. If you are creating content within Canvas using this editor, follow Canvas's General Accessibility Design Guidelines. Creating accessible tables in Canvas requires the use of the HTML editor and knowledge of HTML coding. Your campus teaching center or the Assistive Technology and Accessibility Centers may be able to assist you with the creation of accessible tables.

Quizzes

Students with disabilities often will require extended test-taking time. Timed quizzes could pose a difficulty. Canvas allows instructors to provide extra time for individual students using the Moderate This Quiz function. For more, review the Canvas guide Once I publish a timed quiz, how can I give my students extra time?

Syllabus

The Syllabus tool works in a similar matter to creating a page in the Pages tool. If you are creating content within Canvas using the WYSIWYG editor, follow Canvas's General Accessibility Design Guidelines.

Get help

If you have questions about the accessibility of your Canvas site, the ATAC is available for consultation, and can perform a quick review of a course site upon request. For more, contact the ATAC at atac@iu.edu.

This is document bfjh in the Knowledge Base.
Last modified on 2018-08-15 13:09:07.

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