How do I make my Canvas page accessible?

Canvas LMS

The no nonsense guide to applying accessibility best practices to the Canvas Learning Management System. The accessibility guy has created detailed instructional guides and video walk throughs on all things in Canvas!

Table Of Contents

The Basics and Overview

Designing with usability/accessibility in mind will help students with disabilities be successful in your course. As an extra benefit, adding usability features gives ALL students the opportunity to learn more effectively. For example, video captioning is clearly of great help to students with hearing impairments—and it is also is beneficial to:

  • students who are learning English
  • students who are struggling readers
  • students with attention deficits
  • students reading on tablets and cell phones, which will reflow the text to fit the screen size, and
  • students working in a noisy location (on the bus or in Starbucks).

Canvas Accessibility Requirements

The number one question I receive is “how do I know if my page is accessible”? The following list will provide you with exactly what is required.  

  • Heading styles are consistently used.
  • Lists are created with the tool in canvas.
  • Links are unique and descriptive.
  • Tables have designated row and column headers.
  • There is enough contrast between background and foreground colors.
  • Visual elements are not used as the sole method of conveying importance of information.
  • Every image in the course has descriptive alternative text, including any text within the image and does not contain phrases such as “image” of or file extensions such as .jpg.

Where to start

Start designing with any current content you have. Do not stress yourself out about reworking years’ worth of content. Any time you begin to create anything new, make sure to follow the principles listed in this guide! When you have time, slowly work back to old content making it accessible.

What do we need and how do we get there?

The following sections will cover headings, lists, links, tables, color contrast, visual elements, alternate text, and the accessibility checker.

Color Contrast and Visual Elements

Color contrast simply requires there to be enough difference between fore- and background to make out text, or other important information. The WCAG accessibility standard  requires at least 3.0:1 contrast ratio for text above 18 point font (14 bold) and 4.5:1 contrast at or below 18 point font (14 point bold). This makes web text easier to read for students with low vision. It also helps make text more obvious for students who are color-blind.

Simply changing the color or size of font is not communicated through a document reader to a student using assistive technology. Use bold elements, headings, and italics to pull attention to material. Uppercase passages should always be avoided because screen readers can assume uppercase letters are an acronym and read them a letter at a time. 

Color Contrast Corrections for Pie Charts in PowerPoint

Full Walkthroughs

10 Minute Video on how to make a Canvas page Accessible

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