Canvas has a built-in checker that allows the user to run an automated check on the canvas page. This check does guarantee full accessibility and should always be used in addition to other methods found in this course.
The accessibility checker in Canvas can be a useful tool for checking color contrast, and apply table headers to content! Be sure to always manually check your Canvas page for accessibility requirements as they are easy to overlook. Remember, every Canvas page should have the following items applied:
Making tables accessible in Canvas can be easy if you set them up correctly! Using tables for layout purposes should be avoided. Use tables for displaying data only and use Headers and Scope. This is because assistive technology uses specialized controls when in a table.
Data tables should always include table headers (the <th> element). For short tables and for tables whose data are self-explanatory, column headers are sufficient. For long tables or tables where data may be confusing, it is best to include row and column headers. <th> elements should always have a scope attribute. Column headers should include scope=”col”, and row headers should include scope=”row”. Including scope attributes allow assistive technology to better understand the logical relationships presented in the table.
Use Table Captions
Tables can be given an accessible name with the <caption> element. Screen readers allow users to view a list of tables on the page. If the table has an accessible name, a screen reader will provide that name to the user. If not, the screen reader may only read the number of rows and columns. Thus, a <caption> provides substantial usability benefits, especially if there is more than one table on the page. <caption> elements are visible to sighted users as well.
Avoid Complex Tables
We recommend avoiding tables with multiple levels of row or column headers and headers that span multiple rows or columns. Such tables may be difficult to implement with the correct markup and scope attributes, and even if implemented correctly, may be difficult for users to understand. In most cases, some other presentation of the data, including presenting multiple tables, may be an equally effective alternative to a single, complex table.
Avoid Empty Cells for Formatting
Table authors may choose to use empty cells to visually format the table, such as to indicate a division in various sections of the table. While this practice may make sense for sighted users, it may not work for blind users. We recommend avoiding blank table cells, especially when those table cells are used for formatting.
Things to consider when making tables accessible in Canvas
Avoid using tables for layout purposes
Use simple tables
Set table headers for both columns and rows
Pay attention to the scope of headers
Add a clear caption using the accessibility checker
Video Overview of how to make tables accessible in Canvas
Instructional Guide – How to make tables accessible in Canvas
Step 1: Ensure you are in edit mode
Step 2: Select inside the cell you want to make a heading
You can set both an individual cell or an entire row as a header at once
Step 3a – Setting an entire row: Select Table button in the rich content editor > Row > Row Properties
Step 4a – Change the row type from body to header
Step 3b – Setting an individual cell as a header cell: Select Table > Cell > Cell Properties
Step 4b – Change the cell type to Header Cell and set the scope to what is appropriate
Step 5: Run the accessibility checker found in the bottom right corner of the page
While screen readers can read a full page to a user, screen reader users may prefer to instead listen to a list of links. In that case, a screen reader may only read the link text and not the surrounding text. Accessible hyperlinks in Canvas assist with navigation.
Speech recognition software allows a user to avoid using a mouse. Users can speak the text of the link that they would like to follow.
Keyboard-only users may not be able to use a mouse to click links. They use a keyboard’s tab button to navigate through a page’s links, buttons, and form inputs. For such users, it is very important for them to see which item has a focus on at all times.
Colorblind users may not be able to perceive color cues. Typically, pages present links as a different color than their surrounding text. Adding underlines or other non-color indicators help users who may not see color. Users who are not comfortable with technology may also appreciate having links underlined.
Links should be clear and easy to understand.
What do Links look like using JAWS?
The below image has two separate sites pulled up using JAWS while searching for links. The image on the left indicated the incorrect way to use links and includes link text for the full HTML URL and several wrong examples like “click here”. The image on the right represents a correct link list that uses correct link text that is descriptive and clear.
In general, content editors should avoid using images as links. If an image functions as a link, the image must have alt text that conveys the location and purpose of the link. The alt text should not describe the image. Treat image links as links, not as images.
Things to consider when using Links in Canvas
Avoid link text like “Click Here,” “More,” and “Read More.” These kinds of links can be confusing when a screen reader reads them out of context.
Lists in Canvas are great from an accessibility standpoint because they provide structured order to content in a linear fashion. Lists are recommended as potential replacements for simple tables, as tables can be more difficult to navigate, and sometimes, we provide info in tables that really would be better suited to lists.
You can use lists inside of lists, or nested lists, just check to make sure they are coded properly. Lists should always be checked to make sure that the list items are really contained within one list, check to make sure that spacing does not break a list into multiple individual points, and use the proper techniques described below to create lists. You should never rely on indentation to provide a visual list, use the proper structure instead.
Bulleted lists are for lists where the order is unimportant
Items that can be used for a bulleted list are for when the order does not matter. The example I like to use is that of grocery items, here is an example:
Lettered lists are primarily for unordered lists where referring to a specific item may be important.
Numbered lists are for lists where the order is important
Use numbered lists for when order is important. Here is an example:
Directions to Store
Turn left at Walnut Ave
Travel for 1 mile
Turn right at College Street
Travel for .3 miles
Turn right into parking lot
Things to consider with Lists in Canvas
Avoid using non rich content editor symbols like dashes or x’s to indicate a list
Use the proper numbered or bulleted list for the items
Video Overview of how to apply lists in Canvas
Instructional Guide – How to apply List items in Canvas
Step 1: Ensure you are in edit mode
Step 2: Select the text you would like to make a list
Step 3: Select the type of list to apply from the rich content editor
Headings are often used as the sole method for navigation for those using a screen reader or other assistive technology. It allows technology to navigate more effectively and serves as a method for jumping around text to get to the exact spot needed.
The screen reader allows you to drill down from higher heading to lower heading. This means you can list all heading level 3s under a specific heading level 2 for more precision. One suggestion is if you provide an action item in the text page, provide a heading over that, so the student can skim directly to the homework, additional reading, etc. A well-aligned page should have headings with an appropriate level of complexity:
Heading Level 1 is the title of the page, placed by Canvas, you will always have this. If the page is noticeably short, less than 100 words, it can be left with no additional headings.
Heading Level 2 is the highest-level separations within the canvas shell and should be used to chunk major topics in material.
Heading Level 3 and lower should be used for text-heavy pages and should be used to give additional structure to the document.
The Heading levels should form a tree, where each heading is preceded by the level one above it.
What do headings look like using JAWS?
The heading structure in the image below is clear and easy to navigate. Each heading is descriptive and is in the proper order. For those who use JAWS, they are able to navigate this content with ease.
Example Canvas page with and without headings
The following image represents a canvas page that has both headings applied and not applied. Option 2 shows the correct version and clearly shows the benefits of applying headings to a page.
Things to consider with headings
Avoid using all capital letters, underlining, or bolding as the only means of emphasis.
Using a larger font or different color does not automatically indicate to a user that a page has headings. You must still mark headers using the rich content editor.
Headings must be in order.
Video overview on how to apply headings in Canvas
Instructional Guide – How to apply headings to a Canvas page
Step 1: Ensure you are in edit mode
Step 2: Select the text you would like to make a heading
Click and drag your mouse or click into the line
Step 3: Choose the heading level from the drop-down menu or the format tab. Option 1 as indicated below is the easiest.
Canvas Studio makes it easy to host a captioned video for content that you or someone else has created. This guide explains just how to do it!
Captioning is an important aspect of accessibility, and captioning in Canvas studio can be a breeze. If you are using Canvas and are posting videos; they need to be captioned. This post is not going to explain why captioning is important, but rather; how do you do it in Canvas Studio.
Canvas Studio offers a unique approach to captioning videos for content that you might own or do not own. It is also a premium feature – so be sure to check with your Canvas Admin to see if it is available.
This video will walk you through the steps needed to host a captioned video in Canvas Studio. The watch time is 2 minutes and 5 seconds.
Steps needed to host a captioned video in Canvas Studio
The basic premise is to get an SRT file, and then upload it into Canvas studio. Once you have the video captioned, it can easily be placed on the page. This section will cover the following steps: