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Canvas, Accessibility Issues with File Downloads

This page contains information on how to make file downloads more accessible in Canvas.

File Downloads

Preview in overlay or inline poses some accessibility issues. Users that use assistive technologies cannot access the document to read or to scroll. There are alternatives that users can access to the documents in Canvas to get around these issues.

The overlay preview displays a full screen covering the entire screen.

Figure 1: Preview in Overlay

When the file link activates on the page, the inline preview appears within the page.

Figure 2: Preview in Inline


Download File Options

Downloading the files is the most accessible approach for users; they can view the documents outside the Canvas environment. The options to download are:

  •       Add Module Item as a Link
  •       Add Course Item as a Link

1.   Add Module Item as a Link

One of the options to download files is to have access to the link immediately at the top of the page; this is highly recommended. When the student activates the module item link within the module, it will display the download link at the top before the overlay preview opens.

Figure 3: Module item link within the module

Figure 4: Download link at the top of the page


The instructions on adding the course content as module items within the module are shown step by step: How do I add course content as module items?

2.   Add Course Item as a Link

The second option to download the document within the page is located after the file link; the download icon link will automatically appear.

Figure 5: Download icon link after the file link



The instructions on linking to a file within the page are shown step by step: How do I link to a file in a Canvas text box?

Keywords:accessible, content, text, preview, overlay, issue   Doc ID:114509
Owner:Gaby V.Group:University of Illinois Technology Services
Created:2021-10-26 10:04 CSTUpdated:2021-11-11 09:15 CST
Sites:University of Illinois Technology Services
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