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Canvas, Information for Assistive Technology Users
This information was gathered from a page developed by the University of Colorado Boulder: https://oit.colorado.edu/services/teaching-learning-applications/canvas/canvas-accessibility#assistivetech
Information for Assistive Technology Users
Testing has been conducted on many aspects of Canvas; however, the platform undergoes frequent changes and the information contained below may no longer be accurate.
If you encounter issues in using Canvas, please report them to Technology Services at 217-244-7000 or email@example.com.
The Canvas website provides tips for screen reader and keyboard-only users.
Please consult the Screen Readers and Browsers section of Canvas’s accessibility documentation to determine its current support for various screen reader and browser combinations.
Specific issues to note are as follows:
- Screen readers do not announce the occurrence of an annotation when reading through the document. Annotations are read at the end of the document, and it is not possible to determine non-visually which part of the text they are linked to.
- JAWS users must hit Enter before they start typing when they want to leave a comment on an annotation, or else the focus shifts to the top of the page.
- Screen magnifier users need to select the comment before zooming in to see which part of the text it is linked to. Otherwise, the dotted line linking the comment to the text disappears upon zoom.
- If the annotated document is downloaded for review, it is recommended to use Adobe Acrobat for viewing the PDF, since the annotation comments may not be consistently displayed in generic PDF viewers.
- Note: students using screen magnifiers must go into full-screen view in View Feedback to view the annotation comments.
Screen reader users are recommended to use the Agenda calendar view due to inaccessible table structure in the Week and Month views.
After submitting an assignment, screen reader users may not receive a notification alert indicating the status of their submission.
Workaround: The notification is located in the complementary region on the assignment submission page.
The file tree is not easily navigable or consistently usable by screen reader users.
Workaround: If possible, access content through Modules rather than Files.
My Media and Kaltura Media Gallery
My Media and Kaltura Media Gallery are both part of the Canvas Kaltura integration. Please see the Kaltura accessibility page for more details about the accessibility of Kaltura.
Screen reader users may experience significant barriers in attempting to complete an in-video quiz in Kaltura Media Gallery. Faculty should avoid utilizing this tool.
- The Conferences tool in Canvas opens a web conferencing application called BigBlueButton. Basic features within BigBlueButton are relatively accessible, however screen reader navigation is tedious and there are several severe issues, noted below.
- The Shared Notes feature is not accessible (according to BigBlueButton’s accessibility documentation).
- The share your screen option is difficult to launch due to focus handling issues and misleading help text.
- The button to toggle the webcam on or off is labeled “share webcam button” regardless of whether the webcam is turned on or off, making it difficult to determine whether your webcam is currently turned on or not.
- Settings within the Options Menu cannot be navigated and modified as expected using the arrow keys.
- Workaround: Tab into the Settings dialogue. Once inside the dialogue, arrow keys can be utilized to change settings.
- Note: Keyboard shortcuts for BigBlueButton can be found under the Options Menu.
Documents in the Office 365 integration will be rendered through the Office Online document viewer.
- Users can enable high contrast mode under Account > Settings > Feature Options. Some interface elements may fail color contrast requirements when this mode is not enabled.
- Some aspects of Canvas’s column-based layout may be displaced at higher browser zoom settings, resulting in a confusing layout to read.
- When navigating through Modules, note that the “Next” and “Previous” buttons are located at the bottom right and bottom left of the page, respectively. They may be difficult to locate initially when using a magnifier.
- Many control elements, such as settings menus or notification toggles, are located on the far right side of the page from the element they modify.
- Many notifications, such as the successful submission of an assignment, are communicated through alerts that appear at the top of the screen rather than near the location the action was performed.
- In the document viewer, screen magnifier users need to select the comment before zooming in to see which part of the text it is linked to. Otherwise, the dotted line linking the comment to the text disappears upon zoom.
- In the document viewer, students using screen magnifiers must go into full-screen view in View Feedback to view the annotation comments.
- If an annotated document is downloaded for review, it is recommended to use Adobe Acrobat for viewing the PDF, since the annotation comments may not be consistently displayed in generic PDF viewers.
Canvas has General Accessibility Design Guidelines for making your course content accessible. Additional resources developed by the Digital Accessibility Office at CU Boulder are provided below.
Accessibility Best Practices for the Canvas Platform
- Read through the Tips for Creating Accessible Learning Experiences in Canvas.
- Avoid requiring students to use the Files tool to access course content. If a document needs to be accessed, make sure it can be accessed through a Module.
- Run the Accessibility Checker on your HTML content, and review the Canvas Rich Content Editor Accessibility Checklist for additional best practices.
- Follow the recommendations in our documentation about creating accessible exams in Canvas.
- Avoid creating in-video quizzes in My Media or Kaltura Media Gallery. The tool appears to contain a number of substantial barriers for assistive technology users.
- Avoid using comments and annotations in the SpeedGrader document viewer to provide assignment feedback to students who use screen readers. Consider using Microsoft Word as an accessible alternative to add comments to a document.
- If you use Turnitin Feedback Studio to annotate or comment on student work, you will need to provide feedback in a different format for students who use screen readers. See the Turnitin accessibility considerations page for more details.
- If you utilize a publisher integration for student assignments, readings, or other course work, please contact the publisher for details about their accessibility. Consult our guide on the accessibility evaluation process for e-texts.
- Due to accessibility issues with the Conferences tool, it is recommended that instructors use Zoom instead. If you do use Conferences, avoid requiring screen reader users to turn on their webcams, share their screens, or contribute to shared notes, as these features are not accessible. Verbally describe any content that is shared through screen sharing. Also note that live captioning accommodations may be significantly more difficult to implement in Conferences than Zoom.
- If you have foreign language content in your course and have an enrolled student who uses a screen reader, you may need to add language tags to your course’s HTML content in quizzes, discussions, and more.
Course Document Accessibility
Consult the Accessible Technology Resources page for details on how to create accessible Word documents, PowerPoints, Google Docs, and more.
You can set different availability dates and times for specific users for assignments and quizzes. To do so, review the Providing Extra Time Accommodations in Canvas guide.
Consult the Accessibility Within Canvas guide for keyboard shortcuts and advice on specific tools within Canvas.