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Canvas@Illinois, Accessibility Checker Headers

Headings are automatically formatted to change the size of text, adding important context to sections of a page. When they are correctly selected, the Accessibility Checker in Canvas can detect when they are used and make recommendations to keep their hierarchy consistent.

Because heading levels are a type of semantic markup (HTML), they are especially helpful to students using assistive technology like screen readers. While sighted learners might skim a site by looking at different font sizes and their relationships on the page, blind and low vision students often use their screen reader to pull up a list of its headings that give them an idea of how the page content is organized. They can use that same heading list to quickly navigate to any section (heading) of the page's content.

Heading Levels in Canvas

Up to six levels of heading can be used in a Canvas page. A page's title is always formatted as Heading 1, and other levels can be selected from the formatting dropdown in the editor (see Figure 1). Heading 2 is used for all main sections of the page, Heading 3 is given to subtopics, and so on. The same selection of headings can be found under the Format menu, under Formats > Headings.

Once a heading level is applied, you can change its font size or color if you don’t like the way it looks. You’re not bound by the default heading sizes or colors.

Figure 1 (selecting a heading from the dropdown menu) and Figure 2 (fixing headings with the Accessibility Checker) 

Heading levels are organized hierarchically, and just as in a topic outline, you would not move from a main section title (heading 2) to a sub-subsection title (heading 4) without first traversing a subsection title (heading 3). If you break the hierarchy of information and skip a heading level, the Canvas Accessibility Checker will flag this (see Figure 2). You will then be presented with three actions you can take: "Leave as is," "Fix heading hierarchy," or "Remove heading style."

If you're interested in enhancing the accessibility and inclusivity of your course, CITL's Universal Design for Learning (UDL) Team is here to help. For more information, contact us at

Keywordsaccessible, content   Doc ID136711
OwnerGaby V.GroupUniversity of Illinois Technology Services
Created2024-04-10 09:22:04Updated2024-05-09 13:16:36
SitesUniversity of Illinois Technology Services
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