Accessibility within Canvas

Ensuring an accessible and pleasant experience to all users, regardless of disability, is a key focus of Canvas. The Canvas platform was built using the most modern HTML and CSS technologies, and is committed to W3C's Web Accessibility Initiative and Section 508 guidelines.

The Voluntary Product Accessibility Template, or VPAT, is a tool that administrators and decision-makers can use to evaluate Canvas' conformance with the accessibility standards under Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. View more information about the Canvas Voluntary Product Accessibility Template.

You can read more about the latest accessibility and Feature enhancements in the Canvas Product Release Notes. If you have additional suggestions, please contact accessibility@instructure.com.

General accessibility design guidelines can be found in the General Design Guidelines for Accessibility lesson.

Screen Readers and Browsers

Canvas supports the following screen reader and browser combinations:

  • Macintosh: VoiceOver (latest version for Safari)
  • PC: JAWS (latest version for Internet Explorer 10 & 11)
  • PC: NVDA (latest version for Firefox)
  • There is no screen reader support for Canvas in Chrome

Canvas Navigation with a Screen Reader

Canvas makes extensive use of ARIA landmark regions. Therefore, the best way to get around in Canvas is to navigate via regions. Within regions, Canvas uses HTML headings, so navigating between headings can be helpful.

When using a screen reader, the Canvas page navigation is as follows:

1. Primary Navigation

  • Page Header (H1)
  • Skip to Content link
  • Help Corner (Inbox, User Settings, etc.)
  • Global Navigation

3. Course Navigation

4. Breadcrumb Navigation

5. Sidebar Navigation

6. Main Content

Canvas-wide Accessibility Components

Canvas contains several unifying accessibility features that can be found on various pages in Canvas.

Moving Content within Canvas

Wherever drag and drop is used to reorder components, the Move-to option is also available and allows both screen readers and keyboard users to move Canvas content. The Move-to option is available in the following features:

  • Course Navigation
  • Modules
  • Discussions
  • Assignments
  • Outcomes
  • Quizzes

Keyboard Shortcuts

By pressing the comma key, users can view a pop-up window with shortcuts for keyboard navigation. Keyboard shortcuts are available on the following Canvas pages:

Accessibility within Specific Canvas Features

Several areas within Canvas have been specifically improved for accessibility. Other features may be limited at this time. This section highlights several feature areas and accessibility behaviors.

Rich Content Editor. The Rich Content Editor supports multiple accessibility features for easy content creation:

Calendar. The Calendar supports Agenda View, which lists all assignments and events in a list or agenda format. Learn how to access the Calendar Agenda View.

Quizzes. Quizzes allows instructors to moderate a quiz for individuals requiring more time or who need multiple attempts. Learn how to grant extra time or attempts in a quiz.

Gradebook. Both the default (assignment) Gradebook and the Learning Mastery Gradebook support an individual view, where instructors can view assignments and grades for one student at a time. Learn more about individual view in the Gradebook and  Learning Mastery Gradebook.

User Settings. The User Settings page hosts a feature option called a High Contrast Style, which is currently in beta. When enabled, this feature offers higher contrast in buttons, tabs, and other areas throughout Canvas. Learn about to change user settings.

SpeedGrader. When using Crocodoc within SpeedGrader, Crocodoc annotations are not accessible to screen readers. Instead, instructors and TAs should leave comments for students in the Comments area, which can be read by screen readers.

Accessibility of Third-party (LTI) Integrations

Canvas offers many optional LTI app integrations as part of our commitment to open education. When we review new integration tools, accessibility features are always an important consideration. Unfortunately, as integrations are created by third-party developers and offered to Canvas clients as an optional service, we cannot always ensure that these integrations meet the same standards that we hold core Canvas to. Therefore, if an institution wants to incorporate an integration where additional features may be required, we recommend the institution contact the developer directly with any specific concerns.

Some integrations are non-optional hosted services within Canvas. Any accessibility issues for Canvas-hosted services should be submitted as a help ticket via the institution's support process. We are open to suggestions for new integrations, and have an area in the Canvas Help Forums forums for feature requests.

Additional Accessibility Resources

SALSA: (Styled & Accessible Learning Service Agreements) is an alternative to the default Syllabus in Canvas. Salsa is an open source web application being developed at Utah State University.

Significant contributions to this guide were made by:

  • John Raible: Instructional Designer for the Center for Distributed Learning at the University of Central Florida
  • Nancy Swenson: Instructional Designer for the Center for Distributed Learning at the University of Central Florida

Lesson Feedback (Optional) (0)

Please let us know if any information in this lesson appears to be incorrect in terms of Canvas functionality only (please do not submit feature requests here). This is not a help site, and submitted comments cannot be answered. If your Canvas course/account is having trouble completing any of the tasks outlined in this lesson, please contact Canvas Support by submitting a HELP TICKET via the Help Link within Canvas or emailing support@instructure.com. Thank you.

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