Create an Accessible Canvas Course

About Accessibility for eLearning Materials

Nearly 1 in 5 Americans have some form of disability.  As a provider of educational services, the university is increasingly reliant on digital forms of communication to conduct its business.  This includes Electronic and Information Technology (EIT) covered under the American with Disabilities Act (ADA).  In designing, procuring, and maintaining EIT for all members of our university community it is essential that we partner together to ensure digital spaces are as accessible as our brick and mortar spaces. This includes accessible: websoftwaremedia, and communication.

Add Accessibility to New Materials

Follow these suggestions to ensure your content is accessible to all of your students:

  1. Font: 
    1. 12-point standard font for PDF and Word documents
    2. 24-point standard for PowerPoint
    3. Use only sans serif font in electronic documents
  2.  Color/Contrast: WCAG 2.0 SC 1.4.1 & 1.4.3 
    1. Do not use color only to convey meaning or information
    2. Use a color/contrast tool to evaluate your documents
    3. Contrast settings for documents should be 4.5:1 for normal text and 3:1 for large text
  3. Alternative Text (alt text/tag): WCAG 2.0 SC 1.1.1
    1. Add alt text to all images
    2. Generally, descriptions need to be less than 180 characters
    3. Add text to the description box - a title is not necessary
  4. Accessible Tables: WCAG 2.0 SC 1.3.1 
    1. Keep tables simple (only one row in header, no split/merged cells, no tables-in-tables)
    2. Use only “grid” or “insert” methods for designing tables
  5. Meaningful Hyperlinks WCAG 2.0 SC 2.2.4 & 2.4.9 
    1. Insert a link in text as a website name or short description, DO NOT use the URL/web link
    2. Long URLs/web links can be used in addition if the document will be used in print format
  6. Built in Styles: WCAG 2.0 SC 1.3.1 
    1. Use built in style settings (Microsoft Office) for headings, lists, page breaks
    2. For long documents include linkable table of contents
  7. Logical Reading Order WCAG 2.0 SC 1.3.2 
    1. Wrap text "In-line-with-text"
    2. Use actual columns, not tabs
    3. Never use text boxes

Review Your Current Materials

Take a look at all the electronic documents, audio visual materials and other electronic course materials to determine if they need accessibility updates.

  1. Use existing and available tools to self-evaluate your current materials. 
    1. These tools will help you determine if your documents are accessible to all of your students, inform you why the documents are not accessible, and provide instructions on how to modify your documents to provide accessibility.
  2. Resources:
    1. Microsoft Office 365 Accessibility Checker 
    2. Word
    3. PowerPoint
    4. Excel
    5. Adobe Acrobat XI Pro
  3. Review all audio-visual materials used in online and classroom instruction
    1. All video learning media (eg, YouTube videos, Kaltura videos, etc.) need closed captioning
      1. YouTube – add closed-captioning manually 
      2. Videos stored or created in Kaltura MediaSpace can be captioned with the Cielo24 captioning tool within the 
        1. Kaltura User Interface.
          1. Visit the Ordering Kaltura Video Captioning page for more specific instructions
          2. Requests for accommodation can be made through the Disability Services Office media space, or through your department’s MediaSpace (your department may be billed for captioning services based on your MediaSpace provider’s agreement)
    2. All audio learning materials (eg, podcasts, audio excerpts, sound files, etc.) need transcriptions.
      1. Contact your department’s/school’s Instructional Designer, Instructional Technologist, or Multimedia Specialist to make a request for your audio to be transcribed.
      2. Transcriptions are included

Use an Assistive Device

Using the same tool(s) students use to access electronic material will help you understand how assistive technology works.

  1. Use UC’s online literacy software to check your electronic documents
    1. Download Read & Write Gold, a screen reading software application available to all UC students and staff that reads text aloud.
    2. Can you easily access all of the content you want your students to access?
  2. Use native screen reading software on your electronic devices:
    1. Windows laptop/computer: Narrator
    2. Mac laptop/computer screen reading software: Voiceover 
    3. Android/ChromeBook: TalkBack
    4. Open Source, Multiplatform: NVDA
  3. Use accessibility features on your electronic devices:
    1. Mac laptop/computer Accessibility Features
    2. iPhone Accessibility Features
    3. Apple Watch Accessibility Features
    4. Apple TV Accessibility Features


Alt attribute (alt text) – provides alternative information for an image if a user for some reason cannot view it (because of slow connection, an error in the src attribute, or if the user uses a screen reader)

Assistive technology – any product or service that maintains or improves the ability of individuals with disabilities or impairments to communicate, learn and live independent, fulfilling and productive lives.

Learning Management System (LMS) – a software application or Web-based technology used to plan, implement, and assess a specific learning process. Typically, a learning management system provides an instructor with a way to create and deliver content, monitor student participation, and assess student performance. A LMS may also provide students with the ability to use interactive features such as threaded discussions, video conferencing, and discussion forums. 

Closed Captioning – Closed captioning displays the audio portion of a video program as text on the TV screen (or within the video window), providing a critical link to news, entertainment and information for individuals who are deaf or hard-of-hearing