Canvas Accessibility Basics

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To ensure that all students are able to access your content and participate in class, you need to make sure it is accessible. Below are the accessibility requirements that are most fundamental to digital content and the Clemson Online guides on how to meet them. The process for each of these is not difficult even if the wording of the requirement makes them sound difficult.

  1. Avoid building activities or conveying information that requires students to see or distinguish between colors, shapes, sizes, location, and/or format (BoldItalicsUnderline). Also, make sure that no information or activity is available through sound only.
  2. Videos need to have captions and audio files need to have transcripts.
  3. Images need captions or alt text (a 100-125 characters short description of the image that is hidden unless an image cannot load).
  4. Section titles (i.e. Headings) should be created so that computers and text-to-speech programs can recognize the text is a heading.
  5. Links should have descriptive text.
  6. Lists should be constructed with the bullet/numbered list buttons in the Canvas editor.
  7. Mathematic notations should be created with the Canvas or Wiris/MathType math editor.
  8. Avoid animated images (GIFs) unless you have a way to pause or hide them.
  1. Tables must be designed for left-to-right, top-to bottom reading order, and should avoid merged/split cells and empty cells when possible.
  2. Data tables must be built so that computers and text-to-speech programs can recognize which cells are titles for other cells.

High-impact Accessibility Bonus: Scanned PDFs

One of the biggest barriers to accessibility is scanned PDFs. Scanned PDFs are basically images. Students with visual impairments that rely on text-to-speech programs to navigate the digital world will not be able to read your PDF unless it is converted to digital text. In Adobe Acrobat, you can run an Optical Character Recognition scan that will turn the image into text. Because this is an automated process, the results of the scan will not always be accurate. Copy the results of the scan and paste it into Word to check its accuracy. If it is very inaccurate either try rescanning or use a different resource (eight to nine times out of ten, you'll need a different resource).

Adobe's guide to OCR*


Beyond Canvas Accessibility

As hinted by the Bonus, accessibility is not only applicable Canvas. Every document, file, and website attached to the course should be accessible as well. However, making everything accessible is a big ask, so focus on your Canvas course and expand as possible.

Accessibility and Using Canvas to Share Files

We strongly discourage faculty from using Canvas as a file repository. This said, if you are still planning to build most of your course content in document, powerpoint, and similar files, use the following guides instead.


Handling Common Accommodation Requests

Extra Time on Quizzes and Exams

One of the most common accommodations requests is extra time on quizzes and exams. If you have a letter from Student Accessibility Services that requests this accommodation, complete the steps in Canvas's "Once I publish a timed quiz, how can I give my students extra time?" guide


Additional Resources

For more accessibility related resources, visit Clemson's Accessibility Web Portal and Clemson Online's Accessibility Page.