Instructor Accessibility Guide: Demo for Canvas LMS

For a transcript synchronized with the video, watch the video: Instructor Accessibility Guide: Demo for Canvas LMS with transcripts open on YouTube.

Looking for more? Here’s Pope Tech’s Canvas Documentation for the Accessibility Guide and Dashboards.


With the Pope Tech Instructor Accessibility Guide installed, I can run this on any page with a WYSIWYG editor inside of the Canvas LMS.

There is now the Pope Tech Accessibility Guide button. When I run it I get immediate feedback on the accessibility of my page. In this case, we have eight accessibility errors and six accessibility alerts or things that are highly suspicious.

This is built off of the WAVE engine. If you’re familiar with the WAVE engine you’ll be familiar with the icons and results from within the Pope Tech Accessibility Guide. Inside of the guide results are organized by categories such as images and links, text and contrast, headings, tables and lists, and documents.

Let’s drill into a few of these. In this example, we have five images that do not have alternative text. We can go into these and click on any of these to jump to these within the Canvas content. We also have text that instructs us what to do. In this case, “add alternative text that accurately and succinctly presents the content of the image and function of the link.” I can fix the alternative text simply by typing it in. I can also mark it as decorative. I am hitting enter using the keyboard, I can also hit the apply button and I’m going through and adding the alternative text on these images.

Now that we fix them, we’re alerted that all instances of linked image missing alternative text haven’t fixed. We have the chance now to go to the next result which is empty link. A lot of times in Canvas’ links are just added redundantly. We could either add the text if there should be a link or simply remove the link to fix the accessibility issue.

The Accessibility Guide alerts us to think such as click here more suspicious link text. So let’s update this to be “take the quiz.” When we can apply the changes it updates in the content and with the guide open I can go and edit my content to not have the text twice. We have now fixed that issue.

Along with the errors an alerts for images and links there are features. These are things that can be good if used correctly we have the chance to review all of our images alternative text. In this case, these are the ones that we just fixed and they are now correct.

Let’s go to text and contrast. From within text and contrast so we can view all contrast errors and see and fix them simply by moving them darker until we get the green pass and the words pass and then hit apply to apply these changes. Very small text with a default to 12 pixels current is 8 pixels for this word marketing. Hit apply it’s now made it bigger.

On any category that has no errors we get feedback for the instructor, letting them know that there are no detectable accessibility issues, but that doesn’t mean that their accessibility stops there they should do things like simple language, do not rely on color alone to convey meaning, and other accessibility tips related to the text and contrast category.

In headings, we can do things like remove empty headings. These are things often added by Canvas users as they are editing. There is a full heading outline. We can click on any icons and it will jump us to the content in Canvas. In this case, these probably shouldn’t be headings. So we’re going to edit them inside of Canvas and make them paragraphs and then rescan. We have now a heading outline and we can update this to be a proper heading outline width h2s.

With the headings fix let’s go to tables and lists. We have the opportunity to review a layout table. Inside of Canvas in order to make a true data table, you would have to click on a cell and then go to table, cell, cell properties, cell type, header cell and then set the correct scope of row, column, row group or column group. Very difficult for instructors to do and hard to teach and get accurate. With the Accessibility Guide we can simply set the first rows header and the first column as header and hit apply and we have an accessible data table.

We also bring things to the attention of the editor, things such as lists. These aren’t errors or alerts but it’s a chance to review your list and make sure there aren’t additional lists such as where someone manually typed one, two, or three.

The Accessibility Guide brings documents to the attention, it doesn’t scan them for accessibility but it does bring them to the attention and directs the instructor to ensure that they’re natively accessible, ideally use HTML and if a PDF is required to specify that it is a PDF in the link. We’re able to apply that.

Now for each of these results, if an instructor is not sure, they can click help and it will give guidance on what it means, why it matters, how to fix, it the algorithm in English, and the relevant standards and guidelines.

On the result for images, there’s also examples. (And more examples will be added for other results.) In this example, it gives an example of a good alternative text. One that would be very difficult if it’s lots of data or it probably should just be converted to data table. A decorative image or an image that has the same text right by it and there’s the opportunity to mark it as decorative to not have redundant alternative text.

On the images as well you can click back to the documentation and view the same [documentation of] what it means, why it matters, how to fix it, the standards and guidelines.

There is also an overall help where an email can be sent to the Canvas accessibility coordinator at the institution and with a message and it also has guidance on how to use The Accessibility Guide.

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