Canvas Accessibility

U-M is committed to supporting the technology needs of those with disabilities. U-M and other campuses are working with the Canvas vendor to ensure it meets the needs of all assistive technology users.

Accessibility within Canvas

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

Canvas Instructional Accessibility Tips

Documentation on Accessibility Features

  • General Accessibility Information: Specifics about using Canvas with screen readers, and accessibility features that are implemented either throughout the program or in specific functions.
  • Canvas Keyboard Shortcuts: For Assignments Index Page, Course Settings: Navigation Tab, Discussion Thread, SpeedGrader, Gradebook, Modules Index Page, and Rich Content Editor.

Issues and Workaround for Assistive Technologies

Below is information on known issues and workarounds for specific types of assistive technologies. We will add to and update this list as more information becomes available. To report additional issues and workarounds, please email canvas_accessibility@umich.edu.

Screen Readers

Known Issues Applying to All Screen Readers

The U-M Canvas team identified the following accessibility issues in Canvas.

  • Issue: Course names in the DashCard view on the Canvas homepage are not marked as links. It is not obvious that they can be activated by a screen reader user. (Reported 5/26/2016)
    Workaround: Activate headers with the Enter key by placing the focus of a screen reader over headings and activate them like a link or button.
     
  • Issue: When selecting the edit profile button from the profile screen, screen readers do not notify users that anything changed on the page. (Reported: 5/4/2016)
    Workaround: Even though the user is not notified, edit boxes do appear. Access them by moving to the top of the page and then using the screen reader's “move to next edit box” command to focus them. The first edit box is called Bio.
    • In NVDA or JAWS, move to the top of the page with CTRL+Home. Both JAWS and NVDA allow using “e” to move to the next edit box.
    • In VoiceOver, use CTRL+OPT+u to open the Web Item Rotor. Using the Left and Right arrow keys, select form controls and the Down arrow to move to boxes for editing the profile.
       
  • Issue: If using Month or Week views in the Calendar, screen reader users will experience difficulties accessing information. (Reported: 5/4/2016)
    Workaround: Switch to Agenda view for the most accessible experience. After switching to the Calendar, select Agenda view by moving to the Calendar heading on the page.
    • If Agenda view is not currently selected, the first button past this heading will be called Warning: For improved accessibility, please use the "Agenda view."
    • Select this button to switch the calendar into Agenda view.
    • Agenda view provides the same functionality of other views, except the option to drag calendar events to different dates and times
  • Issue: In the Calendar, there are numerous actions which can cause a mini calendar to appear for screen reader users. This calendar is inaccessible. (Reported: 5/30/2016)
    Workaround: Ignore the Mini Calendar which appears in the Complementary landmark on the page and can be identified by a group of unlabeled buttons and a table.
    • Jump focus over the calendar by pressing the b key when on the unlabeled buttons which will move focus to the widget that allows showing and hiding calendars. This is the first element past the inaccessible calendar.
  • Issue: When selecting the Account link from the dashboard, focus is not retained in the list of options that appears after selecting the link. As a result, pressing the “up arrow” past the first option will take the user to the end of the page. This same behavior can be observed when welecting an event in the Agenda view in the Calendar. (Reported: 5/23/2016)
    Workaround: Press Down arrow key when you are on the Close button that is a part of the Account pop-up. If the Up arrow key is pressed too many times and focus is moved to the bottom of the page, return to the pop-up by using the Down arrow.

Issues Specific to Voice Over

  • Issue: When navigating over the file upload button in the Assignment Submission screen, VoiceOver does not always announce the correct description of the button.
    Workaround: To ensure VoiceOver reads all text relevant to buttons, set the speech verbosity to High. This can be done via the VoiceOver utility (Command+Option+F8). When using a laptop, it may be necessary to use the FN key as a part of this keystroke. This setting is located in the General category of the Verbosity options.

Speech Recognition

  • Issue: When attempting to fill out a text box using Dragon, nothing happens. Example: When an instructor sets up an assignment, activating the Edit button brings up a box to enter a description of the assignment, but the box will not accept dictated text. (Reported 8/15/16)
    Workaround: Use Dragon to dictate into Word and then cut and paste into Canvas.

How To: Rearrange items in the navigation section of a course

Although Drag and Drop is not accessible, an alternative mode was implemented for screen reader users. Directions:

  • From the landing page for a course, select Course Settings.
  • Press Tab to reach the Settings button past the item you want to move.
  • Press Enter to select the Settings button and open a pop-up menu.
  • Use the Down arrow to place focus on the Move option and press Enter.
  • Focus will land in a dialog that contains a list of the course categories in a combo box and a group of radio buttons that allows you to select whether the item should be placed before or after the item selected in the combo box.
  • Press Tab to land on the group of radio buttons. Use the Up and Down arrows to select the desired option.
  • Press Tab again to move focus to the combo box where the course section is selected that the moved item will be placed adjacent to.
  • The last two items in the dialog that are accessible by pressing Tab are Cancel and Move buttons. Selecting these options closes the dialog and either performs the action or cancels changes.

How To: Change times of Calendar events in agenda view as an alternative to drag and drop.

Directions:

  • Each Calendar Event is marked by a button.
  • >If using NVDA or JAWS on the Calendar page, use H to move to the calendar heading and then B to move to each event which is marked as a button.
    • Select the Edit button in the pop-up by pressing B again to move to that button.
    • Once this button is selected, two of the items on the pages are edit boxes for setting the date and time of the event.
    • Move to these using E in NVDA and JAWS.
  • When using VoiceOver, once on the Calendar page, press Control+OPT+u to open the Web Item Rotor.
    • Use the Left and Right arrows to select Form Controls and then use the Up and Down arrows to select the event of interest.
    • Use these same instructions to select the Edit button in the pop-up.
    • Once on the page for editing an event, use the Web Item Rotor again in forms mode to select the edit boxes for changing the date and time of an event.

We Want to Hear from You

More Information

Several ongoing and project activities are currently underway to help improve accessibility to technology for U-M students, faculty, and staff with disabilities. Learn more about U-Ms IT accessibility initiatives.