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 [email protected].

Screen Readers

The following accessibility issues are still outstanding:

Known Issues Applying to All Screen Readers

  • 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: There are multiple accessibility issues with the mini calendar; the date picker available in “agenda” view should be used instead by screen reader and keyboard users. (Reported: 5/30/2016)
    • Move to the first heading level 2 on the page which gives a list of currently visible dates, and is also a button. For sighted keyboard only users, this appears next to the “Today” button.
    • Press enter to activate this button. You will be located in an edit box which allows you to type a date. We tested day, month, year, month, day, and year.
    • There is also a select widget that appears on the screen for selecting a date and time, however, this is difficult to navigate to for screen reader and keyboard only users so we do not recommend its use.
    • There is a mini calendar on the page that is the standard way to change the date currently being shown, however, we also do not recommend the use of this for screen reader or keyboard only users because although the previous and next month buttons are accessible, the actual days which you must click to refocus the main calendar view are not accessible for keyboard only users.

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.

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:

  • From the landing page for a course, select Course Settings.
  • Navigate to the first heading 1 on the page called “Course Settings”.
  • Use the Tab key to land on a list of tabs, which allows you to select a settings category.
  • Presss the Right and Left arrows to navigate to “Navigation”.
  • If you use the Tab key to navigate past the tab panel, you will encounter buttons for each navigation element for the course, such as “settings for Discussions”.
  • 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.
  • This dialog has a combobox for selecting where the item will be placed, as well as move and cancel buttons.
  • If you select “at the top” or “at the bottom”, no other controls appear in the dialog.
  • If you select “Before…” or “After…”, another combox appears that you can access with one press of Tab which lets you select the course section that the item will be placed before or after.
  • 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

  • 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

  • Get information about assistive technology upgrades, ask questions, or report issues you encounter using Canvas with assistive technologies to U-M at [email protected].
  • Contact the Canvas vendor through their online accessibility community.

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-M IT accessibility efforts.