Accessibility. Sometimes just the mere mention of the word can send even the most seasoned instructor into a panic. Fear not, we have some great resources that can help ensure that all of your students can access your course content.
It is important to understand the basic tenets of accessibility as it pertains to educational technology. We highly recommend reading this short Accessibility Overview, provided by the CCC Accessibility Center.
Making content accessible should be a part of your normal workflow, and does not need to take a great deal of time. Accessibility is best considered BEFORE you begin working on a course in Canvas.
Accessible design is good design. It benefits people who don’t have disabilities as well as people who do. Accessibility is all about removing barriers and providing the benefits of technology for everyone.
~ Steve Balmer
former CEO, Microsoft
Need help? We’re here for you! Contact TMI.
Accessibility In Canvas
We strongly encourage the use of the built-in Canvas rich content editor found in almost every tool within Canvas (i.e. Pages, Announcements, Assignments, Quizzes, etc.) whenever possible, and minimizing the practice of uploading (and maintaining) externally created documents or files (PDF, Word, etc.).
Using the built-in content editor has several benefits:
- edits are easy to make and saved immediately
- no need to save a new PDF, and re-upload to Canvas
- no need to keep track of “backup” documents, flash drives, etc.
Using the text editor within Canvas also allows for seamless resolution of the most common accessibility issues by using the Accessibility Checker.
The video below includes details about the Accessibility Checker feature in Canvas.
Read about Accessibility Within Canvas
“Ensuring an accessible and pleasant experience to all users, regardless of disability, is a key focus of Canvas. The Canvas platform was built using the most modern HTML and CSS technologies, and is committed to W3C’s Web Accessibility Initiative and Section 508 guidelines.”
There may be some scenarios where you choose not to use the text editor in Canvas. If you do choose to use your own documents in Canvas, it’s crucial to ensure they’re accessible BEFORE they are uploaded.
Use Heading Styles
Using good heading structure helps people without eyesight to understand how the document is organized. Screen reader and Braille users can also jump between headings, which makes navigation much more efficient than if there are no headings.
Making text larger and bold does not make it a heading. In order to convert text to a heading in Microsoft Word, you must use the built-in Heading styles like “Heading 1” and “Heading 2”, available under Styles in the Home tab of the Ribbon in Office.
Headings should follow a basic outline, using the “Heading 1” style for the main heading, and “Heading 2” for sub-headings. If there are additional levels of headings within the document’s outline, using “Heading 3”, “Heading 4”, etc.
Lists should be created using built-in tools for ordered (numbered) and unordered (bulleted) lists. Without using these tools, a list is not really a list, which makes the content more difficult for screen reader users to fully understand.
See the following tutorials for the most common tools used in document creation, provided courtesy of the California Community Colleges (CCC) Accessibility Center.
- Accessibility And Documents
- Microsoft Word (Office 365)
- Microsoft Powerpoint (Office 365)
- Adobe Acrobat DC (Pro)
While we are not accessibility experts, we can attempt to assist you in the remediation of your documents if they are to be used within Canvas. Contact TMI to request a consultation.
Creating your own video content to establish your instructional presence is typically the norm these days, and the best way to have your videos made available in Canvas AND be captioned automatically has never been easier.
TMI highly recommends the use of 3C Media within Canvas.
3C Media Solutions is a CCC service that takes the hassle out of trying to figure out where to host your instructional videos, as well as making it easy to find content shared by other faculty in the CCC system. This is a great alternative to using YouTube or making your own captioning files. It is free to use and has unlimited storage for CCC faculty use.
For more information about 3C Media services, please visit www.3cmediasolutions.org
General Assistance with Accessibility
Sometimes we all need help and just need some advice. Perhaps one of the best resources for getting help with accessibility challenges is the CCC Accessibility Center Help Desk, available during and after District operating hours.
Get answers and information regarding web accessibility issues common to California Community Colleges. Ask questions about websites, online videos, web applications, or mobile app accessibility to get a response from accessibility subject matter experts!
Visit the CCC Accessibility Center Help Desk