Canvas - Accessibility

Last Updated: 11/27/2018


Canvas is the CU Boulder’s new learning management system (LMS), and was first made available for student and faculty use in spring 2018. The accessibility of an individual’s experience in Canvas depends on two things: the accessibility of the platform itself, and the accessibility of the content placed in Canvas.

This page contains information about the accessibility of the Canvas platform and has links to documentation about Canvas content accessibility. Those who create and share content in Canvas have a responsibility to ensure that content is created and provided in a way that makes it accessible to everyone in the course. Additional resources to assist with creating accessible content and designing accessible courses are provided in the Information for Instructors section below.

Accessibility Topics

Information for Assistive Technology Users
Information for Instructors
Information for Instructors using Assistive Technology
Service Road Map & Accessibility Documentation
Get Help or Provide Feedback
Additional Resources

What is Accessibility?

‘Accessible’ means a person with a disability is afforded the opportunity to acquire the same information, engage in the same interactions, and enjoy the same services as a person without a disability in an equally effective and equally inclusive manner, with substantially equivalent ease of use.

Information for Assistive Technology Users

Canvas has not yet been evaluated by CU Boulder’s Accessibility and Usability Lab, and this page will be updated with specific known issues and workarounds as they become known. It has been through preliminary testing, however, and issues surfaced from that testing are listed below. If you encounter issues in using Canvas, please report them to the IT Service Center at or 303-735-4357 (5-HELP from an on-campus phone).

Screen Reader / Keyboard-Only Users

The Canvas website provides tips for screen reader and keyboard-only users.

Canvas supports the following screen reader and browser combinations:

  • Macintosh: VoiceOver (latest version for Safari)
  • PC: JAWS (latest version for Internet Explorer 11; they currently do not support the Edge browser for accessibility)
  • PC: NVDA (latest version for Firefox)
  • There is no screen reader support for Canvas in Chrome

Specific issues to note are as follows.

Document Viewer

  • Screen readers do not announce the occurrence of an annotation when reading through the document. Annotations are read at the end of the document, and it is not possible to determine non-visually which part of the text they are linked to.
  • JAWS users must hit Enter before they start typing when they want to leave a comment on an annotation, or else the focus shifts to the top of the page.
  • Screen magnifier users need to select the comment before zooming in to see which part of the text it is linked to. Otherwise, the dotted line linking the comment to the text disappears upon zoom.
  • If the annotated document is downloaded for review, it is recommended to use Adobe Acrobat for viewing the PDF, since the annotation comments may not be consistently displayed in generic PDF viewers.
  • Note: students using screen magnifiers must go into full-screen view in View Feedback to view the annotation comments.
  • Calendar

    Screen reader users are recommended to use the Agenda calendar view due to inaccessible table structure in the Week and Month views.


    After submitting an assignment, screen reader users may not receive a notification alert indicating the status of their submission.
    Workaround: The notification is located in the complementary region on the assignment submission page.


    The file tree is not easily navigable or consistently usable by screen reader users.
    Workaround: If possible, access content through Modules rather than Files.

    My Media and Kaltura Media Gallery

    My Media and Kaltura Media Gallery are both part of the Canvas Kaltura integration. Please see the Kaltura accessibility page for more details about the accessibility of Kaltura.

    Screen reader users may experience significant barriers in attempting to complete an in-video quiz in Kaltura Media Gallery. Faculty should avoid utilizing this tool.

    Office 365

    Documents in the Office 365 integration will be rendered through the Office Online document viewer. Please visit the Office Online accessibility page for more details about best practices and any barriers.

    Screen Magnifier Users

    • Users can enable high contrast mode under Account > Settings > Feature Options. Some interface elements may fail color contrast requirements when this mode is not enabled.
    • Some aspects of Canvas’s column-based layout may be displaced at higher browser zoom settings, resulting in a confusing layout to read.
    • When navigating through Modules, note that the “Next” and “Previous” buttons are located at the bottom right and bottom left of the page, respectively. They may be difficult to locate initially when using a magnifier.
    • Many control elements, such as settings menus or notification toggles, are located on the far right side of the page from the element they modify.
    • Many notifications, such as the successful submission of an assignment, are communicated through alerts that appear at the top of the screen rather than near the location the action was performed.

    Information for Instructors

    Canvas has General Accessibility Design Guidelines for making your course content accessible. Additional resources developed by the Accessibility Initiative at CU Boulder are provided below.

    Accessibility Best Practices for the Canvas Platform

    Course Document Accessibility

    Consult the Accessible Technology Resources page for details on how to create accessible Word documents, PowerPoints, Google Docs, and more.

    Timing Accommodations

    You can set different availability dates and times for specific users for assignments and quizzes. To do so, review the Providing Extra Time Accommodations in Canvas guide.

    Information for Instructors using Assistive Technology

    Consult the Accessibility Within Canvas guide for keyboard shortcuts and advice on specific tools within Canvas. The instructor interface within Canvas has not yet been fully tested for accessibility. This section will be updated with more details once that has occurred.

    Service Road Map & Accessibility Documentation

    Canvas’s student-facing desktop interface has been reviewed by the Accessibility and Usability Lab; mobile apps and the instructor desktop interface have not yet been fully reviewed. 

    OIT is working with Canvas to address the issues found so far in testing. Additionally, all regular updates to Canvas are reviewed for accessibility impact.

    Canvas Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT) and WCAG 2.0 Checklist

    Get Help or Provide Feedback

    OIT has partnered with Disability Services to provide assistance for accessibility issues related to OIT supported services. If you need assistance, please contact the IT Service Center at: or at 303-735-4357 (5-HELP from an on-campus phone).

    We want to hear from you about this service. If you’re having problems using this service or you have more information about the accessibility of this service that we should share with others on this webpage, please let us know by contacting the IT Service Center at or at 303-735-4357 (5-HELP from an on-campus phone).

    Additional Resources