Canvas - Creating Accessible Exams

Last Updated: 03/14/2018

Accessible Exams Checklist 

Use alt text for images

If you have images in your exam questions, add alt text to them that describes the meaningful content of the image that is conveyed to sighted students.

For example, if you had this question: “Answer in Spanish: what color is the ball in the image?” You should add alt text that says “dog with a red ball”.

Dog with red ball

Add alt text by clicking on the image and selecting “Embed Image” in the toolbar.

Rich Content Editor with Embed Image highlighted

Find the Alt text field and add your description.

Image Source screenshot

Use the old Quizzes interface, not the new one

Make sure to create your quiz through the Quizzes tab on the course navigation menu and not through Assignments. If you use the + Quiz/Test button with the BETA flag in Assignments, you will be using the new interface (see below).

Old interface:

Old quizzes interface

New interface:

New quiz interface button
New Quiz interface

Add language attribute tags for all non-English text

Follow the language attribute tutorial for details. You can even add language attributes to the text of answer options by selecting the Edit button (pencil icon) that appears on the right side of the page across from each answer option.

Language attribute with edit button highlighted

For languages with non-Latin alphabets, a screen reader may not read out the content of the text at all without a language attribute. For example, watch this video of a screen reader reading various Asian languages in which the characters are not read correctly without the proper language attribute.

Avoid using abbreviations or all caps

Screen readers are inconsistent in how abbreviations are read out; sometimes it is read as a word, sometimes as individual letters. Additionally, text in all caps is sometimes read out letter-by-letter rather than as a single word.

Indicate in question text if multiple answers are possible

If you are using the Multiple Answer type, include language in your question that says “Multiple answers are possible.” or “Select all that apply:”. This helps clarify for screen reader users that it is not a single-answer question.

If multiple questions are associated with a single prompt, indicate that prior to the prompt.

For example, “Questions 3-7 are about the following prompt.” or “Read the following prompt, then answer questions 2-5 about its content.”

Indicate whether a question is fill-in-the-blank in the question text.

For example, write “Fill in the blank in the following sentence:” at the beginning of the question.

Screen readers often read out blanks as “underscore underscore underscore …”, so it is important to let students know ahead of time that it is a fill-in-the-blank question so that it is less confusing when they reach it.

If your content has equations, use the equation editor

In the Rich Content Editor toolbar, select the “Insert Math Equation” button so that the content is rendered properly for screen reader users.

Rich Content Editor screenshot highlighting Insert Math Equation function

Avoid using time limits

If you must have a time limit, make sure you know how to provide extra time accommodations for individual students.