Active Teaching Lab Recap: Accessibility in Canvas

Thu January 31, 2019

Making courses accessible to all can be a challenge, but the solutions to these challenges needn’t be complicated or time consuming. At the January 31, 2019 Active Teaching Lab, a mere hour after the university reopened after closing for sub-zero weather, 15 hearty participants shared how they have addressed accessibility in their Canvas courses and discussed potential solutions to the challenges that remain.

Takeaways

  • The effort you put into making your course more accessible helps more than just the students who require accommodation. It helps other students and yourself! While Canvas accessibility features are built in, also follow accessibility design guidelines.
  • Use Canvas analytics to prioritize course pages and materials that students most frequently use. Start with essential materials for participation and those requested through a formal accommodation request. See more UW accessibility guidelines here.   
  • Organize content both structurally and visually. Are headings and subheads nested to create an outline? Are lists automatically bulleted or numbered? Do tables have row and column titles? Do images have alternative text descriptions? Does all text retain its meaning if color and font changes are removed? Is there enough color contrast to easily read the text? Are link destinations and purposes clear from context? See more on getting started with accessibility for content owners here.
  • Lay out the learning space for easy mobility and transitions between activities. If students will be working in pairs or small groups, make sure aisles, desks, and tables have enough clearance for all students to navigate them and that content being delivered can be seen, heard, or otherwise accessed from all locations students occupy.
  • Think inclusivity rather than accommodation to make positive changes for all students. For example, using a Google Doc as a virtual chalkboard allows students with visual impairments to enlarge the text, but it also creates an enduring record of the entire semester’s board work that is searchable for all students to use. Plus, students who require different setups aren’t singled out from their peers.

For more information on accessibility, visit the session’s activity sheet.

Video

Due to connection issues, this Lab was recorded in three parts.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

The Active Teaching Lab is a Faculty Engagement program with sessions held on Thursdays from 1:00-2:00pm and Fridays from 8:30-9:45am in the Middleton Building (1305 Linden Dr.), room 120. Check out upcoming Labs or read the recaps from past Labs. We build interdisciplinary conversations that are more emergent than a presenter and more dynamic than a panel — a conversation with colleagues sharing challenges, solutions, and experiments on topics selected by a variety of stakeholders.

Sign up for regular Lab announcements by sending an email to join-activeteaching@lists.wisc.edu.