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Creating Accessible Content: Canvas Accessible Design

Canvas Text Editor

How to Make Course Content Accessible

The Canvas text editor formatting tools give you the ability to make your course site more accessible. These tools will organize content for all learners and provide special information for screen readers.

It is helpful to know that a screen reader reads from left to right, from the top to the bottom of a web page. In addition to reading text on the web page, the screen reader also reads code for headings, lists, and alternative text. If formatting tools are used when writing content in the text editor, those headings, bulleted lists, numbered lists, and alternative text will allow screen readers to provide verbal prompts that organize material for those who are listening.

  • Enter any location that uses the Canvas text editor (e.g., Page, Assignment description, Discussion posting, etc.)
  • If you have existing content in the text editor, run the Canvas Accessibility Checker


In the text editor toolbar, when creating new content, use the following style tools



Rather than customizing titles with font, size and color, highlight a title and click on the Paragraph Styles dropdown menu in the toolbar. Select from the dropdown list a Heading. This begins to organize content into an outline. The heading number is read by the screen reader.



Bulleted and numbered lists can be applied by highlighting text and clicking on the icon for either

  • Numbers, identified by screen readers as Ordered List (OL)
  • Bullets, identified by screen readers as Unordered List (UL)

When secondary lists are needed within a list, highlight the secondary content and click on the Indent icon in the toolbar

Contrast and Color

Text should not blend with its background. The text should be adequately darker than a light background. 

Do not rely on color coding to be the primary strategy for organizing content.

Do not use color as the primary strategy for providing emphasis or meaning in a text.



When adding an image, you are prompted to Describe this image for someone who cannot see it. This is also known as alternative text. If the image is conveying a great deal of information, which cannot be included in the alternative text box, be sure to write a narrative that accompanies the image.



Links, or URLs, are read character-by-character by the screen reader. If the link has a name with no meaning, the listener may not be able to determine the nature of the content.  You can

  • Write a name for the link that will clearly identify the content
  • Highlight the link
  • Click on the Link icon, which will produce a box where you can paste the actual URL.

All of these formatting techniques help to make the instructional content more meaningful, and quickly understood, for more learners.