Canvas @ Yale

General Canvas Accessibility Guidelines and Tips

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The following article describes the general guidelines for creating accessible content within your Canvas site.  

If you would like further assistance, please see the Canvas (Vendor) General Accessibility Guidlelines or contact [email protected].

For more information about Yale's accessibility guidelines, please visit the Usability & Web Accessibility page, or contact [email protected].

Table of Contents

Canvas Site and Page Layout / Design

The layout of a Canvas site should be clean, clear, and uncluttered. Navigation should be consistent throughout the course.

When designing a page, avoid using tables for layout since most screen readers cannot read the content within the table. Please see this help article for more information: Table Accessibility in Canvas


Headings within a Canvas page should always include descriptive subheadings to allow a quick scan of content for both sighted and non-sighted students.

  1. Open the Rich Content Editor (i.e. within Syllabus page, Content Page, Announcement, etc.) to begin writing some content.
    1. Click on “Paragraph” dropdown to select the type of header you would like to use.
  1. The Headings are pre-formatted at a certain size and weight. Headings should also be hierarchical, meaning that Heading 2 (H2) should contain only Heading 3 (H3) headings, which in turn should only contain Heading 4 (H4) headings. An example heading outline on a page might look like this:
    1. Heading 2 (H2)
      1. Paragraph Content
      2. Heading 3 (H3)
        1. Paragraph Content
      3. Heading 3 (H3)
        1. Paragraph Content
        2. Heading 4 (H4)
          • Paragraph Content
      4. Heading 3 (H3)
        1. Paragraph Content
    2. Heading 2 (H2)
      1. Paragraph Content
  1. Once formatted, click on “Save” to save a draft or “Save & Publish” at the bottom of the page to make it available to students.
  1. Place your cursor in the text box where you want your link or, if desired, highlight the words you want to be a clickable link.
  2. To get to the external link tool you can either:
    1. Click on the "Insert" menu [1], select "Link" [2] and then "External Links" [3].
    2. OR
    3. Click on arrow to the right of the Link Tool icon [4] in the toolbar and select "External Links" [5].
  1. The "Insert Link" pop-up should now appear. Enter / update the visible words that you want users to click on in the "Text" box [6] and insert the URL link into the "Link" box [7].
  2. Once you have entered the link information click the "Done" button [8] and your link will be inserted into the text box.  
  3. When you are returned main page, click "Save" or "Save and Publish" to finalize your changes.


When uploading images to page, the use of Alternative Text (alt-text) allows screen readers to inform the student what the picture is.

To add alt-text to pictures within Canvas, please see this help document: How do I upload and embed an image in the Rich Content Editor as an instructor?

Videos / Audio

Videos / audio within Canvas should always have the option for closed captioning. If using external videos, such as YouTube, check with the video provider for closed captioning options.

For videos / audio within Media Library, contact [email protected] to discuss the options available.

For more captioning options, the Digital Accessibility Team has Accessibility Trainings and Accessibility Articles available, as well. 

Content Formatting

Students can view text contrast when formatting with bolds & italics. Avoid using underlining unless it is an URL link.

When using color text, you want to ensure adequate color contrast by using accessibility friendly colors. Avoid bright colors, such as yellow, pale green, pink, and orange. In order to determine if your font color is accessible, please use the ColorSafe website.

WCAG Guidelines recommend contrast ratio of 4.5:1 for small text or 3:1 for large text which is 18px or 14px bold.


Yale’s Poorvu Center for Teaching and Learning has integrated Panorama in Canvas @ Yale. Panorama provides more accessible formats of content shared through Canvas. To learn how to obtain accessible content within Canvas, please see help vendor documentation: Accessing Alternative File Formats in Panorama

Additional Resources:

For more information about Yale's accessibility guidelines, please contact [email protected]. For general help, please contact [email protected].

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