General Accessibility Guidelines

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

Layout & Design

The layout of a page should be clean, clear, and uncluttered. Also, navigation should be consistent throughout the course.  Finally, 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: Creating Accessible Tables in the Rich Content Editor.


Headings within a course should always include descriptive subheadings to allow a quick scan of content for both sighted and non-sighted students. Also, headings should use the H1 format:

  1. Open rich content editor (i.e. within Syllabus page, Content Page, Announcement, etc.)
screenshot showing how to access headings

Click on “Paragraph” to select the type of header you would like to use.

screenshot of header options

Click on “Save” to save a draft or “Save & Publish” to make it available to students.

screenshot of save or save & publish

Instead of copying/pasting the URL link within a page, attach the link to words that describe where the link goes. This will help all students, not just those who use screen readers, understand where the link will take them.

To add a file from Files area:

1. Highlight the words that you would like to be linked

2. Click on the File. You will see the highlighted portion blink yellow to signify it has been linked.

3. Click “Save”.

Add files from file area

To add a link from a website:

1. Highlight the words that you would like to be linked.

2. Click on the link icon.

screenshot showing link icon

3. Type in or copy/paste URL from website. Click “Insert Link”.

screenshot of how to add URL

4. Click “Save”

screenshot of save


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 embed images in the Rich Content Editor?


Videos within Canvas should always have the option for closed captioning. If using external videos, such as YouTube, check with the video provider for CC options.  For videos within Media Library, contact to discuss the options available.

For more captioning options, the Digital Accessibility Team has captioning information and tutorials 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 & use 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.

Blackboard Ally

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

For more information about Yale's accessibility guidelines, please contact For general help, please contact