What this tool does

This tool walks you through a set of brief, manual accessibility tests of your course page(s). Follow the "How to Test" tips, answer the questions, then submit the form to generate an accessibility report.

The report includes suggestions for fixing accessibility issues and can be saved. A report with no failed items indicates your course or page is probably accessible and compliant with the W3C's Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) level AA, the standard for web accessibility. You should retest your course periodically as you add to and change it.

How to use this tool

  • The tool will tell you how to perform simple accessibility tests. Allow approximately 1 hour to complete the audit, particularly if this is your first time.
  • To save an incomplete audit and to retrieve past audit reports, sign in with your ASURITE. (You do not need to sign in to complete the audit in one sitting and generate a one-time report.)

Next, go to Step 1.

The audit requires two small bookmarklets from accessibility expert Paul J. Adam. To save them, select and drag the links to your browser's bookmarks bar.

Instructions: One at a time, please click-and-hold the Headings link. While continuing to hold, drag the link to your favorites or bookmarks bar and let go. Then select and drag the Lists link to your browser's bookmarks (favorites) bar:

When you're done with this audit, you may delete the bookmarklets.

Next, go to Step 2.

You don't need to test every page of your online course. Once you evaluate a few different types of content, you'll begin to see where the main accessibility issues lie. Then you can begin to address those problems course-wide.

In the initial evaluation, try to include:

  • The course home page
  • Assignments, discussions and quizzes
  • Pages with
    • Tables, lists and outlines
    • Video and podcasts
    • Many or complex images
    • Slideshows, carousels and other interactive features
    • Tabs or accordions
    • Embedded documents

You will evaluate one page or screen at a time with this tool.

Next, go to Step 3.

  1. In a separate tab, open the course page you want to audit.
  2. To answer an audit question:
    • Follow the steps under How to Test, then select Pass or Fail in the Results dropdown.
    • Record any observations under Notes.
    • You can answer questions in any order and can skip questions (e.g., if your page doesn't have a video, skip the questions about video).
  3. When you're done, click the Create Report button to generate an ASU Course Accessibility Report.

Note: If you are signed in on the Accessibility site, you can Save As Draft and return to finish the audit later. When you are signed in, you can also retrieve previous audit reports.

Optional

Provide your name if you'd like to be identified as the auditor on the report.
Provide the page title or URL of the page you're auditing if you'd like it included in the report. Useful if you're auditing many course pages.

1. Canvas Accessibility Checker

  1. To begin, go to the Canvas page you want to test. Click the Edit button Canvas Edit button. If the page has accessibility issues, the Accessibility Checker will display an icon with a number indicator. ​​​​Accessibility Checker in the Canvas rich content editor
  2. If you don't see a number indicator, Questions 1.1, 1.2 and 1.3 pass. Mark them as Pass, and move to Question 1.4.
  3. If you do see a number indicator, click on the Accessibility Checker icon and move to Question 1.1.

1.1 Is the color contrast sufficient?

Adequate contrast is important for users with color blindness and/or low vision. WCAG 2.1 requires a contrast ratio of at least 4.5:1 for normal text and 3:1 for large text like headings.

  1. Look through the accessibility error panes for a pane asking you to Change text color.
  2. If you don't see one, mark this question as Pass, and go to Question 1.2.
  3. If you do see the Change text color pane, move the color slider to make the text color darker. (WCAG 2.1 requires a contrast ratio of at least 4.5:1 for normal text and 3:1 for large text like headings.)
  4. When the slider is on a dark enough color, the Apply button will become enabled. Click it.
    Canvas accessibility checker pane warning that color conrast is too low
  5. Once all Change text color panes have been addressed, mark this check as Pass, and move to the next question. Alternatively, you can mark this check as Fail and fix it later.

See more on color contrast.

1.2 Do all images (including infographics, charts and graphs) have meaningful text equivalents?

All images must have alternative text that describes them--unless the image is decorative and is identified as such. Supplying concise and equivalent alternate text is vital for students who use screen readers, who have low vision, or who have some cognitive impairments.

  1. If you see an accessibility error pane warning you that "Image filenames should not be used as the ALT attribute," this means: When the image was uploaded, no Alt text was provided and the image wasn't marked as a Decorative image.
    Canvas accessibility checker pane warning that an image only has a file name as its alternatuve text
  2. You can choose to fix the image by:
    1. Supplying alternative text in the Change alt text field OR
    2. If the image is unimportant or decorative, by checking the Decorative image field. 
  3. Alternatively, you can mark this check as Fail and fix it later.

See more about writing alternative text for images.

1.3 Do tables have a caption and "real" headers?

  1. If you see an accessibility error pane warning you that "Tables should include a caption," add a caption. Or you can mark this check as Fail and fix it later.
    Canvas accessibility checker pane warning that tables need captions
  2. If you see a pane warning you that "Tables should include at least one header," select rows, headers, or both from the dropdown (depending on the table layout). Or you can mark this check as Fail and fix it later.
    Canvas accessibility checker pane warning that tables need headers

See more on accessible tables.

1.4 Do headings visually and structurally organize the content, without skipping heading levels?

  1. If you see an accessibility error pane warning you that "Heading levels should not be skipped," the Checker has detected headings that aren't hierarchical. 
    Accessibility Checker heading skipped pane
  2. You can choose to fix or remove the heading. Alternatively, you can mark this check as Fail and fix it later.
  3. Sometimes regular text is made to merely look like a heading by making the text bold and/or enlarging the font. These are not real headings. Unfortunately, Canvas can't detect these. So, our last step is to:
    1. Save or return to the page you're checking.
    2. Click the Headings bookmarklet link you added to your browser's bookmarks bar. 
    3. Scan the content area of the page, looking for any text that looks like a heading but isn't marked as one.
      Paul J Adams bookmarklet showing no markup on a fake heading
    4. If you find heading-like text that is not marked, edit the page and manually format these fake headings using the heading styles in the Canvas Rich Content Editor. 
      Canvas rich content editor heading dropdown
    5. Alternatively, you can mark this check as Fail and fix it later.
    6. When you no longer need the bookmarklet highlights, just refresh the page to clear them.

1.5 Are lists used where possible, and are they properly formatted?

Lists organize and structure content and orient readers. They break up and make dense text easier to read. Always use the Canvas Rich Content Editor to create lists--the correct formatting will be automatically applied for you.

  1. If you see an accessibility error pane warning you that "Lists should be formatted as lists," check the Format as a list checkbox and let the Accessibility Checker automatically fix the list. Or you can mark this check as Fail and fix it later.
    ​​Canvas accessibility checker pane warning that lists should be formatted as lists
  2. Unfortunately, the Accessibility Checker can't detect all malformed lists. So, our last step is to:
    1. Save or return to the page you're checking.
    2. Click the Lists bookmarklet link you added to your browser's bookmarks bar. 
    3. Scan the page, looking for any text that looks like a list but isn't marked as one.
      Paul J Adams bookmarklet showing visual list not identified as a list
    4. You will need to edit the page and manually format these fake lists using the lists styles in the Canvas Rich Content Editor.
      Canvas Rich Content Editor list dropdown
    5. Or you can mark this check as Fail and fix it later.
    6. When you no longer need the bookmarklet highlights, just refresh the page to clear them.

2. Link Validator

2.1 Are links clear, descriptive, and unique?

Users should be able to determine the purpose of each link from the link text alone. Screen reader users can create lists of links as a navigation aid, but this is only helpful if the link target is clear from the link text. 

  1. Scan the page for links.
    1. Are there generic links such as "Click here" and "Read more"? These are confusing for users, especially users of assistive technology, because the link destination is unclear. If there are generic links, fix them or mark this check Fail.
    2. Do links that go to the same destination page have the same link text? For example, if the links "the essay" and "Chapter 7" both go to the same page, users will be confused, especially users of assistive technology, who assume differently named links will go to different pages. If links that go to the same destination have different text, fix them or mark this check Fail.
  2. The last step is to validate your links. In Canvas, this is not a page-by-page feature. You must validate all the links of an entire course at the same time.
    1. Select the Settings menu tiem, at the bottom of the left sidebar menu.
      Canvas Settings menu item
    2. In the right sidebar, click the Validate Links in Content menu item.
      The Canvas Validate Links in Content link
    3. Click the Start Link Validation button.
      Course Link Validator start button
    4. When the validator is done, you'll get a list of pages with broken links. Select the page, and edit and fix the link.
      Canvas validator with list of pages with broken links
    5. Alternatively, you can mark this check as Fail and fix it later.

See more on accessible links.

4. Document Files

4.1 Are all downloadable files and documents accessible?

Canvas doesn't provide a page-by-page check of document accessibility. However, the Accessibility Checker can evaluate all document files in a course at the same time.

  1. In your Canvas course, select the Files menu item in the right-hand sidebar.
  2. In the resulting list of files, each document will have a small gear. The color of the gear tells you when a file is accessible, needs some work, or is inaccessible.
    Canvas Files page with indicators beside accessible and inaccessible document files
  3. If any files have a red or orange gear icon, click on the icon. An Accessibility Score pane will open, with suggestions for making the document accessible.
    Accessibility score for files panes
  4. Download inaccessible documents and fix them. See detailed instructions on how to make files accessible: MSWord, PDF, PowerPoint, Google slides and docs).
  5. Alternatively, you can mark this check as Fail and fix it later.
  6. Reload the accessible document into the course.

5. Manual Checks

5.1 Is more than one sensory cue used to convey meaning on the page?

Sensory cues convey information by color, shape, size, visual location, sound, etc. When only a single sense is used as a cue, people with sensory limitations can be left out. For instance, referring to the "box on the left" or the "large text" will baffle users with vision loss. Indicating errors by making the text red won't be helpful for the 8% of men with color blindness.

  1. Scan the page you want to evaluate.
  2. Is color alone used to convey information? For instance, does the text refer to the "Green arrow"? Are errors indicated only by making the text red?
  3. If yes, add a text label to the sensory cue. For instance, add the "Green Next arrow" or the "red text marked with an asterisk."
  4. Alternatively, you can mark this check as Fail and fix it later.

See more on sensory cues.

5.2 Do all videos have accurate captions, and does audio have transcripts?

Users with impaired hearing or who are deaf rely on captions to access videos. In addition, recent studies show that 71% of undergraduate students without hearing difficulties use captions at least some of the time to improve retention and recall.

  1. Visually check that all videos on the page have closed captioning. This is usually indicated by the presence of the CC icon:  Click the Play button and the CC icon to make sure captions work.
  2. If video has captions, mark this check as Pass and move to the next question.
  3. If video doesn't have captions, follow the instructions for auto-captioning video in YouTube.
  4. Always edit automatically generated captions.
  5. You can embed YouTube video on Canvas pages, or you can copy the .SRT (caption) file from YouTube and upload with the video to any video host.
  6. If you don't fix the captions at this time, make sure you mark this check as Fail and return to fix it later.

See more on video captions.

5.3 Does the page use simple layouts and sans serif fonts with plain backgrounds?

Go to the page you want to evaluate. Scroll down it.

  • Is the page layout simple and uncluttered with adequate white space and plain backgrounds?
  • Is text sufficiently large (i.e., ≥12 pts [16px]) and left-justified?
  • Are italics and bold used judiciously and are only links underlined?

If you answer yes to all three questions, the page passes this check.

5.4 Is the course navigation consistent, and does it help orient and direct students to next steps?

  1. In the left sidebar menu, click Modules. Scan the list. Is the course broken into modules logically by topic or class session? Do modules have unique, descriptive names (e.g., “Week 3: Algorithms” rather than “3”)?
  2. In the left sidebar menu, click Home. Is there a home page that introduces students to the course and makes clear where they should go and what they should do next?
  3. Click through as many the pages of the course as you can. Are the page layouts uncluttered and consistent throughout the course?
  4. Return to the page you want to evaluate. Click the Student View button in the upper right corner of the screen. Student view button  In the left sidebar menu, are most of the links hidden, leaving only the most important menu items visible to students? Are the menu items ordered by importance?

If you answer yes to all four questions, the page passes this check.

5.5 Is the question text helpful and clear, and are difficult-to-manipulate question formats avoided?

Making online quizzes and assignments accessible is critical to the success of students of all abilities. If your page is a quiz or assignment, scan it now:

  1. Are instructions clear?
  2. Does the question text explain the type of questions to expect and any required formats?
  3. Are drag and drop and dropdown formats avoided whenever possible?
  4. Are time limits avoided whenever possible?
  5. Was the Equations Editor used to create math equations or scientific notations?

If you answer yes to all fiv3 questions, the page passes this check.

See more on accessible Canvas quizzes and assignments.

5.6 Can students navigate your course using their keyboard only?

Interactive items like links, form fields, buttons, and components (e.g., videos, slideshows, tabs, and accordions) are often difficult for assistive technology users to navigate.

Put your mouse aside and use only your keyboard to move through the page and to all links, form fields, buttons, and components:

  • Tab key: to move forward (use Shift + Tab to reverse)
  • Enter/Return key or Space bar: to select
  • Arrow keys: to move inside components (e.g., groups of radio buttons or checkboxes, dropdowns, tabs, etc.)
  • Escape key: to close popup windows (or when desperate)

You must be able to answer yes to all of the following for the page to pass:

  1. As you move through the page, can you tab to each interactive item in order? Tabbing should not move you prematurely away from a component until all items in the component have been tabbed through or a task is complete.
  2. Can you select all links and buttons with the Enter/Return or Shift key?
  3. Can you move inside all interactive items with the arrow keys and move away with the Tab or Escape key?
  4. When you close a modal or popup window, are you returned to the last place you were on the page?
  5. Is the focus indicator (a blue outline) clearly visible on each element as you tab to it?
    Bright bliue border focus indicator

If you encounter an issue with keyboard-only access and the reason is not apparent or you're unable to fix the problem yourself, please report this accessibility problem in as much detail as possible. Someone will contact you about a resolution as soon as possible.

See more on keyboard access.

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