Accessibility Statement for Canvas

About Canvas and accessibility

At the University of York, we are working towards making all of our online resources compliant with the internationally recognised Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.1). For more information please see the relevant legal statement on our website.

Canvas is the VLE or virtual learning environment which is used for York Online programmes. You will use Canvas for accessing module content and resources, submitting work, working collaboratively with other students and so on.

The software underpinning Canvas is supplied by Instructure. Ensuring accessibility of the platform is a key focus of the provider, according to their accessibility statement. This includes information on:

  • which screen readers will work with which web browsers
  • how to navigate Canvas with a screen reader
  • which areas of Canvas can be moved into a new order by users
  • how to use keyboard shortcuts
  • further accessibility features such as how to access your feedback on your assignments (annotations and comments) with a screen reader

About accessible content on Canvas

The majority of content on Canvas has been uploaded or curated by University staff. There are numerous modules containing various types of content and files. As such, the accessibility level may vary between them, although we have tried to make all content accessible including documents. For most documents you should be able to do the following, in the software that opens the files:

  • change colours, contrast levels and fonts on documents
  • zoom in without the text spilling off the screen
  • navigate the content using just a keyboard
  • navigate the content using speech recognition software
  • listen to the content using a screen reader

Whenever internally produced videos are made and uploaded to Canvas, we aim to always do this with captions and a downloadable transcript in place. The transcripts include alternative textual descriptions which are intended to describe images and other visuals contained in the video (if this information is not otherwise conveyed in the transcribed text and/or in an alternative format on the same page).

You can also use the self-service facility, Sensus Access, which is provided by the Library to allow you to create alternative formats. If you need specific academic support and adjustments, do seek advice from our disabilities advisers.

Known issues

We are aware of the following current issues which may impact accessibility and are seeking solutions to them:

  • A very small minority of content may not be navigable with a keyboard (this issue is almost fully resolved at the time of writing)
  • Some resources are only available in PDF format
  • PDFs may not have headers to facilitate navigation, and the formatting of the alternative text may be inconsistent
  • Padlet is used in some modules and there are some known accessibility issues with this at the time of writing (e.g. textual alternatives cannot be added to visuals, users cannot change contrast settings, keyboard navigation may be difficult)
  • Canvas pages may not currently fully adhere to the guidelines on reflow set out by WCAG 2.1. Instructure have told us that they aim to be fully compliant with WCAG 2.1 recommendations at the AA standard by September 2020

What we’re doing to improve accessibility

We are constantly working to improve the accessibility of these resources. Accessibility is considered throughout the process of designing our materials and making them available to you on Canvas. We always aim to work in line with the latest guidance on digital accessibility and use the affordances of technology in order to increase the accessibility of our resources. Additionally:

  • Departments have an on-going plan to improve the accessibility of all their resources.
  • The Library is putting in place a new digitisation workflow to create more accessible materials for reading lists
  • In January 2020, we ran a user research workshop to develop our understanding of how visually impaired users navigate and perceive content in Canvas. The results have had a direct impact on our practice, for example in the way that video transcripts and ‘click and reveal’ activities are formatted.

How to make contact to report accessibility issues

If you have problems using Canvas or its content, your module instructors are the first people to talk to. Your department will typically have a dedicated member of staff for handling accessibility queries - your module instructor should be able to give their contact details as needed. You can further escalate any issues to - the team who support Canvas will then get back to you within 3 working days. The University is currently putting plans in place for you to highlight issues at a higher level.

Enforcement of accessibility regulations

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) is responsible for enforcing the accessibility regulations. If you are not happy with how the University has responded to your notification or request, you can contact the Equality Advisory and Support Service (EASS).

This statement was prepared on August 6th 2019. It was last updated on May 7th 2020.