Why Make Canvas and Websites Accessible?

We rely on websites to check the news and weather forecast, it’s how we find events to attend, and how we connect with family and friends. We intentionally want to make sure our websites  are accessible.

Specifically, all MSU Denver students need to be able to access course material on Canvas, regardless of ability. This means that faculty must ensure their Canvas courses are structured and accessible.

Luckily, the web also provides tools to help us make websites accessible to a wider audience. Explore these resources under How-To Guides.

Did you know? As of March 2022, Auraria Library has 10,906 printed resources and 121,403,106 online.

Making Canvas and Websites Accessible: What Doesn't Work

The following list consists of the most common issues that make web and social media content inaccessible and quick steps on how to avoid them:

  • Providing non-text materials without a text alternative; images, video, audio, and other non-text content are inaccessible without a text alternative
    • Instead: provide text descriptions, captions, transcripts, or other text alongside the non-text material
  • Providing directions that rely on sensory characteristics; phrases like “to the right” or “the blue circle” have little or no value for students using screen readers
    • Instead: use the specific name of an element and its location in comparison to other elements
  • Using images of text (exception: logo types); including text as an image creates an unnecessary layer of inaccessibility
    • Instead: remove the image and replace it with text
  • Using color or underline as the only means of conveying meaning or importance; visual indicators are inaccessible to many readers
    • Instead: use programmatically determinable styles and labels to support visual indicators.
  • Using idioms, colloquialisms, or jargon outside of topic specific terminology; language that is unclear, vague, or irrelevant can create a barrier for many readers.
    • Instead: use clear and precise language appropriate for the anticipated knowledge level of the reader.
    • Idioms and colloquialisms for stylistic purposes should be defined for clarity.
  • Displaying links as full URLs, ambiguous words, or repetitive phrases; using language such as “click here” makes links difficult to identify for all readers, and full URLs are difficult to for almost everyone to read.
    • Instead: use short phrases that indicate the purpose or destination of the link
    • Exception: Physical documents need full URLs; the purpose of the URL should be indicated within the context, and some URLs may need to be shortened for full accessibility.

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Did you know? There are around 3,000 pages on the MSU Denver website alone.

Dig Deeper with these Additional Resources

MSU Denver Resources

External Resources

  • WebAIM (Web Accessibility In Mind) has been providing web accessibility tools since 1999.  They are one of the leading providers of web accessibility expertise internationally.
  • WCAG 2 (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) have been developed in cooperation with individuals and organizations around the world, with the goal of providing a single shared standard for web content accessibility that meets the needs of individuals, organizations, and governments internationally.

Connect with the Instructional Accessibility Group

Improve your instructional accessibility through the IAG live trainings, access checks for individual materials, or course reviews.

Email the Instructional Accessibility Group