Canvas is a learning management system (LMS) developed by Instructure. Like most LMSs, Instructure has actively worked to ensure Canvas is accessible to users with disabilities (for details, see the Canvas Accessibility page. However, even if an LMS is fully accessible, an instructor can offer an inaccessible course by creating inaccessible pages or uploading inaccessible content.
Fortunately, there are tools that can be used by instructors and course designers to check for accessibility issues within their LMS courses, including Canvas courses.
For example, Canvas includes a built-in Accessibility Checker, available as one of the tools on its Rich Content Editor. This tool checks content that's created using the editor for issues such as color contrast, image alt text, proper heading structure, and proper table markup.
Another tool, Universal Design Online Content Inspection Tool (UDOIT) - pronounced, “You Do It”, also checks for common accessibility issues in your Canvas course content. It will scan a course, generate a report, and provide resources on how to address those issues.
In contrast to the above tools, Blackboard Ally can be used in any LMS, not just Canvas, and has a variety of features that are designed to help organizations improve the accessibility of materials that are uploaded into courses. It does so using three broad feature sets:
- It automatically creates alternative accessible formats. These aren't perfect, but depending on the quality, structure, and format of the original materials, they can offer a higher level of accessibility immediately, without the student waiting for disability services offices to manually convert materials.
- It provides feedback to instructors. Instructors receive a score based on the accessibility of the materials they've uploaded, and are offered guidance on how to improve the accessibility of their materials and improve their score.
- It provides institutional reporting, which can be help administrators to identify specific problem areas and focus their accessibility outreach and training efforts.