How can I use my learning management system to make my course more accessible to everyone?

Steps to making an online course accessible include

  • Structuring content using headings,
  • Creating alt text for images,
  • Create meaningful hyperlinks,
  • Created structured lists,
  • Include table headers,
  • Captioning and audio-describing videos,
  • Uploading accessibly-formatted content, and
  • Using accessibility checkers to find barriers to accessibility.

Options in Canvas, Blackboard, Moodle, and other learning management systems (LMSs) for making courses are described below.

Heading Structure (e.g., H1, H2, …) 

  • This feature is made available by the rich-text editor on the content creator toolbar in your LMS to indicate the levels of all headings. Taking this step makes it possible for screen readers to share the semantic structure to a blind user who wishes to skim through the content to understand how it is organized.

Alt Text

  • A screen reader can’t interpret an image, but it can announce alternative text, or alt text, that a creator has provided for the image. 
  • Alt text should be limited to 120 characters and describe content presented within the image. Decorative images should be marked as such. Within your LMS, you can use the rich-text editor for each page of content to select an image and provide alt text.

Smart Links

  • Include text that is meaningful for hyperlinks as screen readers allow a person who is blind to skim through a page and hear where the hyperlinks link to. 
  • For all users, it is helpful to know where the link will take them without having to select the link.
  • Avoid using link text such as “click here” as this is vague and can become redundant.

Listing Tools

  • When authoring lists, using the correct tool in the rich-text editor to create structured bulleted or numerical lists will ensure lists are announced accurately by screen readers, with the number of items announced in the list.

Table Editing Tools

  • There are also special ways a table can be marked up to make it accessible to screen reader users. When including a table, be sure to use the table editing tools to identify the table header, this establishes a meaningful relationship between the heading cells and the data cells and will allow the screen reader to accurately announce the content.


  • Captions in video presentations provide textual information for those who cannot access audio due to a disability, a noisy or noiseless environment, or other reasons. 
  • YouTube and other video platforms often provide automatically generated captions, but these usually need to be edited to make them accurate. 

Accessibility checkers in LMSs can identify some accessibility issues with attached documents used in a course; these include files formatted as PDFs, Microsoft Word, and PowerPoint documents.  Although an accessibility checker may identify a lack of heading structure, missing alt text, and other inaccessible formatting, most accessibility issues need to be addressed by a human editor.

For more information about IT accessibility, consult the UW Accessibility website.