Skip to Main Content

Accessible Library Instruction

General and Web Resources

  • Use heading attributes (H1, H2, etc). Most assistive technologies like screen readers can give a list of headers and allow users to skip immediately to a section.
  • Do not use heading attributes for purely visual effects such as to create bold text. Similarly, do not use purely visual indicators to indicate structure.
  • Properly nest headings. Do not skip heading levels (ex. Do not use H3 directly after H1. You may return to higher heading numbers as makes logical sense, for example, returning from H3 to H1 without passing through H2).
  • Use the ALT HTML element to add alternative text to images. See alt text tips for more information.
  • Use a consistent navigational design.
  • When directing to other websites, ensure they meet accessibility standards. Use a tool like WAVE.
  • Use table header HTML element (TH) for rows and columns of structured tables. This allows screen readers to identify the intersection of row and column at which a data point occurs.
  • When linking, make the link a description of the link destination rather than a vague term like click here. Screen readers can scan and read links, but this feature isn’t useful if the link text doesn’t provide context.
  • Minimize unnecessary scrolling.
  • If adding interactive content, ensure that both mouse and keyboard navigation is possible (device independence). Use the tab key to see the order in which elements are highlighted in keyboard navigation.
  • Consider how screen size affects content when displayed on different devices. For example, using shorter sentences and paragraphs makes text more manageable on mobile devices.
  • If using javascript elements, either use both mouse (e.g. onclick) and keyboard (e.g. onkeydown) event handlers, or use device independent handlers (e.g. onchange).
  • When using buttons, use CSS elements :hover and :focus together to ensure that the same change occurs when it is highlighted by mouse and keyboard.
  • Use the HTML label element to label form elements like radio boxes and checkboxes. Text near the element is insufficient because display changes may dissociate the text from the form element. 
  • Use fieldset to group related form elements.
  • Use HTML element lang to identify language. Use this element whenever language changes. This ensures screen readers pronounce the text with the correct accent.


  • Alt text can be added using the image options, which are accessed by clicking the image. The default alt text is the image file name.
  • Check the "decorative image" box in image options if the image doesn't convey information.
  • Use Heading Attributes to structure content. See Websites for tips on how to use headings and Planning Your Lesson for tips on developing a structure.
  • Make sure all uploaded documents are accessible
  • Canvas is compatible with the screen readers Voiceover (Safari), JAWS (Firefox), and NVDA (Firefox). Other screen readers may be used, but haven't been tested against Canvas code and official support is not available
  • Canvas has a built-in accessibility checker. To use, go to the rich text editor, and click the accessibility checker icon on the right of the toolbar at the top (this looks like a stick person in a circle).
  • Canvas has a captioning tool that allows you to upload or create subtitle files for uploaded videos. 
  • Headings for rows and columns of tables can be changed in the rich content editor and the HTML editor.
  • Use tables to display data, not to change the layout of text.
  • User settings allows two accessibility features: high contrast UI and underline links.
  • UDOIT is an accessibility checker recommended by Canvas
  • It may be difficult to submit media comments in assignments for users of assistive technology. It is best to allow users to upload their own content for assignments.
  • The default calendar view is not accessible. The agenda view is more compatible with assistive technology
  • The collaborations tool has varied accessibility depending on the chosen tool. More traditional means of collaboration are recommended.
  • Students with disabilities may require extra quiz-taking time. Consider not setting a time limit.
  • Consider turning off threaded replies in discussion as long chains can be difficult to navigate with assistive technology.
  • The What-If feature in grades cannot be navigated without a mouse.


  • Use alt text for all images. Alt text is added in the alt field of the insert/ edit image screen.
  • Heading structure: Page title is heading 1, box titles are heading 2. Within boxes, you may use heading 3 and 4 to structure content by using the style drop-down menu. Follow best practices for using headings.
  • Consider sticking to default font and text colour. If changing font and colour, make sure to use an accessible font and text colour that contrasts with the background.
  • Make sure all uploaded media and documents are accessible. See the Learning Materials tab for accessibility requirements.
  • Use accessible linking best practices. When copying a link from another source, use the remove formatting option to ensure the link works.
  • Ensure page/ tab titles are descriptive of content
  • Don't use too many boxes on one page. If a page has many boxes, consider splitting the content across pages.
  • All tabs should fit in one row.


  • mpeg4 videos are compatible with accessible media players. 
  • Accessibility of uploaded videos depends on platform. Consider distributing mpeg4 files directly as a backup.
  • The web based player is inaccessible and is not usable by keyboard navigation.
  • You can manually add captions or add them by uploading and srt file.
  • The quiz feature of Camtasia is inaccessible. Consider using another platform to create quizzes related to the content.


  • Kaltura has accessible controls which are colourblind compliant, high contrast, and allow keyboard navigation. It also supports screen readers
  • Kaltura supports captioning. Ensure videos have captions. Upload captions by clicking edit next to a video, selecting captions tab, and uploading a captions file. Then select the correct language of the caption and label them (e.g. "captions")
  • In-video quizzes are not accessible and should not be used.
  • The toggle contrast button in the upper right corner turns on high contrast mode
  • Testing found that sometimes screen readers are unable to access submenus of dropdown menus. Users had to exit the screen reader, use keyboard navigation to access menu, and restart screen reader.

Further Information