Seven ways for instructors to increase the accessibility of their courses
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Yale’s accessibility policy and course materials
See the Poorvu Center for Teaching and Learning event series, “Thinking about Accessibility,” for upcoming events, workshops and support hours.
While the core components of the Canvas platform are accessible to all students, the content that you add to a Canvas site may pose some accessibility and usability challenges, especially for students who rely on assistive technology. The resources linked below highlight some simple things you can do to make your Canvas sites as accessible as possible.
- General Accessibility Guidelines for Canvas
- Instructor’s Guidelines for Ally in Canvas
- Self-paced tutorial: “Designing an Accessible Canvas Course”
- Brief instructional video: “Adding a link to a library reference in Canvas to make files more accessible”
Including a welcoming statement on your course syllabus will encourage those students who encounter accessibility challenges to contact you and to seek help from Student Accessibility Services. The best syllabus statements are friendly, supportive and personal messages to your students, and don’t read like boilerplate policy statements.
- Center for Teaching and Learning guide on syllabus statements
- Anne-Marie Womack, “Teaching Is Accommodation: Universally Designing Composition Classrooms and Syllabi,” College Composition and Communication 68 (3), February 2017, 494-525
- “Teaching Students with Disabilities,” from Yale’s Student Accessibility Services
- Universal Design for Learning resources
- Yale’s Student Accessibility Services guide on responding to accommodation requests
Media such as online video and audio may pose special challenges to students with disabilities. Whenever possible, share media with closed captions and transcripts.
- Video captioning in Panopto
- Video captioning using Rev, 3Play, or YouTube
- Information on audio transcripts
Having access to digital versions of course readings can make a world of difference to students who learn most effectively through listening to texts, such as students with visual disabilities (including those with concussions or migraines), some motor disabilities, and learning disabilities like dyslexia. Students with low vision, for example, can easily increase the font size of a digital text, which is not the case with a printed text. Digital texts may also provide significant value to students who are learning English.
- When selecting your texts, seek out books that are available online or in accessible e-book format
- Digital articles in the Library’s Orbis system typically meet some accessibility standards, and are recommended over creating your own scans from paper copies
- Video tutorial, Adding a Library Link to Canvas files via Ally
- Use Ally in Canvas to create more accessible versions of your course files
- Learn how to create more accessible Word documents, PPT presentations, and web pages
- Workshop handout, “Easy Ways to Make Word Docs & PDFs More Accessible” (PDF)
- Checklists for Microsoft Office Accessibility
- Video tutorial, “Document Accessibility: Introduction and Word Documents”
- Video tutorial, “Document Accessibility: PowerPoints”
- Video tutorial, “Adding Headers to Documents Using Adobe Acrobat Pro DC”
- If you require students to use an online learning environment as part of course activities, it’s a good idea to perform a basic accessibility audit to anticipate challenges some students may face in that environment. We recommend that you schedule a consultation to discuss any external platforms used in your courses.
- Plan alternative learning paths when using non-accessible technologies. Students cannot be excluded from full participation in required course activities, so if you choose to adopt technologies that cannot accommodate the needs of students with disabilities, you will need to work with the Resource Office on Disabilities to provide these students with appropriate alternatives for engaging with the activity.