Utah Tech University


Universal design for learning and digital inclusion addresses a broad range of issues that are focused on making content accessible to all people. Every online course offered at Utah Tech University is expected to meet the accessibility requirements as described in the most current standard of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). Adhering to these guidelines ensures that Utah Tech students with disabilities can access the content in online courses. Some of the guidelines are met by the Canvas platform, but many depend on you.

In accordance with university policy and state and federal laws, Utah Tech Online is committed to ensuring barrier-free access to online learning and Utah Tech’s learning management system. The university’s Disability Resource Center (DRC) provides further information on how to build an accessible course, and Ally—a resource embedded in Canvas—can help you identify accessibility-related issues in course materials and offers instruction on how to address them.

Accessibility Checklist

Though not comprehensive of the WCAG, below is a prioritized checklist to help you with the most common accessibility issues that you can fix in any online courses you teach.

Include closed captions for videos and text transcriptions for any audio content.

For learners who are hearing-impaired, it is important to include captions for videos used in the course. Using captioning or text transcripts allows hearing impaired individuals to access the content in the video. Captions and text transcripts are also important because they allow for your students to view videos in sound-sensitive environments.

To add captions to a video:

  • If using a YouTube video that doesn’t have captions, obtain a link to the video
  • Go to ‘My Media’ in Canvas
  • Select ‘Add New’
  • Then select the appropriate video type
  • Paste in the Link and add
  • Then click on the video from the starting page in My Media
  • Next select ‘Actions’ on the bottom right of the page
  • From there you will select ‘Caption and Enrich’
  • Finally click on the submit button
  • The captions will be generated

To add text transcripts with audio recordings:

  • Upload the document that you are reading to ‘Files’
  • Then put a link to that document under the audio recording

Basic captioning functionality is also available within Kaltura in Canvas (see instructions above).

Ensure images have appropriate text alternatives.

Alternative text (“alt text”) provides a description of an image for students who might have trouble seeing, and is read by a screen reader. Images that are being used to teach material—for example charts, graphs, or infographics, etc.—should have alternative text that sufficiently describes the content.

To add alternative text to an image in Canvas:

  • Go to the image in Files
  • On the right side of the screen there will be a meter icon, click on the icon
  • Once clicked, a text box will appear, write a description of the image
  • Hit ‘Add’ button
  • The meter icon will change from red to green!

Convert or remove any images displaying text, including scanned PDF files.

Images of text are used for decoration only or where a particular presentation of text is essential to the information being conveyed. Logotypes (text that is part of a logo or brand name) are considered essential.

If you have a scanned PDF, you can use the Ally tool in Canvas to convert it to text using Optical Character Recognition (OCR).

To convert a PDF into a readable format:

  • Go to Files in Canvas
  • Click on the three dots on the right side of file
  • Select ‘Alternative Formats’
  • Then select ‘OCRed PDF’ and download
  • Then re-upload the file

Clearly communicate the destination or purpose of hyperlinks within the linked text.

Links can be very useful in courses, linking to other resources that can lead to further learning. However, if a link is simply the URL of the website and does not convey its purpose to users, users may avoid clicking on it. In addition, a link embedded in text without context can also present problems (“Click here”)

To make a link that communicates its purpose to users, simply describe or name the page that is being linked to, i.e: “Visit the NASA site to learn more about the International Space Station.”

To modify a hyperlink:

  • To edit the link text, click on the link, the click the “Link Options” option that pops up above the link
  • Edit the “Text” segment to change the text of the link.

Nest all content headings in proper hierarchy, and structure course content to be clear and easily navigated.

In a webpage, headings are used by a screen-reader to understand the the proper order in which to read the page. Without proper heading hierarchy, a screen reader may read paragraphs out of order, and cause information to not be conveyed properly.

To add a new heading and/or section to the page you are editing:

  • Click on the “Blocks” drop down menu
  • Click on the heading level you want to insert. Be sure to never put a high level heading under a low level heading within one page. The order should begin at Heading 1 and move to Heading 2, Heading 3, and Heading 4.

Clarify any unknown words, jargon, abbreviations, and pronunciations.

Enter any hospital, research laboratory, or auto mechanic and you will quickly become overwhelmed with the vocabulary and abbreviations used on a daily basis. Many acronyms are straightforward and common knowledge, like FBI or ASAP, but there is a plethora more that have no meaning to the average reader. It is important to be cognizant of any technical jargon or high reading-level materials provided to students. All text should be discernible and able to be absorbed by the average college student.

  • Any time an acronym or abbreviation is used, it should be first spelled out completely and the abbreviation can be placed in parentheses to notify the reader of future usage.
  • Are any words or names difficult to pronounce? Consider spelling out the pronunciation or linking to an audio recording of the word being correctly pronounced so the reader can ‘hear’ it in their mind.
  • Did you use any technical vocabulary or words students may not have heard before? Consider using the word and a more simply synonym in the same sentence or used interchangeably so the reader can incorporate the new word into their understanding.
  • Most of all, if a passage can be written more succinctly and precisely, it should be!

Summarize information contained in graphs or charts in the narrative body of the page.

Complex images like graphs, charts, diagrams, illustrations, or maps can be difficult to understand, particularly for people with learning disabilities or low vision. Information conveyed in a complex image should be included in the text of the page. For example, a reference such as “The following graph shows that visitors were lost in the first quarter, but the numbers recovered in the second quarter” helps to point out any relevant information that the image presents. You may also considering simplifying any images to reduce complexity and making them easier to understand for everyone.

Appropriately tag all PDFs, slideshows, documents, or other files.

Tagging a document refers to the process of establishing a reading order for a document-reader. If tagging is not done, document-readers may read the document out of order and cause confusion for students that need a document-reader.

If you have an untagged document, you can tag it using Microsoft Word.

To tag a document and convert to PDF in Microsoft Word (Windows):

  • Open the document in Microsoft Word
  • Click on File > “Save As…” and select PDF from the choices provided
  • When saving, select Options and be sure that the “Document Structure Tags for Accessibility” box is checked

To tag a document and convert to PDF in Microsoft Word (Mac):

  • Open the Document in Microsoft Word
  • Go to File > “Save As…” and select pdf from the drop-down menu
  • When saving, be sure the “Best for electronic distribution and accessibility” button is selected

Ensure that color alone is not used to convey meaning, and that written text color contrast meets Level AA contrast ratios.

Have you ever seen a Powerpoint presentation with a white background and yellow text? It’s near impossible to discern the words on the page. Canvas and Design Tools are able to recognize if the text color on a page is difficult to read against the color of its background. This is called color contrast. If there is not enough contrast between the background and the text on a page, or if the text is not very large, Design Tools will warn you that it does not meet this standard.

  • Select the text you want to check. In Design Tools, open the ‘Customize the Style’ tab and then select ‘Current Element Style’.
  • Open the dropdown menu “Colors – Advanced’ and click on the second box from the left, with the underlined capital “A”.
  • Towards the bottom of the menu, you will see small boxes with capital AAA in them, and will have either a green or a red background. Green means the text passes and is acceptable, and red will say “Fail”.
  • Adjust the size of the text and the color of the text to contrast against whatever color the background is. Once there is sufficient contrast, those red boxes will turn green!

Include clear instructions for user input on quiz questions.

Canvas quizzes can receive many distinct forms of answers: simple text entry, multiple-choice, or even a file upload. If a quiz question requires that certain text be entered as the solution, it should be clear what form of text (text, numbers, symbols, etc) is required in order to receive credit.

  • Even if using multiple-choice questions, ensure that the question is worded clearly and does not leave room for guessing. Also, if the question is looking for the best answer, be sure to let the students know that they’re looking for the most correct solution.
  • If you decide to have multiple answers be correct, ensure it is understood if only one solution is required or if there is the possibility of multiple answers being correct.
  • If one of the quiz questions requires a file upload of some sort, it is advisable the students are notified before they begin the quiz so that they are prepared with the supplies or programs needed to create the solution.


Additional Questions?

Talk with Marc

Display image of Marc Lundstrom

Marc Lundstrom

Executive Director

Email: marc.lundstrom@utahtech.edu
Phone: 435-879-4669
Office: INNOV 189