How do I create an accessible document?

Create an accessible document so anyone, regardless of their abilities, can read it. This includes people who use assistive technology.

Assistive technology (opens new window) is any piece of equipment, product or system that is used to improve the functional capacities of people with disabilities. Keyboards, screen readers, text-to-speech software, and screen magnifiers are commonly used forms of assistive technology.

Review guidelines for creating accessible content in Canvas.

Canvas uses the same Rich Content Editor in most tools where you can enter and format text, add links, and embed media such as images and videos.

When creating content using the Rich Content Editor, it is important that the author follow the simple guidelines below (the POUR principles) so the content can be read and understood by all. Creating well-structured content is a design best practice that helps ensure it will be accessible.

Tip: The Rich Content Editor's Accessibility Checker feature (opens new window) can help you identify common accessibility issues in your content. It will also provide a "quick fix" option for some issues.

The POUR principles

The technical measure of accessibility for a web-based resource is the WCAG 2.0 standard (opens new window). The requirements of WCAG 2.0 are summarized in the four-letter acronym POUR:

  • Perceivable - Information must be presented to people in ways they can perceive. A reader should be able to see or hear text, or touch it with braille. Text alternatives are provided for any non-text content.
  • Operable - User interface components, navigation and structure must be operable. This means that people can interact with tools and page content using a keyboard or other assistive technologies.
  • Understandable - Information and the operation of user interface must be understandable, and structural elements should be used in a meaningful way. For example, a reader should be guided with meaningful page organization and helpful instructions. Definitions should be provided for difficult terms, acronyms or abbreviations.
  • Robust - Content must be robust enough so that it can be interpreted reliably by a wide variety of technologies, such as different computers or devices, internet browsers and assistive technologies. Text can be copied and pasted to other contexts.

These relatively simple considerations make a big difference if applied when content is created. The W3C (opens new window) provides more information in their Introduction to Understanding WCAG 2.0 (opens new window).