Accessibility in Canvas - Documents

Last changed: 15 May 2023

Documents that you upload to Canvas must also meet the availability requirements.

Pictures and diagrams in documents

When you add an image to a document (for example, a Word, PDF, or PowerPoint file), this image must have a text option. Programs like Word, PowerPoint and Adobe Acrobat support alternate texts. These texts are then read out to the user with the help of a screen reader.

The exception to this guideline is decorative images. In cases where an image has only a decorative purpose and does not contain information that users are intended to read, no alternative text is required.

If the image is a diagram, the information presented in the image may be difficult to explain in a short alternative text. In these cases, an alternative text can briefly describe the diagram and a longer text, which explains the image in text form, is placed near the image, so that screen reader users can access the same information.

Images with text content in documents, including scanned PDF files

When adding images to a document (such as a Word document, a PDF, or a PowerPoint), you should avoid using images that contain text as part of the image. This text can not be enlarged by users who need larger text, as the pixels in the image can make the text unreadable. Screen readers cannot read this text either. If a plain text can be used to convey the same message, text should be used instead.

An exception to this guideline is if plain text cannot convey the same information and the image is essential to convey this information. Examples of this can be graphs, screenshots and diagrams that convey information through more than just text. This does not apply to logos either.

If an image with text is essential, this image should have a text option that describes the content of the image just like other images.

Format the text in your documents

As with text on the web, text in documents must be formatted correctly. This is important so that people with visual impairment or blindness who use screen readers, or those who use keyboards to move around in the document, will understand the relationship of different pieces of text to each other and in what order they should be read aloud.

How you do this differs depending on the program you are using.

Tables in document

In the same way that text must be formatted correctly, tables must also be formatted correctly so that screen readers can read them correctly. If a table is formatted incorrectly, it may cause screen readers to read information in the wrong order. In these cases, there is a risk that the user may misinterpret information.

Lists in documents

Lists must be formatted correctly for screen readers to perceive them as lists and read them out correctly. When you want to use lists in your documents, you should use the existing list types in the specific program.


If a document contains headings, these headings must be descriptive of what the page, or parts of the page, contain. Good, descriptive titles help users get a quick overview of the page's content and help the user find what they are looking for. The headline does not have to be long as long as it describes the content in a good way.

  • Give the document a descriptive headline
  • If you include subheadings in the document, provide these descriptive titles

Canvas Support

Servicedesk helps you with:

  • Support.
  • Sandbox (a test room where you can try the tools).
  • Create users missing in Canvas and not in Idis.

You reach Servicedesk via extension 6600 or


The Division of Learning and Digitalisation

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