Navigating Canvas with a Screen Reader

Screen Readers and Browsers

Canvas officially supports the following screen reader and browser combinations:

  • Mac: VoiceOver (latest version for Safari)
  • PC: JAWS (latest version for Internet Explorer 11; we currently do not support the Edge browser for accessibility).
  • PC: NVDA (latest version for Firefox)
  • There is no screen reader support for Canvas in Chrome.

Official browser support means that these browsers are actively tested against Canvas code. Canvas may be able to be used in any other browser or screen reader not listed, but official support is not provided. Learn more about supported Canvas browsers.

Canvas Navigation with a Screen Reader

Canvas makes extensive use of ARIA landmark regions. Accessible Rich Internet Applications (ARIA) defines ways to make web content and web applications more accessible to people with disabilities. Therefore, the best way to get around in Canvas is to navigate via regions. Within regions, Canvas uses HTML headings, so navigating between headings can be helpful.

When using a screen reader, the Canvas page navigation menu is as follows:

  1. Main navigation
  2. Context navigation
  3. Breadcrumbs navigation
  4. Main region
  5. Complimentary information
  6. Content information

Canvas-wide Accessibility Components

Canvas contains several unifying accessibility features that can be found on various pages in Canvas.

Moving Content within Canvas

Wherever drag and drop is used to reorder components, the Move-to option is also available and allows both screen readers and keyboard users to move Canvas content. The Move-to option is available in the following features:

  • Course Navigation
  • Modules
  • Discussions
  • Assignments
  • Outcomes
  • Quizzes

Keyboard Shortcuts

By pressing the comma key, users can view a pop-up window with shortcuts for keyboard navigation. Keyboard shortcuts are available on the following Canvas pages:

Download the Canvas Keyboard Shortcut PDF.

Accessibility within Specific Canvas Features

Several areas within Canvas have been specifically improved for accessibility. Other features may be limited at this time. This section highlights several feature areas and accessibility behaviors.

Font Sizing

The Canvas interface uses rem sizing for fonts so any typography will meet the following: it will zoom when the browser is zoomed, and it will scale if a custom browser-sized font is chosen or set from a browser's setting. 

Rich Content Editor

The Rich Content Editor supports multiple accessibility features for easy creation of accessible content:


The Calendar supports Agenda View, which lists all assignments and events in a list or agenda format. Learn how to access the Calendar Agenda View.


Quizzes allows instructors to moderate a quiz for individuals requiring more time or who need multiple attempts. Learn how to grant extra time or attempts in a quiz.


Both the default (assignment) Gradebook and the Learning Mastery Gradebook support an individual view, where instructors can view assignments and grades for one student at a time. Learn more about individual view in the Gradebook and Learning Mastery Gradebook.

User Settings

The User Settings page hosts two feature options to enhance accessibility. Learn how to change user settings.

  • High Contrast UI: When enabled, this feature offers higher contrast in buttons, tabs and other areas throughout Canvas.
  • Underline Links: When enabled, this feature underlines hyperlinks in navigation menus, the Dashboard and page sidebars.

Chat tool

The Chat Tool has an option to enable audio notifications when new messages are posted.


Students can now access annotations and comments with a screen reader, including information about the annotation type, author name, comment, and any reply comments at the end of the document. 

Modified on: Tue, Mar 15, 2022 at 8:26 AM

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