What is Universal Design?
Put simply, universal design is the practice of making things that nearly anyone can use. Universal-design practitioners take into account persons with differing abilities when making things. While physical objects can be made with universal-design principles, the same can be done for web content like what one finds in a Canvas site.
Universal-Design Canvas Customizations
As a highly customizable platform, Canvas lends itself well to universal design. It is possible for teachers to set up their Canvas sites using universal-design concepts.
Universal Design Tip: Use Headers on Canvas Pages
Purpose of Headers
Headers <h1, h1, . . . h6> convey meaning to screen readers for persons who are visually disabled. Headers also affect text size, as in:
What’s tricky about headers is that although you can increase or decrease text size using them, they aren’t meant to be used for formatting. In fact, headers were originally created to establish information hierarchy in a document or web page. Screen readers use headers in exactly this way–to identify discrete parts of text and to generate a table-of-contents used to order its reading.
When used improperly for formatting (e.g., to increase font size), headers can confusing screen readers, cause them to disorganize or skip over parts of text, making a document or web page inaccessible.
Best Practices for Usable Headers
According to the Accessibility and Usability at Penn State website, headers are the most useable for screen readers for organizing information as follows:
- Header 1 <h1>: Document or webpage title
- Header 2 <h2>: Major sections or headings in a document or webpage
- Header 3 <h3>: Sub-sections or sub-headings in a document or webpage
- Paragraph <p>: Standard text usually constituting the bulk of content in a document or on a webpage.
Example (Please click on image to enlarge):
How to Use Headers in the Rich Content Editor
You can select the header anywhere the Rich Content Editor appears in Canvas by selecting one from the “Paragraph” drop-down menu*.
Example Page in Canvas (Click to Enlarge)
Please contact Courseware Support at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions about using headers on in Canvas or if we can assist with anything else.