[Athen] Canvas inbox with screen readers

Deborah Armstrong armstrongdeborah at fhda.edu
Thu Jan 10 12:00:08 PST 2019

I'm having trouble with this, so I'm assuming it's going to frustrate our students as well.

In Canvas, the LMS, there's an inbox which lets users have "conversations" sending messages to each other including to the instructor.

When you choose compose a message, you must first select a course. Canvas insists you do this even if you are enrolled in only one.

Once you do that there are fields for the subject, the body and attachments and a send button.

There is also sometimes an auto-complete field for recipients but the screen readers don't seem to always see it and canvas refuses to show it until a course is selected.

What's frustrating about this is even when you do select the course, I believe the screen reader doesn't know that the new field for selecting recipients has appeared. Maybe Canvas has to do something to tell the screen reader that the content has refreshed.

Plus, once you select the course with alt-down arrow, the next press of tab takes you to the subject field. The field for selecting recipients does not appear at all in the tab order. If you manage to find it using a screen reader, you have to up and down arrow to get the autocomplete to work and press Enter which takes you out of the mode that lets you enter the rest of the message - the subject and the body.

Has anyone else had this issue? Or is it something to do with the way Canvas is set up here. I've taken four courses using Canvas and had this issue with each one.

It seems to me that a recipient is more important than a subject or a body, so I wish the ability to enter a recipient were more straightforward. Has anyone tested this with the keyboard and no screen reader, because perhaps it's a screen reader bug and not a Canvas bug.


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