Making Canvas images more accessible: The benefits of alt text

Making Canvas Images More Accessible: The Benefits of ALT Text

Increase the accessibility of your Canvas content by adding ALT Text (alternative text) to images to support learners who are blind or visually impaired. Learners who use screen readers to read course content may be unable to utilize images unless there is a description of the image that could be read aloud. Additionally, if an image is unable to load due to a search engine glitch or a learner’s internet capability, its alt text that would appear giving meaning to the image and benefiting all learners who are viewing the content (MOZ, n.d.). 

Difficulty: 2/5





Core Competency Connection

Sketch of a buffalo on a purple gradient background.
Sketch of a beaver on a brown gradient background


  • Canvas Guide: How do I manage alt text and display options for images embedded in the New Rich Content Editor as an instructor? 
  • Canvas Accessibility Checker tool enabled 



The Process

1. ALT in Canvas Guide

In the Canvas Guidesearch for the article, “How do I manage alt text and display options for images embedded in the New Rich Content Editor as an instructor?” Follow the steps for adding alt text to embedded images as outlined in the guide. Essentially, insert your chosen image into the Rich Content Editor; click on the image to highlight it; click on the “Options” link at the top; enter the description of the image in the ALT text field in the Image Options menu that appears. 

alttext canvas

Canvas Guides: ALT in Canvas Guide

2. Find Your Purpose

Determine the purpose and function of the image. For learners who may be visually impaired, the image itself may not have relevance, but how you describe it or describe its function gives meaning to why the image is there (WebAIM2019).

3. Be Specific

Be specific in your description of the image. Help learners visualize what the image would look like. Your description could be one or two words, or up to a sentence. The length of the description will depend on the purpose and function of the image. (MOZ, n.d.). 

4. Say it Once

Step: Avoid redundancy. The description of the image should not be the same information as the surrounding text. The images you choose should reflect and/or be supplemental to the material learners are studying (WebAIM, 2019). 

5. Keep it Visual

Avoid the use of text as an image (i.e., word cloud). If you must use text as an image, make sure to describe why such an image is relevant to the context of the learning material (MOZ, n.d.). In Canvas, you can choose to label the image as decorative, indicating to screen readers that the image does not have any purpose or function other than being ornamental. 

6. Don’t Be Captain Obvious 

Don’t use “image of” or “picture of” in the description. The learner is already aware that the alt text is describing an image (MOZ, n.d.; WebAIM, 2019). For a deeper example, take a look at these instructions:

Tips & Tricks

Insert Alt text as you enter images into your content. This is much less time consuming than having to enter a description for many images after the fact. 


MOZ. (n.d.). Alt text. 

WebAIM: Web Accessibility in Mind. (2019, October 14). Alternative text. 

CTLI Staff

Share this

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.