Creating an Accessible Syllabus

CSUN Syllabus Policy

To better inform students about the requirements, content, and methodology of the university’s curricula, all faculty teaching classes will distribute a written syllabus to each student in the class and/or post it online no later than the first class meeting. Visit CSUN Syllabus Policy and Course Accessibility Checklist.

Q: Do you have sample language to include Canvas Ally in a syllabus?

Canvas Ally is a university initiative to help make course materials more accessible to all students.  Next to each file in Canvas is a small arrow icon that opens a menu with three options.  The third option is Alternative Formats.  You will be able to download different formats of the file, which may include a PDF, browser (HTML), reader (ePub) or audio (MP3) files.  For more information, please visit www.csun.edu/ally

 Video Presentation in Panopto

 Video presentation in Panopto

 Presentation Slides

Accessibility Presentation


 Video Tutorials

Video Credit: The University of Alabama, Technology Accessibility - Creating Accessible Word Documents (total length 54:42 mins)

Creating Accessible Word Documents Segmented Videos

Creating an Accessible Syllabus Table


Word Document

Adobe Acrobat 

Word Document or save as PDF can provide a universal approach to creating an accessible syllabus.


Canvas Digital Syllabus

  • A Canvas page can be accessible digital syllabus.
  • Canvas Ally is a service that focuses on making digital course content more accessible. It provides guidance to faculty on how to improve the accessibility of their content, and automatically provides students with more accessible alternative formats.
  • Various tools can present information in visual formats i.e. infographic, newsletter, or poster. If a digital tool is used, an accessible version is required. 
  • How do I use Canvas Syllabus as an instructor?
Designing with Accessibility Table
Content TypeDescription


  • Headers provide structure and order to a document and make it easier to understand the document flow.
  • Heading styles give a document structure by category or topic (Heading 1 through 6).
      • Heading 1: Document Title or a major section
      • Heading 2: Major subsection titles
      • Heading 3: Further subsection titles, and so forth
  • Use of headings to ease navigation within a document.
  • Headings allow for a table of contents to be generated automatically.


  • Use Styles Pane for font selection.
  • Use Strong and Emphasis in your Styles Pane menu instead of bold and italic.
  • Avoid underlining text unless it’s a link.
  • Use bullet points to summarize information and numbered lists to show sequential data.


  • Images that provide important, relevant information to your syllabus require a text alternative description.
  • Use alternative text (alt text), a written description of images and/or objects.
  • Be brief and descriptive.
  • “Image of…”or “photo of…” or “graphic of” is not needed.
  • The best method to practice is using captions, this will provide equal access to all users.
  • Images used for decoration do not need alternative text or captions.
  • Best practices for describing images.


  • Select colors with deep contrast.
  • Use Colour Contrast Analyser tool to ensure accessible contrast.
  • Provide captions if using color to convey meaning i.e. which section is highlighted in red?


  • Links should be clear and directly relate to the title or heading of the linked page.
  • For electronic syllabus’, do not use link text such as “click here”, “read more”, “about”, etc. When read out of context, these links do not make sense and do not tell the user where the target link is.
  • Use “Visit the Universal Design Center” instead of “Click here for more details.”
  • Do not use the same link text to refer to different resources.
  • Do not use different link text to refer to the same resources.
  • Link appearance should not be conveyed in color only. Universal design best practice is to use a combination of bold, italics or underline (preferred).
  • For documents meant to be printed, use a URL Generator to shorten links but provide meaningful text around it to let users know where the link is going.



  • Use tables to organize data not format information (e.g. tables for layout).
  • Create table headings.
  • Include table captions or brief description.
  • Avoid complex table, merged, split, or blank cells.



Reading Order

  • Logical reading order: read information from left to right and from top to bottom.
  • If you use the “Table” function to organize your information, do not nest tables
    within a table and make sure to repeat header row information if your table
    extends more than one page.


Accessibility Checker

Word Document

Adobe Acrobat

  • Run a full check on your document in order to see what errors/issues in Acrobat flags. The report help you identify potential issues and provide tips on how to fix them.
  • Accessibility Tool Pane then Full Check.
  • Adobe Acrobat Accessibility Evaluations.

Canvas Digital Syllabus

Canvas Ally

  • Canvas Ally is a service that focuses on making digital course content more accessible. It provides guidance to faculty on how to improve the accessibility of their content, and automatically provides students with more accessible alternative formats.


  Conducting Accessibility Evaluations


"Universal Design" means design for everyone

Make one design that fits everyone including documents, website, media with captioning.

 Accessibility & Universal Design Tutorial (PDF) PDF icon

Designing for Accessibility: Do's and Don'ts (UK Posters)