One of Instructure’s core values is openness. We believe that great ideas can come from anywhere and that one of our greatest assets is you—the amazing Canvas community. It is from this belief that the founders of Instructure decided to make Canvas an open source LMS. As we continue to add new capabilities to Canvas, we’re committed to making them available to the open source community. Not only do we work hard to publish the code for Canvas, we also allow anyone to jump into github and make contributions. We review every single pull request that comes in, and numerous community projects have been added into the core product. To everyone who has helped make Canvas what it is today, THANK YOU! To anyone who hasn’t yet contributed, we invite you to dive in and give it a go!
In fact, that’s the core message of this post: we’d like to encourage even more people to make contributions to Canvas, and we’re actively working on ways to make it easier for you to do so. We’re extremely grateful for all the pull requests we receive, and we’d love to have even more. And, as it turns out, we think we might have a good project for new and seasoned contributors alike.
We recently released a new tool to help identify accessibility issues when creating content in Canvas, called the accessibility checker. It runs in the Rich Content Editor (RCE) and detects several of the most common accessibility mistakes that users make when creating content. In addition to alerting the user about any issues, the checker also makes it easy for the user to resolve the concern.
Currently, the tool checks for 11 different accessibility errors. We’re passionate about accessibility, as we know many of you are, and we’re optimistic about the potential that this tool has to raise awareness and education on the importance of accessibility. The accessibility checker has been fully open sourced, and everyone is invited to check it out on github! We’ve added several items to the project, some of which have been identified as good projects for beginners to tackle:
Don’t combine words when merging sequential links
Add “Auto Fix” button for resolving color contrast issues
Check for ordered and unordered list structure
Check that headings have appropriate tags
Check links for descriptive words
Check videos for captions
Besides the items that we’ve added, we’re sure many other great ideas will come from the community. Please feel free to share this project with developers or anyone you know who might be interested in seeing this project move forward. Is your computer science class looking for a worthy project? Maybe this is it.
As we work together, we’re confident that this tool will be a positive driver in making learning content more accessible for everyone.