Atomic Assessment Accessibility and Usability Information

This document outlines current accessibility barriers in Atomic Assessment quizzes.

UW–Madison is working with Learnosity and Atomic Jolt to identify and resolve the following known accessibility barriers to support university students, faculty, and staff in using this tool. The following accessibility and usability barriers may impact student learning success. Faculty and instructional staff creating assessments can use this guidance to avoid using inaccessible questions types or learn the best way to make some question types more accessible for their students.


How to Get Help


  • Students can contact the DoIT Help Desk to report additional accessibility and usability barriers, or for general assistance for using Atomic Assessments. Reach the Help Desk by phone at 608.264.4357, email at or visit their KnowledgeBase.
  • Students may discover they need further educational support in navigating course content and may need to seek assistance or accommodation with the professor or with the McBurney Disability Resource Center.

Faculty and Staff

  • Faculty and staff can contact the DoIT Help Desk to report additional accessibility and usability barriers, or for general assistance for using Atomic Assessments. Reach the Help Desk by phone at 608.264.4357, email at or visit their KnowledgeBase.
  • Instructors can find Learning Design faculty engagement opportunities that allow participants to be a part of a community of people working to improve course design for student success.
  • Students may discover they need further educational support in navigating course content. Instructors can include a note in the instructions of each assessment as well as in the syllabus to inform students that if they are experiencing difficulty and need to seek assistance or accommodation, they can seek support with their professor and with the McBurney Disability Resource Center. See the McBurney Disability Resource Center syllabus language examples for helpful syllabus language for use by instructors.
  • Faculty can evaluate their course content for accessibility to be sure that students with disabilities can navigate and use it. For assistance evaluating course content for accessibility, contact to request an appointment with an Accessibility Consultant.

Barriers Discovered Through Student Experience

Unclear separation between questions can confuse students

When an assessment has several questions per item, questions do not have a dividing heading so they visually run together. With pagination of each question, students with visual disabilities and cognitive impairments may have less may difficulty distinguishing one question from another. Paginating each question also helps users accurately identify how many questions are in an assessment. This impacts the user's ability to understand the progress made through the questions which can be confusing for students if multiple questions exist per page.Instructors may paginate each question by only including one question per item which will allow Atomic Assessments to default to one question per page. This is particularly different when there are many image-heavy question types.

Missing alt text in images can make questions inaccessible

There is no mechanism in place to remind instructors to enter alternative text for images in Atomic Assessments. As a result, instructors must remember to include alt text in the image when creating questions with images, graphics, or charts in it. Make sure the alternative text has enough information for the student to answer the question. Students with blindness or low vision may not be able to answer the question if alternative text or enough information in the alternative text and question is missing. If alternative text can't be included in an assessment, an alternative assessment format may need to be created for some users with visual disabilities. (Question type examples: Cloze Chemistry with Images, Images with Classification, Label image (Dropdown Fill in the Blank), Label image with Drag and Drop, Label Image with Text)

Accessible labels missing on some question types

Students using a screen reader will not be able to hear the accurate label for the input fields using a screen reader unless the instructor includes the ARIA label for the input field for the following question types. This will allow students who are blind or have low vision to differentiate which input field corresponds with which label. (Question types impacted: Text Cloze question, Label Image with Drag & Drop, Label Image with Drop Down and Label Image with Text.

For Label Image with Drag & Drop, Label Image with Drop Down and Label Image with Text, the user can edit the ARIA label for the input fields by checking the "Edit ARIA labels" box under a question's settings. The input labels are numerically identified so that the user can find the input field in the image corresponding to each label.

Add ARIA Label to Label Image Question Types

For Text Cloze questions, the user can add ARIA label for the input fields by clicking on "Source" when editing the question statement where the input fields are located.

Add ARIA label to text cloze questions

Then, the user can add a <span></span> tag around the input field where the ARIA label should be added. The label text should be entered as a "aria-label" attribute inside the <span></span> tag as shown below.

Add ARIA label to Text Cloze question

Question type-specific accessibility & usability barriers

Drag and Drop Classification Questions

See Drag and Drop Classification Questions for more information

Question Input Field has No Accessible Label

When selecting an answer to drag and drop on the Classification question type, students with blindness or low vision can select the drag and drop options but will not be able to navigate into the accurate input field for the appropriate question label because the way the input field is coded is missing the label for that field. The user will be able to read the labels, but won't know which input field belongs to which label as a result of this accessibility barrier. Instructors may avoid using this question type of students who have blindness or low vision.

Question Input Field is Partially Keyboard Inaccessible

Students who navigate using a keyboard for various reasons including but not limited to blindness, low vision, motor impairment, on the Classification question type, will not be able to reach the question input fields for drag and drop classification questions if they are keyboard reading order (Cntrl+Opt/Alt+ Arrows) navigating. Tabbing to the input field (using the Tab key) does function accurately when a drag and drop option is already selected, however (as mentioned in the accessibility barrier above) the label is inaccessible making it impossible for the user to identify which input belongs to which label.

Shading highlight question

See Shading Highlight Question for more information

Chrome Screen Reader bug

Shading the blocks in the grid while running a Screen Reader causes Canvas to crash in Chrome. Instructors creating assessments for students should consider testing their assessments with browsers and screen readers before using them in their courses. This question type may not be compatible with common screen readers, for example JAWS, VoiceOver, NVDA, or Narrator.

Highlight Image Question

See Highlight Image Question for more information

Non-Interactive Image is Not Accessible for Users with Visual Disabilities

Blind users will not be able to use this question type to draw and highlight because the image is not interactive but instead a flat image file. There is no audio indicating that an area was highlighted. However, the question type is keyboard accessible for users who navigate via keyboard but do not have a visual disability. Alternative assessment formats may be needed to support users with visual impairments.

Hotspot question

See hotspot question for more information

Regions for Hotspots are Unclear

Image regions are reading as response area uncheck checkbox. No contextual label exists for students with visual disabilities to read via screen reader to answer this question content. Instructors should avoid using this question type or plan for alternative assessment formats for students with visual disabilities.

Question Types that are Being Redesigned for Accessibility by Learnosity

The following is a list of question types as well as a list of the accessibility barriers identified by Learnosity in July 2019 that are being redesigned for accessibility.

Sort List Drag and Drop Question

Students navigating via keyboard may have difficulty selecting an answer, and moving that answer into the input field due to keyboard inaccessibility and inaccessible or unusable labeling.

Essay with Rich Text Question

Students who are blind or low vision and are using a screen reader may have difficulty using the essay question input field with rich text capability. If they select text styling, there is no auditory indication through the screen reader that the style changed. While Learnosity works to refactor the design of their essay input, students with disabilities may have an easier time using the Plain Text essay input or avoid using stylings.

Charts, Graphing, Math, and Chemistry Questions

Students who are blind or low vision may experience difficulty using these question types as a result of the lack of screen reader audio indications of dots added to charts and graphs, lack of audio indication of the existence of an axis, broken keyboard navigation, illogical reading order, and lack of accessible labels. Instructors may avoid using these question types or creating alternative formats for their assessment to be accessible to students with visual disabilities. (Question types impacted: Graphing, Bar, Line Chart, Histogram, 1st Quadrant, Dot, Number Line, formula, chemistry, fill shapes, and gridded questions)

Faculty user experience barriers

The following barriers identified in the faculty user experience may impact instructional access to functions or content within Atomic Assessments.

Disruptive Barriers

  • Table information button barrier - Many tables in the faculty experience has a more information button that may be difficult for instructors with disabilities to find if they are using assistive technology like a screen reader or braille display because it does not have an accessible label.
  • View functions barrier - View functions in the faculty experience are not clearly labeled as views and when clicked, an instructor with disabilities using assistive technology like a screen reader or braille display may not realize the view changed from edit to reports, etc.
  • "Add override" assignment settings button barrier - "Add override" button doesn't move focus into the override settings so instructors navigating via keyboard while using assistive technology (like a braille display or keyboard) may not realize the button worked or did anything.

Minor barriers

  • Load Presets dropdown menu minor barrier - "Load Presets" dropdown menu visual label and auditory label (read by a screen reader) doesn't read the same label. Instructors who are blind or low vision will refer to this menu as "assignment tools."
  • Assignment Statistics graph minor barrier - Alternative text is missing for the Assignment Statistics graph image however, instructors with disabilities are able to access all the information in the graph because the vendor provided all the statistics in text above the image.

KeywordsExams, testing, Atomic Assessment, Canvas, LTI, Learning Technology   Doc ID114971
OwnerLeah B.GroupIT Accessibility and Usability
Created2021-11-23 14:22:01Updated2023-08-11 12:14:59
SitesIT Accessibility and Usability
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