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Accessibility in digital learning environments

Lund University strives to be an accessible university for everyone, regardless of whether they have a disability. Currently, Canvas, which is our university-wide learning platform, Blackboard at the Faculty of Law, and Moodle at the Faculty of Medicine are not covered by the Swedish Act on the Accessibility of Digital Public Services. If you have another learning platform, please contact the person responsible for the platform and ask what applies there.

Learning platforms that require login and were made public before 23 September 2019 are exempted from the legal requirements until they have undergone "a comprehensive review". One example of a comprehensive review could be a change of learning platform or a switch to a new type of learning platform from the same supplier.

However, these platforms will all eventually be covered by the Act on the Accessibility of Digital Public Services. The Association of Swedish Higher Education Institutions (SUHF) recommends that "Higher education institutions should start working on making the contents of learning platforms accessible, in compliance with legal requirements. The rate at which this is to be done depends on when the learning platform was made public."

So, in summary:

  • Start making your material accessible on the learning platform. It is not covered by the Act on the Accessibility of Digital Public Services at present, but it will be eventually.
  • There is also other legislation to take into account regarding accessibility, such as the Discrimination Act.
  • The main reason to adapt content for accessibility is of course to make the material accessible to as many people as possible. 

Questions and answers on digital accessibility 


What does digital accessibility mean?

Digital accessibility entails that no one is to be prevented from gaining access to digital public services and information on websites and applications. Accessibility, in this context, means that information and services are to be comprehensible and usable by all people regardless of disability.

What does the Act on the Accessibility of Digital Public Services mean?

Since 2016, all EU countries are to have laws that aim to increase digital accessibility for all users, including people with disabilities. In Sweden, the EU’s web directive is implemented through the Act on the Accessibility of Digital Public Services, which entered into force on 1 January 2019.  The Act is often referred to as the DOS law (Swedish acronym) and covers the entire public sector.

The Act entails that websites and all their content (for example images, videos and documents) must meet the accessibility requirements. If a system (such as a learning platform) can be accessed via a web browser, it is to be considered as a website and is thereby covered by the Act. 

Currently, Lund University’s learning platforms, Canvas, which is university-wide, Blackboard at the Faculty of Law or Moodle at the Faculty of Medicine are not covered by the DOS law because login-protected learning platforms that were made public before 23 September 2019 are exempted from the legal requirements until they undergo ‟a comprehensive review”.

Do pages in Canvas need to be adapted for accessibility? Is the answer different depending on who accesses the pages?

Since Canvas is considered a website, all public content (i.e. content accessible without logging in) is to be accessibility-adapted. Because Canvas was made public prior to September 2019 at Lund University, login-protected content does not need to be accessibility-adapted. However, if Canvas were to undergo "a comprehensive review", then even the login-protected content would need to be adapted.

Do other systems that I use in my teaching need to be accessibility-adapted? 

If the system was made public after 23 September 2019 or if it does not require login, then its contents must be accessibility-adapted pursuant to the DOS law.

Do documents that I upload to my Canvas course need to be accessibility-adapted? Is the answer different depending on who accesses the pages?

Yes, documents on public web pages must be accessibility-adapted, although this is not required for login-protected documents. However, it is advisable to adapt the documents for other reasons as well, such as avoiding discrimination (see the Discrimination Act).

Do videos from Studio in my courses in Canvas need to be subtitled? 

Yes, videos on public web pages must be accessibility-adapted, although this is not required for login-protected videos. However, it is advisable to subtitle videos for other reasons as well, such as avoiding discrimination (see the Discrimination Act) and because many users choose to watch videos with audio off.

Do videos from YouTube in my courses in Canvas need to be subtitled? 

If you own the videos and they can be accessed by the general public via YouTube, they need to have subtitles. If the videos are owned by someone else, and have content that you cannot affect, they are not required to have subtitles. 

Do I need to subtitle my video even if I am only leaving it on Canvas for two weeks?

Since content that can only be accessed by logged-in users is not covered by the Act, it does not need to be subtitled. But it is advisable to subtitle videos for other reasons as well, such as avoiding discrimination (see the Discrimination Act) and because many users choose to watch videos with audio off.

I use images to explain complex parts of my subject. What do I do about alternative text when I am using an image precisely because it is difficult to explain the concept in text?

Some images become so complex that the alt-text cannot render everything shown in the image. In that case, the same information as that displayed visually in the image must be made accessible in the form of text in some other way. That could be through the addition of a table with the same data as that shown in a diagram, or an extended text description on a separate page reached via a link from the image page.

When I create documents, I do it in LaTex; it is difficult to make them into tagged files. Do I have to redo all my material now?

Here is information on LaTex and tags:

https://canvas.education.lu.se/courses/3763/pages/latex?module_item_id=234995 

Do you want to know more?

Read about web accessibility on the Staff Pages.

Questions on web accessibility?
Email them to:
tillganglighet [at] kommunikation [dot] lu [dot] se