Atomic Assessments - Accessibility & Usability Guide for Instructors [UW-Madison]

Atomic Assessments is an advanced quizzing tool currently available through Canvas to all of UW-Madison's for-credit instructors. Because it is an advanced quizzing tool, it is recommend for technically advanced instructors or instructors with departmental support staff. Please leave ample time to develop and test assessments in Atomic Assessments before incorporating them into your live courses.

This document outlines current accessibility issues in Atomic Assessment quizzes.

UW–Madison is working with the Atomic Assessment quizzing tool vendors, Learnosity and Atomic Jolt, to identify and resolve known accessibility barriers found in the tool. Many of these barriers will be resolved by Spring 2020 and this document will be updated with resolution progress and evolving work around options for users.


Known accessibility and usability barriers

The following is a list of accessibility and usability barriers identified in this application that can impact student learning success. Faculty and instructional staff creating assessments can use this guidance to avoid using the questions that are inaccessible to students until these barriers are resolved. 

Barriers for all question types

The separation between each question is unclear

When an assessment has several questions per item, the questions are not properly paginated causing questions to run together visually.

  • Students with visual disabilities and cognitive impairments may have difficulty distinguishing one question from another, as well as identifying how many questions are in an assessment. Additionally, understanding the progress made through the questions can be confusing for students if multiple questions exist per page.

  • Recommend using the default setting for pagination with one item per page and limit the number of questions to one question per item for ease of clarity for your students.

Missing alternative text

There is no mechanism in place to remind or require instructors to enter alternative text for images in Atomic Assessments. As a result, instructors creating an assessment question with an image in it will not know that students with visual disabilities may not be able to answer the question.

  • Consider adding alternative text to all your images when building an assessment.

  • Make sure the alternative text has enough information for the student to answer the question.

Question-specific barriers

Content not read by screen reader

Content isn’t readable via screen reader on some of the assessment questions.

  • Users primary impacted: Students who are blind or low vision. 

  • Question types:

Input fields not labeled for screen reader

Input fields do not have a label for students using a screen reader. The vendor is working to link the label with the input field so screen reader users hear the question in the field. 

Keyboard Navigation Partially not Functioning

Keyboard navigation partially not functioning or entirely inaccessible for users of assistive technology. This may cause students using a screen reader or other assistive technology to miss the input fields or be unable to answer the questions due to keyboard accessibility barriers.

Audio Indications on Assessment Questions

Assessment questions do not play proper audio indications when selecting an option, for students using assistive technology (like a screen reader). Site does not play audio indication if:

  • status or state changed
  • something was selected
  • that a region is selectable

For example, file upload doesn’t tell the screen reader user the file was uploaded.

Inaccessible table headings

Table headings are not accessible to the screen reader or assistive technology. 

  • Users primary impacted: Students who are blind or low vision.

  • Question types impacted:

Timer messages

Random timer messages are read by assistive technologies when no timer is set by the instructor. This can cause confusion for students and make them believe the assessment is timed.

  • Users primary impacted: Students who are blind or low vision.

  • Question types impacted:

Styling inaccessible when using screen reader

The text editor is not accessible to a screen reader user because it doesn’t tell the user that they successfully selected styling options to use. The user is able to write in the text editor but styling may be inaccessible. 

Audio Recorder inaccessible when using screen reader

The recorder isn’t accessible to a screen reader because the student is unable to hear if they select record. There is also no indication of where the volume function is, or if playback is happening.

Math formulas unread

Math formulas not read properly by screen readers.

How to get help supporting students

Instructional staff and faculty can get help support the learning and educational accommodation needs of students using the following resources. 

Contact the Help Desk for general help

Contact the DoIT Help Desk, which provides instructors, staff, and students with free tech support and troubleshooting help. Reach the Help Desk by phone at 608.264.4357, email at help@doit.wisc.eduor visit their KnowledgeBase.

Help with accessible instructional design

Contact a Learning Designer for assistance at or check out the faculty engagement opportunities that allow faculty to be a part of a community of people working to improve course design for student success.

Students may need to request accessibility assistance

Students in your courses may discover they need further educational support in navigating their course content. Be sure to include a note in the instructions of each assessment as well as in your syllabus that reinforces if a student experiences difficulty they can seek assistance or accommodation with their professor and McBurney Disability Resource Center. 

See the McBurney Disability Resource Center syllabus language examples for helpful syllabus language which instructors can use to provide students with information regarding accommodations.

Consider evaluating your course content for accessibility to be sure that students with disabilities can navigate and use it. For assistance evaluating course content for accessibility, contact for an to request an appointment with an Accessibility consultant.

Help with student accessibility accommodations:

Contact the McBurney Disability Resources Center by calling (608)263-2741, or emailing, or check out the instructor resources and instructor training modules available.

Keywords:atomic assessments, quiz, quizzing, advanced quizzing, assessments, accessibility   Doc ID:94642
Owner:Learn@UW Madison .Group:Learn@UW-Madison
Created:2019-09-24 10:03 CDTUpdated:2023-02-08 13:27 CDT
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