Turnitin Accessibility Topics

Turnitin Accessibility Topics 

(Information borrowed from University of Colorado Boulder's web site)

Service Overview

Turnitin is an originality-checking service that instructors can enable for assignments in Canvas. There are two layers of Turnitin that students can access: originality scores in Canvas and Turnitin Feedback Studio. Students may view the originality score within Canvas under Submission Details on an assignment (if that feature is enabled for students). Students must use an external website called Turnitin Feedback Studio for access to more advanced features like in-line instructor comments, voice comments, GradeMark feedback on grammar or mechanics, and PeerMark feedback.

The Turnitin Feedback Studio has two different views: an image-based document viewer and a text-only version. To access the text-only version, users should hit the Tab button after Feedback Studio has loaded. This should navigate to a hidden button labeled “Navigate to Text-Only similarity report” which users can select to access the text-only version.

There are two different versions of the Turnitin integration in Canvas that instructors can choose. The Quick Integration uses the standard Canvas file upload interface, while the GradeMark Integration uses a custom Turnitin file upload interface.

Turnitin Accessibility Status

In Canvas, the Quick Integration file upload process is accessible to screen reader users, although there are some usability issues. The GradeMark Integration has some unclear functionality for screen readers, and does not provide all necessary alerts about the file upload process to a screen reader. The Quick Integration is recommended for use instead of the GradeMark Integration where possible.

Turnitin Feedback Studio is largely inaccessible to screen reader users due to its use of an image-based document viewer. Turnitin recommends that screen reader users access the site using a text-only version, but the text-only version does not allow the user to read or write instructor comments or any other in-document markup. Turnitin Feedback Studio is somewhat accessible to keyboard-only users.

Additionally, Turnitin Feedback Studio’s side-by-side comparison of the submitted assignment and matching assignment uses color coding alone to identify matching passages, and is inaccessible to individuals with blindness, low vision, or color blindness.

Please note: Statements on this page about the accessibility of Turnitin are based on accessibility testing done in August 2017 (Feedback Studio) and July 2019 (Canvas integrations) at the University of Colorado Boulder and may no longer represent the current status of the software.  

Information for Assistive Technology Users

Information for Students using Screen Readers

  • If you experience issues uploading files to Turnitin site while using a screen reader, your instructor is able to submit the file on your behalf.
  • Turnitin Feedback Studio is broadly inaccessible due to the use of an image-based document viewer. It is also missing headings to aid navigation of the interface.
  • It may be possible to access instructor comments left in Feedback Studio by downloading the PDF of your paper from Feedback Studio. However, the download dialogue box is inaccessible to NVDA users, and JAWS users can only find it by going to the very end of the page. Additionally, the comments are not associated with the location in which they were left in the document, so they will be very difficult to decipher. Instead, ask your instructor to provide feedback using a Word document or another more accessible format.
  • If your instructor is using the Turnitin Quick Integration (which uses the standard Canvas file upload interface), you will need to access Submission Details to find out your similarity score. The score will read out as either “similarity score - pending”, or a link where the link text is the percentage similarity score that your paper received. The link destination is the Turnitin Feedback Studio. So a score of 36% would just be read as “link 36%”.
  • If your instructor is using the Turnitin GradeMark Integration (which uses a custom file upload interface), you may encounter issues when uploading a file. There are three tabs you can use to select an upload method: “Upload Submission”, “Text Input”, and “Cloud Submission” that are not labeled as tabs. After file selection and selecting the “Upload and Review” button, you will not receive an alert that the file selection or upload processes were successful.

Information for Instructors using Screen Readers

  • The GradeMark and PeerMark systems are inaccessible to screen reader users, and are not recommended for use by instructors who use screen readers.

Information for Screen Magnifier Users

  • Colored overlays are heavily used within Feedback Studio, which can cause eye strain. Consider switching to text-only mode for reading the entire document, or deactivating all of the colored overlays via the sidebar until they are needed.
  • These colored overlays will darken when moused over, which may cause additional difficulty reading the content.

Information for Instructors

Canvas Integration

  • Avoid using the GradeMark integration if you have a student using a screen reader in your course. The Quick integration is more accessible.

Turnitin Feedback Studio

  • Instructor comments, GradeMark feedback, and PeerMark feedback are inaccessible to students using a screen reader.
  • If you have a student using a screen reader in your course, use MS Word or a plain text file to share feedback on their paper with them.
    • If you have to use Feedback Studio to provide comments, only use Text Comments, and quote the relevant section of the student’s original text in each comment. Then download the paper and comments as a PDF from Feedback Studio and share it with the student directly.
  • If you are having your students user PeerMark feedback, send students who use screen readers a Word version of their assigned peer review assignment and associated peer review questions. Allow them to submit their feedback within that document.
  • If students using screen readers experience issues uploading files via the Turnitin.com site, instructors can submit the file on their behalf. Instructions for submitting a file on behalf of a student are available in the Turnitin Help Center.
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