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Name pronunciation feature added to Canvas

January 13, 2022

UW–Madison students, faculty and instructional staff are now able to record and share their name pronunciations in Canvas through a new feature called NameCoach.

“An individual’s name is a key element of their identity, one that often is rooted in their language and culture,” says Gabe Javier, associate vice chancellor for student affairs in the areas of identity and inclusion. “Taking the time to learn and correctly pronounce a person’s name is one simple, and important, way to respect and honor their identity.”

The addition of NameCoach closely follows the introduction of the pronoun feature in Canvas, which the university made available to the campus community last spring. The new features are part of a broader, ongoing initiative focused on furthering inclusive practices and creating a welcoming environment for all.

“This is part of an overall effort to build inclusion features into our campus tools and systems alongside the pronoun feature in Canvas and preferred name display across campus,” Javier says.

Canvas is the learning management platform used by the university to support teaching and learning. Name recordings can be accessed only by instructors and students within the same Canvas course. Instructors and students will need to create and save their name recording for each of their Canvas courses. Learn how to record your name pronunciation and listen to name recordings of instructors and students in your Canvas courses.

“I have a last name that for many is difficult to understand and pronounce, but it is central to who I am and my heritage,” says Scott Owczarek, associate vice provost and university registrar, who is of Polish descent. “Since I was a child, I leaned on the nickname ‘ScottyO’ so others can feel more at ease about not being able to pronounce my last name. I’m looking forward to hearing my last name pronounced correctly and others’ identities being affirmed as well.”

Currently, NameCoach and the ability to indicate pronouns are available only through Canvas. The university continues to explore the possibility of extending the features to other applicable university systems in the future. Students, faculty and staff continue to be able to set their preferred name within MyUW so that it is used across multiple university systems.

For additional guidance on how to use pronouns, visit the Gender and Sexuality Campus Center’s Pronouns Matter webpage.