Ally

Ally Pilot Info: During Spring 2021 semester, select programs/divisions in the Charter College of Education (CCOE) will be piloting Ally. We are working to enable the Ally awareness tool in all courses by Fall 2021.

What is Ally?

Ally is an integrated Universal Design for Learning and Accessibility Awareness tool that is integrated into Canvas. Ally helps students access alternative formats of course content, helps instructors assess the accessibility of their course content, and helps instructors remediate accessibility issues in their course website. Watch the video below to learn more about Ally’s accessibility awareness features.

What does Ally do in Canvas?

As an accessibility awareness tool, Ally helps instructors improve course content accessibility in the following ways:

  1. Ally automatically creates alternative formats of course content that students can access through Canvas.
  2. Ally checks and scores your course content and provides instructors with feedback and detailed guidance for improving course content accessibility.

Below is an overview video on Ally:

How do I add Ally to my Canvas course shell?

During the Spring 2021 semester, Cal State LA’s Charter College of Education (CCOE) will be participating in an Ally pilot. The Ally Accessibility Awareness Tool will be enabled in Canvas for select programs/divisions in CCOE. We anticipate Ally will be enabled campus-wide in all Canvas courses by Fall 2021.

How can I tell if Ally has been added to my Canvas?

There are two ways you can identify if Ally has been enabled in your Canvas shell:

  1. Accessibility Indicators or colored “dials” will appear next to uploaded course files* in Canvas.
    Ally accessibility indicators or colored dials
  2. On Canvas pages or next to course files, you will see an Alternative Formats “A” icon.
    a icon

*For an up-to-date list of files scanned by Ally, please see Ally’s Accessibility Checklist page for instructors.

When participants in the course click on the Alternative Formats icon, they are presented with a list of the alternative formats that Ally has created for the course content:


alternative format options

After clicking on the Alternative Formats icon, participants in the Canvas course can now click on the available alternative formats option for course content. Faculty will also be able to view the Ally accessibility dials once the feature has been added to their Canvas courses.

accessibility dials

These dials will appear next to course content, such as uploaded PDFs, images, videos, etc. Students will not be able to see these accessibility dials--only faculty will be shown the dials.

What are Ally’s alternative formats?

The Ally accessibility awareness tool allows students to access alternative formats of course content, including audio versions of text, accessible PDF versions of scanned chapters, and more. Screen the following video to learn more about Ally’s alternative formats and share the video with your students:

What do the Ally dials mean?

Ally’s accessibility dials provide faculty with important information about the accessibility of their course content. The dials range from 0-100%, color-coded from Red to Green, which indicates whether or not the content has an accessibility issue. The following image shows the Ally accessibility dials next two uploaded PDF readings for a course:

accessibility dials

Note in this image that the dials included are red, orange, and green, indicating varying levels of document accessibility. The Ally tool provides this instructor with useful information about how accessible the course PDFs currently are and how to increase the document accessibility.

Ally dials may also appear on your Canvas modules page as in the image below:
accessibility dials displayed on module

Clicking on each dial will give instructors more information on the accessibility of each file, and guide instructors on how to improve the file, if they desire to do so.

To view the course above as a student, use the link to self-enroll to access the Canvas shell. As a student, you will NOT see the dials, however you will see the Alternative Formats icon on the course content page.

For more information on Ally’s accessibility dials, screen the following video:

How do I fix accessibility issues flagged by Ally?

When Ally flags an accessibility issue in Canvas, Ally provides faculty with detailed guidelines for remediating these content issues. Faculty can click on Ally’s accessibility dials to learn what content issues exist, and faculty can then follow the guidelines that Ally provides for addressing these accessibility issues.

When should I make changes to flagged content?

Accessibility is an ongoing process, and Ally is one accessibility awareness tool designed to help faculty increase the accessibility of their courses for all students. While Ally will flag accessibility issues, faculty are not required to make all changes immediately. Faculty should understand Ally as a helpful tool to increase faculty awareness of course content accessibility. When Ally flags an accessibility issue, the instructor should use Ally’s features to learn more about the accessibility issue and create a plan for remediation. Faculty should prioritize remediating accessibility needs that present an immediate barrier for learners currently in a course.

Additional Resources

Ally Instructor Quick Start Guide:

https://help.blackboard.com/Ally/Ally_for_LMS/Instructor/Quick_Start

Student Resources

You may wish to share the resources below with your students:

Ally’s alternative formats information:

https://help.blackboard.com/Ally/Ally_for_LMS/Student/Alternative_Formats

Ally Student Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

https://help.blackboard.com/Ally/Ally_for_LMS/Student/FAQs

Ally Student Resources page - “Learning Benefits of Alternative Formats”:

https://help.blackboard.com/sites/default/files/documents/2019-10/LearningBenefitsAltFormats_Canvas.pdf