Ally - Canvas Course Accessibility Tool

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 Ally's overview video to learn more about Ally’s accessibility awareness features.

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:




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.

accessibility indicators or colored dials

Red means "Needs help!", orange means "A little better", light green means "Almost there", and dark green means "Perfect!".

The following screenshots show the Ally accessibility dials next to images and files embedded in a course page:

Accessibility dial next to embedded image
Accessibility dial next to embedded file
Ally dials may also appear on your Canvas modules page next to uploaded files, as in the image below:
Accessibility dials next to files in a 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 our Ally test course as a student, use the link to self-enroll to access the All Test Canvas shell. As a student, you will NOT see the dials, however you will see the Alternative Formats icon on the course content page.

Click here for more information on Ally's accessibility indicators.




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. Click here to learn more about Ally’s alternative formats:

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.

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

Course Accessibility Report

The Ally Accessibility Report is available in every Canvas course, helping instructors see a big picture view of course content accessibility. The report shows easy to address items as well as more serious accessibility issues to prioritize.

  1. Click on Settings from the Navigation panel in your course.

    Course Settings Button
  2. Click on the Navigation tab.

    Course Navigation Tab
  3. Locate the Accessibility Report.

    Accessibility Report Feature
  4. Click on the three dots  and select Enable, then scroll to the bottom and click Save.

    Enable and Save Button

Ally’s course accessibility report includes Overview and Content tabs so that you can get the big picture as well as specific details about the accessibility of your digital course content. 

  • The Overview tab shows the accessibility score for the course, course content grouped by content type, and a list of all issues identified in the course. 

  • The Content tab shows you the content with accessibility issues. 

    • What to do about it?

      • The dials represent the necessary change in the current files you have in your course.

      • Depending on the score (See image below), you may need to improve the content you have in the course.

      • You may begin making your course accessible by clicking the "Start" button next to the dial.

At the top of the report is an accessibility score for the entire course. 

  • Scores range from Low to Perfect. The higher the score the fewer the issues. 

  • Low (0-33%): Needs help! There are severe accessibility issues. 

  • Medium (34-66%): A little better. The file is somewhat accessible and needs improvement. 

  • High (67-99%): Almost there. The file is accessible, but more improvements are possible. 

  • Perfect (100%): Perfect! Ally didn't identify any accessibility issues, but further improvements may still be possible. 

  • First identify the major accessibility issue.  

  • The most common accessibility issue is document accessibility. If your course contains many inaccessible documents, review steps to take to improve the accessibility of files you created.  

  • For files you did not create or that are difficult to make accessible, utilize free services from ITS Campus Accessibility.  

Fixing Accessibility Issues

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.

For more information, please visit our pages on fixing accessibility issues. You may also click here for more general help on the accessibility issue fixing process in Ally.

When Ally is activated in your course, you will notice an accessibility dial show up next to upload files wherever they exist in your course. To use Ally to try and fix accessibility issues for a file:

  1. Click on the dial next to the file.
    • An Ally pop up will appear, showing the file on one side, and a panel for accessibility issues on the other side. There are also buttons at the top to help you navigate the file or the accessibility issue being considered. Ally accessibility pop up screen for a file
  2. Examine the accessibility issue shown on the right. You can click on the "What this means" button to get more information on what the issue is, or click on "How to fix..." button to get more information on how to fix the issue. What this means button and how to fix button
  3. Fix the issue.
  4. You can also check to see if there are other accessibility issues with the file. You can click on the "All issues" button on the Ally accessibility panel to see what other issues exist for the file, then click on other given accessibility issues. All issues button
    • Then, you can repeat steps 2 and 3 for the next accessibility issue in question.
  5. Once you've addressed the accessibility issues, you can upload the corrected file at the bottom right of the screen, by either clicking Browse or dragging the corrected file in. Drag and drop upload area with browse button

Typically for files, you will most often have to fix issues for Word documents and PowerPoints. PDF issues are a bit more difficult to fix. If Ally is detecting issues with a PDF that you created from an original Word document or PowerPoint, try correcting the issues in the original file and uploaded their corrected versions instead.

When Ally is activated in your course, you will notice an accessibility dial show up next to uploaded images wherever they exist in your course. The main issue that Ally will flag for images in particular is missing alternative text. To use Ally to add missing alternative text to an image:

  1. Click on the dial next to the image.
    • An Ally pop up will appear, showing the image on one side, and a panel for accessibility issues on the other side. Ally accessibility pop up screen for an image
  2. Check and see whether your image is missing alternative text on the right. You can click on "What this means" to learn more about image descriptions, or follow some guidance on writing good alternative text by clicking on "How to write a good description". The what this means button and how to write a good description button
  3. If your image is missing a description, or its current description is inadequate, fix it by typing in a corrected description into the text box, then clicking "Add".
    • If your image is intended for decoration only and doesn't need a description, click on the "Indicate image is decorative" button. Indicate image is decorative button

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.

Student Resources

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