Beginning Summer 2021, Ally will be enabled in all Canvas course shells.
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:
- Ally automatically creates alternative formats of course content that students can access through Canvas.
- 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.
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:
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:
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.
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 file accessibility and fixing image accessibility. 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- Fix the issue.
- 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.
- Then, you can repeat steps 2 and 3 for the next accessibility issue in question.
- 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.
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:
- 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.
- 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".
- 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.
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.