Ally for Staff

This article explains what Ally Alternative Formats in Canvas are, and how you can use course reports to help improve your content accessibility as a teacher on a Canvas course.

Ally helps to gauge the accessibility of your Canvas content. It provides guidance and tips for lasting improvements to your content accessibility through course reports.

In addition to providing you with insight into your content accessibility, Ally automatically creates alternative versions of your files. This allows students to choose the type of file they want that best suits their needs. 

While you're in the process of improving files, students can still access alternative copies. 

Instructor Feedback

How to use Ally Course Accessibility Report Feature

Ally's Course Accessibility Reports can help Teachers on a Canvas course to get a big-picture view of how  accessible your course content is. Then, you can drill down into the specifics to see exactly what types of content are getting good accessibility scores and what is scoring poorly and may need more  attention. Ally can show you which files need remediation, give you some  options for where to start, and guide you through the process of making  those files more accessible.

Learn about Ally Course Accessibility Reports for Canvas Teachers

How to access your Ally Course Accessibility Reports

Ally's Course Accessibility Report feature is not automatically enabled in courses, so  before you access it for the first time you will need to click into  your Canvas course and manually enable this item on your course's navigation menu. You will need to do this in every course where you wish to view your Ally Course Accessibility Report.

Enable Ally Course Accessibility Reports in your Canvas Course

1. In your Canvas course click Settings in your course navigation.   

2. In your course settings click navigation from the tabs at the top of the page.   

3. In your course navigation click and drag Ally Course Accessibility Report to the viewable section and click Save.          

4. Ally will now be enabled in your course.

How to  view the report

Once you have enabled Ally Course Accessibility Reports in your courses, you will be able to access them by following these steps:

  • Log into your Canvas site
  • Click into the course whose report you want to view
  • Select Ally Course Accessibility Report on the course navigation menu.

Click into the course whose report you want to view.

Using the Course Report

Your course report keeps your accessibility score visible at all  times, and is divided into two tabs: Overview and Content. When  initially clicking into the Course Report, it will always default to  theOverview tab.

Accessibility Score

The accessibility score displays in the upper left of the page and  shows your course's overall accessibility rating. Scores range from  "Low" to "Perfect":

  • Low (0-33%): This score means that your course needs help as Ally has flagged severe accessibility issues or that no course content has been identified yet.
  • Medium (34-66%): This score means that your course is somewhat  accessible, but Ally has flagged some accessibility issues that need  improving.
  • High (67-99%): This score means that your course is almost fully  accessible - most things are accessible but a few more improvements are  possible.
  • Perfect (100%): Congratulations! This means that while there may be  further improvements possible, Ally has not found any accessibility issues in your course.

Please note: The screenshots below do not contain real data and are provided for illustrative purposes only.

Sample Report

Overview tab

The Overview tab contains a dashboard to visually display all  the types of content that you have in your course, content items that  will be the easiest and fastest to fix, and items that received the  lowest accessibility scores.

Below on the page is the list of  remaining accessibility issues in your course. If this looks like a long  list, don't worry; Ally will help you to decide where to start so that  making improvements will be less overwhelming.

Ally checks the following content in your course:

  • Files uploaded into your Canvas course:
    • PDF. See Ally's PDF checklist for more information about specific criteria that Ally looks for.
    • Office file types. See Ally's Office document checklist for more information about specific criteria that Ally looks for.
      • Microsoft Word (.doc, .docx)
      • Microsoft PowerPoint (.ppt, .pptx)
      • OpenOffice/LibreOffice files
    • Uploaded HTML files
    • Image files (.jpg, .jpeg, .gif, .png, .bpm, .tiff). See Ally's Image checklist for more information about specific image criteria that Ally looks for.
    • YouTube videos embedded in course pages. See Ally's YouTube FAQ for more information about specific criteria Ally is looking for in YouTube videos.
  • Content created within Canvas via the Rich Content Editor:
    • Announcements
    • Assignments
    • Discussion Topics
    • Canvas Quiz descriptions
    • Syllabus pages
    • Course Content pages

Clicking the black View button will take you to the Content tab, which displays a list of all your course content.

Quick and Easy fixes

Add alternative text to an image on a Canvas page with Ally

Ally checks images in Canvas for alternative text descriptions. Alternative text describes the content of images, graphs, and charts for those who might not be able to see the image.

This may seem like an easy fix, and that's because it is! But being an easy fix doesn't make it any less important! Any student using assistive  reading technology, such as a screen reader, relies on accurate and  informative image descriptions to relay what a picture is showing. When writing an image description, it is imperative to not simply insert an  image title. An image description should provide a textual alternative  to the image so that people with a visual impairment can get an  equivalent experience. Descriptions also make it easier for all students  to connect the image with the context.

1. Click on the small red accessibility gauge in the lower left corner of an image.

2. A new window will appear. Type an image description in the text box.

If your image is only for visual effects and doesn't contain information relevant to the learning content, select Indicate image is decorative. Alternative texts/image descriptions aren't necessary for decorative images.

3. Click Add.

4. Your accessibility score should improve.

Document does not have headings

We may associate increased text size in a document as headings, when  in reality a heading is something that should be created using a  programs (Word, PPT, etc.) styling resources to create.

To add headings  to a document:

  1. Download your document and open it.
  2. Select the text you want to make a heading.
  3. Select Home (in any MS Office product) and then choose the heading you want from the Styles group.
  4. Save the document with correctly created headings.
  5. Upload that new file to your course.

If the document with missing headings is a PowerPoint presentation,  the process can be slightly more complex, but the easy-to-follow  directions provided by Ally can help you along the way.

This document is missing a title

More often than not,  documents are simply titled the same thing as the file name. The problem  with that practice is that the file name is usually not very  descriptive and can even have no meaning to anyone except the author.  This visibility makes it easier to distinguish multiple documents before  diving in. Title visibility allows for easier navigation for all  students. To add a title you'll need access to the original document. If  the document is a Microsoft document you simply:

  1. Click File.
  2. Under the Properties section on the right-hand side, enter the title in the empty text box
  3. Save the file.
  4. Upload the saved file to Canvas

Learn more about how to fix issues identified in your course report on