Overview of ALLY in Canvas

What is ALLY?

Ally is an external tool integrated into Canvas that scans the content you have added to your course site and assigns it an “accessibility score.” Based on the score, your content will show an accompanying colored dial.

When Ally is turned on in your course, you, as the instructor, will see dials next to your course content.

  • Red dials appear for files that have 0-33% accessibility score; yellow for 34-66%; and green for 67-100%. 

What do you mean by accessibility, and what is an accessibility score?

Ally’s accessibility score determines how many elements responsible for making a document, image, or video accessible to people who use screen readers, are hearing impaired, or have other learning barriers are present or absent in that file.

At the most fundamental level, Ally scans to make sure pdf documents are OCRed so screen readers can read it, that images have alternative-text (alt-text) that will provide people using screen readers meaningful information about the contents of the image, and that captions are present in videos embedded in your site.

For example, OCR--Optical Character Recognition—takes a scanned pdf and turns it from an image of a page into digitally-readable text.

There are many other things Ally scans for. It looks to see if pdfs are tagged, which allows screen reader users to navigate easily among different sections of a document, whether documents are using Headings properly, whether a document’s language is set, etc.

We are happy to meet with you to discuss the different features Ally checks in more depth.

How do I determine what my score is and why?

To learn more about a file’s accessibility score, click the colored dial next to the file. Depending on the issue, different information about your score will appear, but it will look roughly like the image below.

There are multiple ways to remediate, or fix, accessibility issues within Canvas with the tools Ally provides.

In some instances, Ally will walk you through the steps to fix a document or file in the screen pictured, above.

In other instances, you can download the “alternative formats” available to you and re-upload them to your site.

What are alternative formats, and what do my students see?

Students cannot see the colored dials in a course. Both you and your students, however, can download automatically created, more accessible, alternative versions of files uploaded into Canvas. To see your course from a student’s view, click Settings and then select Student View on the top right.

Accessing more accessible, alternative formats

Alternative formats are formats that will be more accessible to screen readers (such as OCRed PDF) or which offer different sensory modalities to students who may not read using vision (such as Electronic Braille).

Option 1:

Wherever a file is linked or uploaded in Canvas, there will be a small down arrow icon to the right of the link.

image of linked file icon

Click on this arrow to reveal three options: “Download,” which will give you the original file; “Preview” to view the file in the browser; or “Alternative formats,” which are the Ally-produced alternatives.

image of alternative formats drop down

Choose “Alternative formats” to select the accessible file format you prefer, then click “Download”:

Option 2

From the main Files window, locate the file and navigate to the far right of that row to access the “Actions” icon (three vertical dots). Select “Alternative formats”:

Option 3

From the main Files window, select the row where your file’s name appears (don’t click on the file name itself). With the row highlighted, locate and click the Ally “A” icon near the top of the page. Again, you will be presented with the list of Alternative formats.

Option 4

When you click on the file name in Files, Canvas opens the file within your browser. At the top of the preview screen, there is an option for “Alternative formats” with the Ally “A” icon:

This same method applies for files included in Modules: click on the file name, and select the “Alternative formats” option at the top of the file preview screen.

Each of these options will download a more accessible version to your computer, but they will *not* replace the inaccessible file in your Canvas course.

Why doesn’t Ally automatically replace my file with a more accessible version?

Ally will not replace your file with a more accessible version because you can’t be sure which version your students will prefer. For example, if you download a file formatted in Electronic Braille it would not make sense to replace your PDF with that version.

Adding new material to Canvas, and checking its accessibility

To upload a new file, click the Files option on the course menu bar, and then select Upload.

Uploaded files will be automatically scanned by Ally and within a minute or so, if you refresh the Files view, will be marked with a colored dial.

Contact Information

Please see below for your point of contact:

If you do not see your school on this list, please contact Michelle Morgan, michelle.morgan@yale.edu

Yale College and GSAS:             

Michelle Morgan, Digital Accessibility Specialist

Email: accessiblity@yale.edu

Phone: 203-432-6438

Yale School of Public Health:  

Mike Honsberger, Director of Academic Affairs

Email: michael.honsberger@yale.edu

Phone: 203-785-2775

Lauren Babcock-Dunning, Director of Online and Certificate Education

Email: lauren.babcock-dunning@yale.edu

Phone: 203-785-2914

Yale School of Drama:               

Chris Kilbourne, Director of Digital Technology

Email: chris.kilbourne@yale.edu

Phone: 203-432-8814

Yale School of Nursing:             

Ekaterina Ginzburg, Director of Academic Support, Instructional Technology, and Design

Email: ekaterina.ginzburg@yale.edu

Phone: 203-785-5611

Joshua Gleason, Instructional Technology Specialist

Email: joshua.gleason@yale.edu

Phone: 203-785-7992                                  

Yale School of Forestry:    

Jenn Lawlor, Online Education Program Administrator

Email: jennifer.lawlor@yale.edu

Phone: 203-432-5412        

Minna Brown, Director of Academic Affairs

Email: minna.brown@yale.edu

Phone: 203-432-5131

Yale Divinity School:                  

Graziano Kratli, Digital Projects & Technology Librarian

Email: graziano.kratli@yale.edu

Phone: 203-436-8202

Yale School of Management: 

Lacey D’Amato, Assistant Director, Faculty Support Services

Email: lacey.damato@yale.edu 

Phone: 203-436-9676

Heather Amero, Faculty Support Team Lead

Email: heather.amero@yale.edu

Phone: 203-436-4832

Yale School of Medicine:          

Gary Leydon 

Email: gary.leydon@yale.edu 

Phone: 203-737-6408

Lisa Egan, Project Specialist, Faculty Support

Email: lisa.egan@yale.edu