Ally instructor guide

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Overview

Ally is a tool that integrates with your Canvas course to provide you with insight into the course's accessibility. Starting with spring 2023, it will appear on all courses and cannot be removed.

Ally automatically scans your original course content for accessibility. Ally does not make any changes to the original content and it does not show the results to students; it works with you to create alternate, accessible course content. Ally does the following:

  • Generates alternative formats for students to download (the only way students interact with Ally)
  • Assesses courses and content, producing accessibility scores
  • Gives instructor feedback on how to improve your accessibility score

Typically, you should see your accessibility score within 15-90 seconds. This may take longer if your content is complex, or if you have a lot of course content and it is being assessed all at once.

What instructors and students see

As an instructor or an AI, you will see an accessibility score that Ally provides throughout the course, but this will not be visible to students. For files, the score is shown by a gauge icon next to your course files. For content created in the Rich Content Editor, the score is shown in the editor when you're in edit mode. By selecting the gauge, you can view and improve your file accessibility.

Although students do not see the accessibility score indicator, they will see an Alternative formats menu to the left or right of each document and top of each page. From this menu they can access a list of alternative formats available for download.

Alternative formats

Ally creates alternative formats of your course content based on the original. These formats are made available with the original content so students can find everything in one location. To learn more about the student experience, see Ally alternative formats for students.

You don't need to do anything; the alternative formats are created for you. If you want, you can disable alternative formats for any individual content item. Note that if you remove access to alternative formats for an item, students will see a message telling them the alternative formats for that content item aren't available.

Select the download alternative formats icon anywhere you see it to see the different formats available, disable them, or reenable them if disabled.

Alternative format size limits

Ally doesn't enforce a file size limit, and so it is possible to upload a file so large the Ally algorithm will fail to generate alternative formats.

  • Keep the original content to fewer than 100 pages for the OCR format for scanned documents to work.
  • Limit content to 30,000 characters for the translated format to work.
  • Limit content to 100,000 characters for the audio format to work. This character limit typically corresponds to at least 30 pages or several hours of audio.
  • Limit file uploads to 50 MB in the "Instructor Feedback" panel.

Password-protected content

Ally detects password-protected content and gives the content a 0% accessibility score. Ally then provides guidance to help remove the password through the instructor feedback. Ally doesn't generate any alternative formats for password protected content, as it cannot get access to the actual content.

Accessibility score indicators

Besides the introduction of an alternative format button, the only addition Ally makes to course content is an accessibility score icon in the shape of a gauge that appears for files and when editing pages. Select the gauge to view and improve your file or page accessibility. Follow the steps presented to fix individual issues in the order they're listed, or select All issues to see every issue in the file and decide what issues to fix first.

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

  • Low Low (0-33%):Needs help! There are severe accessibility issues.
  • Medium Medium (34-66%): A little better. The file is somewhat accessible and needs improvement.
  • High High (67-99%): Almost there. The file is accessible but more improvements are possible.
  • Perfect Perfect (100%): Perfect! Ally didn't identify any accessibility issues but further improvements may still be possible.

For files with low to high scores, Ally shows you the issues and gives a step-by-step guide on how to fix them. Go for green!

Course accessibility report

The course accessibility report is an accessibility summary and overview at the course level. The 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.

Add the Ally Course Accessibility Report

The Ally Course Accessibility Report is hidden from navigation by default. To add the report to your navigation:

  1. In Canvas, navigate to the desired course.
  2. In the course navigation menu, select Settings.
  3. On the course "Settings" screen, select Navigation.
  4. Locate the Ally Course Accessibility Report navigation item, and then drag the item to the desired location in the navigation menu.
  5. Select Save.

Overview tab

The Overview tab shows instructors the following details:

  • Accessibility score for the course
  • Graphical display of course content distribution grouped by content type
  • List of all issues identified in the course

Where to start

Use the report to help you decide what to fix first. If you are unsure of where to start, you are given the option of two panels on the right labeled "Content with the easiest issues to fix" and "Fix low scoring content". Select Start on whichever one represents best the way you would like to work, and a new view will appear for directing your progress.

Selecting View, which follows the course content graph, will move you to the Content tab.

Remaining issues

Under the "Remaining Issues" section of the Overview tab, issues are listed in order of priority from severe to minor. You should address those at the top of the list first. Ally looks at the number of students affected, how often the issue occurs, and the accessibility score to determine the priority. The meaning of each icon is as follows:

  • Severe Severe. These issues are the greatest risk to accessibility and require the most attention.
  • Major Major. These issues impact accessibility, and while not severe, require attention.
  • Minor Minor. These issues should be considered for a better accessibility score.

Select an issue in the "Remaining Issues" list to see all the pieces of content that have that issue. Select a piece of content from the subsequent list to open the "Instructor Feedback" panel and fix the issue.

Content tab

The Content tab lists all content in the course with an emphasis on those with accessibility issues, but it can be sorted by name, number of issues, and score.

Files checked by Ally

Currently, Ally checks files in these formats:

  • PDF files
  • Microsoft Word files
  • Microsoft PowerPoint files
  • OpenOffice/LibreOffice files
  • Uploaded HTML files
  • Image files (JPG, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP, TIFF)
  • Items created in the Rich Content Editor (RCE). The results for this content appear in the Institutional Report, the course accessibility report, and in the Rich Content Editor itself for supported item types, as described above.
  • YouTube videos embedded in RCE content

Rich Content Editor feedback

You can get real-time feedback from Ally in your course content editor. When you open the Rich Content Editor (RCE), you will find an Ally score indicator. As you create content, the Ally score updates in real time. Select the score to learn more about the issues and follow step-by-step guidance on how to fix them.

Ally supports these RCE content types:

  • Announcement
  • Assignment
  • Discussion topic
  • Quiz description
  • Syllabus
  • Page

Ally's accessibility score icon is only visible when you create or edit content. You need to be in edit mode to see the score on your RCE content. To view the score and make changes:

  1. Go to a supported RCE content item.
  2. Select Edit. The Ally score appears on the right above the Rich Content Editor toolbar.
  3. Create or edit your content in the editor. As you type or make changes, the Ally score updates immediately.
  4. Select the accessibility score to open the instructor feedback panel. Make quick fixes directly in the panel and preview window. Select All issues to see every issue in the file and decide what issues to fix first.
  5. When you're done making accessibility fixes, close the Ally feedback panel to return to the Rich Content Editor.
  6. Save the updated content.

Ally provides real time feedback within the RCE Content Editor for the following issues:

  • Text with insufficient contrast
  • Heading order
  • Image without a description
  • Image with redundant descriptions
  • Tables without headers
  • Tables with empty headers

In-browser previews

The in-browser preview for instructor feedback shows the content for PDFs, Word documents, and PowerPoint documents with highlighting on issues.

In-browser previews are currently available for these file types:

  • Images
  • PDF documents
  • Word documents
  • PowerPoint presentations
  • OpenOffice/LibreOffice files (Writer and Impress)
  • WYSIWYG content created in your LMS

Highlights are currently provided for these issues:

  • Images without an appropriate alternative description
  • Text fragments with insufficient contrast
  • Tables without table headers

The feedback for other accessibility issues will not be highlighted.

Other considerations

Importance of course content accessibility

In many cases, improving the accessibility of course content benefits all students, as accessibility is often closely connected to the quality and usability of the course materials. Some examples include: a proper digital copy of a document, instead of a scan, makes it easier for any student to read and work with the document; several alternative formats (for example, HTML, ePub, audio) make it easier for students to access course content on the go or from mobile devices; video captions and transcripts allow students to search through videos and view them in high-noise environments; and a proper heading structure makes a document more navigable for all students.

Accessibility standard used by Ally

Ally's accessibility checklist is based on WCAG 2.1 AA (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines). This is an international accessibility standard, and most of the legislation and legal requirements worldwide align with this standard.

Additionally, Ally also adds a number of additional checks on top of this that start to target the usability and quality of the course materials a bit more.

YouTube videos

Ally checks YouTube videos for captions and presents this information in the accessibility reports. Auto-generated YouTube captions aren't considered to be valid captions. Any YouTube video with auto-generated captions is considered by Ally to be "not captioned".

Course copies

When you copy a course, all alternative formats and instructor feedback will also be available in the new course. There can be a delay before everything is moved over to the new course.

When you archive a course, only references to file accessibility are available.

Original files

Ally doesn't delete, move, or store the original file; it will remain in Canvas.

Supported browsers

Ally is supported on the same browser as the learning management system (LMS) it is accessed from. For the currently supported browsers, see What are the browser and computer requirements for Canvas?

This is document bhdk in the Knowledge Base.
Last modified on 2022-06-30 13:10:31.