Ally: What is the Accessibility Checker?

This service is for faculty and staff.

What is the Ally Accessibility Checker?

Ally is a Canvas integration that supports digital accessibility. Ally has two separate and distinct features 1) File Transformer and 2) Accessibility Checker. This article discusses the  Accessibility Checker. Ally can be a valuable tool to help you improve the accessibility of your course for all students as well as making it easier to support students who are working with Disability Resources or who have undeclared disabilities.

**IMPORTANT NOTE: Students do NOT see the course or item accessibility report or dials.

Step-by-Step Approach to Improving the Accessibility of Your Canvas Course

Step One: Recognize why accessibility is important for all students

  • The pandemic has exposed the critical role of digital accessibility as courses, content, and interactions have moved online.
  • Accessible digital content enhances the user experience, readability, and usability for all; supports the mobile experience; and allows a seamless integration of resources into courses without having to address all student accommodations on an individual level.
  • Last, but certainly not least, accessibility is the law. Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act ensures equal opportunity and equivalent ease of use to electronic information for all.

Step Two: Identify accessibility issues

Step Three: Prioritize improvements

  • Once you have identified where your course may lack accessibility, prioritize your approach.
  • What are the most important items to address first? For example, addressing accessibility of the all-important syllabus may be your top priority.

Step Four: Begin to make improvements

  • The University of Minnesota Accessible U site has the following overarching recommendation: Start Now, Start Small.
  • In addition to identifying accessibility issues, the accessibility checkers, including Ally, also provide recommendations on how to correct any issues.

**IMPORTANT NOTE: While recommended, you are not required to correct any accessibility issues found in your course.

Using the Ally Accessibility Checker

After Ally is enabled in a course, it checks the course content for accessibility and displays a dial icon (accessibility indicator) next to each content item in the Canvas files as well as next to each item that has been added to a module. These dials are color coded to provide instructors with a visual indicator of the accessibility of each content item. Please note that the position of the indicator on the dial also signals the level of accessibility for those who are color-blind.

Ally accessibility dials

Ally Accessibility Indicators File View

Ally dials displayed in Canvas files

Ally Accessibility Indicators Module View

Ally dials as displayed in Canvas modules

'Click to Improve'

Click on the color-coded dial next to a content item to learn how to improve the accessibility of this item (either from the file or module view).

Screen capture of how to click on an Ally dial to improve the accessibility

Item Accessibility Report

  • When you click on a dial, Ally will display an Item Accessibility Report.
  • The example below shows that this document has 1 issue (a table with missing headers) with an item accessibility score of 65% (orange).
  • Ally also places a red border around the accessibility issue.

Item accessibility report

What, Why, How?

  • To learn more about the Ally-identified accessibility issue, click on What this means in the item accessibility report to learn more about the what and why of this particular issue.

What are table headers and why should you fix them

how to add headers to a table

Ally Course Accessibility Report

  • This report provides a high-level overview of an entire course
  • Helps prioritize fixes with use analytics.

Enabling the Accessibility Report in the left navigation

**NOTE: This step is required to view the report, but when enabled, student do not see it and cannot access it.

  1. Choose Settings in the left navigation.
  2. Click on the Navigation tab at the top of the page.
  3. Scroll down to the hidden navigation section to find Accessibility Report.
  4. Click on the 3 dots and choose Enable.

enable accessibility report

  1. You will now see Accessibility Report in the left navigation.
    • Click on the link to view the full report.
      accessing accessibility report in left navigation

Ally course accessiblity report indicators

  • Or, click on the Start buttons to view the content with the easiest issues to fix or to fix the lowest scoring content.

All course content View

  • When you click on View you will see a report that organizes all files and images in one place. This report is sortable by name, number of issues, or score.
  • You can click on an icon to access the accessibility information for each item..

view all course content

  • In the example below, the image is missing a description. You can correct this issue directly from the accessibility checker by typing the description in the text box or clicking to indicate the image is decorative.

example of an accessibility issue- image is missing a description

Next Steps

Contact a STELAR instructional designer for additional guidance on using the Ally Accessibility Checker.


To report a problem or receive additional troubleshooting, please contact the Tech Desk
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Article ID: 131997
Wed 4/28/21 4:37 PM
Tue 6/18/24 3:22 PM

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