Ally (previously Blackboard Ally) is a tool that helps increase the accessibility of pages and documents uploaded into the Canvas virtual learning environment.

  • Students can view/download any document or page in alternative formats such as OCRed PDF, audio, high contrast or easy-read versions to suit all learning styles and benefit all students.
  • Staff can get feedback about the accessibility of any page or document via a course report and an accessibility indicator. Each issue is accompanied with a step-by-step guide on how to fix it.

What does this mean for students?

Students will be able to download any Canvas document or Page in an alternative format without having to ask for additional assistance. This includes:

  • Word or PowerPoint as PDF
  • Any file or page as audio
  • Any file or page as ePub for mobile reading
  • Scanned PDF as OCRed

This is accessed via the Alternative formats button that appears on any file or page:

What does this mean for staff?

Ally gives all course creators feedback on how well files and pages in their courses comply with digital accessibility standards.

Over time, they can use this feedback to gradually improve content in Canvas so that it becomes more accessible to all students without needing additional attention.

Ally gives detailed step-by-step guidance on why a particular issue is a problem and how to fix it using common software tools.

Each course team will be in control of WHAT changes need to be made and WHEN, based on the specific needs of their students such as those defined by the Student Support Plan. For example, if some of your students are using screen readers or require high contrast.

The feedback is presented in several ways:

  • New Ally Course Accessibility Report section in course menu
  • File accessibility score in the Files section
  • File accessibility score on pages with embedded images or files

Help and support

Key guidance documents

Guidance on creating accessible documents

The Centre for Teaching and Learning provides a wide range of resources and guidance on the creation of accessible documents and inclusive course design.

Training and one-to-one support

The Centre of Teaching and Learning also offers free online sessions each term to help staff create accessible learning materials.

The University's Assistive Technology Officer is also available to give advice and support on making individual documents more accessible. Book a one-to-one session.

Useful links

FIT - Flexible and Inclusive Teaching

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