IT Connect
Information technology tools and resources at the UW

Ally accessibility tool for Canvas

Eligibility

Available for: Instructors Students

Log in to Canvas to access Ally

About Ally

Ally, provided by Blackboard, integrates seamlessly with the UW’s Canvas learning management system to automatically check course content and files uploaded by instructors for accessibility issues. Using advanced machine learning algorithms, Ally generates alternative formats—such as text that is readable by a screen reader, electronic braille, or audio—that students can download and use to support their learning.

For students

Alternative formats aren’t just for a select group of students. Alternative formats benefit everyone. For example, a student may have a lot of course material to read and experience eye strain, or prefers to listen while on the train. With the audio alternate version of a document, students can listen to an audio format of a course file.

After files are attached to a course, Ally creates alternative formats of the file based on the original document. For example, if the original file is a PDF, Ally creates audio, electronic braille, ePub, and other formats of the same content. These formats are made available with the original file so everything is in one convenient location.

For instructors

The UW has deployed Ally in Canvas courses in to help instructors understand and fix course accessibility problems proactively. Ally automatically checks course content and files uploaded by instructors, and provides feedback to instructors about the accessibility of resources with respect to students with disabilities. Ally also delivers guidance to help instructors improve accessibility of their course content.

UW Ally FAQs

Blackboard Ally FAQs

Additional Help

Contact help@uw.edu for:

  • General questions about how Ally works
  • Technical problems with Ally alternative formats
  • Instructor questions about how to improve accessibility of course materials

Students with disabilities can request additional accommodations. For details, contact your campus department of Disability Resources for Students:

Ally Deployment Timeline

  • Winter 2017: UW-IT piloted Ally with select courses.
  • Autumn 2018: Ally’s automatically generated alternative formats available for students to download in their Canvas courses.
  • Winter 2019: UW-IT will work with instructors of select courses to deploy the Ally instructor feedback feature, which provides an accessibility rating on course content that they uploaded. This limited release will include planning for training and support for increasing accessibility of course material in preparation for a spring 2019 release to all courses.
  • Spring 2019: Tentative release of instructor feedback feature to all courses.