Canvas Accessibility Report (Ally)

An overview of the Accessibility Report (Ally) tool in Canvas. (Original Article: 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.

Ally is turned on in all courses at Boise State University. The instructor will see dials next to the course content. Students cannot see the colored dials in a course.

Dial Color

File Accessibility Score

Dial Color

File Accessibility Score







What is an Accessibility Score?

Ally’s accessibility score determines how many elements are 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 basic level, Ally scans to make sure pdf documents are OCRed so screen readers can read them, 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.

Ally also 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.

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 many ways to fix, accessibility issues within Canvas with Ally:

  • 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.

Alternative Formats for Students

Alternative formats are formats that are 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).

Both students and faculty 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.


  • Locate a file that you wish to look at alternative formats for:


  • 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.


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


Or: When you click on the file and it opens in Canvas. 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.

Relevant Information

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