Ally in D2l

Q&A | Resources

Why Ally? Accessible Content is Better Content

  • Promotes a culture of inclusion across campus and benefits all learners

  • Improves the accessibility of the course content to

    • help ensure all students access the course materials in alternative formats

    • improve the learning experience for all students

  • Provides data to help with institutional planning and initiatives

  • To make our courses meet the Information and Communication Technology Standards (ICT) under Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act and Section 255 of the Communications Act

What is Ally? - Introduction Video (2.2 minutes)

  • Promotes inclusivity for all learners

  • Integrated into D2L

  • To gauge the accessibility of the content

    • Identifies the content that does not meet the accessibility standards  

  • Provides guidance and tips to instructors for making lasting improvements to the content accessibility

  • Allows students more autonomy in personalizing the learning materials 

  • Provides alternative file types to download both for faculty and students leaving the original file untouched

Benefits for Students

  • Provides alternative file types to download regardless of the 

    • learning needs, 

    • devices (laptop, phone, desktop, tablet) &

    • learning environment (classroom, commute, library, gym, home, etc.) 

    • Picture1

Benefits for Instructors

  • Flags accessibility issues

  • Describes the issue & the impact of the issue

  • Guides how to improve the course accessibility

  • Walks the instructor through step-by-step to fix the issue

What will the instructors see differently in D2L?

  • Course Accessibility Report - Ally Course Report tab in D2L course - Video (1.53 minutes) 

    •  (students will not see this)  

  • Ally Indicators - red, orange, light green, and dark green - next to the course files (under Content) (students will not see these)

    • provide helpful awareness around the course content's accessibility

    • provide feedback around ways to make the course content more accessible moving forward

    • 2021-03-01_14-06-191.png
  • Select the indicator to read detailed feedback - Instructor Feedback video (2.13 minutes)

For questions, please email the Ally Adoption Team:


Will there be training? Who do I contact with questions?

Yes. As part of the support efforts during this change, we invite you to:

How has Ally helped instructors? Here's an example from another campus - "I learned more about accessibility, something I was never trained in. While initially, the idea of accessibility was daunting, Ally demystified this for me."
How has Ally helped students?

Here’s an example from another campus – “As a single mom who commutes 3 hours each way, Ally gave me part of my life back. Instead of rushing through dinner and playtime with my child, I was able to enjoy it, because I completed my required reading through using the mp3 version during my commute. This mp3 version was made possible by using Ally”.

How does Ally connect to the "bigger picture" or campus vision?

Our campus has a vision of offering high-quality, universally accessible online courses and programs. Ally is one tool that will help us to identify and remove accessibility barriers. By using Ally, the educational experience will be enhanced for all students who interact with online content.

What do I need to tell my students?

We hope that you are willing to share information with your students in any of the following ways:

  • A news item is added to your course. Please do not delete it.
  • Make an announcement in class letting students know that it is a tool that they can use to download the content in alternative formats.

Accessibility Guides & Make the course more accessible

Who will have access to the accessibilty scores in my course?

You and very few individuals have access to the accessibility scores regarding your course. These individuals have access due to their administrative or support roles on campus. Students do not have access to this.

Why do I need to fix my source files? I thought Ally did that?

Ally does a good job of providing a more accessible alternate format for content. However, Ally does not change the original source file. Therefore, your help is instrumental in remediating the source files. Doing this remediation one time will help to ensure that file is of the highest quality when the file is used in another course, or when that course is copied to another term.

What will Ally not handle well?

It is a goal of the Ally software to provide the most robust, yet easy-to-use software. However, Ally current does not:

  • Evaluate or provide alternate versions of SCORM files.
  • Evaluate or provide alternate versions of ZIP files.
  • Convert all handwriting to a sufficiently acceptable quality. Some handwriting may convert better than others.
  • Make all STEM content fully accessible. This is a limitation of automated technology, felt across the entire accessibility industry.
What systematic changes can I make that will produce the most accessible content?

There are lots of small changes that you could make to help ensure that all of your content is more accessible and usable by all people. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Use headings in MS Word.
  • Use the built-in MS Office Accessibility Checker in Word and PowerPoint before distributing.
  • Always use the most current version of MS Office available to you.

If you must use a PDF, try to share a Word Document version as well.

How much time will it take to fix the original/source file?

We understand that your time is valuable and limited. This may vary depending upon your technology, and previous experience fixing content. Based on the Pilot in Summer 2021, on average it takes 1-10 minutes to add the following: 

  • missing alt text to an image
  • headings to Word document
  • missing Headers to document data tables
Will I be punished if I have red indicators (i.e. low scores)?

The accessibility indicators are designed to give faculty an idea of the accessibility of content. They are meant to bring awareness as most faculty have not had previous accessibility training.

Alternative Formats

Does Ally produce quality alternate formats? What do I do if Ally produces a low-quality alternate format?

Ally produces high-quality alternate versions. However, the quality of the conversion is dependent upon the quality of the source file. If the source file is low-quality (is crooked, has handwriting, has highlights, has text cut off, has poor contrast, etc.), Ally will produce a lower-quality alternate format.

Where can I find the alternate formats button?

Next to each file in the LMS is a dropdown arrow. Choosing that dropdown gives the option of Alternate Formats 

How much time will it take to download an alternative format?

Alternative versions take 1-2 minutes to generate when first requested and are immediately available after that, so you can access them on-demand, any time.

How do instructors & students use each of the alternate format options?

Options are helpful for most people. Ally provides options to consume your content in a variety of alternative formats.  

Ally and Disabilities Services at BHSU

Does Ally guarantee accessibility or compliance?

No, Ally is NOT a compliance tool and will not automatically make your institution compliant. Accessibility of digital course content is a challenging problem and is very much a spectrum or continuum. Full compliance is a complex and nuanced statement to make and is extremely difficult to achieve.

Ally will help move our institution towards compliance by automatically generating more accessible alternatives for content items, providing feedback and guidance to instructors, and providing insight into the institution’s overall performance through the institutional report.

Avoid absolute statements about Ally. For example:

  • “Ally creates 100% accessible documents”
  • “Ally makes content ADA compliant”
  • “Ally checks all content everywhere within LMS”
Should I tell students with disabilities in my class about Ally?

Yes. Please encourage all students to use the alternative formats in the course. However, please be mindful to avoid singling out any students who may benefit, particularly those who have disabilities. Singling out any student(s) could create a disability and/or privacy violation.

Will I still need to provide academic accommodations with Ally turned on for my course?

Yes. Ally is not a compliance software. It is designed to make content more available to students by providing alternate versions and to provide guidance to faculty regarding the accessibility of their content. Students and faculty will still partner with their institution’s Disability Services Office around academic accommodations as accommodations remove specific barriers for an individual student.  Ally will not replace academic accommodations established by your Disability Services Office.

Intellectual Property

Aren't you infringing on my intellectual freedom?

As an instructor at BHSU, we are required to follow national and state laws to prevent discrimination based on disability. Section 504 and 508 of the Rehabilitation Act have existed since 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act came out in 1990. While these laws may not have been at the forefront, we have been expected to comply with these laws since enactment.



Article ID: 470
Mon 1/22/24 4:57 PM
Thu 2/15/24 10:29 AM