Ally is a set of tools within Brightspace courses that helps instructors to make course content more accessible by delivering the following functionality:
- Automatically runs your course materials through an accessibility checker eliminating the need to use multiple checkers and tools.
- Provides feedback on the accessibility of your course content and guidance on how to fix any identified accessibility issues.
- Generates accessible alternatives to your original document. HTML for viewing on mobile devices. This supports the principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) and allows students to choose the type of file that best suits their needs. Formats include
- electronic braille
- tagged PDFs
- HTML for viewing on mobile devices
If Ally is turned on for your course*, your course files/content will have color “dials” or “gauges” next to them.** They indicate the file’s level of accessibility and are there to help you prioritize which files you want to fix first. Don’t worry, your students can’t see them. If you hover over the indicators, you’ll see if the accessibility score is “low,” “medium,” or “high.”Click the indicator to see the percentage score, specific issues aﬀecting the file, and instructions for improving the file.
Scores range from Low to Perfect. The higher the score, the fewer the issues:
- Low (0-33%): Needs help! There are severe accessibility issues.
- Medium (34-66%): A little better. The file is somewhat accessible and needs improvement.
- High (67-99%): Almost there. The file is accessible, but more improvements are possible.
- Perfect (100%): Perfect! Ally didn’t identify any accessibility issues, but further improvements may still be possible.
* To request that Ally be turned on for your courses(s) submit your request to the IDAT team. Please include your course title and the section of the course. ex. Principles of Writing ENG-111-H
**The accessibility gauge indicates the degree to which a file meets WCAG2.1 accessibility standards.
Example 1: Low color contrast
As you can see in the following example this .docx was scored as “Low”, showing red on the gauge, due to insufficient (color) contrast. Note the light gray text against the white background in the headings.
- Select the accessibility score next to the document title to open the instructor feedback panel.
- Read the description of the issue under the gauge.***
- Additional resources can be found when you click on the “What this means” and the “How to fix” buttons.
- Once the original .docx is repaired you can upload it back to your course. You will see a new improved score for the document.
To find out more about the importance of sufficient color contrast check out the Effective Use of Color – Creating Accessible Content blog post.
*** You can also select “All issues” to see every issue in the file and decide what to fix first. This option will also provide you with how much each fix will improve the accessibility of the file.
Example 2: PDF tagging
In the next example, the .pdf is not tagged delivering a score of only 5%, showing red on the gauge:
If you have access to the original PDF you can tag it using the FoxIt PDF editor that you have access to on your Meredith laptop or desktop.
- Open the FoxIt editor and then locate the original PDF.
- From the Accessibility menu select the Autotag Document option.
- A Recognition Report will appear to the left of the PDF. There may be multiple issues to fix in the PDF, but the PDF is now tagged. The improvement in the score is tied directly to the successful tagging of the PDF.
As I mentioned previously, there is more work to do on this PDF to make it more accessible. For more information on fixing accessibility issues in PDFs please refer to the Library of Accessibility Resources in Brightspace. Select the Accessible PDFs module.
Look for future blog posts on Ally: Alternative formats; Course Accessibility Report