What are those little dials in my course?


During summer of 2018, University of Washington negotiated a contract with Ally, a Blackboard product. Ally is an add-in to the Canvas Learning Management System that scans images, documents and videos uploaded to a course and provides accessibility feedback via an accessibility indicator, those little, colorful dial-like icons you now see as an instructor in your Canvas courses.

The addition of Ally to Canvas is part of the UW efforts to support accessibility, diversity, and equity for our students, faculty and staff.

So… What do I do now?

Links to readings in a Canvas course showing the Ally accessibility indicators

The little dials you see are attached to images, MS Office documents and PDFs. When clicked, the indicator show you how accessible an item is, what it means, and how to fix it. For example, a PDF, it may say that it is an image and it should be made accessible by re-scanning the file to create a text-based version to replace the one that is in the course. An image may say that is missing alt text or it is not descriptive enough. You can choose to mark it as decorative or add its meaning in the context where it is being used.

Tip: Avoid using “Image of”, “Photo of”, etc., in alt text – It is not necessary as screen readers and some text to speech tools already announce images. For more tips go to the Ally Remediation Cheat Sheet.

To learn more about Ally you can go to Ally Accessibility in Canvas content and/or come see us at the DLI office in the second floor of the Library, LBA 204E, call us at 425.352.3906, or email us at uwbdli@uw.edu.