Accessibility: Ally in Brightspace

Ally is a revolutionary product that focuses on making digital course content more accessible. Ally is embedded within Brightspace to assist content creators in making files such as Word, PPT, images  and PDFs more accessible right within your course. 

  • Receive feedback on the accessibility of your content
  • Improve content accessibility with Ally's step-by-step instructions

Ally’s accessibility checklist is based on WCAG 2.1 AA (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines). This is an international accessibility standard, and most of the new legislation and legal requirements worldwide aligns with this standard.

Additionally, Ally adds a number of checks on top of this that start to target the usability and quality of the course materials a bit more.

Ally provides embedded tutorials on how to make your digital content accessible. Faculty and staff can attend training through Instructional Design and Distance Learning and Student Accessibility Services. Register for upcoming training on how to make use of this tool to ensure your course materials are accessible.

Ally also allows students to choose alternative formats for their course content. If content creators upload PowerPoint or Word lecture notes and the student prefers an audio version of the notes, they can facilitate this with the click of a button. Accessibility options will include audio files, electronic braille, epub for e-book readers and mobile devices and html for viewing in browsers.  


Ally analyzes the uploaded documents, then provides an accessibility score and how to improve those documents to be more accessible. Each score is composed of both a numerical number and a colored gauge that reflects the number. Faculty can access Ally in their Brightspace courses from within the course navbar under Course Tools > Ally Course Report.

Currently, Ally checks files in these formats:

  • PDF files
  • Microsoft® Word files
  • Microsoft® Powerpoint® files
  • OpenOffice/LibreOffice files
  • Uploaded HTML files

Within the User Interface, Ally uses the following thresholds for determining the color of the indicator:

  • 0% - 33%: Red = The file is not accessible and needs immediate attention.
  • 34% - 66%: Orange = The file is somewhat accessible, but needs further attention. 
  • 67% - 99%: Green = The file is accessible, but further improvements are possible.
  • 100%: Perfect = The file has a perfect accessibility score. There is no action needed to further improve.

Accessibility is very much a spectrum where further improvements are always possible, so it’s hard to provide a point at which the item becomes “accessible”. However, as a rule of thumb, once an item is in the green zone it should be doing reasonably well. 



Ally creates alternative files that are easier to use by all students. Ally works within your online course so it's available right where you need it.

Alternative files include readable text for screen readers, pictures with alternative text, and easy-to-navigate content. Ally creates multiple alternatives from the original documents in your course. You can download these alternative formats anywhere that files are used. You can use Ally in your web browser or in the Brightspace Pulse mobile app. Ally generates this on demand. In most cases, this completes within 1-2 minutes.

Ally Quick Start for Students


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Article ID: 61308
Mon 8/27/18 2:43 PM
Wed 10/18/23 12:56 PM