Anthology Ally for Instructors

Improve Your Accessibility Score

Anthology Ally (formerly Blackboard Ally) provides instructors feedback and guidance for improving accessibility of their eLearning@UNG (D2L) course content.

Anthology Ally logo
Ally Logo

Ally converts the digital course content into these alternative formats for students: audio MP3, ePub, electronic Braille, and BeeLine Reader.

Ally is seamlessly integrated with D2L. After an instructor saves content to a module, Ally automatically checks for accessibility issues and assigns the content an accessibility score. This process takes just a few minutes.

Each score is composed of both a numerical number (100% is best) and a colored gauge ranging from red (low score) to dark green (high score).

Students do not see the score or the gauge.

Four gauge graphics in a row (from left) in red, orange, light green, and green
Ally’s Color-Coded Gauges

What Does Ally Check?

Ally looks at files attached to a course in these formats:

  • PDF files
  • Microsoft Word files
  • PowerPoint files
  • OpenOffice/LibreOffice files
  • Uploaded HTML files
  • Image files for Alt text (JPG, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BPM, TIFF)

Note: For content typed or pasted into D2L’s HTML editor, be sure to use D2L’s Accessibility Checker. (See D2L’s Accessibility Checker below.)

What Will Cause a Low Score?

  • Images without alternative text (alt text) or alt description.
  • PDFs with missing alt text, or scanned PDFs of text.
  • Poor text color contrast such as yellow text on a light background or blue text on a dark background.
  • A font size that is too small.
  • Missing H1, H2, H3, and H4 tags which indicate heading and subsection content.
  • Tables without table headers.
  • Media that could potentially trigger seizures or other harmful responses in students.
  • Links without text that describes the target.
  • PowerPoints built without templates, missing alt text on images, missing titles, or a missing reading order.

Fixing issues identified by Ally will improve the accessibility score.

(PDF from Anthology) Instructor Package: Resources and Support

Does a Good Score Mean the Content is Accessible?

The answer is… it depends. Ally checks and provides feedback for uploaded content, not content created with the HTML Editor in D2L.

In the example below, a Microsoft Word document was uploaded into a D2L course module. Ally flagged the module with a red gauge, indicating a low accessibility score. The same content was copied and pasted from the Word document into the HTML Editor. It is flagged with a green gauge, indicating a good accessibility score. Same content, different score.

Screenshot of two modules in D2L  - one contains a Word document (with a low score) and a file with content in the HTML editor (with a high score).
Ally is currently designed to check uploaded content such as PDFs, images, Word and PowerPoint documents, not content in the HTML Editor.

How To Use Ally

Click the Ally gauge icon to open the feedback panel. Ally provides a thumbnail version of the document with the problems highlighted. It also has the accessibility score, a description of the problem, and links to step-by-step instructions for making corrections.

Ally also provides a link to download the document from D2L. After making corrections, use the upload box to replace the original document with the corrected version. Ally will then update the accessibility score.

Ally provides a thumbnail of the Word document, highlights the problem, provides a score and steps to correct the problem.
Screenshot of the Ally feedback panel in D2L shows a smaller version of the document (left) highlighting an image without a alt text. It also contains the Ally meter and score (top right), links to instructions for improving the score, and the document upload area (bottom right).

Ally checks documents uploaded to a module in Brightspace by D2L. For content written in, or pasted into D2L’s HTML Editor, use the Accessibility Checker.

D2L’s Accessibility Checker

The same Word document from the example above was copied and pasted (text and image) into a file using D2L’s HTML editor.

Using D2L’s Accessibility Checker, six problems are identified. It does not have the robust instructions as Ally, but it does highlight issues and provides an opportunity to make corrections.

Screenshot of the D2L Accessibility Checker showing the image and text in the HTML editor, checker issue on top right, and arrow pointing to the checker icon on bottom right.
Scroll down to the bottom of the D2L HTML Editor to open the Accessibility Checker (eye icon with a check mark). Click the icon, view the issues, and make corrections.

Ally’s feedback meter gave the D2L file a score of 69 percent. Ally flagged the same issues as the Word document, but did not provide corrective actions. For now, Ally is intended for use with uploaded documents. Continue to use the D2L Accessibility Checker.

Updated August 2022