Are you keeping up with the University’s initiative to make all digital course content accessible by 2021?

So how are you doing? Have you improved the accessibility of your digital content? As the instructor, you are the one responsible for checking and making any necessary improvements. Not sure where to start or feel overwhelmed?

Last January, Ally was integrated into Canvas to measure the accessibility of each file uploaded to a course. It shows the instructor at-a-glance how it scores (low, medium, high, perfect). These color coded gauges you see next to your files are not seen by your students, but are there to provide feedback on any issues found with a file along with guidance for how to correct them.

Ally Score Gauges

Ally Color-coded Gauges

Our institutional reports show that for the 270,179 items of content in 2,743 UDSIS courses for Fall 2019, we are at an overall score of 65%. We have some work to do to make this overall score higher. This report also identifies the issues found within these courses. Issues are identified as severe, major or minor. For Fall 2019, there were 35 issues found:  4 severe, 17 major and 14 minor issues. The top ten issues are listed in this article. The more items effected by an issue, the higher it is in the list. So the number 1 issue effects 39,546 pieces of content.

  1. Document: The document has contrast issues – Major
  2. Document: The document does not have a language set – Minor
  3. Document: The document is untagged – Major
  4. Document: The document contains images without a description – Major
  5. Document: The document does not have any headings – Major
  6. Document: The document is missing a title – Minor
  7. Image: The image does not have a description – Major
  8. Document: The document has tables that don’t have any headers – Major
  9. Document: The document is scanned but not OCRed – Severe
  10.  HTML: The HTML’s heading structure does not start at the right level – Major

Information is provided within this article for how to correct the two minor issues in this list of top ten. We all have to start somewhere, so by tackling these simple, yet important issues, we can begin to raise the University’s overall score. Let’s all target these and hope to see some improvement in our scores by our next newsletter.

Meanwhile, look for some upcoming workshops and activities to help you better understand how to make adjustments and corrections for other issues you may have from this top ten list. Canvas has documented General Accessibility Design Guidelines to help you understand more about accessibility concerns and why it is important to design your courses with accessibility in mind.

Don’t know which issues you may have? Click on each gauge that you see next to a file or image in your course. Remember, the red gauges mean you have some work to do. If you see green, you are on a great path to accessible content already.

Canvas files with Ally scoring gauges

Example of Canvas files with the Ally scoring gauges.

You can refer to the Ally Quick Start Guide for more information.


Minor Issue 1: The document does not have a language set

This issue affects 35,898 files in Canvas, this Fall 2019. Usually these are pdf files.

Directions are listed below to fix this issue for a pdf using Adobe Acrobat Pro. If you do not have Adobe Acrobat Pro to help with editing and checking your pdf files,  instructors can download it from UDeploy.

Set the Language for an Entire Document

  1. Open the Document Properties dialog: Choose File > Properties
  2. Select a language from the Language menu in the Reading Options area of the Advanced tab.
  3. Activate the OK button.

If you are using the Accessibility Checker in Adobe Acrobat Pro, you can right click on the document issue regarding Language, select Fix and choose the appropriate language.


Minor Issue 2: The document is missing a title

This issue affects 22,855 pdf files in Canvas, this Fall 2019.

To fix this issue for a pdf, using Adobe Acrobat Pro, the manual directions are listed below.

  • Choose File > Properties > Description.
  • Enter a title in the Title text box.
  • Click Initial View, and then choose Document Title from the Show drop-down list.
  • Click OK to close the Description dialog box.

If you are using the Accessibility Checker in Adobe Acrobat Pro, after running a Full check, you can right click on the Document Issue for the Title and select Fix from the Options. Fill in the Description pop-up box with the Title. Uncheck Leave As Is.

At any time if you have questions about Ally and the accessibility of your documents in Canvas, please contact Don’t forget, there are faculty who are Accessibility Ambassadors in each of the Colleges. Reach out to them if needed too.