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Office of Instructional Technology Guides

Using Canvas for Academic Success

What is Ally?

Ally is a content accessibility service integrated with learning management systems like Canvas. This service guides instructors on how to improve the accessibility of their course content and allows students to choose the format that's best for them. With the option of alternative content formats, students are offered a more inclusive learning environment.

What is an Alternative Format?

An alternative format is a varied representation of educational materials beyond traditional print, designed to accommodate diverse learning needs and preferences. It includes formats such as audio, electronic braille, and other modalities, fostering inclusivity by allowing individuals to choose how they access information based on their unique requirements.


Ally provides alternative formats for these content types and more:

  • PDF files
  • Microsoft Word files
  • Microsoft Powerpoint files
  • Content created in the LMS course editor

Ally can generate these alternative formats. The alternative formats available to download depend on the original file or content type:

  • OCR’d version (for scanned documents)
  • Tagged PDF
  • Immersive Reader
  • Mobile-friendly HTML
  • Audio
  • ePub
  • Electronic Braille
  • BeeLine Reader

For detailed descriptions of the listed Alternative Formats listed and help deciding which may be best for you, please visit: Help Center - Alternative Formats


Source: Student FAQ's About Ally

Ally in Your Course

Around your course you will see the Alternative formats icon; this icon indicates that the accompanying content (Canvas page, embedded documents, etc.) can be downloaded as an Alternative format.

NOTE: You may see the icon next to certain videos on your course site. Academic recordings cannot be downloaded and downloads are not permitted under the Class Recording Policy.

The Canvas Heading named Policies and Procedures with the A for Ally icon next to it that indicates Alternative Formats are available.

When a document is linked only (not embedded within the page), you will see the download icon. Click that icon to find the download Alternative formats option.

A screenshot of the Canvas Course Materials Page focused on the Course Readings and other materials section. There is a linked document with the download icon next to it. The download icon is clicked and has a dropdown memu with Preview, Download, and Alternative format options.


Download an Alternative Format

In this example, we go through downloading with BeeLine Reader. BeeLine Reader downloads as an HTML file that will open in your browser and allows you to choose different display formats that may increase reading efficiency.


1. Click the Alternative formats icon next to the desired content.

The Canvas Heading named Policies and Procedures with the A for Ally icon next to it that indicates Alternative Formats are available.

2. Select the desired Alternative format and then click the blue Download button.

The alternative format option window. Includes epub, electronic braille, audio, beeline reader, and immersive reader options next to radio buttons.

3. Go to your device's download folder and find your downloaded Alternative format.

The bottom tool bar of a Macbook that shows the downloads area with Policies and Procedures - Beeline downloaded to the computer.


4. Open the file to view.

Beeline reader's rendering of the Canvas Policies and procedures page in night mode. Other clickable options include bright, dark, blues, and grays.

More Information and Support

Please find more detailed information about Ally at their Help Center linked below:

Ally for LMS Help for Students

If you have questions, please contact the Office of Instructional Technology at