Instructors across the IU system will soon see an exciting shift in their Canvas courses with the launch of Anthology Ally in spring 2023. This new program will help instructors make Canvas courses more accessible to students with disabilities.
The program provides instructors with just-in-time feedback and provides Canvas sections with an accessibility score from 0 to 100. When these dials are selected, it will open an instructor feedback panel and will describe the issue to the instructor as well as give direction on how to correct it.
“This is not a fix-everything-in-one-day kind of thing,” said Michael Mace, manager of the Assistive Technology and Accessibility Centers (ATAC). “If instructors try, they’re going to get frustrated and that is not what we want. This is about incremental fixes over time.”
Ideally, according to Mace, by providing instructors with the tools, skills, and knowledge to make their courses more accessible, those skills will eventually become second nature.
However, instructors will not be the only ones affected by Ally. The program will also provide students with the ability to experience their courses in different formats such as tagged PDFs, mobile-friendly HTML, audio, and ePubs. Having multiple options for students is a facet of Universal Design for Learning (UDL), a framework that guides the design of learning experiences to proactively meet the needs of all learners.
This is about incremental fixes over time.
“Since COVID, there is a growing number of students at IU that choose not to disclose their disability for a variety of reasons,” said Sarah Anne Herpst, a user support specialist at the ATAC. “And I think it’s very important to focus on the fact that Ally is helping serve that population as well.”
Chera LaForge, adjunct professor of political science at Indiana University East and one of the instructors who used Anthology Ally during its pilot phase, spoke about the program in a Connected Professor article.
“Faculty are not trained in accessibility issues,” LaForge said. “I think that’s one of the nice things about Ally. You don’t need a whole lot of knowledge about Universal Design for Learning or these different standards. Ally produces recommendations for changing things that make a lot of sense.”
For more information on Anthology Ally, please visit these two Knowledge Base documents regarding Anthology Ally for instructors and students.
About the Assistive Technology & Accessibility Centers
The UITS Assistive Technology and Accessibility Centers (ATAC) support Indiana University’s commitment to providing accessible programs and services for its students, departments, and faculty. The ATAC partners with campus disability services to offer assistive technology and IT accessibility consultations, presentations, training, and support.