Skip to Main Content

Digital accessibility student guide

Explore how to create, design and structure your content to ensure that is is accessible to everyone.

Introduction to Ally in Moodle

About automated alternative formats in Ally

Ally features a tool that converts files into alternative formats. These alternative formats are created automatically and do not require any extra actions from lecturers. They benefit all students by offering a choice of how to engage with resources, such as:

  • The ability to adjust text, font, and background
  • A preference for listening with an adjustable playback speed
  • A preference for reading, highlighting, bookmarking and notetaking
  • Mobile device adaptive/responsive

What alternative formats are available?

Students are able to choose from a range of alternative formats according to their preferences. 

The tool can convert the following file formats:

  • Word
  • PowerPoint
  • PDF

The formats you can convert the above file formats into are:

  • OCR PDFs can be created if the original content is a PDF of an image. It needs to be clear enough for Ally to read using Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology, which then converts the image into searchable text.
  • Tagged PDFs can be created from Word documents and PowerPoint presentations. They use tags and elements such as headings to create good content structure, which can aid screen reader users.
  • HTML files can be created from Word documents, PowerPoint presentations and PDFs. They are best viewed using a browser and adapts to the user’s device. 
  • ePub files can be created from Word documents, PowerPoint presentations, PDFs, and HTML files (including labels) to be read on e-reading software and applications such as Thorium and iBooks. ePubs allow font size adjustments, highlighting content and taking notes.
  • Electronic Braille files can be created from Word documents, PowerPoint presentations, PDFs and HTML files (including labels). These files require specific software to then be used. 
  • Audio/MP3 files can be created from Word documents, PowerPoint presentations, PDFs and HTML files (including labels). Audio files cannot currently be created for resources over 100,000 characters/around 30 pages. 
  • BeeLine Reader is an alternative format that changes text into different colour combinations to assist with dyslexia and ADHD. BeeLine files can be created from Word documents, PowerPoint presentations, PDFs and HTML files (including labels).
  • Immersive Reader is an online alternative format that enhances the reading experience, increasing the readability of the content. 

You can read what our Student Digital Assistants thought of alternative formats in their Alternative Formats post on the Learning at City blog.

How to download alternative formats

  1. Select the Download Alternative Formats icon that appears next to file resources. An overlay window will open.

    alternative formats button next to a word document file on Moodle

  2. Choose the alternative format that is best for your needs and select the Download button.

    alternative formats window with options for file conversions

  3. The file will be produced in the background. Once ready, it will download to your computer. This can take a few seconds.
  4. Select the x icon on the top right of the alternative formats overlay to return to your Moodle module.

Advice on automated alternative formats in Ally

All students can use Ally to download an automated alternative format of a resource from a Moodle module. Automated alternative formats are considered a supplementary resource. We advise you not to rely solely on the alternative format when reviewing your learning resources. Alternative formats are generated by Ally and are not human-checked or corrected, therefore they can contain errors. Make sure you check the alternative format against the original file to ensure you have a good understanding of the topic and the terminology used. You are encouraged to seek clarification from your teaching staff if necessary. 

Frequently asked questions

The alternative formats available to download are MP3, Tagged PDF, OCR PDF, HTML, ePub, BeeLine Reader, Immersive Reader, and Electronic Braille.

Alternative formats may not be available for certain learning resources or have been disabled by lecturers for the following reasons:

  • Alternative format not supported for the file type (e.g., Excel).
  • Alternative format(s) is known to be incorrect.
  • Reviewing the content in a different format may reveal the answer to an activity you are required to undertake while studying the content.

If you find some content or a document that is not accessible on Moodle, you can speak to the owner of the content, or your module leader, or your personal tutor, or your course officer in the first instance about how they can provide an alternative format.

We are always looking for ways to improve the accessibility of City’s Moodle. If you find any problems not listed on the accessibility statement for Moodle or think we’re not meeting accessibility requirements, contact IT.

Contact the Disability team to discuss your requirements for module resources in an alternative format if it is not covered by Ally.

Further support

The Library Service’s accessibility pages have a wealth of resources to support additional needs and assistive technology users. Additionally, the Student Counselling, Mental Health & Accessibility Service has more information regarding reasonable adjustments. You can also email the Disability team to discuss your requirements for module resources in an alternative format.

Creative Commons Licence
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License