Blackboard Ally now enabled in all courses
- March 24th, 2020
- in UA11y News
In order to help instructors and students transition to online learning, Blackboard Ally for LMS has been enabled in all Blackboard courses. Ally helps make digital course content more accessible by automatically providing alternative formats (such as semantic HTML, audio, ePub, and electronic Braille) and providing instructor feedback and guidance on fixing accessibility issues in a course.
Ally for Instructors
To support our commitment to a more inclusive campus, we’re introducing a new tool called Ally into your Blackboard courses to help improve the accessibility of your course content. Ally doesn’t change how anything works in your course, and won’t affect your course files.
You’ll notice in your course red, orange, light green, and dark green gauges next to your course files. These are “Ally Indicators” and they let you know the accessibility of the file. The indicators are only visible to instructors in the course. Simply select the indicator to read detailed feedback about what the accessibility issues are with the file, why they matter, and how to fix them.
Improving the accessibility of your course content will not only help ensure students with disabilities can access your materials, it will also improve the learning experience for students who use mobile devices as well as who want to engage with the material in a different way. Ally automatically generates “alternative formats” of your course files, and makes them available to you and your students by clicking the dropdown icon next to the file name. The alternative formats don’t affect your original file, and allow students to access an HTML version for their phone, an ePub version for their tablet, an MP3 version for audio, and electronic braille for braille readers.
We hope you will take some first steps in using Ally to improve the accessibility of your course content, as well as encourage students to take advantage of the alternative formats. If you have questions or need help fixing an accessibility issue with one of your files, you can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ally for Students
To help ensure you have access to your digital learning materials in formats that work for your different devices, learning needs, and preferences, our Blackboard learning management system includes a new tool called Ally. Next to your course files, you’ll find an “A” icon. Simply select the icon, and you’ll see a list of options from which to choose. Download speed will depend on the file size.
Depending on the type of document, you many find some or all of the options below available:
- An OCRed PDF which is used to improve the text of scanned documents
- A Tagged PDF with improved navigation, especially if you use a screen reader
- An HTML version that will be adjust text for your mobile devices
- An ePub version if you use an eReader or tablet
- An Electronic Braille version if you’re a braille reader
- An audio version for listening to an MP3