Blackboard Ally

What is Blackboard Ally?

Ally is a tool that helps faculty improve the accessibility of course documents.  With Ally, students view course documents in a variety of formats that support different learning needs.  Ally is integrated into the Blackboard Learning Management System (LMS) and automatically provides alternative formats of certain course documents.  Ally offers step-by-step guidance to faculty when a course document or content needs improvement. 

Ally for Faculty

 

Ally automatically measures the accessibility of PDF, Word, OpenOffice, HTML or PowerPoint files uploaded to Blackboard.  Ally provides an accessibility score for the file with a visible gauge. The accessibility gauge indicates the degree to which a file meets WCAG2.1 accessibility standards. The gauge icons are visible only to the course instructor and are shown below:

  • low gaugeLow: File is not accessible and requires immediate attention to correct accessibility issues.
  • medium gaugeMedium: File is somewhat accessible.  The file could be improved.
  • high gaugeHigh: File is accessible.  There are non-critical issues to be improved.
  • perfect gaugePerfect: File is accessible. No improvement needed.

Note: Ally and other accessibility checkers use programmed algorithms and may not identify all accessibility issues. Click here for additional information on creating accessible resources.

 

An example accessibility score, you can click on the Ally icon to see detailed suggestions on how to improve an item's accessibility.
An example accessibility score, you can click on the Ally icon to see detailed suggestions on how to improve an item's accessibility.

Blackboard Ally is disabled by default in Classic View course sections, allowing instructors to choose when and where they want to receive accessibility assessments of their course content. To enable Ally in a Classic View course, enter your course and click on Customization > Tool Availability.

A screenshot of a Blackboard Classic View course, indicating towards the Tool Availability menu.

 

Find the row for Ally and check the “Available” checkbox, then click Submit.

A screenshot of a Blackboard Classic View course, indicating towards the Ally availability checkbox.

 

Each of your content items will now display with an ally gauge and an Alternative Format icon.

A screenshot of a Blackboard Classic View course, demonstrating a file with alternative format and accessibility meter icons.

Ally for Students

 

For PDF, Word, OpenOffice, HTML or PowerPoint files in Blackboard, Ally produces several alternative formats of the original file such as electronic braille, audio, or tagged PDF. Students may download a file version best suited to their needs by opening the drop-down menu next to the file and choosing the "Alternative Formats" option. If an alternate document file such as a translation to another language is not appropriate for the course (i.e. a language course), faculty may turn off that format for the document.
 
Please note: Students are not able to view the Ally gauges on your files.