Blackboard Ally – accessible content is better content

Published by Caroline Carlin on

Author: Neil Carroll, TELT

We are excited to announce that we will be launching Blackboard Ally as part of the move to managed hosting (SaaS) in August 2019.

What is Ally?

Ally is a tool integrated within Blackboard to help you make your uploaded documents more accessible.

It provides:

  • An automatic check on the accessibility of uploaded documents and then generates alternative accessible formats that students can select from.
  • Feedback to instructors on how to improve the accessibility of their module materials.

Accessible content is better content for everyone!

Providing students with more accessible original content means they can choose from several downloadable formats that work best for them.  Here’s just a sample of the accessible alternative formats currently available:

  • HTML for improved reading on mobile devices
  • Electronic Braille for the visually impaired
  • Audio (MP3) for learning on the go
  • Translated versions (currently 50, including Chinese, German, Japanese, Korean and Russian)

Ally automatically scans your original files such as PDF’s, Word, PowerPoint and HTML content and performs a series of steps to make them more accessible. Your original file will not be affected by the alternative formats.  

Ally Indicators

Ally integrates directly with Blackboard Learn and provides immediate accessibility feedback on documents within your spaces.

All your documents will have the Ally colour “dials” next to them.

Image of Blackboard Ally indicators

They indicate the files level of accessibility and are there to help you prioritise which files you want to fix first.  Hovering over the indicators, displays whether the accessibility score is “low,” “medium,” or “high.” You can then follow the step-by-step guidance to improve your original file.  

If you are not sure about how to identify and correct accessibility issues with your course content, don’t worry as Ally provides you with detailed feedback and support to help you become an accessibility pro.

Image of Blackboard Ally feedback

You will learn about accessibility issues, why they matter, and how to fix them. 

Don’t worry the Ally indicators will not visible to students, only instructors will see these.

Further Information

Improving Accessibility is a journey, so don’t worry about getting everything 100% right at once.

All our Blackboard Support Guides have all been Ally checked and meet the criteria of either a High or Perfect accessibility standard!  Watch out for our Ally Checked Logo.

Image of Blackboard Ally - green is the goalRemember – Green is the goal!

View Blackboards Ally Quick Start guide

The Blackboard Support Team will be scheduling Ally workshops over the summer and into the new academic year, to help you get started with making your content more accessible for your students.  Watch out for these on the E3 hub. 

In the meantime, have a look at the videos below:


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