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Student Disability Resource Center

Blackboard Ally for Instructors

Blackboard Ally feature automatically provides alternative formats for your course materials that students can download.  You can gain feedback about the accessibility of your materials on your course site. Creating course materials that follow accessibility guidelines and standards makes them more usable by all of your students.

Overview

As soon as you upload files into your Blackboard course, Blackboard Ally automatically analyzes the original content.  Ally creates alternative versions of the original material while your original file is not affected. Students can choose the formats that work best for the way they learn or the technology they use.

Blackboard also provides feedback to you, the instructor, regarding the accessibility of the original content.  It identifies any specific accessibility issues with the material and provides guidance of why the issue is important to certain users and support to help you make the original content more accessible.

Blackboard Ally evaluates Word documents, PDF documents, PowerPoint presentations, image files, and HTML files. It provides a colored gauge to indicate the overall accessibility score of the file.

When you click on the gauge, the information will vary, based on the type of file and the issues that are found. In general, though, you will see the following:

  • A statement of the issue
  • Button: What this means
  • Button: How to [repair this item]
  • A place to upload or browse for the repaired file   

When we were testing Ally, the following issues were discovered, starting with the most frequent: 

  1. The image does not have a description [Major issue]
  2. The document has contrast issues [Major issue]
  3. The document contains images without a description [Major issue]
  4. The document does not have any headings [Major issue]
  5. The document does not have a language set [Minor issue]
  6. The document is missing a title [Minor issue]
  7. The document is untagged [Major issue]
  8. The document has tables that don't have any headers [Major issue]
  9. The document is scanned but not OCRed [Severe issue]
  10. The image has contrast issues [Major issue]

Learn about resolving common issues.

Instructors can download an Accessibility Report. 

In a Blackboard Original View course:

  1. Go to Control Panel.
  2. Select Course Tools.

In Ultra Courses:

  1. Go to Books & Tools.

This report allows you to quickly identify the course materials that need to be edited appropriately to meet accessibility standards.  Instructor Feedback is provided for additional information and instructions about the issue.  The report also sorts the course content into lists for “Content with most severe issues” and “Content that is easiest to fix” to help you plan a remediation strategy.

Contact SDRC if you would like help to better understand accessibility and how your department can better accomodate students with a disability. The Center for Teaching Excellence often hosts Blackboard training.

In most cases, instructors are not required to remediate or improve the source document. The exception to this is as follows: if a student enrolled in your class has registered with the Student Disability Resource Center, they may benefit from one or more alternative formats to meet their accommodation requirements. SDRC can work with you to confirm that the original course materials are accessible by that student. Taking advantage of Ally, though, to continue to provide more accessible course documents can benefit any of your students.

Alternative Formats of Course Materials

Alternative Formats of course materials that you and your students can download include audio (mp3), electronic BrailleeBookBeeLine ReaderHTML, PDF, and Immersive Reader files. These alternative formats may assist students with specific disabilities, but any student who prefers to listen to course material or read it on an e-book reader, for example, can download the alternative material.  Learn more about alternative formats through Blackboard Ally.


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