Blackboard Ally is a revolutionary product that integrates seamlessly into the Learning Management System and focuses on making digital course content more accessible. Your class is full of diverse students with unique learning abilities. Providing them with more accessible original content means they can choose formats that work best for them: HTML for improved reading on mobile phones, Electronic Braille for the visually impaired, and Audio for learning on the go. Ally automatically scans your original content, and performs a series of steps to make them more accessible.  Learn more about Ally by watching the video below. 

Getting Started

Classes are filled with diverse students with unique learning abilities. Being able to provide them with more accessible original content means that students can then choose to download formats that are suitable for their needs. 

Ally does all the work for you if your document is in a really good accessible format. It scans your original document and performs steps to convert it to it's alternative formats which include, audio, ePub, HTML, electronic braille and tagged PDF. 

Click Below for Ally Training Videos (opens in a new window)

View File Accessibility
Ally Score Tutotial
Creating Accessible PDFs
Creating Accessible Documents
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Frequently asked questions

Why should I make my material accessible?

In many cases, improving the accessibility of course content benefits all students, including those without a disability. Accessibility is often closely connected to the quality and usability of the course materials. Example 1: Having a proper digital copy of a document instead of a scan makes the document more usable for all students. It might make the document easier to read, especially for low-quality scans, and it also allows students to search through the document and find specific content, copy and paste sections of the document, and so on. Example 2: The Semantic HTML alternative format is fully responsive and mobile-friendly and makes it easier for all students to consume to content on their mobile device. The ePub alternative format makes it easy to change the visual display of a document and allows for annotations and highlighting to be added. The audio alternative format can be used during a commute, on a run, etc. The translated version alternative format can help second language students. Example 3: Having a video with captioning or a transcript will make the video more usable for all students. It allows the student to search through the video and find specific parts, the video can still be watched in high-noise environment (for example, commuting), and so on. Example 4: Having an image with a quality description can make the image more usable for all students. It can help clarify the content of the image and how it connects to the surrounding context, it makes the image searchable, and so on. Example 5: Providing a good heading structure for a long document makes the document more usable for all students. It provides additional structure, which makes it easier to work through and process the content. It also allows for a Table of Contents to be generated, which can improve the navigability of the document.

Does Ally change how my couse looks, what do my students see?

The only difference you'll see within your course is that Ally provides an accessibility score for your files. The score is shown by a gauge icon next to your course files. Select the gauge to view and improve your file accessibility Students see a menu to the left or right of each document. Students do not see the guage icons. From this menu, they can select Alternative formats to access available versions they can download. Although they can download alternative formats of your files, it is best to improve the documents through the instructor feedback.

What content does Ally check?

Currently, Ally checks files in these formats:

  • PDF files

  • Microsoft® Word files
  • Microsoft® PowerPoint® files
  • OpenOffice/LibreOffice files
  • Uploaded HTML files
  • Image files (JPG, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BPM, TIFF)
  • WYSIWYG/VTBE content The results for WYSIWYG content only appear in the Institutional Report and Course accessibility report.
  • YouTubeTM videos embedded in WYSIWYG/VTBE content

Does Ally generate alternative formats for student content?

Ally currently only processes instructor content. For example, content added by someone with edit permissions in the course. Ally currently does not process student content or student submissions.

What do I need to do to generate alternative formats for a content item?

Nothing. Ally automatically picks up on any existing or new materials, runs it through the accessibility checklist, and makes the alternative formats available to both the student and the instructor.

Is there a file size limit?

No, there is no file size limit. There may be cases where the algorithm fails to generate alternative formats for certain large files, but Ally doesn’t enforce a maximum file size.

What are the key things I should think about when creating documents/PDFs/Presentations?

Accessible course content makes it easier for everyone to read and access your materials and can help improve overall quality and usability. There are many low-effort adjustments you can make to start creating more accessible content.

  • Have sufficient contrast between text and background.

  • Use a font size of at least 12px.

  • Use proper heading styles.

  • Use a logical heading structure.

  • Add alternative descriptions to images that convey the full meaning of the image.

  • Use tables for tabular data only.

  • Ensure that all tables have column headers.

  • Use built-in list functionality for all lists.

  • Ensure that all links have text that describes the target.

  • Use built-in PowerPoint slide templates.

  • Don’t use scanned PDFs.

  • Ensure that all PDFs are tagged.

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