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Improve Accessibility with Ally

  • Accessibility
  • Inclusive & Equitable Teaching
  • Blackboard
  • Technology & Software

Last modified: October 3, 2022

Ally has tools that can help you monitor how accessible your course is and can guide you in correcting accessibility issues.

Overview

What does Ally do?

Ally has four main functions that will increase your ability to publish accessible, equitable courses:

  • Alternative formats - Ally can automatically create alternative formats for students to choose from based on their needs and situation. 
  • Accessibility icons- When you add resources (PDFs, Word documents, Google docs, videos, etc.) to your course, Ally will rate the accessibility of that resource to make you aware of any changes that should be made. No mechanical accessibility checker is perfect, but this tool can help you avoid major barriers in your courses. 
  • Course Report - Ally will also provide a report on the accessibility of your course as a whole. On the course report page, Ally will also supply suggested changes you can make to fix accessibility issues.
  • Guidance - Ally will not automatically fix accessibility issues, but it will offer you step-by-step guidance for correcting many issues on your own. 

Read on to learn more about these functions.

Alternative Formats

As educators we know that learning styles among students can vary dramatically meaning that the needs of all students cannot be met in the same way. One way that Ally helps with this is by providing alternative formats for many of the resources you post. Some of the available alternatives are determined by the type of file that you upload, but most documents will have some or all of the following alternatives available: 

  • PDF
  • Electronic Braille
  • Audio
  • HTML
  • Immersive Reader
  • Beeline Reader
  • EPub

The icon for downloading alternative formats looks like the letter “A” and a downward-pointing arrow:

A section of a content page showing a resource labeled

Clicking on the icon will bring up a list of alternative formats for students to choose from. If you would like to learn more about these individual formats and their uses, see our Alternative Formats page.

Handout for students - post this handout in your Blackboard course in a place where students will be able to quickly find and access it. 

Accessibility Icons

When Ally is enabled, icons that look like gauges show up on posts that you add to your Blackboard course to indicate the level of accessibility. Only you see these, not students. Here’s what those icons mean:

Ally's indicators showing how accessible a resource is. Red means Low, orange means Medium, Light green means High, darker green means perfect

Clicking on the gauge will take you to suggestions for improving your content.

Course Accessibility Report

Ally also creates an Accessibility Report regarding your course as a whole. You can find the link to this report under Course Tools. This report will detail the types of content in your course, your course’s overall accessibility rating, issues that can be fixed to raise your score, and a list of issues in order of severity. It will look something like this:

Ally's course accessibility dashboard