We’re excited to announce a new tool that will be available starting August 9, 2021 in Blackboard called Ally. Ally will integrate seamlessly into all Blackboard courses, which will give students the ability to download course content in a format that meets their needs. The alternative formats don’t affect the original course files and allows students to access formats such as an HTML version for their phone, an ePub version for their tablet, an MP3 version for audio, and electronic braille for braille readers. The process is as simple as a download for students. It’s also a timesaver for instructors since Ally is providing the alternative formats of files that may have previously been requested by students.

This is an example of how the alternative format icon appears to students.

Blackboard Ally: Improving Course Accessibility

When students click the icon, a box will appear that allows them to choose an alternative format based on the original file type.

Blackboard Ally: Improving Course Accessibility

For instructors, the alternative formats provided by Ally automatically makes the course more accessible, but keep in mind that the alternative formats are only as accessible as the original files. This is where Ally shines, as it provides easy to follow guidance on how to correct accessibility issues within your course files. It does this in two ways: accessibility indicators and an overall course accessibility report.

This is an example of accessibility indicators that are only visible to the instructor. The color of the indicator gives an indication of the accessibility score of the file. Green is the goal! Simply click the indicator and Ally will guide you step by step on how to fix any issues.

Blackboard Ally: Improving Course Accessibility

The course Accessibility Report can be found under the Course Tools menu. The report gives an overall accessibility score for the course and various pathways on how to fix content. Using the report is a good way to ease the overwhelm you may feel when you decide to address accessibility issues with your course files. Remember, the course score is not a grade but simply a tool to guide you. It’s also motivating to watch that score improve!

Blackboard Ally: Improving Course Accessibility

 

In preparation for the fall semester, information on Ally training and resources will be featured in upcoming Academy newsletters and emails. Opportunities to learn more about Ally will also be part of the upcoming Opening Week (August 17-20). If you have any questions about Ally, contact the Academy at academy@harpercollege.edu.