ALLY: ACCESSIBLE BLACKBOARD Outlines what steps you can take to make your Blackboard modules more accessible so that they adhere to the Accessibility Regulations introduced in 2018. Please also ensure that you have completed the HR&OD online course “Understanding Web Accessibility” prior to booking this session.
Blackboard Ally (or simply just ‘Ally’) is a tool which allows you to download alternative formats for common documents to make learning resources more accessible. Files uploaded to Blackboard are automatically given an Ally icon (looks like an ‘A’ with an arrow next to it) to the right of the file name, clicking on this opens the option to download the following different formats:
Tagged PDF – structured PDF for improved use with assistive technology
HTML – for viewing in the browser and on mobile devices
ePub – for reading as an e-book on an iPad and other e-book readers
Electronic Braille – BRF version for consumption on electronic braille displays
Audio – MP3 version for listening
BeeLine Reader – making reading on screen easier and faster with colour gradients
On Blackboard courses where you are an Instructor, you will also see an indicator to the left of the file name which shows how accessible the document is, and clicking on this makes suggestions for how to improve the document for all users. Students do not see these indicators in their view.
“Digital accessibility is the ability of a website, mobile application or electronic document to be easily navigated and understood by a wide range of users, including those users who have visual, auditory, motor or cognitive disabilities”
1 in 5 people in the UK have a disability – this could be visual, hearing, motor or cognitive (affecting memory and thinking). All users will have different needs at different times and in different circumstances e.g. location, health, equipment. It is important that all of our online resources are accessible. The Public sector bodies (websites and mobile applications) Accessibility Regulations 2018 has ‘an accessibility requirement for online resources based on the principles below:
PERCEIVABLE e.g: text alternative, closed captions
OPERABLE e.g: Keyboard accessible
UNDERSTANDABLE e.g: Text should be organised with headings
Materials should be available at least 48 hours in advance. Providing module information in advance helps all students understand what is expected of them, especially students with cognitive impairments and it allows all students to plan.
Meaningful file and folder names which include descriptions. This is helpful to all students not just those students using screen reading software.
Use of colour. Use colours that have correct contrast, i.e. dark text on light background, and avoid using patterned backgrounds. Avoid yellow-blue or red-green combinations or using font colour alone to convey meaning.
Alt text for images. Include alternative text for any images, pictures or graphs that are essential to the learning . Try to keep the description short but meaningful.
Avoid using underlined text. Do not use underline to emphasise words as this is indicative of a weblink on line.
As a complement to the indicator icon Ally provides a course accessibility report which includes Overview and Content tabs. These provide either an overall picture as well as specific details about the accessibility of your digital course content.
Overview –shows the accessibility score for the course, course content grouped by content type, and a list of all issues identified in the course.
Content – shows you the content with accessibility issues.
Choose what to fix first
The report can be used to help you decide what to fix first. For example, content with most severe issues first or start with content that is easiest to fix.
Issues are listed in order of priority from severe to minor. Those at the top of the list should be addressed first. Ally looks at the number of students impacted, how often the issue occurs, and the accessibility score to determine the priority.
Severe: These issues are the greatest risk to accessibility and require the most attention.
Major These issues impact accessibility, and while not severe, require attention.
Minor: These issues should be considered for a better accessibility score.
Viewing your Module Accessibility Report
Every Blackboard course has an ‘Accessibility Report’ available from the Tools link on the Blackboard menu. Clicking on the ‘Accessibility Report’ link will open the report where you can see a wider picture of the course content, make accessibility fixes, and narrow by severity. More information about using the Ally Accessibility Report.
Blackboard has a feature which will help your students get the most from their course resources, and help you make your Blackboard space inclusive for all.
Blackboard Ally automatically converts course resources into a variety of formats, from HTML and e-book for reading on mobile devices, to Electronic Braille for the visually impaired, and audio for learning on the go.
Files uploaded to Blackboard are automatically given an Ally icon (looks like an ‘A’ with an arrow next to it) to the right of the file name, clicking on this opens the option to download the following different formats:
Tagged PDF – for improved use with assistive technology
HTML – for viewing in the browser and on mobile devices
e-pub – for reading as e-book on iPad and other e-book readers
Electronic braille – for use with electronic braille displays
Audio MP3 – for listening
Bee-line reader – enhanced version for easier on screen reading
Immersive Reader – Read Aloud experience to aid reading comprehension. Online only.
Blackboard Ally (or simply just ‘Ally’) is a tool which allows you to download alternative formats for common documents to make learning resources more accessible. Files uploaded to Blackboard are automatically given an Ally icon (looks like an ‘A‘ with an arrow next to it) to the right of the file name, clicking on this opens the alternative format download options.