Blackboard Collaborate does not currently have the automatic closed captioning feature, however, there is the opportunity to make an attendee a captioner. Captioners type what is being said during a session. Other attendees can view what is being typed in real time. You can have multiple captioners for multiple languages. More on live closed captioning.
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.
PERCEIVABLE e.g: text alternative, closed captions
OPERABLE e.g: Keyboard accessible
UNDERSTANDABLE e.g: Text should be organised with headings
Blackboard Consistency – Don’t be tempted to change the menu. All module Blackboards built on the ‘standardised’ template have a link to Productivity tools, this link will guide staff and students to the range of productivity software packages on University PCs and also for the use at home.
Blackboard accessibility options. Within the Blackboard Global Navigation menu under settings there is guidance for changing Text size and High Contrast.
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 ‘Accessbility Report’ available in the Control Panel > Course Tools area of its menu. Clicking on the 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 new 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:
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.
* currently available in 2021-22, 2020-21 and 2019-20 Blackboard courses, for items created using the in-built text editor and for files uploaded as PDF, Word, PowerPoint, OpenOffice/LibreOffice, and HTML.