Blackboard Ally

The 1.5 minute video above highlights how instructors can use Ally to improve content accessibility in your courses. And YES the course Accessibility Report is available to you under Course Tools - right at the top.

Introduction

Ally is a Blackboard tool that helps support diverse learning needs by making content accessible to all learners by automatically providing multiple download formats to students and content accessibility reporting to faculty. It offers multiple alternative formats to students for each piece of content, as well as reporting for faculty on the general accessibility of the documents and content items you present to students.

And for instructors, it just shows how accessible your content is and gives you pointers to make it more accessible. For example, Ally may identify Powerpoint slides that do not have Alt Text explanations of images, and will tell you how to add these to the slides to make them more accessible to all learners. When Ally is turned on, instructors will see a small gauge next to each piece of content, providing a summary score on that content as to its accessibility rating. Ally also provides an Accessibility Report for your course (found under Course Tools, Accessibility Report)


You can get introduced to Ally here: https://www.blackboard.com/teaching-learning/accessibility-universal-design/blackboard-ally-lms

Ally Benefits

Below is a short video showing how Ally can benefit students:

Instructions for Use

Ally is now activated for all SSW courses.

What Faculty See

In content folders, such as Course Materials, instructors will see icons next to each content item, providing a color coded "speedometer" or "accessometer" displaying red for low accessibility, yellow for medium and green for high. Clicking those icons will bring up information about the score and how to improve it.

By clicking the Course Tools menu and the Accessibility Score item, faculty also see a tally of all the types of content items Ally has found and rated in their course (PDFs, Powerpoints, Docs, External links, images, etc.), an overall accessibility score, a ranking of the severity of accessibility issues, and information to help remediate and make items more accessible:

When an instructor uploads a document to Blackboard, Ally will analyze the document for its accessibility. Once analyzed, the document will show an indicator. The indicators are not visible to students, they are only visible to instructors.

Accessibility indicators will appear on any document uploaded across Blackboard.

The indicators will denote how accessible the corresponding document is.

• The first icon indicates a score of 0-33% accessible. This document or file needs a lot of work to improve the accessibility.

• The second icon indicates a score of 34-66% accessible. This document or file needs some work to improve the accessibility of the document.

• The third icon indicates a score of 67-99% accessible. This document or file is mostly accessible, but needs some minor improvements.

• The last icon indicates a perfect accessibility score. This document or file is accessible.

Ally will guide you through the process of updating content to make it more accessible. As you fix content or make improvements, your accessibility score will rise. In many cases, content that is easiest to fix will only require a few clicks and improvements.

Fixing Content

When you click the colored icons (per above) - Ally shows you what the issues are.

The image below depicts what you see when the colored icon is clicked. You see the file on the left, and in the right column you see the accessibility score, along with the primary issues. In this example, the PDF is "untagged." If you don't know what that means, click "What this means" to read about it. Then you can click "How to tag a PDF" or whatever the issue is, Ally tells you information on how to fix the file. So 4 steps to fix your content:

  1. Read about the issue and how to fix it

  2. Download the file, using the download arrow in the upper right.

  3. Fix the content per the instructions in #1 and upload the new fixed file - and watch your accessibility score go up!

Also keep in mind, if the problem is that PDFs are not "OCR'ed" (meaning screen readers can't read them because they are essentially photocopied images and not readable text) - you (and students) may be able to use the Ally "alternate formats" download to download and OCR'ed version, as depicted in the image below. To get to this, click the A (alternative formats) icon next to content in your Course Materials folders - and download the OCRed PDF. After downloading the OCRed PDF you can go upload that to replace the old version using the instructions above.


Note: It is normal instinct to want to achieve 100% accessibility. It is quite difficult to do however, particularly if there are a large number of PDF documents that are from other sources and original content is unavailable. There is no "passing" score. Our goal as an institution is to provide access for all and reduce barriers to education. This tool is merely a guide to help us achieve that. Our average SSW score in AY22-23 was 65%.

Be sure to reach out to IDEA Team if you have any questions or needs related to this information!

What Students See

Students will see a new icon next to every piece of content that shows all of the alternative formats they can view the content with (which may include remediated PDFs or docs, text to voice, electronic Braille, etc...) See more info on this page of Alternative Formats (https://help.blackboard.com/Ally/Ally_for_LMS/Student/Alternative_Formats)