Overview of Blackboard Ally
Blackboard Ultra does provide a service within it called Ally. This service works in the background and will ‘convert’ files uploaded to Blackboard into multiple alternative formats. This means that students can choose formats that work best for them (e.g. HTML for improved reading on mobile phones, electronic braille for the visually impaired, and audio for learning on the go or for those who find reading difficult).
It is good inclusive practice for documents and other files to be designed and produced with some basic accessibility principles in mind. In addition, however, for Ally to undertake its work effectively, it is vital that the files uploaded originally are designed with basic accessibility principles applied. For example, if you upload a Word document with some images in, but the images have no ‘alt’ descriptions, then Ally will not be able to produce an audio version of that document that can provide a spoken description of that image at the point that the image appears.
Using Ally to help correct accessibility faults
Whilst it is best to upload accessible files to Blackboard for Ally to work on to produce alternative file formats, it is also possible to use Ally in a quite different way to help the individual uploading content. Any files uploaded to Blackboard will be ‘scored’ by the Ally system for the overall accessibility of the file. This score is underpinned by a report that will list all of the accessibility problems and provide instructions on how to correct any accessibility faults in the file.
Below are links to learning objects and guides that will help you to produce common file types in an accessible manner. There is also information on how you can use Ally to help correct the accessibility issues with content that has already been uploaded to Blackboard.