• IT@UC Knowledge Base

 Blackboard Ally Overview

 Information on the Blackboard Ally tool for identifying and addressing accessibility issues.

What is Blackboard Ally?

Blackboard Ally (“Ally”) is a tool that integrates with Blackboard. Ally has two main functions: providing feedback on the accessibility of your course files along with guidance on how to make them more accessible, and automatically generating alternative formats for all files uploaded to Blackboard.

Ally provides you with at-a-glance feedback on the accessibility of your course files using colored dials that appear next to your file names (Red, Orange, Light Green, and Dark Green). These indicators are only visible to you and other instructors with access to your course. Ally checks most file formats, but there may be some files in your course that don’t have an Ally indicator next to them.

Ally automatically scans your original content and performs a series of steps to make them more accessible. Ally automatically generates these “Alternative Formats” for all your course files and makes them available for download to you and your students. Your original file will not be affected by the alternative formats. Alternative formats include HTML, Electronic Braille, ePub, and Audio/MP3.

What does this mean for me?

The University’s EIT Accessibility Policy, in accordance with federal disability Civil Rights statutes like the Americans with Disabilities Act, commits to ensuring that individuals with disabilities can access the educational opportunity and benefit of the institution with substantially equivalent ease of use as individuals without disabilities. To do that, resources put online should be designed, implemented and managed in a way to be accessible to individuals with disabilities.

Ally is a tool that allows you to do your part in correcting accessibility issues that are found in the content that you create or that you use for your courses. When you use Ally to improve the course documents you create, like a syllabus, or as a way to provide alternative access to content that you use, like a PDF, you are providing students with their basic educational rights of full and equal access.

How do I use Ally?

Ally has been enabled in all UC courses, so there is no need for setup on your end.

Login to Blackboard, and you will find the Ally indicators next to files or content. If you have no course files yet, upload one, and an indicator will appear next to the file name. Your course files and content will now have colored “dials” next to them. They indicate the file’s level of accessibility and are there to help you prioritize which files you want to edit first. Don’t worry, your students can’t see them. If you hover over the indicators, you’ll see if the accessibility score is “low,” “medium,” or “high.” Click the indicator to see the percentage score, specific issues affecting the file, and instructions for improving the file.

How do I get help?

If you have questions about or issues with Ally, you can contact the UCIT Help Desk or click the red floating question mark in Blackboard. You can also view the Ally Resource Documents for more in-depth information on Ally. 

The alternative formats offered by Ally are not intended to replace the student accommodation process. If you have a student who has a documented need for accommodation, please contact the Accessibility Resources office for additional guidance.

If you have questions about the process of making your course content more accessible, please email EITprogram@uc.edu or submit an accessibility service request online to request service from an accessibility expert. You can also view tutorials about creating accessible course content on the Accessibility Network website

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