Faculty, Become Our Ally to Make Blackboard More Accessible

by
Logo for Blackboard Ally with a laptop showing Ally reporting

Blackboard Ally makes it easier for instructors to create flexible content for all students. Ally is a service provided by Blackboard to help instructors create accessible course content, based on universal design principles, to provide students many ways to interact with Blackboard content. Ally will be enabled at Boise State on Feb. 20, 2019.

The most noticeable impact of Ally is that students will have access to alternative file formats of files uploaded to Blackboard. This allows students to engage with course content in whatever format works best for them. For example, Ally automatically generates audio and electronic braille versions of uploaded Microsoft Word documents so students can listen to audio or braille versions of these uploaded files. Learn how Ally creates alternative versions of uploaded documents.

In addition, Instructors will notice accessibility indicators next to their Blackboard content. These indicators, which look like fuel gauges, are only visible to instructors and display the level of accessibility of Blackboard course content. For example, fully accessible content shows a dark green indicator and content that can be improved will display a light green, orange or red indicator. Instructors can click the indicator for accessibility feedback and tips on how to improve the content for their students.

The Office of Information Technology, in partnership with the Office of the Provost, is committed to encouraging and assisting faculty in creating the accessible content suggested by the Ally tool. To this effort, the first nine instructors to reach a 100% Ally score in a Blackboard heavy course (30 or more content items) will be eligible for a long-term checkout of an iPad Pro, an HD webcam, Yeti microphone or other items. Additionally, if faculty require authoring software to create accessible PDFs, licenses will be available upon request. Please contact LTS@boisestate.edu for more information on these incentives and software availability.

Learn more about Blackboard Ally, including frequently asked questions, details on the auto-generated alternative formats, interpreting the indicators, and an accessibility checklist in the Boise State Blackboard knowledge base.

Instructors can schedule one-on-one consultations for assistance with Ally content suggestions. If you have questions about Ally, please contact OIT Learning Technology Solutions at lts@boisestate.edu or (208) 426-4357 (HELP).