Instructor Resources On Ally

Blackboard Ally is a revolutionary product that focuses on making digital course content more accessible. Ally is embedded within Blackboard Learn to assist content creators in making files such as Word, PPT, images, and PDFs more accessible right within your course. 

  • Receive feedback on the accessibility of your content
  • Improve content accessibility with Ally's step-by-step instructions

Ally’s accessibility checklist is based on WCAG 2.1 AA (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines). This is an international accessibility standard, and most of the new legislation and legal requirements worldwide align with this standard.

Additionally, Ally adds a number of checks on top of this that start to target the usability and quality of the course materials a bit more.

Rams Online (BlackBoard) Ally provides embedded tutorials on how to make your digital content accessible. Faculty and staff can attend training through Instructional Design and Training. 

Ally also allows students to choose alternative formats for their course content. If content creators upload PowerPoint or Word lecture notes and the student prefers an audio version of the notes, they can facilitate this with the click of a button. Accessibility options will include audio files, electronic braille, epub for e-book readers and mobile devices and Html for viewing in browsers.  

Instructors

Ally analyzes the uploaded documents, then provides an accessibility score and how to improve those documents to be more accessible. Each score is composed of both a numerical number and a colored gauge that reflects the number.

Currently, Ally checks files in these formats:

  • PDF files
  • Microsoft® Word files
  • Microsoft® Powerpoint® files
  • OpenOffice/LibreOffice files
  • Uploaded HTML files

Within the User Interface, we use the following thresholds for determining the color of the indicator:

  • 0% - 33%: Red = The file is not accessible and needs immediate attention.
  • 34% - 66%: Orange = The file is somewhat accessible, but needs further attention. 
  • 67% - 99%: Green = The file is accessible, but further improvements are possible.
  • 100%: Perfect = The file has a perfect accessibility score. There is no action needed to further improve.

Accessibility is very much a spectrum where further improvements are always possible, so it’s hard to provide a point at which the item becomes “accessible”. However, as a rule of thumb, once an item is in the green zone it should be doing reasonably well. 

 

Students

Ally creates alternative files that are easier to use by all students. Ally works within your online course so it's available right where you need it.

Alternative files include readable text for screen readers, pictures with alternative text, and easy-to-navigate content. Ally creates multiple alternatives from the original documents in your course. You can download these alternative formats anywhere that files are used. Ally generates this on-demand. In most cases, this completes within 1-2 minutes.

Accessibility checklist
Accessible course content makes it easier for everyone to read and access your materials and can help improve overall quality and usability. There are many low-effort adjustments you can make to start creating more accessible content.

  • Use a font size of at least 12px.
  • Have sufficient contrast between text and background.

    Use a tool like the Colour Contrast Analyser from The Paciello Group to check the contrast of your text.

  • Use proper heading styles.
  • Use a logical heading structure.
  • Add alternative descriptions to images that convey the full meaning of the image.
  • Use tables for tabular data only.
  • Ensure that all tables have column headings.
  • Use built-in list functionality for all lists.
  • Ensure that all links have text that describes the target.
  • Use built-in PowerPoint slide templates.
  • Don’t use scanned PDFs.
  • Ensure that all PDFs are tagged.

Accessibility checklist
Accessible course content makes it easier for everyone to read and access your materials and can help improve overall quality and usability. There are many low-effort adjustments you can make to start creating more accessible content.

  • Use a font size of at least 12px.
  • Have sufficient contrast between text and background.

    Use a tool like the Colour Contrast Analyser from The Paciello Group to check the contrast of your text.

  • Use proper heading styles.
  • Use a logical heading structure.
  • Add alternative descriptions to images that convey the full meaning of the image.
  • Use tables for tabular data only.
  • Ensure that all tables have column headings.
  • Use built-in list functionality for all lists.
  • Ensure that all links have text that describes the target.
  • Use built-in PowerPoint slide templates.
  • Don’t use scanned PDFs.
  • Ensure that all PDFs are tagged.

Open instructor feedback
Ally provides you detailed feedback and support to help you become an accessibility pro. Learn about accessibility issues, why they matter, and how to fix them. Green is the goal!

After you upload files in your course, Ally produces an accessibility score for each file. In lessons with multiple files, the accessibility score is shown for each file. In areas where you access files, the accessibility icon is located to the right or left of the file.

Select the Accessibility score to open the instructor feedback.

Not sure where to find your accessibility scores? Jump to View File Accessibility.

Ally’s instructor feedback shows you a preview of the document’s content as well as detailed feedback and support to help you fix your accessibility issues.


Preview the document

The instructor feedback, in-browser, preview shows the content for PDFs, Word documents and PowerPoint documents.

Highlights

The preview highlights where specific accessibility issues can be found in the document. Highlights show every occurrence of one issue type at a time. For example, if your images are missing alternative descriptions, the highlights show you every place this specific issue occurs. If your document also has poor text contrast, select that issue in the feedback panel to see the occurrences of that issue highlighted.

Highlights are provided for these issues:

  • Images without an appropriate alternative description
  • Text fragments with insufficient contrast
  • Tables without table headings

All other accessibility issues are not highlighted in the preview.

Missing text description

Text contrast

Scanned PDF

Preview tools

Use the tools above the preview to explore the issues in your document.

  • Move through the document preview page by page.
  • See how many times a specific issue appears in the document.
  • Jump between the issue highlights.
  • Hide or show the highlights.
  • Zoom the preview content in or out.
  • Download the original file.

Feedback panel

For accessible files, Ally tells you what you did correctly. For files with Low to High scores, Ally shows you the issues and gives a step-by-step guide on how to fix them.

  1. Accessibility score: See the overall score for the entire file.
  2. All issues: Select All issues to see every issue in the file. This view shows you by how much the score can improve by fixing each issue. Find the issue you want to start fixing and select Fix.
  3. Description of issue and step-by-step help: See the description for an issue with the file. Ally organizes this feedback in a decision tree, so all you need to do is read the directions and respond to the prompts. Learn what the issue is, why it matters, and how to correct it appropriately.
    • Select What this means to learn more about the issue.
    • Select How to and follow the steps to improve the file's accessibility. 


Last modified: Thursday, August 8, 2019, 5:06 PM