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Blackboard Ally is a tool that seamlessly integrates with Blackboard Learn to provide insight into your courses’ accessibility. 

About Ally

Your class is full of diverse students with unique learning abilities. Providing them with more accessible original content means they can choose formats that work best for them: HTML for improved reading on mobile phones, Electronic Braille for the visually impaired, and Audio for learning on the go. Ally automatically scans your original content, and performs a series of steps to make them more accessible. 

  • Generate alternative formats for students to download
  • Provide accessibility scores
  • Give feedback on how to improve your accessibility score

Alternative Formats

Alternative formats provide greater opportunity for everyone to access the information they need in the way they need or want it. With alternative formats all students can meet the same learning objectives using resources that are built to target the needs of the individual student. 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.

Available formats include:

  • Audio (original file up to 100,00 characters)
  • Electronic braille
  • ePub
  • Semantic HTML (available offline on your mobile device if you don't close your browser)
  • OCR PDF (The conversion is only as good as the quality of the original file. If the file is difficult to analyze, there may be mistakes.)
  • Tagged PDF
  • Translated Version (Not widely available; 50 languages are in the trial stage)

You might not see every alternative format in your list of choices to download. The formats generated depend on the original file uploaded.

Accessibility Scores

Ally checks accessibility for your new and existing course content. To measure accessibility, Ally assigns your content an accessibility score. 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

Accessibility scores are determined by the severity of issues in each file. A low score indicates the file has severe or multiple accessibility issues; a high score means there are minor or no accessibility issues. For accessibility scores less than 100 percent, Ally gives you suggestions for improving the accessibility of the file.

Accessibility Indicators

Your course files and content will now have color “dials” next to them. They indicate the file’s level of accessibility, and are there to help you prioritize which files you want to fix 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.

Scores range from Low to Perfect. The higher the score the fewer the issues.

  •  Low (0-33%): Needs help! There are severe accessibility issues. Indicator is red.
  •  Medium (34-66%): A little better. The file is somewhat accessible and needs improvement. Indicator is orange.
  •  High (67-99%): Almost there. The file is accessible but more improvements are possible. Indicator is light green.
  •  Perfect (100%): Perfect! Ally didn't identify any accessibility issues but further improvements may still be possible. Indicator is dark green.

Improve Your Score with Feedback


Once you know the accessibility score, you can begin to explore the accessibility issues and improve your content to raise the score. Accessible documents are important for all audiences, and Ally gives you the tools to understand common issues and improve your course files.

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.

Step-by-step guide

  1. Find a content item and select the Accessibility Score indicator to view the instructor feedback panel.


  2. Check the overall score for the document.


  3. Select All Issues to view a list of the accessibility issues within the document.


  4. Go through each item and select Fix to learn how to resolve each issue.



  5. Once you have fixed all of the issues, return to the instructor feedback panel (Step 1) and upload the new version of your document.


  6. You will see an updated accessibility score, and any further issues Ally detects will be listed on the panel.


For more information on Blackboard Ally, see the resources below or contact the Faculty Center for Teaching and Learning (FCTL) at fctl@missouristate.edu 

Resources

Blackboard Ally

Ally Help for Instructors

Ally Quick Start for Instructors

Accessibility Scores


For questions or comments, contact the Computer Services Help Desk
HelpDesk@MissouriState.edu
417-836-5891