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Blackboard Ally

What is Blackboard Ally?

Blackboard Ally is an accessibility awareness tool that will be available in all Fall BeachBoard courses the week of May 10, 2021.  Blackboard Ally assists faculty in the development of inclusive and accessible learning materials. The primary functions of Ally include:

  • Converting course materials automatically into accessible formats (without affecting originals) that students can download such as, mp3 audio, electronic braille, HTML, ePub, and optical character recognition PDF.
  • Checking course content (NOT media) against WCAG 2.0 accessibility compliance standards and providing a summary of the issues visible to instructors only.
  • Offering feedback and guidance to instructors within their course to fix specific issues and make overall improvements to the accessibility of their materials.

Faculty Workshops
To assist instructors in becoming familiar with this tool, ATS is offering monthly workshops through August 2021 to demonstrate Ally in BeachBoard and answer questions. Please join us for one of these events to learn how to prepare your courses over the summer.

Why Blackboard ALLY?

CSULB is committed to making digital content accessible for all students. Our goal is to empower instructors to expand options for students with diverse learning needs and who would like to access course content in different formats using various types of electronic devices.

Blackboard Ally is a resource that has been licensed by the CSU Chancellor’s Office and is being implemented across the system. In addition, Ally is an award-winning accessibility solution.

The ALLY Workflow

Expand the menu items below for a quick glimpse of how Ally works in your BeachBoard course.

Course Content Checks

When an instructor uploads new course content into BeachBoard, Ally automatically runs it though a set of machine learning algorithms. This process doesn’t require the instructor to trigger anything manually, nor does it change the BeachBoard upload workflow or the original documents.

Each content item will be tagged with color-coded "Accessibility Indicators" to signal the level of accessibility of that content:

ally indicators

These indicators are visible to the instructor only and serve as an awareness device. Instructors then have the option to access the Ally guides and feedback features (see below) for tips on how to improve the accessibility of that content item.

BeachBoard upload interface

Alternate Formats Created

Ally will automatically generate several accessible alternatives for the content. Students can then select which format to download depending on their environmental or learning needs/abilities by accessing this dialog box available for each content item:

alternative formats

Course Accessibility Feedback

ALLY informs instructors about accessibility issues in their materials and provides detailed guidance on making improvements --all within the BeachBoard course.

instructor feedback panel in BeachBoard showing course score and buttons to select for tips and guidance.