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BB Ally

CSULB is committed to making content accessible for all students.

To aid us in this endeavor, we are implementing then Blackboard (Bb)ALLY tool as an additional resource to improve the accessibility of instructional content and the inclusion of all students. This project will remain in a pilot phase throughout the Spring 2021 semester to prepare for a future campus-wide rollout.

What is Blackboard (Bb) Ally?

Bb Ally will be integrated into BeachBoard as a tool for instructors to simply and automatically convert digital course materials into multiple, alternative formats such as HTML, MP3, and more. Students can then download the format they prefer, depending on their individual needs.Instructors can also review feedback about accessibility issues within their course materials and get in-context tips for remediation.

As Bb Ally becomes available in courses, Academic Technology Services and the campus implementation team is committed to providing resources and development opportunities for CSULB faculty.

bb ally logo

Overview of the Bb ALLY Project

Why Bb ALLY?

This initiative is supported by the CSU Chancellor’s office to address ADA compliance of instructional materials and to align with university goals of creating a culture of inclusivity.

Improving the accessibility of course content will not only help students with disabilities, but it will also improve the learning experience for all students such as those who use mobile devices or those who want to engage with materials in different ways.

Bb Ally is an award-winning (2017 WCET Outstanding Work Award) accessibility solution that is easy to use and integrates seamlessly into our existing BeachBoard LMS. The Bb ALLY team is working closely with the institution to provide resources, training, and technical support to scale up the use of the tool over time. They are committed to an inclusive approach to teaching and learning not connected only to disabilities.

What are the main functions of Bb ALLY?

  • Automatically check course documents (NOT media) against WCAG 2.0 accessibility compliance standards
  • Provide students with alternative formats, such as mp3 audio, electronic braille, HTML, ePub, and optical character recognition PDF
  • Offer guidance to instructors on improving the accessibility of their course materials

The Bb ALLY Workflow

Instructor Adds Content

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.

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:

alternative formats

Course Accessibility Feedback

Bb 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.