Everything you need to get started with Blackboard Ally
- 1 Everything you need to get started with Blackboard Ally
1. What is Blackboard Ally?
Blackboard Ally is an accessibility tool built into My Studies. It launched Summer 2020.
- Students can use Ally to access content on My Studies in their preferred alternative format. For example, a student could download a module handbook as ePub format to adjust the font and page colour. As another example, a student could download text-based content as an audio file.
- Academic, administrative and professional staff can use Ally as a diagnostic tool. Ally analyses content on My Studies and provides suggestions and instructions to improve accessibility. Staff also have access to the alternative formats that are available to students.
2. How will my students find out about Blackboard Ally?
Separate communications will go out to students as part of their induction checklist. We do recommend that you remind students about Ally during inductions and inform returning students that the tool is available. All students can potentially benefit from the flexibility that Ally provides, but Ally adds additional value for: students with different learning needs and specific formatting needs (e.g. large print, braille, audio); neurodiverse students; students who commute; and students who speak English as an additional language.
We recommend the following materials for students:
- Ally Quick Start Guide for Students
- Alternative formats – includes a comparison chart (Which format should I use?) explaining the benefits of different format types
- Student FAQs
- [Video] Ally for Students in Blackboard Learn – 45 second video explaining how students can use Ally
3. The 3 things you need to know about Blackboard Ally
- Ally saves time by automatically creating alternative document formats
You no longer need to upload multiple versions of a document. So no more having to upload a PDF copy of lecture slides that you created in PowerPoint.
- Ally supports the access needs of all students
Ally allows students to download your content in the format that they need. It also provides students with the means to adjust the display of your content to meet their individual needs.
- Ally provides feedback which is only visible to instructors to help improve the accessibility of content in My Studies
Ally provides clear feedback, and instructions, to explain how to improve accessibility in documents and My Studies content. This feedback is only shown to instructors and can be worked on incrementally over time. The Digital Learning, Portal and Intranet Services (DLPIS) team recommend prioritising lecture slides and newly uploaded/added content. This process may take some time and there is no expectation that all content will be 100% accessible according to Ally’s rating scale by term start 2021/22.
4. How can I learn more about Blackboard Ally?
We are currently writing the support documentation for Blackboard Ally. As the materials become available they will be added to this page. Refer to the table of contents at the top of the page to see what is coming soon.
We are also offering:
- Short workshop sessions for Blackboard Ally that will be held weekly on Microsoft Teams from 17th August until the first week of October.
- Creating Accessible Digital Documents workshops will also be offered on Microsoft Teams. This workshop is to help support more in-depth work on specific types of documents (e.g. Word and PowerPoint files). This workshop is 2hrs: the first half explains the key principles, the second half is hands-on practice.
All sessions will be advertised on the Teaching Contingency website and on the Learning and Development page on staffcentral. Additional sessions will be arranged during the term for staff who teach on semester 2 modules.
If you have questions about Ally, please contact your Learning Technologist.