Learn more about this tool that focuses on digital accessibility for students, seamlessly integrating with Blackboard courses.
What is Blackboard Ally?
Ally is BU’s new tool supporting inclusion and accessibility, which allows students to download course materials in alternative formats like audio, HTML, and electronic braille. Ally focuses on digital accessibility for students, seamlessly integrating with Blackboard courses. It also provides guidance and tips for lasting improvements to your content accessibility and automatically creates alternative versions of compatible files (check the list on Blackboard's website to see which of your files are compatible). This allows students to choose the type of file they want that best meets their needs. While you're in the process of improving files, students are still able to access alternative copies.
Students will be able to use Ally to generate alternative formats in your course without any effort on your part. However, not all course content will generate those formats well. Ally courses provide you with a dashboard to see how accessible your content is, and suggest ways of improving it. Please note that this dashboard is only visible to you, the course instructor, and not to students or colleagues; it is there for you to use if you wish. We have further suggestions on Techweb for how to remediate common accessibility issues, and you can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for further advice.
Who Can Use It?
Ally will be included in all Blackboard courses created after July 5, 2023, unless you specify otherwise. To request that Ally be turned off for your course after that date, or turned on before it, please email your course name or course ID to email@example.com.
Ways to Use Ally in the Classroom
- Review provided accessibility scores generated for certain content
- Improve accessibility of certain content items by following Ally's step-by-step instructions
- View and download alternative versions of content that are more accessible
- Review course accessibility report to understand overall breakdown of accessibility
- Instructors receive feedback on accessibility of classroom content
- Comprehensive explanations of what features of content are inaccessible
- Recommended directions on how to make specific content more accessible
- Automatically generated alternative versions of content, available to students and instructors
- Course accessibility report showing how the Blackboard course is or is not accessible
- Fast and automatic assessments of content accessibility
- Variety of alternative formats for many different types of content
- Providing better experiences for students with all types of learning styles and abilities
- Promoting self-confidence in students with unique learning styles and abilities
- Accessibility resources provided for students to utilize without needing to wait for instructor support
“Our students recognize and appreciate everything we do to help them learn. Ally gives students a greater sense of belonging, because when we introduce it, we are telling students that we recognize that not all readers are alike. We are telling students that we know some of them commute to campus and might prefer to listen to texts we assign. We are saying that we know some of them prefer to annotate texts or to read each line in a different front or color. We are saying we care about how you learn, and we want to help.”
—Megan Sullivan, Faculty Director of BU Inclusive Pedagogy Initiative, Associate Professor of Rhetoric, College of General Studies
“I had a student that was commuting to campus daily from Rhode Island (50-minute commute) and she was thrilled to hear she could download course materials and listen while commuting.”
—Maureen McCarthy, Adjunct Lecturer, BU College of Communications & Director of Communications, BU Faculty of Computing & Data Sciences
Technology Support for Blackboard Ally
- Connect with the Educational Technology team with questions or schedule a consultation at firstname.lastname@example.org
- View upcoming workshops listed on Techweb
- View Techweb-provided resources and support for Instructors
- View Ally-provided resources and support for Instructors
- View Techweb-provided resources and support for Students
Teaching Guides & Resources
Email the Center for Teaching & Learning and schedule an appointment today email@example.com.