Blackboard Ally for Courses
Your instructor probably has many different pieces of content in your course. Blackboard Ally creates alternative formats for those content items that are easier to use by all students. You can download the alternative formats anywhere you see Ally’s alternative formats download icon on your course’s Blackboard site. Just choose the version of the original that is best for your needs!
How to tell if Ally is enabled
When you log in to a Blackboard course, look for the Download Alternative Formats icon (pictured below) next to any content in the course. You’ll the be able to view and download a format that suits your learning needs.
If you don’t see this icon on any content, Ally is not enabled for that Blackboard course. Blackboard Ally is currently only enabled in a small number of courses. We expect this number to expand in 2023. If you would like to use Ally’s alternative formats in a course where it is not enabled, ask your instructor if they would be willing to enable it. They can do so by emailing email@example.com.
Blackboard Original vs Ultra
Below are examples of how Ally appears in Blackboard Original courses and Blackboard Ultra courses:
Blackboard Learn Original Course View
Blackboard Learn Ultra Course View
Additional Tutorials and Videos
Ally for Student in Blackboard
Choosing your Alternative Format
What alternative formats does Ally generate?
Ally provides alternative formats for these content types:
- PDF files
- Microsoft Word files
- Microsoft Powerpointfiles
- OpenOffice/LibreOffice files
- Uploaded HTML files
- Content created in the LMS course editor (WYSIWYG)
Note: Alternative formats for WYSIWYG content is currently only available for Blackboard Learn Ultra, Blackboard Learn Original, Instructure Canvas, D2L Brightspace, and Schoology.
These alternative formats can be generated:
- OCR’d version (for scanned documents)
- Tagged PDF (currently for Word, Powerpoint and OpenOffice/LibreOffice files)
- Mobile-friendly HTML
- Electronic Braille
- BeeLine Reader
- Translated Version
- Translated Version is disabled by default. Administrators can submit a support case to have it enabled.
Learn more about alternative formats through Blackboard’s documentation page here.
Are alternate formats generated when a request to download is made?
When an alternative format for a content item is requested for the first time, Ally generates the format on demand. In most cases, it generates within 1-2 minutes.
As soon as it is generated, the alternative format is downloaded. Ally then caches the result, so any additional requests for the same alternative format can be served and downloaded from the cache immediately.
Does Ally generate alternative formats for student content?
Ally currently only processes instructional content. For example, content added by someone with edit permissions in the course, such as the instructor or instructional designer. Ally currently doesn’t process student content or student submissions.
Which Braille code does Ally use for the Electronic Braille Format?
Ally uses Braille Ready File (.brf) as the electronic Braille format. The braille code used depends on the language the document is in. For English documents, Ally uses Grade 2 Unified English Braille (contracted).
Learn more on Unified English Braille on the UKAAF website.
Can the Ally Electronic Braille Format be printed using a Braille printer?
The Braille Ready File (.brf) format can be used for both electronic braille displays and braille embossers (printers).
Note: You still need to check whether a specific Braille embosser/printer supports the .brf format.
Learn more on BRF on the Accessible Instructional Materials website.
The IT Help Center will answer any questions you have concerning your Blackboard course site. You can get in touch with us online at www.bu.edu/help/blackboard (or by clicking on the Help button on any screen in Blackboard), by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone at 353-HELP(4357).