Blackboard Ally

Ally is a Blackboard tool that helps instructors enhance the usability and accessibility of their course materials in UBlearns.

Blackboard Ally now available in UBlearns

The University at Buffalo is committed to ensuring equal access to information that is available online. As part of this commitment, the Center for Educational Innovation and UB Information Technology are collaborating to bring Blackboard Ally to UBlearns.

Ally automatically checks UBlearns course materials against WCAG 2.0 (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) standards and provides an accessibility score for each file. For files that don’t align with accessibility guidelines, Ally offers step-by-step instructions on how to improve the accessibility of the document. Accessibility scores are only visible to course instructors, students do not see the icons.

Ally also creates alternative, accessible file formats (Tagged PDF, HTML, ePub, Electronic braille and Audio) for students to download.

Ally is enabled in all UBlearns course sites except Summer 18 semester classes.  Summer instructors can enable Ally manually to score existing content and have alternative, accessible file formats automatically created. Enable Ally by going to Control Panel > Customization > Tool Availability.

The Center for Educational Innovation will host the following Ally training/informational sessions in the CEI Faculty Collaboration Studio:

August 21 - 10am   Norton 6        
August 22 - 2pm    Norton 6
August 28 - 10am  Norton 6 
August 29 - 2pm    Norton 6

How Blackboard Ally Works

After you upload a file in your UBlearns course, Ally evaluates it and then:

  • Provides an accessibility score and guidance on how to improve your document.
  • Creates alternative file formats for students to download.

Enable/Disable Ally in any UBlearns site

  • Control Panel > Customization > Tool Availability
  • Add check mark to the Available column for Ally row
  • Submit

Accessibility Scores

Ally measures the accessibility of each file attached to your course and shows you at-a-glance how it scores. Scores range from Low to Perfect. The higher the score, the fewer the issues.

  • Low: File is not accessible and needs immediate attention.
  • Medium: File is somewhat accessible and could use improvement.
  • High: File is accessible but could be improved.
  • Perfect: File is accessible and no improvements are needed.

For files with Low to High scores, Ally shows you the issues and provides step-by-step instructions on how to fix them.

  1. Find a file and click the Accessibility Score icon.
  2. Click What this means or How to... for more inofrmation on an issue.
  3. Select All issues to see every issue in the file and decide which issue to fix first.
Accessibility scoring screen

Currently, Ally checks files in these formats:

  • PDF
  • Microsoft Office (Word and PowerPoint)
  • OpenOffice/LibreOffice (Writer and Impress)
  • Images
  • Uploaded HTML files

Alternative Formats

Ally creates alternative, accessible file formats of your course documents based on the original. These formats are made available along with the original file so students can find everything in one convenient location.

You don’t need to do anything. The alternative formats are created for you.

To see the different formats available to your students, select the menu next to your file and choose Alternative formats. 

Alternative Format options