This week’s blog will be focusing on the new Blackboard tool called Ally. It launches soon and is going to make it easier for you to access course material.
What is it?
Ally is a tool which automatically scans original content posted to Blackboard by lecturers and module leaders in order to make them more accessible. It performs steps to provide alternative file formats of the material for students to download easily.
Staff are also provided with an accessibility guide to improve any uploaded content.
Why do we need alternative formats?
Every student engages with their course material differently, some use their phones or tablets, some like to annotate and highlight work or even listen to the content.
To help achieve everyone’s needs, Ally allows alternative formats for you. You just need to search for the Ally sign next to the attached files on your reading lists. See an example below.
Then select one of the alternative formats that you would prefer and click download. Your file may take a few minutes to generate.
If you require more information on how it works, click here for more information.
In relation to staff, there are Ally indicators. The tool scans your content automatically and returns with feedback and support to help make content more accessible.
The coloured dials indicate the file’s level of accessibility. From this, all you need to do as staff is click on the indicator to see the percentage accessibility score, specific issues affecting the file, and instructions for improving the file.
This is such an important step for the university to take to ensure that you all have access to the right materials in the most appropriate formats to help you learn. This is only the first step. If there is something that you think is missing or any ideas on how to enhance this tool to make it more accessbile, you can feedback to me on firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have any more questions about the tool, there are student FAQ’s here and instructor FAQ’s here.