Blackboard (All Users) - Accessibility/Ally: What is Ally?

This document provides an overview of Blackboard Ally.


Blackboard Ally is a tool that helps improve the overall accessibility of online course material. Your class is full of diverse students with unique learning abilities, needs, and devices. Course content created with inclusion in mind can benefit not only your students with disclosed disabilities such as visual impairments and dyslexia, but improve the learning experience for all your students. Ally’s Alternative Formats and help make your course more inclusive for all!

Alternative Formats

A icon with down arrow next to itAlly automatically generates eight unique “Alternative Formats” of your course files and HTML content, and makes them available for download to you and your students. Formats are designed to work better with assistive technologies, mobile devices, and study tools. Select the “A” icon or anywhere you see “Alternative Formats” in your course to open the modal (pictured left). Based on the original file, you will see your list of available options. Choose the option you want and click “download.” Your original file will not be affected by the alternative formats. 

Accessibility Indicators

Red indicator, needs help; orange indicator, a little better; light green indicator, almost there; dark green indicator, perfect

Addressing accessibility issues with your course content can improve the quality of the Alternative Formats for your students. To help you address those issues, Ally provides accessibility feedback within your course workflow. Log-in to your course site, and you will find the Accessibility Indicators (pictured below) next to files (Word Docs, PowerPoints, PDFs, Images). If you have no course files yet, upload one, and an indicator will appear next to the file name after a few minutes. Select the indicator to view the Instructor Feedback. Follow along step-by-step to address the issues identified. 

click the indicator, read the feedback, improve your file, increase your score

Additional Information

For additional information, please watch the overview video and visit the Ally for LMS Help for Instructors site. You may also view the Student Experience Video (:45 s) or visit the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) Overview to learn more about the WCAG Standards and how they were developed.

This video provides an overview of how Ally works and why making files accessible is beneficial for all students. This video illustrates how to download alternative formats and how to interpret an accessibility score.


A iconLooking for course content that fits your learning needs, your busy schedule, and your multiple devices? Alternative Formats transform your course files into different formats to help you learn better. Next to your course files, click the "A" icon and select “alternative formats” to see your options. The file may take a few minutes to download. Remember, the quality of the alternative formats can depend on the original, so check the original file if something doesn’t look right.

Find a Higher Quality Alternative

The readability of your course materials can affect your comprehension and study practices. If you notice the original course file is a scanned PDF that you can’t highlight, copy-paste, or keyword search, try the OCRed PDF for an editable, easier to read document. Or if the font of the original is hard to read, try the ePub format to customize the font and contrast.


Enhance your Understanding 

Did you know when you engage different senses- like reading a text and listening to a text- that you activate different parts of the brain, which can enhance your understanding? Try reading the Tagged PDF first and then listening to the Audio MP3 for review. Or, if you are struggling to understand the text, you might try listening and reading at the same time. 

Improve your Time Management 

With your busy schedule, maximizing your time on task and study opportunities can help you reach your learning goals. If you’re reading on your mobile, try the HTML format for a file that’s responsive to your screen size so that you can read faster and with less distractions. Or listen to the Audio MP3 when you’re on the go for extra time reviewing your materials. 

Become a Better Learner 

Think about the best format for your learning context and objective, and include multiple formats in your study process. Keep a journal of the formats you use leading up to an exam or paper to discover how you learn best. For more information on the alternative formats, check out:

Keywordsblackboard, black board, bb, Ally, Blackboard Ally, Bb Ally, Blackboard accessibility, accessibility indicators, accessibility indicator, red icons, green icons, yellow icons, orange icons, accessible course, accessible, accessibility score, colored icons, new icons, new icons appearing in Blackboard course, what are the colored icons in my course, turn off colored icons, can I turn off icons,   Doc ID81214
OwnerCenter I.GroupSouthern Illinois University Edwardsville
Created2018-03-29 09:51:31Updated2024-01-11 11:18:03
SitesSouthern Illinois University Edwardsville
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