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Blackboard Ally

Blackboard Ally provides students with alternative formats of resources you upload to unit sites, with a click of a button. This feature is automatically enabled, so you don’t have to do anything. Alternative formats include audio, HTML, tagged OCR PDF, ePub, electronic braille, Beeline Reader or translations into 50 languages. This dramatically increases access for students on low bandwidth, with vision impairments or other disabilities, and from non-English speaking backgrounds. Blackboard Ally also checks resources against WCAG2.1 accessibility standards and gives teachers instant feedback and step-by-step instructions to improve the accessibility of each resource. Blackboard Ally should be used to improve the accessibility of files authored by Deakin staff, such as lecture slides, class handouts and unit guides. You should not upload files to the unit site which has been published externally to Deakin, such as journal articles and book chapters. The library’s Reading List tool is provided for this purpose to meet our copyright and licensing requirements.

Accessing alternative formats

Video demonstration
  1. Open the Content list in your unit site.
  2. Go to the file you wish to access in a different format.
  3. Click on the Alternative formats icon beside the file name.
  4. Select the format you want:
    • Tagged PDF (structured OCR PDF for improved use with assistive technology)
    • HTML (for viewing in the browser and on mobile devices)
    • ePub (for reading as an e-book or on an iPad or other readers)
    • Electronic braille (BRF version for electronic braille displays)
    • Audio (MP3 version for listening)
    • BeeLine Reader (enhanced version for faster on-screen reading)
    • Translated version (machine translated version of the original, with a choice of 50 languages).
  5. The version should appear in a short time (a few seconds to a few minutes, depending on whether someone has already requested that format so a cached version is available on the system).
  6. To disable alternative formats for a particular file:
    • Click the Alternative formats icon next to the file
    • Click the drop down menu next to the Download alternative formats heading
    • Select Disable alternative formats for this file
You can reverse this action later. Note: Blackboard Ally will only convert the following file types into alternative formats:
  • PDF
  • Word
  • Powerpoint
  • HTML
  • OpenOffice/LibreOffice.
See Blackboard Ally Help: Alternative formats for more information.

Accessibility scores

Video demonstration
  1. Open the Content list in your unit site.
  2. Next to each of your resource files you will see a colour-coded accessibility score icon. This gives the results of Blackboard Ally’s automatic check of the resource against WCAG2.1 standards:
    • Low (0-33%) Red: The file has severe accessibility issues.
    • Medium (34-66%) Amber: The file is somewhat accessible and needs improvement.
    • High (67-99%) Green: The file is accessible, but more improvements are possible.
    • Perfect (100%) Green: Ally didn’t identify any accessibility issues (though further improvements may still be possible).
  3. Click on the Accessibility score icon beside a file name to find information on the accessibility issues identified in the file, and step-by-step tips to fix these. A preview of the file content will appear, with highlights where Blackboard Ally has found specific accessibility issues, for example an image will be highlighted if it is missing an alternative description.
  4. Select All issues to see every issue in the file.
  5. Select an issue to fix by clicking Fix.
  6. Use the drag-and-drop/browse function on the screen to upload an improved version. This version will automatically replace the original.
Note: Blackboard Ally checks accessibility of files in the following formats:
  • PDF
  • Word
  • PowerPoint
  • OpenOffice/LibreOffice files
  • Uploaded HTML files
  • Image files (JPG, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BPM, TIFF).
See Blackboard Ally Help: Instructor feedback panel for further information.

Unit accessibility report

Video demonstration

The unit accessibility report provides an overview of the accessibility of all resources uploaded to the unit, checked against WCAG2.1 standards.

  1. Click on the Accessibility Report tab in the unit site toolbar.
  2. The Overview tab gives an overall accessibility score for the unit resources, and lists the accessibility issues identified in the unit. You can click on each issue to access the resources in which that issue have been identified. You can also choose to view ‘content with the easiest issues to fix’, or ‘fix low scoring content’.
  3. The Content tab lists resources in order of the severity of their accessibility issues, which you can also click through to access instructions to fix.
See Blackboard Ally Help: Course accessibility report for further information. Note: In Blackboard Ally help pages, the term Course is indicative of an individual unit.
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