Blackboard Ally - Instructors
CSU San Marcos is committed to making content accessible for all students. Access
to content in Cougar Courses in a format that best meets the needs of diverse learners
is a challenge for many students. PDF, Word, and PowerPoint files often don’t work
on mobile devices or with note-taking apps. Processing these materials into a format
that is accessible for all students can be quite challenging and time consuming for
With this in mind, IITS began searching for a solution that would help faculty and students that integrated seamlessly into our campus learning management system (Cougar Courses). The product selected is Blackboard Ally. Ally is an innovative product that focuses on making digital course content more accessible for all students on all devices. Using inclusivity, sustainability and automation as its key pillars, Ally helps tackle accessibility in a way that benefits all students without adding a burden to instructors. Ally will allow every student to feel included and learn in their own way.
Alternative Formats for Better Quality, Usability & Accessibility of Content, for Everybody
Ally automatically runs all course materials through an accessibility checklist that checks for common accessibility issues. Using advanced Machine Learning algorithms, Ally will generate a range of more accessible alternatives for the instructor’s original and will make these available to all students in the course. These alternative accessible formats include HTML, audio, ePub, electronic braille and more.
Making Your Course Content Accessible - Student View
Ensure a More Inclusive Learning Experience
Students access course materials from a variety of locations on a variety of devices. Ally allows them to engage with the course material in their preferred format. Some students may only have access on a phone or tablet and the HTML format works well for them. Other students may prefer to listen the content. Ensuring course content the most accessible allows students to choose their preferred method.
Workshops and 1:1 guidance
Ally provides instructor guidance on how to improve the accessibility of course content. Fill out a Training Request Form to learn about making your course more accessible. Additionally, we offer workshops at various times that consist of an overview of what Ally is and how to make various documents accessible. You can also review our "How to guides" for remediating Word, PDF, and PowerPoint files.
Frequently Asked Questions
- How was this implemented?
Ally was implemented on a three phased approach starting with summer courses.
Phase 1: Courses with students who receive services through DSS.
Phase 2: Courses with students who receive services through DSS and courses with instructors who wanted to participate.
Phase 3: All courses beginning Spring 2019.
- What does the gauge next to my document mean?
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. Ally has a quick start guide for instructors.
- Does Ally have instructor guides available?
Blackboard Ally has resources available on their website for instructors.
- How do I fix contrast errors?
Open the document in Word, select all text, and make sure black is selected. Follow the steps on the "Fix Text Contrast Issues" page.
- What happens when a course is copied? Does Ally go with the course copy?
Yes. When you copy a course, all alternative formats and instructor feedback will also be available in the new course.
- What do students see?
Students see a down arrow to the right of each document. From this menu, they can select Alternative formats to access available versions they can download.