Blackboard Ally

Blackboard Ally is a new tool available within Moodle that UNE is trialling in T1 2019. It automatically checks files uploaded in Moodle against WCAG 2.1 accessibility standards and displays a score to unit staff. Ally provides guidance and tips to help you improve the accessibility of your content.

Ally also automatically creates alternative versions of your files. This allows students to choose the type of file they want that best suits their needs, including audio versions of pdf and word documents.

What content does Ally check?

Currently, Ally checks files in these formats:

  • PDF files
  • Microsoft® Word files
  • Microsoft® Powerpoint® files
  • OpenOffice/LibreOffice files
  • Uploaded HTML files
  • WYSIWYG/VTBE content
  • Uploaded image files


What accessibility issues does Ally check for?

Ally’s accessibility checklist is based on WCAG 2.1 AA (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines). This is an international accessibility standard, and most of the legislation and legal requirements worldwide aligns with this standard.

Additionally, Ally also adds a number of additional checks on top of this that start to target the usability and quality of the course materials a bit more.

Accessibility scores are determined by the severity of issues in each file. A low score indicates the file has severe or multiple accessibility issues; a high score means there are minor or no accessibility issues. For accessibility scores less than 100 percent, Ally gives you suggestions for improving the accessibility of the file.

Scores range from Low to Perfect. The higher the score the fewer the issues.

  •  Low (0-33%): Needs help! There are severe accessibility issues.

  •  Medium (34-66%): A little better. The file is somewhat accessible and needs improvement.

  •  High (67-99%): Almost there. The file is accessible but more improvements are possible.

  •   Perfect (100%): Perfect! Ally didn't identify any accessibility issues but further improvements may still be possible.

Scores are only visible to the course Instructors.

View file accessibility issues

For files with Low to High accessibility scores, Ally can point the possible issues with the file and gives a step-by-step guide on how to rectify them to improve the Accessibility.

Steps to improve the accessibility

  1. Once you have uploaded the file onto your course, the accessibility score pointer will show up adjacent to the name of the file. Click on this pointer to view the Instructor Feedback panel. 
    Please note, It takes about 20 minutes from the time you uploaded the file for the accessibility score to appear. 
    File Hover

  2. This section has all the details to help you fix the accessibility.

  3. Select All issues to see the list of issues with the file.
    All issues

  4. Find the issue you want to work on and select Fix.This will give you suggestions on how to fix the issue.
    Fix issues

  5. You also have an option to view the alternative file formats available for students to download.

    Alternative formats

    Additional details on improving file accessibility is available from the Blackboard Ally instruction page.

Disabling alternate formats

Generally it is desirable to enable alternative formats for content. However, you can turn off alternative formats for individual content items if required. If you change your mind, you can enable it again later. Select the menu beside the file in your site and select Alternative formats. Select the menu beside the Download alternative formats heading and select Disable alternative formats for this file.

The download alternative formats menu showing the down arrow to disable it.


What does Ally do with content it can’t check?

This content does not receive an accessibility score and does not have an indicator or option to download alternative accessible versions in the User Interface.


Further information

For further information about Blackboard Ally see the following information:

Last modified: Friday, 22 March 2019, 11:58 AM