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Blackboard Ally

​Introducing Blackboard Ally

In Fall 2019, the University of Houston-Downtown launched Blackboard's latest product, Blackboard Ally. According to Texas code (TAC 1.10.206.C, section 206.70) and system policy (SAM 01.D.13) regarding accessibility of electronic documents and website materials, all “new or changed web pages” must be in compliance.

We have consulted several recent Office of Civil Rights (OCR) Resolutions and Settlements with institutions of higher education regarding accessibility compliance issues. In these settlements, it is clear that the electronic access requirements extend to online and Blackboard learning environments. This accessibility is expected regardless of other ADA requests, which may still be used for other accessibility needs. Blackboard Ally will assist the university in moving towards compliance.


What is Blackboard Ally?

Blackboard Ally is an Award-Winning Accessibility Solution that integrates seamlessly with Blackboard. Blackboard Ally is designed to help make digital course content more accessible for all students. 

Blackboard Ally scans files uploaded into Blackboard and searches for common accessibility issues. With Blackboard Ally students are able to download alternative accessible file formats such as HTML, Audio, and Electronic Braille. Providing students with more accessible content means they can choose the format that works best for them.

For faculty, Blackboard Ally provides instructors with detailed feedback and support. It helps faculty learn about accessibility issues, why they matter, and how to fix them. Green is the goal! Blackboard Ally provides guidance and tips for lasting improvements to your content's accessibility.

How does Blackboard Ally Work?

Ally automatically scans your original content and performs a series of steps to make them more accessible.

  • Generates alternative formats for students to download
  • Provides accessibility scores
  • Gives instructor feedback on how to improve your accessibility score

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.

Each score is composed of both a number (percentage) and a colored gauge that reflects the number. Scores range from Low to Perfect. The higher the score, the fewer the issues. For files with Low to High scores, Ally shows you the issues and gives a step-by-step guide on how to fix them.

Blackboard Ally Scoring Scale. 0-33 Low. 34-66% Medium. 67-99% High. Perfect 100%

Why are we using Blackboard Ally?

Blackboard Ally helps to build a more inclusive learning environment and improve the student experience by helping them take clear control of course content with usability, accessibility and quality in mind.

Blackboard Ally’s accessibility checklist is based on WCAG 2.0 AA (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines). This is an international accessibility standard, and most of the legislation and legal requirements worldwide aligns with this standard.

AllyAccessibilityChecklist.pdf

The University of Houston System, along with the United States Access Board, are fully committed to adhering and complying to policies mentioned in Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and WCAG 2.0 AA recommendations.

Blackboard Ally Accessibiliy Scores in Approximate Relation to WCAG 2.0 and Section 508. UH System Requires Level AA

Revised Section 508 standards incorporated Level AA success criteria

and conformance requirements to both web and non-web electronic content.

How Can I Get Started?

Accessible Content Micro-Learning Documents


Have questions about accessibility on our campus?

Contact the Office of Disability Services by phone 713-221-5078 or email disabilityservices@uhd.edu.

Have questions or feedback about Blackboard Ally? 

Contact the Provost Office Ally Hotline (Elizabeth Wade at wadee@uhd.edu or 713-221-8288) if you have questions about or concerns related to pedagogical implications, discipline-specific issues, or specific challenges you are having in making your instructional materials accessible. 

If you know your question is specifically related to an IT issue, please feel free to reach out directly to IT for assistance at AllyGator@uhd.edu.

Last updated 2/13/2020 3:37 AM