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Blackboard Ally

What is Blackboard Ally?

Blackboard Ally is an award-winning accessibility solution that integrates seamlessly with Blackboard and helps 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 allows students to choose the format that works best for them.
 
Blackboard Ally provides faculty with detailed feedback and support. Through Blackboard Ally, instructors can learn more about accessibility issues, why accessibility matters, and how to manage issues as they arise. In addition, Blackboard Ally provides guidance and tips for lasting improvements to content accessibility.

Training Video: Ally for Instructors

With Blackboard Ally, ensuring and providing an accessible learning experience is now easier than ever. This video covers Blackboard Ally: what it is, what is does, and how to use it. Learn all the features of Ally, the user interface within Blackboard, and how to use the tool to identify and fix accessibility issues with course content. 

After viewing this video, EOS encourages faculty to explore our Self-Guided Learning page.

Download Ally for Instructors accessible PowerPoint

Blackboard Ally: Common Accessibility Issues

Blackboard Ally tracks and monitors accessibility issues in varying formats for the following three content areas:
  • Images (e.g., .JPG, .PNG, .TIFF)
  • Documents (e.g., Word, PDF)
  • HTML

Please see below for common accessibility issues identified by Blackboard Ally, a brief explanation of each issue, and hyperlinks to remediation instructions.

Images

Issue: The image can induce seizures.
Explanation: 
For people with epilepsy, animated images and flashing screens or images have the potential to trigger seizures or other harmful responses.  
How to Fix: 
Do not use this image. Remove the inaccessible image using the course “Content Collection” and find an alternative image. See Removing an inaccessible image
 
Issue: The image does not have a description.
Explanation: People with screen readers or other assistive devices rely on descriptions to understand an image's contents and purpose. Having a clear description for an image can help everyone better understand the content of the image and how it relates to the context.
How to Fix: Add a rich description to images and graphs to improve comprehension. See Add Image Description

 
Issue: The image has contrast issues.
Explanation: When text has poor contrast, it means that there isn't enough color contrast between the text and the background it sits on, causing the text to be difficult to read for those with low vision, poor eyesight or color blindness.
How to FixIncrease image contrast. See Ways to fix contrast issues
 

Documents

Issue: The document contains images without a description.
Explanation: 
The document contains images that don't have a description or alternative text. People with screen readers or other assistive devices rely on these descriptions to understand the image content and purpose.
How to Fix:
 Add alternative text to the image(s) in the document. See Add Image Descriptions
 
Issue: The document does not have a language set.
Explanation: The document does not specify the language in which it has been created. Technologies such as screen readers rely on the specified language to determine how to process the content or pronounce the text inside of the document.
How to Fix: 
In the original source file (e.g., Word, PowerPoint), select the language set. See How to Set a Language
 
Issue: The document does not have an appropriate heading structure.
Explanation: 
The document contains headings that don't follow a logical order. Well-structured and logical headings will make the document much easier to understand and navigate for all users.
How to Fix: 
Use the built-in heading styles in your word processing software. See Configuring Heading Structures

 
Issue: The document does not have any headings.
Explanation:
 
The document doesn't contain any marked-up headings. Headings provide structure to a document and make the document easier to understand and navigate for all users.
How to Fix: See Create headings with built-in heading styles  

Issue: The document does not have the correct language set.
Explanation: The document doesn't specify the correct language in which it was created.  Screen readers rely on the correct language being specified to determine how to process the content or pronounce the text inside of the document.
How to Fix: 
See Set the Correct Document Language Set  
 
Issue: The document has contrast issues.
Explanation:
The document contains text with low contrast between the text and its background. 
How to Fix: 
See Fix the contrast in your file
 
Issue: The document has tables that don't have headers.
Explanation: 
The document contains tables that don't have or properly specify a header structure. People with screen readers rely on semantically meaningful and correct heading structure to help them navigate the table and understand the meaning of every cell.
How to Fix: 
See 
Configuring repeating header row properties in "Table Properties"
 
Issue: The document is encrypted.
Explanation: The document is either password-protected or has security settings that can prevent access to the document, causing many people to not be able to open and view the document. These protections could prevent screen readers or other assistive technology from accessing the document as well.
How to FixConfigure a label for encryption. See Restrict access to content by using sensitivity labels to apply encryption
 
Issue: The document is malformed.
Explanation: PDF files get corrupted because a sub-par PDF creator (software) was used to generate them. The PDF file needs to be flattened prior to upload into the LMS system.
How to Fix: 
See 
Creating accessible PDFs
 
Issue: The document is missing a title.
Explanation: 
PDF titles are used as the document title for a PDF window or tab, making it easier to navigate to the PDF and understand the purpose of the PDF.
How to Fix: 
See 
Adding a title to "Document Properties"
 
Issue: The document is scanned and OCRed.
Explanation:
 Digitized printed text through OCR (Optical Character Recognition) allows users and assistive technologies to extract and search text inside the document OCRed documents, especially those of poor quality, which can be difficult to read.
How to Fix: See How to OCR a PDF

Issue: The document is scanned but not OCRed.
Explanation:
The document is either entirely scanned or contains pages that are scanned. Screen readers are unable to convert an image into words, even if the image only consists of text, so people with screen readers will not be able to read those pages.
How to Fix: See Applying OCR to scanned documents
 
Issue: The document is untagged
Explanation:
 TThe PDF document is not tagged. To improve the readability of the document, tags should be added. Tags act like headings, allowing users to navigate from section to section.
How to Fix: See Tagging PDFs
 
Issue: The document's heading structure does not begin at one.
Explanation: Headings should follow a sequential, descending order, and shouldn't skip a level (e.g., Heading 1, Heading 2, Heading 3). 
How to Fix: 
See 
Heading structure order
 
Issue: The document's heading structure goes beyond six levels.
Explanation: Numbers are used to represent the heading level where one (1) is the highest level and six (6) is the lowest subsection. Going beyond six levels can cause headings to not be read and should therefore be avoided. It is good practice to limit the number of heading levels to six (6). 
How to Fix: See Heading structure 
 

HTML

Issue: The HTML content contains images without a description.
Explanation:
The HTML content contains images that don't have a description or alternative text. People with screen readers or other assistive devices rely on these descriptions to understand the image content and purpose. Having a clear description for an image can help everyone better understand the content of the image and how it relates to the context. 
How to Fix: 
See 
How to add alternative text to images

Issue: The HTML content contains links without discernible text.
Explanation:
The HTML content contains links with text that is not discernible by a screen reader or is not focusable. The links need to have a URL (web address) and display text (visible text that tells visitors what to expect to find if they select the link).
How to Fix: See Links with missing discernible text

Issue: The HTML content contains videos without captions.
Explanation:
Embedded and referenced videos need captions to help all students better understand the content of the video and make it possible to watch the video in sound-sensitive environments. Captions make it possible to search and more efficiently navigate a video. Captions are also a requirement for students who are deaf or hard of hearing. 
How to Fix: See How to caption a video

Issue: The HTML content does not have a language set.
Explanation:
The HTML content does not specify the language in which it has been created. Technologies such as screen readers rely on the specified language to determine how to process the content or pronounce the text inside of the page.
How to Fix: See Set the language of content in my HTML page

Issue: The HTML content does not have an appropriate heading structure.
Explanation:
The HTML content contains headings that don't follow a logical order. All headings should follow a sequential and descending order. Headings are used to organize passages of text on a page. Well-structured and logical headings will make the page much easier to understand and navigate for all users
How to Fix: See Heading ranks

Issue: The HTML content does not have any headings.
Explanation:
The HTML content doesn't contain any marked-up headings. Headings are important as they provide structure to a page. When headings are properly and consistently used, the page becomes much easier to understand and navigate, and provides additional benefits such as the ability to automatically generate a Table of Contents.
How to Fix: See Headings

Issue: The HTML content has contrast issues.
Explanation:
The HTML content contains text with low contrast between the text and its background. This can cause the text to be difficult to read, especially for those with low vision, poor eyesight or color blindness.
How to Fix: See Fixing Color Contrast

Issue: The HTML content has embedded objects without alternative descriptions.
Explanation:
The HTML content contains embedded objects that don't have a description or alternative text. People with screen readers or other assistive devices rely on these descriptions to understand the purpose and content of embedded objects. Embedded content must be labeled.
How to Fix: See How to label embedded content

Issue: The HTML content has empty headings.
Explanation:
The HTML content contains headings with no content. This can cause potentially confusing alerts to screen reader users.
How to Fix: See Headings must not be empty

Issue: The HTML content has form elements without a label.
Explanation:
The HTML content contains form elements such as input boxes, checkboxes, dropdowns, etc. that are not labelled. People with assistive technologies often require the form elements to be explicitly labeled to understand the purpose of each field and to use the form effectively.
How to Fix: See How to fix HTML content form elements without a label

Issue: The HTML content has links or buttons with redundant text.
Explanation:
The HTML content contains buttons or links with text that is repeated in the image's description. Screen readers and other assistive devices would therefore read this text twice, which is redundant and potentially confusing.
How to Fix: See Text of buttons and links should not be repeated in the image alternative

Issue: The HTML content has malformed definition lists.
Explanation:
The definition list (<dl>) elements in the HTML content contain inappropriate child elements. This can cause screen readers to read out the definition lists incorrectly. The list (<ul> or <ol>) elements in the HTML content are not structured correctly. One easy fix is to remove and re-do the list bullets.
How to Fix: See HTML lists

Issue: The HTML content has malformed lists.
Explanation:
The unorder list <ul> and order list <ol> elements in the HTML content contain inappropriate child elements. This can cause screen readers to read out the definition lists incorrectly. The <ul> HTML element represents an unordered list of items, typically rendered as a bulleted list. The <ol> HTML element represents an ordered numbered list of items. The <ul> and <ol> differ in that, with the <ol> element, the order is meaningful. To determine which one to use, try changing the order of the list items. If the meaning is changed, the <ol> element should be used, otherwise use <ul>.
How to Fix: See The Unordered List (ul) element

Issue: The HTML content has table headers that don't have any content.
Explanation:
Table header elements should have visible text that describes the purpose of the row or column.
How to Fix: See Adding HTML content to table headers

Issue: The HTML content has table headers that doesn't have any headers.
Explanation:
The HTML content contains tables that don't have or properly specify a header structure. People with screen readers or other assistive devices rely on a semantically meaningful and correct heading structure to help them navigate the table and understand the meaning of every cell, but it can be beneficial to everyone to have a clear structure in the table.
How to Fix: See Adding Headers to Document Data Tables

Issue: The HTML content is missing a title.
Explanation:
The HTML content is missing a title. HTML page titles are used as the title for a browser window or tab, making it easier to navigate to the tab and understand the purpose of the tab.
How to Fix: See Anatomy of an HTML document

Issue: The HTML heading structure does not start at the right level.
Explanation:
The headings in the HTML content don't begin with the main heading and therefore don't follow a logical order. Having the main heading at the beginning of the document will provide a more logical structure and will make the document much easier to understand and navigate for all users.
How to Fix: See Heading structure