The accessibility of our digital learning tools
Information on some of the accessibility features that are in place for the University’s core digital learning tools, and where to find more support with each of these services.
Blackboard is the University's Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), the central online space which you will use throughout your time at university. It is used during your course to access module information, view course content, contribute to interactive activities like discussions, and submit assessments.
- Learning materials in Blackboard courses, such as Word docs and PDFs, can be downloaded in alternative formats using Blackboard Ally. This includes:
- Audio files which read aloud the text of the original file
- Electronic braille which can be read on a braille display, reading device or software
- ePub files which are responsive and can be viewed on mobile devices
- HTML format which can be opened in a web browser and aid screen reader users with document structure
- Tagged PDFs that add tags to paragraphs and headings which aids screen reader users with document structure
- Optical Character Recognition (OCR) PDF alternatives when the original file is a PDF of an image, converting the image into searchable text
- Beeline Reader that displays documents using a subtle colour gradient to pull your eye through the content, which can benefit people with dyslexia, ADHD, low vision or difficulties with visual tracking or focus
- Immersive Reader which enables you to change font style, size, spacing, background colour, and highlight verbs, nouns and adjectives in a document. It can also read individual words or the whole document aloud, highlighting each word in real time
- Media items in Blackboard Courses use the Kaltura player accessibility features.
- Industry-standard keyboard interactions are used throughout Blackboard Learn to move between menus, open menus, and interact with content.
- Blackboard Learn’s content editor provides keyboard shortcuts for formatting the content. To use your keyboard to jump to the content editor toolbar, press ALT + F10 in Windows, or ALT + Fn + F10 on a Mac.
- For the best screen reader experience, Blackboard recommends using Google Chrome and JAWS in Windows, or Safari and VoiceOver on a Mac.
- Blackboard Learn uses a logical heading structure to properly structure pages and enable users to navigate using headings, giving users the ability to understand the structure of any page quickly and move to the appropriate section or content item easily.
Blackboard Collaborate is a browser-based virtual classroom and communication tool, used to deliver online teaching sessions at the University. It includes audio, video, an interactive whiteboard, presentation and screen sharing, polling, breakout rooms and session recordings.
- Industry-standard keyboard interactions are used throughout Blackboard Collaborate.
- Keyboard navigation patterns differ between browsers (Firefox, Safari, Chrome), but the interactions within any particular browser are common and consistent.
- Global keyboard shortcuts are established for common actions in Blackboard Collaborate. Additional keyboard shortcuts include:
- Turn microphone on and off: press Alt + M in Windows, press Option + M on a Mac
- Turn camera on and off: press Alt + C in Windows, press Option + C on a Mac
- Raise and lower your hand: press Alt + H in Windows, press Option + H on a Mac
- For the best screen reader experience, Blackboard recommends using Google Chrome and JAWS in Windows, or Safari and VoiceOver on a Mac. Content uploaded to a Collaborate Session can be accessed via a screen reader. Click the download button to save a copy of the presentation for offline viewing.
- Blackboard Collaborate uses Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) technology to provide captions for recorded sessions.
- Captions are not currently available during live Collaborate sessions, however, you can use the Google Chrome Live Captions feature to generate them for you.
Buddycheck is a peer evaluation tool integrated within Blackboard. It allows students to evaluate the contribution of others and themselves to a group project.
- Keyboard shortcuts can be used to navigate the majority of the website.
- The map can be magnified to a great extent
- A high-contrast mode is available
Crowdmark is an assessment tool accessed through Blackboard that enables students to submit handwritten work as PDFs or images. You can create text response and multiple choice questions, and mark submissions using the fully featured marking and feedback interface.
- Industry standard keyboard interactions are used throughout Crowdmark and visible focus helps users to keep track of their position on a page as they use the tab key to navigate interactive elements.
- Keyboard shortcuts can be used for grading to navigate between submissions and interact with tools.
- Annotations like stamps and comments must be positioned directly onto student submissions during grading using a mouse or stylus. Presently, there is no option to place these elements on the grading canvas using keyboard commands.
- Crowdmark has a colour system that uses numerical values to ensure that colour combinations meet or exceed WCAG 2.1 Level AA compliance for text content.
Encore is the University’s lecture capture system that records the audio and any content displayed through the projector during teaching sessions. These recordings are then made available via Blackboard to reinforce your learning and prepare for exams and other assessments.
- Keyboard shortcuts are available for all player features, such as change volume or increase playback speed.
- Echo360 uses Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) technology to provide transcripts for recorded sessions.
- Individual transcripts can be searched or downloaded for offline use.
- Use the Encore Search feature across a module to find when key phrases or words were captured, and access that specific moment of the recording.
Equatio is a desktop app and browser extension that allows you to easily create, read and listen to mathematical notation. Equatio creates digital maths that you can include in your Word Docs, Google Docs, Presentations, Blackboard course and other electronic resources.
- Keyboard navigation can be used to lauch Equatio and interact with the tool.
- Equatio for Google Chrome’s new update now allows for discovery on web pages containing math, allowing you to read, copy, and create accessible math directly from webpages.
Google Meet is a video conferencing tool which enables you to take part in virtual meetings, interviews, classes and more. Sometimes Google Meet may be used for teaching activities or meetings with your tutors. Students can also schedule virtual meetings themselves.
- Users can control the camera and microphone, and open meeting controls using the keyboard:
- Turn microphone on and off: press Control + D in Windows, press Option + D on a Mac
- Turn camera on and off: press Control + E in Windows, press Option + E on a Mac
- Enable Live Captions, press c
- Access a complete list of Google Meet’s keyboard shortcuts
Screen readers and magnifiers
- Users can use Google Chrome’s built-in screen reader, full-page zoom, high contrast colour, and other accessibility extensions.
- Find out more about Google’s accessibility products
- Google Meet can automatically generate live captions so users who are deaf or hard of hearing can follow what is being said. Press the Turn on captions icon, or tap the c button on your keyboard, to activate this feature.
- Captions are not currently available on Google Meet Recordings, however, you can use the Google Chrome Live Captions feature to generate them for you.
Kaltura is the University’s media hosting platform. It allows staff to record and share videos with students, usually via Blackboard. It also allows students to create and submit media assessments.
Kaltura player features
- Keyboard shortcuts for all video player functions.
- Players use hidden text elements for every non-text user interface element to support screen reader use.
- Kaltura uses Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) technology to provide captions for recorded sessions.
- Interactive Transcripts are optionally available for captioned videos, allowing viewers to navigate through the video by searching or browsing for keywords or phrases.
Numbas is an online assessment tool accessed through Blackboard which allows you to undertake tests in mathematics and other number or formula-based examinations.
- Industry standard keyboard interactions are used throughout Numbas, and all Numbas assessments can be accessed via keyboard alone
- Numbas assessments can be accessed via screenreader users
- Numbas layout is responsive and usable on screens with a variety of resolutions, including mobile devices.
PebblePad is a system for logging and evidencing achievements, experiences and skills. It’s commonly used at the University for creating reflective portfolios and workbooks, which you’ll complete for single assignments or somethings across entire modules or programmes of study.
- PebblePad supports the latest versions of JAWS and NVDA screen readers.
- All user interface components and navigation elements can be accessed using only the keyboard allowing all users to perform all required actions.
TurningPoint, currently rebranding as PointSolutions, allows you to respond to interactive polls and questions your tutors build into their lectures and seminars.
- TurningPoint Desktop and Web are both tested on JAWS, NVDA and VoiceOver screen readers.
- TurningPoint Desktop and Web supports standard keyboard navigation, however not all content is easily accessible without the use of a screen reader.
Turnitin is an assessment tool that enables you to submit assignments and receive feedback online. It includes text-matching software that identifies similarities to other sources, which can be used to help improve your referencing and citation skills.
- Turnitin Student Feedback Studio and Online Grading, Assignment Submission, Originality Report, Similarity Report and Student PeerMark are tested using JAWS screen reader and keyboard exclusive navigation.
- Not all features are accessible via Keyboard alone. The Text Only Similarity Report might be useful to users of assistive technology.
WondaVR is a 360 media hosting platform that allows staff and students to create immersive and interactive learning experiences combining 2D, 3D and 360 media, audio and annotations. Interactivity can include embedding media like video, linking to other 360 scenes, and linking to websites.
- WondaVR, along with other VR Environments rely on precise touch or motor interactions to navigate. As such, they are largely not compatible with screen readers, nor can they be accessed via keyboard navigation alone.
- It is not possible to use browser controls to Zoom in or otherwise resize content in Wonda VR.
- Accessing experiences via a VR Headset might address some of the above issues.
- VR is an emerging technology, and as such there are no industry guidelines to provide metadata or alternative text to support users access virtual environments.
- Wonda VR does not provide captions on video content, however, you can use the Google Chrome Live Captions feature to generate them for you.
Wooclap is an online quiz and polling tool that your tutors may use to ask you questions in lectures and seminars, which you can respond to using the web browser on your computer or mobile device. Wooclap allows your tutor to ask you a variety of question types, including multiple choice questions, polls, image labelling, word clouds and judgement testing tasks.
- Industry standard keyboard interactions are used throughout Wooclap.
Xerte is a content creation tool that enables you to create engaging and accessible online learning resources. These can include text, interactive elements and multimedia. The resources you produce can be embedded or linked to in Blackboard, or shared elsewhere online.
- Industry standard keyboard interactions are used throughout Xerte, and all the quiz options can be accessed via keyboard alone.
- Xerte layout is responsive and usable on screens with a variety of resolutions, including mobile devices.
- Inbuilt colour contrast changer in the main XOT template with direct links to accessibility guidance for users and a link from the user guidance to an author accessibility guide.
- Most page types are compatible with screen reader tools and ARIA (Accessible Rich Internet Applications) Landmarks aid screen reader navigation.