Helping you create an inclusive learning environment with improved accessibility

Student studying

New accessibility tool, Blackboard Ally, has recently been launched on all courses on Blackboard (MOLE). Ally is a unique tool designed to support an inclusive learning environment at the University and help staff better understand accessibility.

For staff, Ally provides a traffic light accessibility score for content uploaded to Blackboard, and guidance and advice on how to make content more accessible. Reports on accessibility can also be run at a course or institutional level.

It's easy to use and will help everyone think about and be more proactive around accessibility.

Staff feedback from focus group

Students do not see the accessibility scores, but are able to download content into alternative formats that work best for them. So for example, a student can download a Word document as an audio file, ePub or electronic braille.

Ally supports our Learning and Teaching Strategy, and is particularly aligned to the 2019-20 Programme Level Approach priority to create an inclusive curriculum. In addition, the tool aids our institution to work towards the Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) Accessibility Regulations 2018, which states that institutions should be proactively taking reasonable steps to make available content accessible.

Improving accessibility will take time, and we are encouraging staff to focus on ensuring that new content uploaded to Blackboard (MOLE) is made more accessible by following the feedback provided by Ally. Making these important changes will make materials clearer and easier to understand, which will be of benefit to all students, not just those with disclosed additional support needs.

Support and awareness for Ally will be provided by the APSE Digital Learning team, in collaboration with Disability and Dyslexia Support Service (DDSS), SpLD, the Library, 301, CiCS and localised Learning Technologists.

Introduction to Blackboard Ally sessions are now available on LMS both in-person and online.

If you have any queries, please get in touch with digital.learning@sheffield.ac.uk