Blackboard Ally in Moodle

Following a successful pilot, Blackboard Ally will be available in all Moodle modules following the Moodle update on 18th July 2022 to help make learning content more accessible. Blackboard Ally merges into the existing workflow when lecturers and course officers upload, rollover or import content.

Ally produces an accessibility indicator score for common file types. The score is viewable only to staff enrolled on the module and not to students. These accessibility indicator scores are created by checking the file against each of the requirements of UK legislation for web accessibility and are also given a weight based on how much of an accessibility challenge an issue may pose to students accessing the content. The accessibility indicator score assesses the way content is conveyed to students, not the quality of the content itself. For example, a low accessibility score for a resource may be because it is a scanned PDF of a photocopied book, not because the book itself or content therein is of pedagogical low quality.

To open the feedback panel, select the accessibility indicator to the right of the file. The feedback panel opens in an overlay on the Moodle module. The left panel displays the file with areas highlighted and numbered that need action to improve accessibility. The panel on the right contains guidance on how to improve the file.

File displaying on left with accessibility issues noted on the panel on the right
Ally Feedback Panel

Staff can work through the guidance in the panel on the right to improve the accessibility of the file. Once the file has been remediated, upload it via the drop file/upload field in the panel on the right. This will update the accessibility indicator score.

Module Accessibility report

Blackboard Ally also provides staff enrolled on modules with a module-level Accessibility report. This provides an overview of accessibility issues on the module and suggests a number of ways to improve them. You can choose to focus on specific issues that are:

  1. Easiest to improve, with step-by-step guidance.
  2. Low scoring content, with step-by-step guidance.

Blackboard Ally pilot user feedback

Pilot users share their experiences and top tips for using Blackboard Ally to improve the accessibility of Moodle modules in the blog posts below.

  1. Blackboard Ally pilot by Rachael-Anne Knight.
  2. A first look at Blackboard Ally by Julie Voce & Olivia Fox

Automated alternative formats

As well as providing you with accessibility indicator scores, accessibility guidance and an Accessibility report, Ally also creates automatic alternative formats for common file types. This lets students choose the type of format that they want to use to review the content. Staff enrolled on modules can also review and download the alternative formats by selecting the alternative icon to the right of a file.

Alternative format icon highlighted next to file
Alternative format icon

The automated alternative formats that may be available for students to download are:

  • Audio
  • Tagged PDF
  • OCR PDF
  • HTML
  • ePub
  • BeeLine Reader
  • Electronic Braille

If necessary, you can turn off alternative formats for specific files on your Moodle module.

Learn more about Blackboard Ally

The Digital Education team is offering training across the summer on Blackboard Ally, as well as refreshers on other educational technologies. See full details and sign up on our training calendar.

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