Accessibility Checker for Canvas - How to Use Blackboard Ally


Introduction

The Blackboard Ally tool in Canvas lets instructors make sure teaching materials are accessible and can be viewed and digested by students with disabilities. Accessibility is required by Virginia Tech (VT Policy 7215) and the U.S. government (Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act). 

Blackboard Ally can:

Contents

Background

Instructors

Students

Troubleshooting

Getting Help

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Instructions

Background

Blackboard Ally is not a file editor.

Allowed files

Once uploaded to Canvas, Blackboard Ally can review:

Alternative formats

Many learners benefit from materials in an alternative format that better support their learning preferences or abilities. Some formats are easier to access for assistive technologies such as screen readers, refreshable Braille displays, or text-to-speech applications. Blackboard Ally lets instructors create and students download the following alternative file formats: 

Alternative formats available depend on the original file format: 

  Tagged PDF HTML ePub  Electronic Braille  Audio BeeLine Reader
PDF  
MS Word  ✔
HTML      ✔
MS PowerPoint

Resources

 Videos:

Blackboard Ally website:

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Instructors

Checking the Course Accessibility Report

The Ally Course Accessibility Report by Blackboard in Canvas can help you obtain a high-level view of accessibility across your Canvas course site and help you prioritize remediation strategies to improve accessibility in your Canvas content. This tool is readily available for you to access and utilize in your Canvas course sites.

Click on the Ally Course Accessibility Report tab in your course navigation menu to access an overview of your course accessibility.

We recommend starting with All Course Content and Choose What to Fix First to begin remediation in your course. More information about these tools can be found on Blackboard's page on the Course Accessibility Report.

Checking accessibility with the Accessibility Meter

Blackboard Ally automatically scans Canvas files after it is integrated. 

The accessibility meter appears either before or after a file in Canvas, depending on the file's location. 

Red & pointing left:
File is not accessible
Orange & pointing up: 
File is partially accessible 
Green & pointing right: 
File is accessible

Click the meter to go to the file preview and see detailed accessibility information. 

In Files
  1. Click Files in the Course Navigation Menu.
  2. There will be a column labeled Accessibility.

    Files in canvas and their accessibility scale
In Assignments (and anywhere else that uses the Rich Content Editor)

Go to AssignmentsAnnouncements, or any other tool that uses the Rich Content Editor. Blackboard Ally will scan and report on the accessibility of files attached in the Rich Content Editor. 

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Viewing accessibility details

  1. Click the Accessibility Meter next to any file. 

    Inaccessible scale next to file in Canvas Files

  2. The accessibility report shows percent accessibility, missing components, and an explanation of issues.

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Adding Alt Text for image descriptions

  1. In the accessibility report for an image, click Fix.



  2. Add an image description (Alt Text). 
    1. Click How to write a good description for instructions. 
    2. Check Indicate image is decorative if the image is an icon, logo, or graphic element that does not contribute to the content of the file. 
    3. Save. 

      Solution to fix score in Ally tool

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Fixing other accessibility issues

Blackboard Ally is not a file editor.

Ally only lets you add Alt Text to images in scanned files. For all other issues, edit files on your computer and upload a new version to Canvas. See Improve Content Accessibility for detailed instructions. 

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Managing alternative formats

Enable alternative formats
  1. Go to course Files and click a file.
  2. Click Alternative formats.

    Alternative formats circled in page view

  3. On the Alternative formats popup, click Enable for this file.

    Enable for this file circled in Alternative formats pop-up
Disable alternative formats
  1. Go to course Files and click a file.
  2. Click Alternative formats.
  3. In the Download alternative formats popup, click the drop-down arrow next to Download alternative formats → Disable alternative formats for this file

    Drop-down circled in Download alternative formats tab
Download alternative formats
  1. Go to course Files and click a file.
  2. Click Alternative formats.

    Alternative formats circled in sample page view

  3. In the Download alternative formats popup, click the format you want to download. The available formats will vary based on the file type. Then click Download

    Downloadable formats

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Students

About alternative formats

The table below outlines the best formats for your particular study needs.

 

Electronic Braille

Audio

PDF, OCR

PDF, Tagged

HTML, Semantic

ePUB

Beeline Reader

Adjust text, font, and background color

 

     

 

Adjust audio playback speed

 

         

Commuting

 

 

Commuting, driving

 

   

   

Copy, paste, and search

   

 

Format adapts to device, responsive

       

Highlighting, note taking, and bookmarking

   

 

 

Mobile device

 

   

Offline

Prefer listening

 

         

Prefer reading

 

Print

 

 

Text to speech with speed adjustment

   

 

The above table is licensed by Blackboard under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0.

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Downloading alternative formats

From Canvas Files
  1. Go to course Files and click a file.
  2. Click Alternative formats.
    • If the instructor has disabled alternative formats, this option will not appear.

      Alternative formats circled in sample page view

  3. Click your alternative format, then click Download. The available formats will vary based on the file type. The first student to download an alternative file will need to wait for it to generate. All other students can download the file immediately.

    Downloadable formats

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From Assignments
  1. Go to Assignments and click and assignment. 
  2. Click the down arrow next to the file -> Alternative Formats.

    download option circled next to file in assignment

  3. Click your alternative format, then click Download.
    • Available formats vary based on original file type. 
    • The first student to download an alternative file will need to wait for it to generate. All other students can download the file immediately.

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Troubleshooting

I can't fix my file in Blackboard Ally

Blackboard Ally is not a file editor.

We recommend instructors check the accessibility of their files before uploading to Canvas. Virginia Tech community members have access to two accessibility editors, Microsoft Accessibility Checker and Grackle. See: 

I don't see alternative formats

If an instructor chooses to disable alternative formats for a specific file, the alternative format option will not be available. Please contact your instructor with questions and concerns.

Canvas froze when I clicked alternative formats

Leave the Canvas page, reload, and try again. 

Canvas froze when I tried to download an alternative format

The first person to download an alternative format must wait up to a minute for the format to be generated. After that, subsequent people can download the generated file immediately. 

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Getting Help

For technical support and information on accessibility, go to the 4Help Portal, log in, and click Get Help. Your request will be forwarded to the Accessible Technologies group. 

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