Blackboard Ally

Colleagues working on teaching materials in Minerva have access to Blackboard Ally to help understand the accessibility of files uploaded to Minerva (PDF, Word, PowerPoint, OpenOffice/LibreOffice, Uploaded HTML, Image files). Blackboard Ally automatically scans your content for accessibility issues, provides tips to staff on how to resolve issues and provides alternative formats of files. 

Blackboard Ally was implemented over Summer 2020 and should be enabled automatically in your module or organisation in Minerva after a file is added. If you cannot see Ally, please contact the IT Service Desk.

How Blackboard Ally Can Be Used in Digital Education

Blackboard Ally has three key features: 

  1. It will identify content with accessibility issues 
  2. It will show staff how to make their content more accessible 
  3. It will also automatically provide students access to files in formats that work best for them: HTML for improved reading on mobile phones, Electronic Braille for the visually impaired and Audio for learning on the go. 

Guidance on creating materials which are digitally accessible from the outset can be found on the Digital Accessibility website. 

It’s recognised that the accessibility challenges presented by learning materials vary between subjects, for example, formulae and complex diagrams.   Related FAQs (including Maths specific questions) are on the Digital Practice website (https://digitalpractice.leeds.ac.uk/accessibility-inclusivity/).  If you have further questions, your School Academic Lead for Inclusive Practice (SALIP)  may be able to advise. 

Guides

Ally guides aimed at staff and students can be found on the Leeds Minerva support website, the guides listed below should help to get started: 

Checking the accessibility of your teaching and learning material

Improving the accessibility of resources

Creating accessible and inclusive learning for hybrid and online delivery

Guidance on how to check your resources for accessibility, as well as how you can make specific types of documents and media more accessible can be found on in the Accessibility and Inclusivity section of this site, see Accessibility Advice – guidance on creating accessible and inclusive learning for hybrid and online delivery It also covers broader pedagogical concerns about how this may impact your practice 

You can also find guidance developed by academics for academics. Based on some steering principles and standards approved by TSEB on 24/06/2020, see Guidance regarding the accessibility of Teaching and Learning digital resources. 

Case Studies

The Ally User Group (an external website) allows the Ally community to share case studies; for further information visit the Ally Usergroup.

Get Involved

Join the Digital Education Systems User Group (DESUG)

The DESUG is open to all University staff and students and enables systems end users to propose enhancements to our teaching and learning systems, directly shaping the future product roadmaps of our digital education systems.  

Meetings are held 3-4 times a year; attendees receive updates and can feedback on recent and future systems’ enhancements and digital education system projects. If you would like to be added to the Digital Education Systems User Group, please request to join the DESUG Team. 

Join the Digital Education Systems Group (DESG)

The DESG is open to University staff and provides information on what’s happening and what’s coming up. Members are added to the Microsoft DESG Team and are invited to a monthly meeting to input into discuss on systems and projects. Once you are a member of the team, you will find channels for different systems as well as general discussion groups. If you would like to be a member of this group, please request to join the DESG Team. 

Join the Tips Community

The Teaching Innovation and Practice in Student Education (TIPS) Community is a network for teaching and support staff with the aim of collecting and sharing examples of effective practice from across the University. If you would like to join the TIPS community, please request to join the Tips Team.