eLearning and Emerging Technologies at GVSU is pleased to announce the addition of a new enterprise accessibility software solution called Blackboard Ally to support the university’s work in providing inclusive education through accessibility. Ally will be available to all 1,800 faculty and 25,000 students at GVSU beginning at the start of the summer semester.
Blackboard Ally is an innovative and revolutionary solution that focuses on making digital course content more accessible. It enables faculty to effectively and efficiently deliver course content to students that adheres to Universal Design Principles as well as being more accessible.
Through integration with GVSU’s Blackboard learning management system, Ally automatically scans course content that has been uploaded by faculty. A report is provided to faculty as well as guidance to resolve common accessibility issues. In addition, Ally automatically creates alternative files types for students, including: Enhanced Version, HTML Version, Audio Version, Electronic Braille, and ePub.
“GVSU is committed inclusive education, and I am focused on ensuring my courses are accessible” said Cheryl Kautz, Affiliate Instructor in the School of Computing and Information Systems and 1st Place Award Winner of the Most Inclusive Classrooms in the United States, “Blackboard Ally will help me ensure that my courses are as accessible as possible for my students, save me time, and most importantly help faculty at GVSU to focus on improving student success.”
- Increases capacity to support faculty in building accessible content and correcting files already in their Blackboard courses.
- Assists in the creation of high quality levels of accessibility through content in Blackboard through the real-time conversion of files (Enhanced Version, HTML Version, Audio Version, Electronic Braille, and ePub) uploaded into Blackboard without any faculty intervention or extra work.
- Provides additional ADA Section 508 due diligence and good faith effort of evaluating content that has been uploaded by faculty into Blackboard.
- Supports requests for an institutional dashboard view for the level of accessibility of all courses in Blackboard at GVSU.
- Responds to student needs for accessible versions of content without the extra overhead of development time for our existing staff or faculty.
- Builds capacity to respond to increased federal and legal requirements for accessibility at GVSU.
Grand Valley State University selected Blackboard Ally after evaluating the capabilities and reviewing the benefits to students and to faculty. In short, Ally increases accessibility of course content while saving faculty time, allowing more focus on connecting and communicating with students, rather than managing technology.
GVSU Strategic Connection
Blackboard Ally supports GVSU’s 2021 Strategic Plan in the following areas:
Strategic Priority Area 1: Actively engage learners at all levels.
Institutional outcome D: Grand Valley supports innovative teaching, learning, integrative scholarly and creative activity, and the use of new technologies.
Objective 1.D.2: At least 93% of faculty members regularly use electronic course management tools, such as Blackboard, in their teaching.
Objective 4.D.1: Effective technologies are integrated into every function and structure across the institution.
Objective 3.B.1: All systems and policies ensure inclusiveness and accessibility.
Inclusiveness/Access – Incorporating multiple voices and experiences by valuing identities, perspectives, and backgrounds. Strengthening and expanding possibilities through technology to increase accessibility and remove barriers.