Blackboard Ally

Blackboard Ally Overview

What is Blackboard Ally?

Ally provides instructors with feedback on the accessibility of course content and guidance on how to improve access to course resources and activities. For both instructors and students, the tool also provides alternative content formats for a variety of devices and assistive technologies.

Ally measures the accessibility and provides alternative formats for the following file types:

  • PDF
  • Word
  • OpenOffice
  • HTML
  • PowerPoint

Alternative File Formats

Alternative formats, which are available for all course users, can be accessed by clicking the Ally icon found to the right of the item.

Screen pic with arrow pointing to Alternative Format icon.

Alternative format options include:

  • HTML
  • ePUB
  • Electronic braille
  • Audio (MP3)
  • BeeLine Reader
  • Immersive Reader
  • Translated language versions (over 50 languages available!)

Accessibility Scores

With Ally enabled, instructors will be able to see an accessibility gauge icon appearing next to attachments and files:

The gauge icon is visible only to instructors and provides an accessibility score for the item:

  • Low: File is not accessible and requires immediate attention to correct accessibility issues.
  • Medium: File is somewhat accessible. The file could be improved.
  • High: File is accessible. There are non-critical issues to be improved.
  • Perfect: File is accessible. No improvement needed.

If an accessibility rating is low, click on Ally’s gauge icon to access the Instructor Feedback Panel for detailed feedback and how-to steps for making content more accessible.

Accessibility ReportAccessibility Report menu item screenshot

The Accessibility Report provides an accessibility summary at the course level with a review and scoring of all course items.

To access your course’s accessibility report, scroll to the bottom of your navigation menu, open Course Tools and select Accessibility Report.

The Accessibility Report contains two tabs: Overview and Content.

The Overview tab shows the accessibility score for the course, course content grouped by content type, and a list of all remaining issues identified in the course.

Accessibility Report example course screenshot

From this Overview tab, you have the option to begin by choosing “Content with the easiest issues to fix” or “Fix low scoring content.” Click “Start” to view how-to instructions for addressing flagged issues with identified content:

Accessibility Report how to start buttons

Accessibility Report easy to fix list

Accessibility Report low scoring content list

The Content tab lists all course content with identified accessibility issues. Clicking on the gauge for any listed content item opens the Instructor Feedback Panel which shows examples and details how-to steps for making content more accessible.

Accessibility Report Content Tab

For further information on how to use Ally’s Course Accessibility Report, please visit the Blackboard Course Accessibility Report page.

Why use Blackboard Ally?

  • Provides instructors with feedback on the accessibility of course content
  • Offers guidance for instructors on how to improve access to course resources and activities
  • Provides access to alternative content f≠ormats for a variety of devices and assistive technologies
  • Supports proactive approach to course design and accessibility
  • Expands access and promotes equity for everyone!

Resources for Instructors

Resources for Your Students

Below we’ve drafted some language explaining Ally, which you can share with your students via an announcement in your course, if you would like (please edit as you see fit):

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Dear students, I have some exciting news: CUNY SPS now has a Blackboard accessibility tool called Ally. You may have noticed the Ally icons next to course content text and attachments. You can click on this icon to view available alternative formats for the course material. For example, you can convert a PDF into an HTML document for easier reading on mobile devices, or into an MP3 audio file for a text-to-speech version. You are welcome to explore this tool at your convenience but please note you are not required to do so.

For more details, see the resources listed below, or contact the Office of Student Disability Services ( with any questions about this new tool.

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Blackboard Ally Help for Instructors

For assistance with using Ally in your course, please email us at