The goal of Blackboard Learn is to provide an accessible platform for students and teachers for equal access to online courses. There is also a level of responsibility for instructors to make their course content accessible and for students to ask for accommodations if they need them. Find out how you can create and participate in inclusive learning experiences by using the accessibility features in Learn.
Blackboard is fully committed to ensuring that our platform contains no barriers for users with disabilities and is both usable and accessible by everyone, regardless of age, ability, or situation. Blackboard measures and evaluates accessibility levels using two sets of standards: Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act issued from the United States federal government and the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0) issued by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).
The linked resources are available in English only.
The Top 5 things you need to know about designing accessible content:
The Top 2 things you need to know about using Blackboard if you have a hearing impairment:
The Top 5 things you need to know about using Blackboard if you have a visual impairment:
The Top 5 things you need to know about using Blackboard if you have a mobility impairment:
The Top 5 things you need to know about using Blackboard if you have a learning disability:
Whether you are a teacher building and facilitating a course, or a student participating in a course, awareness and use of these features and tools creates an accessible environment for success.
My Blackboard aggregates information from across the Blackboard Learn system and focuses on the individual user. This provides each user with a single place to get a quick overview of everything related to various tools and courses as well as their academic or institutional network and community, and allows them to respond, review, and directly interact with the information presented there. Activity counters will quickly call attention to items requiring the users attention since the user has last accessed My Blackboard. Having a single place to go can simplify the overall experience for students with disabilities and help them feel more focused on the tasks they need to complete. Students can get an overview of outstanding information before diving into the details of their courses.
To learn more, see My Blackboard and Navigation.
The global navigation menu refers to the set of links that appears at the very top of Blackboard Learn and is accessed by clicking on your name or through the use of a keyboard shortcut. This menu provides a consistent, quick and easy way to find information and navigate to tools like My Blackboard, your courses and even some personal settings from anywhere in the system.
To learn more, see My Blackboard and Navigation.
Instructors can create individualized learning paths for students using adaptive release. Adaptive release controls the release of content to students based on a set of rules the instructor creates. The rules may be related to availability, date and time, individual users, group membership, scores or attempts on any Grade Center item, calculated columns in Grade Center, or review status of an item in the course. Adaptive release can be used to target alternative content formats or additional materials directly to the students who need them.
To learn more, see Release Content.
Located in the top left, the Quick Links icon opens a list of all the ARIA landmarks as well as an outline of all content headings on the page you are viewing. Any available keyboard shortcuts for the current tool or page are also displayed. You can quickly locate any heading or section within any page in the Blackboard Learn application and jump directly to it. Quick Links is specific to the page being viewed and can be opened at any time with a keyboard shortcut (SHIFT+ALT+L). This functionality provides a significant increase in efficiency for users who rely primarily on their keyboard for navigating within the application.
To learn more, see Quick Links.
New settings have been added to the Test and Survey Options pages called Test Availability Exceptions. Using these settings, instructors can select one or more groups or students and make a number of exceptions to the already established availability settings for the test. Exceptions can be used to provide an accommodation to a disabled student (such as allowing the more time or attempts on the test), or provide accommodation for technology and language differences.
Located on every page where items can be reordered using drag and drop, this accessible alternative displays the items on the page as a list and provides you with keyboard commands to reorder the items.
To learn more, see Edit and Manage Course Content.
A feature within the content editor, Record from Webcam (Video Everywhere) allows students and instructors to record video on the fly using their webcam and the YouTube recording technology. Video is seamlessly stored in your personal YouTube account and directly embedded in course materials, interactions, and feedback through the content editor. Visual feedback is extremely valuable for anyone using sign language and for users who need to replay interactions. Students have the ability to record video responses and submissions wherever they have the ability to generate content using the content editor, making it easier for them to communicate with their teachers or peers in alternative formats. The feature is based on the YouTube technology. You can even run these self-recorded videos through YouTube's automated captioning technology to build captions and transcripts.
The YouTube Mashup allows an instructor to search for and embed YouTube videos directly in the course content. When the video is displayed the student has access to accessible player controls which allow them to play, pause, stop and control the volume of the video with a keyboard or screen reader without requiring them to interact with the more challenging Flash based controls that are present with the default YouTube video.
Blackboard can be configured to send out notifications through a variety of channels, informing users that there are changes to their courses. Notifications are specific to the individual user so both instructors and students can set up what notifications will be sent to them as well as when and how they want to receive notifications. Clicking on a link within a notification takes you directly to the individual item with out the need to consume all the surrounding content at the same time. When integrated with Blackboard Connect, users can optionally receive notifications via text (SMS), text-to-voice, and by telephone. These capabilities allow everyone to understand what is happening with their courses in the medium that is most comfortable for them.
Instructors can control the visual display format of content on any content page or within any folder in their course. Options include showing only the text, showing only an icon to represent a content object and showing both the text and the icon. When there is a lot of content on the page it can be challenging to consume for students with cognitive disabilities. Putting things into appropriate folders and using the formatting options allow the instructor to control the amount of clutter that is on the page which can help the student to focus in on one element at a time.
To find out more, see Course Style Options, Setting the Default Content View.
The content editor in Blackboard Learn is based on 3rd party technology from TinyMCE. It provides accessible controls as well as keyboard shortcuts for formatting content created within it. The editor will properly clean up unnecessary HTML code that may be included when content is copied from Microsoft Office documents. This clean HTML will ensure that screen reader users can fully consume any content created in or copied into the editor. The formatting controls in the editor will also ensure that headings added to content by the instructor will not conflict with the overall semantic structure of the page on which the content is displayed. Building accessible content within the course is key to the success of your students and the content editor helps ensure that any content you create within it meets user and system expectations.
To learn more, see Content Editor.
On the login page for the Blackboard Learn system you can choose to enable a high contrast setting to ensure the system uses the contrast settings you have already defined in your operating system to display text, menus, and other navigation controls within the Blackboard Learn environment. For users with visual impairments the contrast settings defined within the operating system likely provide the most comfortable manner in which to view and consume information and the high contrast support in Blackboard Learn allows you to simply continue to use them.
To learn more, see Log Into Learn.