Alternative formats benefit everyone

Many classrooms today, both physical and digital, are integrated with students with diverse needs. Alternative formats provide greater opportunity for everyone to access the information they need in the way they need or want it.

With alternative formats all students can meet the same learning objectives using resources that are built to target the needs of the individual student. For example, Blackboard Ally creates audio and electronic braille alternatives for students with visual impairments.

Alternative formats aren't just for a select group of students. Alternative formats benefit everyone. For example, your students may be prone to eye strain, or maybe they are an auditory learner. They can listen to an audio format of the file you uploaded instead. Or use the HTML or ePub formats for easier reading on a mobile device.

More on the different alternative formats and their benefits

Instructors don’t need to do anything. Ally creates the alternative formats for you.


Find Ally Alternative Formats in Your LMS

Find the available alternative formats

After files are attached to a course, Ally creates alternative formats of the file based on the original. For example, if the original file is a PDF, Ally creates audio, electronic braille, and ePub formats of the same content. These formats are made available with the original file so everything is in one convenient location.

The alternative formats created depend on the original file type. If you don't see an option to download alternative formats, Ally isn’t enabled for that course or the file is not a supported content type.

Find a file attached to your course. Select the menu beside it and select Alternative formats. Choose the version that is best for your needs!

You can find alternative formats anywhere a file is located in the course.

Blackboard Learn

Blackboard Learn Ultra

Blackboard Open LMS

Moodle

Instructure Canvas

D2L Brightspace


What alternative formats does Ally generate?

What alternative formats does Ally generate?

Ally provides alternative formats for these file types:

  • PDF files
  • Microsoft® Word files
  • Microsoft® Powerpoint® files
  • OpenOffice/LibreOffice files
  • Uploaded HTML files

These alternative formats can be generated:

  • OCR’d version (for scanned documents)
  • Tagged PDF (currently for Word, Powerpoint and OpenOffice/LibreOffice files)
  • Mobile-friendly HTML
  • Audio
  • ePub
  • Electronic Braille
  • Translated Version
  • BeeLine Reader

    We are currently running a pilot of the BeeLine Reader version. The pilot will run for the next few months and will be used to collect feedback about how to best integrate this capability into Blackboard Ally going forward To apply for this pilot, please fill out the BeeLine Reader Alternative Format Pilot request form..

More on alternative formats


Disable alternative formats

You can turn off alternative formats for individual content items, if you want. If you change your mind, you can enable it again later. 

This only disables alternative formats on the selected file. You must follow these steps for every file you want to disable. If you want to disable alternative formats in your entire course, your school administrator can turn Ally off for your entire course.

  1. Find a file attached to your course.
  2. Select the menu beside it and select Alternative formats.
  3. Select the menu beside the Download alternative formats heading.
  4. Select Disable alternative formats for this file.
  5. Select Close.

If students try to download alternative formats when disabled, they see a message telling them the alternative formats for that content item are not available.


Enable disabled alternative formats

You can turn alternative formats on if they are disabled. 

This only enables alternative formats on the selected file. You must follow these steps for every file you want to enable.

  1. Find a file attached to your course.
  2. Select the menu beside it and select Alternative formats.
  3. Select Enable for this file.
  4. Select Close.

FAQs

Alternative Format Instructor FAQs

What does the instructor need to do to generate alternative formats for a content item?

Nothing. Ally automatically picks up on any existing or new materials, runs it through the accessibility checklist, and makes the alternative formats available to both the student and the instructor.

Is there a file size limit?

No, there is no file size limit. There may be cases where the algorithm fails to generate alternative formats for certain large files, but Ally doesn’t enforce a maximum file size.

How does Ally handle password protected content?

Ally detects password-protected content, gives them a 0% accessibility score and provides guidance to help remove the password through the instructor feedback. Ally does not generate any alternative formats for password protected content, as we can’t get access to the actual content.

Can I disable alternative formats?

Yes. You can turn off alternative formats for individual content items, if you want. If you change your mind, you can enable it again later.


Video: Alternative formats in Blackboard Learn

The following narrated video provides a visual and auditory representation of some of the information included on this page. For a detailed description of what is portrayed in the video, open the video on YouTube, navigate to More actions, and select Open transcript.


Video: Alternative formats explains how to view, download, and disable alternative formats with Ally in Blackboard Learn.

Video: Alternative Formats in Instructure Canvas

The following narrated video provides a visual and auditory representation of some of the information included on this page. For a detailed description of what is portrayed in the video, open the video on YouTube, navigate to More actions, and select Open transcript.


Video: Ally first steps guide explains how to download alternative formats in Instructure Canvas.