Alternative formats benefit everyone

Many schools 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.

Ally 4 Web Find Alternative Formats

Find the available alternative formats

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

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

Find the Alternative Formats download icon and open it. It may be on the left of the page or along the bottom.

Alternative Formats ribbon

Alternative Formats footer

Choose if you want alternative formats for the whole page, or any of the files attached to the page. A list of available formats appears to choose from.

If there are no files on the page, all you see is the available alternative formats for the page.

What alternative formats does Ally generate?

Ally can provide 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)
  • Semantic HTML
  • Audio
  • ePub
  • Electronic Braille
  • Translated Version

    Translated Version is disabled by default. Administrators can submit a support case to have it enabled. To learn more, see Translated Version alternative format.

More on each alternative format

What does the instructor need to do to generate alternative accessible 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 accessible versions 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 accessible 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. Add the `data-ally-af-disabled` attribute to the content element in your HTML. This attribute excludes the content item from appearing in the Alternative formats panel.

For example, if you add it to a linked file, that linked file won't appear in the list:  <a data-ally-af-disabled href:"https://filename.pdf">PDF file</a> .

Remove the attribute any time, if you want the content item to appear in the Alternative formats panel.

More on how to disable alternative formats