Ally is a tool in Blackboard that promotes inclusivity for all learners by creating accessible content and providing a more universal, equitable learning experience for students.


Ally assists instructors in building a more inclusive learning environment and improve the overall student experience by assessing the level of accessibility of all instructor-uploaded content in Blackboard and providing guidance and tips for lasting improvements to content accessibility.

This tool scans all files uploaded by instructors to Blackboard and determines if elements responsible for making a document, image, or video accessible are present for people who use screen readers, are hearing impaired, or have other learning barriers, as well as providing alternative formats of content (e.g., braille, tagged PDF, and enhanced vision). Ally helps provide multiple formats to meet different learner needs, abilities, and preferences.

Quick Start Guide


Visualize the Experience

Students can access and download a range of alternative and accessible formats for files uploaded to Blackboard. These alternative formats are automatically generated by Ally.

For the following file types:

  • PDF files
  • Microsoft Word files
  • Microsoft PowerPoint files
  • OpenOffice/LibreOffice files
  • Uploaded HTML files

Students can choose to download these alternative formats:

  • OCR'd (Optical Character Recognition) version– Automatically extracted text from scanned documents for improving reading and searching.
  • Tagged PDF(currently for Word, PowerPoint, and OpenOffice/LibreOffice files) – Structured PDF for improved use with assistive technology.
  • Mobile-friendly HTML.
  • ePub– For reading as an e-book on an iPad or other e-book reader.
  • Electronic Braille– BRF version for electronic braille displays.
  • MP3 Audio - Version for listening.
  • BeeLine Reader – Enhanced version that uses an "eye-guiding color gradient" for easier and faster on-screen reading.

Note: students do not see the accessibility indicator or score for course content in the Blackboard site, nor the feedback Ally provides in the Instructor Feedback Panel.

Ally measures the accessibility of your course content and generates an accessibility score for every file uploaded by an instructor to Blackboard. These are demonstrated by indicators:

The higher the score, the fewer the areas that need improvement:

Blackboard Ally low score indicator Low (Red, 0-33%): File has severe accessibility issues and needs immediate attention.
Blackboard Ally medium score indicator Medium (Amber, 34-66%): File is somewhat accessible and could use improvement.
Blackboard Ally high score indicator High (Light Green, 67-99%): File is accessible, but could be improved.
Blackboard Ally perfect score indicator Perfect (Dark Green, 100%): File is accessible. Ally didn’t identify any accessibility issues, but further improvements may still be possible.

For content with low to high scores, Ally shows you the identified issues and provides step-by-step guidance on how to address them.

Note: the accessibility indicator is only visible to instructors and cannot be seen by students.

Ally provides detailed feedback to help you improve the accessibility of your course content. Clicking on the accessibility indicator opens an Instructor Feedback Panel:



For content that is not accessible, Ally identifies the issues with that content and explains how to fix the problem. You can fix the issues step-by-step, or view all issues and decide which to fix first.

You will see the following details in the Instructor Feedback Panel:

  • Accessibility Score: The content’s accessibility color and numerical score based on severity of the accessibility issue(s).
  • Description: The description of the accessibility issue(s) affecting the content.
  • Additional information:< Detailed information about how the issue(s) affects accessibility and why it is important to fix the issue(s).
  • Instructions to improve: Step-by-step instructions for your preferred software that shows you how to improve accessibility.
  • Direct file upload:A drag-and-drop space to upload a fixed file to replace the inaccessible one.

Ally will describe the issue(s) affecting the content, highlight the issue(s), break down what it means and why it is important to fix them, and provide instructions based on your preferred software associated with the file type.

After uploading an improved file, Ally will alert of any remaining issues and prompt you to fix them.

The Course Accessibility Report provides an overall summary and rating of all your course content

To help you decide what to fix first, the Overview tab identifies the amount of content with the easiest issues to fix and the amount of content with low scores. There, you can directly access the Instructor Feedback Panel so that you can fix the issues. Any remaining issues are listed in order of priority from severe to minor, with direct access to the Instructor Feedback Panel.

Ally looks at the number of students impacted, how often the issue occurs, and the accessibility score to determine priority:

  • Severe:These issues are the greatest risk to accessibility and require the most attention.
  • Major:These issues impact accessibility, and while not severe, require attention.
  • Minor:These issues should be considered for a better accessibility score.

The Content tab shows all content with accessibility issues.



Frequently Asked Questions

This section aims to answer your questions regarding Ally. If you have any additional questions, please submit them to Learning Platforms at:

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  • What is changing and when is it happening?

    Ally launched at the University of Miami in May 2023. Ally gauges the accessibility level of content uploaded to Blackboard by instructors, then provides real-time, alternate versions of course content and guides instructors on how to improve their course accessibility.

    • Ally provides students with downloadable alternative formats to their online course content so that they can access and engage with their classes in the ways they learn.
    • Ally provides guidance and tips for faculty and staff in making lasting improvements to content accessibility in their courses.

  • Why use Ally?

    Ally promotes a culture of inclusion across the University and benefits all learners. The alternative formats benefits all students, including those with disabilities or those that are struggling and in need of additional support.

  • How is Ally useful for all students, not just students with disabilities?

    Ally automatically generates accessible alternative versions of all instructor-uploaded files and makes them available to the students in the course while maintaining a copy of the original file.

  • What’s the benefit for faculty?

    Ally provides accessibility feedback in the form of "indicators" that appear next to the content, which help instructors improve materials.

  • What do the indicators (dials, gas gauges) mean?

    Indicators are meant to provide helpful awareness around course content's accessibility, while providing feedback around ways to make the content more accessible moving forward.

  • Do students see the indicators?

    The accessibility indicators are only available to instructors (faculty). Be default, they are not available to students. However, students may see the dials if an instructor logs into their course during class. It is recommended that the faculty always goes into student preview/student mode before broadcasting/screen-sharing.

  • Will videos be automatically assessed?

    Ally has some basic support for audio and video content, including the ability to check YouTube content for captioning, but not for tools like Kaltura. Adding additional support for video and audio content is critical and high up on the Ally roadmap. This includes adding support for additional audio and video sources in the accessibility checklist (e.g., Vimeo, Kaltura). Ally also aims to provide tools as part of the instructor feedback that makes it easy for instructors to add improvements such as captioning or adding a transcript.

  • How can an instructor leverage library-based course materials?

    University of Miami Libraries works to provide accessible copies of collection materials to individuals facing a variety of accessibility needs. To make your course materials available on uReserves, please access the Course Reserves website.

  • Will having red indicators (i.e., low scores) affect me?

    The accessibility indicators are designed to give faculty an idea of the accessibility of content. They are meant to bring awareness, and assist in overall content enhancement across the University.

  • Why do I need to fix my source files? I thought Ally did that?

    Ally does a good job of providing a more accessible alternate format for content. However, Ally does not change the original source file. Therefore, instructor help is instrumental in remediating the source files. Doing this remediation one time will help ensure that file is of the highest quality when the file is used in another course, or when that course is copied to another term.

  • How much time does it take to fix the original source file?

    We understand that time is valuable and limited. Correcting accessibility issues time may vary depending upon technology being used, previous experience fixing content, etc. Below are some approximations:

    • Add missing alternative text to an image: 15 seconds to 1 minute.
    • Add headings to Word document: 1 to 3 minutes.
    • Add missing Header Row to Word document: 15 seconds

  • What changes can I make to produce the most accessible content?

    There are lots of small changes that can be made to help ensure content is more accessible and usable by all students:

    • Use headings in Microsoft (MS) Word.
    • Use the built-in MS Office Accessibility Checker in Word and PowerPoint before distributing.
    • Always use the most current version of MS Office available to you.
    • If you must use a PDF, try to share a Word document version as well.

  • What will Ally not handle well?

    Ally currently does not:

    • Evaluate or provide alternate versions of SCORM files.
    • Evaluate or provide alternate versions of ZIP files.
    • Convert all handwriting at a sufficiently acceptable quality. Some handwriting may convert better than others.
    • Make all STEM content fully accessible. (This is a limitation of automated technology, felt across the entire accessibility industry.)

  • Who do I contact if I have questions?

    If you have any additional questions, please submit them to Learning Platforms at:


Need technical support with Ally? The Learning Platforms Team provides helpdesk support, digital resources, workshops, and training sessions to faculty, students, and staff who would like to leverage Ally in their courses. To request support, contact

Additional University Resources

The following units also provide discipline-specific instructional design support and training materials to course instructors.