The University of California, Berkeley recently announced a new partnership with Blackboard Inc. that will enable students to have an even more inclusive learning environment through Blackboard Ally, an innovative new solution that helps make online course content more accessible for all learners. The partnership furthers Berkeley’s longstanding commitment to equal access for all students, faculty and staff. Berkeley will begin rolling out the new solution more widely in Fall 2018.
Blackboard Ally integrates with an institution's existing learning management system (LMS) and automatically runs course materials through an accessibility checklist that looks for common accessibility issues. The solution generates a range of more accessible alternatives for the instructor's original content including Semantic HTML, audio, ePub, and electronic Braille. It provides educators with guidance for improving the accessibility of their course materials, while also supplying comprehensive reporting on the current state of content accessibility at both the course and institutional level.
"Berkeley is committed to building inclusive online learning environments for each and every one of our students. Our collaboration with Blackboard will help ensure that digital content is consistently accessible at Berkeley, benefiting all learners and ultimately improving student success."
— Catherine Koshland, Vice Chancellor for Undergraduate Education
This new partnership strengthens Berkeley’s efforts in creating an IT environment that is accessible to all, and in particular to individuals with disabilities. To this end, Berkeley seeks to deploy information technology that has been designed, developed, or procured to be accessible to people with disabilities, including those who use assistive technologies. By supporting IT accessibility, Berkeley helps ensure that as broad a population as possible is able to access, benefit from, and contribute to its electronic programs and services.
Berkeley identified Blackboard Ally as a partner in accessibility after a comprehensive, semester-long pilot that engaged students, faculty and staff across campus to conduct a thorough review of the tool and ensure its effectiveness. Based on the success of the pilot, Berkeley decided to expand and continue its use of the solution campus-wide. By the end of next year, over 40,000 undergraduate and graduate students will have access to more accessible content through Blackboard Ally.
“Berkeley is committed to building inclusive online learning environments for each and every one of our students,” said Catherine Koshland, Vice Chancellor for Undergraduate Education. “Our collaboration with Blackboard will help ensure that digital content is consistently accessible at Berkeley, benefiting all learners and ultimately improving student success.”
“Blackboard is proud to partner with Berkeley, an exceptional institution with a long-standing commitment to supporting equal access and universal design for all,” said Nicolaas Matthijs, Product Manager at Blackboard. “We look forward to working with the talented team at Berkeley to help instructors deliver the accessible materials students need and deserve.”
For more information about Blackboard Ally, visit the Blackboard Ally website.