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Blackboard Accessibility

Grand Valley State University uses Blackboard for the institution's enterprise learning management system.  Blackboard is fully committed to delivering products that conform to the highest levels of accessibility standards and has created a web page that highlights their work in accessibility including specific product accessibility information such as VPAT and WCAG 2.0 conformance documentation.

The National Federation of the Blind (NFB) awarded Blackboard Learn with a Nonvisual Accessibility Gold Certification, making it the first learning management system to achieve this certification.

While the Blackboard environment conforms to accessibility, it's important also to ensure content uploaded by faculty adheres to WCAG 2.0 conformance. The eLearning and Emerging Technologies Digital Studio has created a series of tips for creating accessible online course content.  In addition, GVSU's Disability Support Resources office offers guidance and recommendations for making documents accessible for faculty as they create and upload course content.



Blackboard Ally

Blackboard has also recently introduced a dedicated accessibility product called Ally.  Ally provides:

  • An institutional dashboard of the overall “health” of the accessibility documents that have been uploaded by faculty into Blackboard. You can identify the most and the least accessible courses as well as common accessibility issues. 
  • Near real-time automated conversion of instructor uploaded files into: ePub, electronic braille, audio, HTML, and an enhanced version for students to view.
  • On demand instructor guidance and help information for faculty on how to improve the accessibility of their uploaded files. Includes a visual indicator in Blackboard for faculty to see at a glance how accessible their documents are and overall how accessible their course is as far as uploaded content that they have added to the system.

Currently, this is a separate product that is not licensed by the university.


Most Inclusive Classroom Awards

Two faculty members at Grand Valley State University have been selected as winners of the “Most Inclusive Classrooms in the United States” contest that was organized by Blackboard.

To recognize Global Accessibility Awareness Day 2016, Blackboard held a contest to find the most inclusive classrooms in the United States. Blackboard looked for teachers who have put in the extra time and effort to ensure their pedagogy, content, and classroom technology enables all students to learn and be successful without complex accommodations.

1st Place Award

Cheryl Kautz, Affiliate Instructor, in the School of Computing and Information Systems at GVSU  received a 1st Place Award

As 1st place winner of this contest, Blackboard was invited Cheryl to share her story as part of the Accessibility Track at the BbWorld Conference that was held on July 12-14 in Las Vegas, NV.

 

2nd Place Award

Szymon Machajewski, Affiliate Instructor, in the School of Computing and Information Systems at GVSU received a 2nd Place Award

As a 2nd place winner of this contest, Blackboard was invited Szymon to share his story as part of the Accessibility Track at the BbWorld Conference that was held on July 12-14 in Las Vegas, NV.

The eLearning and Emerging Technologies department offers our congratulations to Cheryl Kautz and Szymon Machajewski in their hard work to support student success through creating instruction that is inclusive!

More information about these awards is available on the eLearning blog.