Blackboard Ally for Instructors

Ally Supports Inclusive Education

eLearning and Emerging Technologies is pleased to announce the addition of a new enterprise accessibility software solution called Blackboard Ally to support the university’s work in providing inclusive education through accessibility.


Blackboard Ally will be available to all faculty and students at GVSU on June 21, 2018.

Ally Benefits

  1. Increases capacity to support faculty in building accessible content and correcting files already in their Blackboard courses.
  2. Assists in the creation of high quality levels of accessibility through content in Blackboard through the real-time conversion of files (Enhanced Version, HTML Version, Audio Version, Electronic Braille, and ePub) uploaded into Blackboard without any faculty intervention or extra work.
  3. Provides additional ADA Section 508 due diligence and good faith effort of evaluating content that has been uploaded by faculty into Blackboard.
  4. Supports requests for an institutional dashboard view for the level of accessibility of all courses in Blackboard at GVSU.
  5. Responds to student needs for accessible versions of content without the extra overhead of development time for our existing staff or faculty.
  6. Builds capacity to respond to increased federal and legal requirements for accessibility at GVSU.

In short, Blackboard Ally reviews the accessibility of your course content. Ally provides faculty guidance and tips for lasting improvements to your content accessibility.

  • Receive feedback on the accessibility of your content
  • Improve content accessibility with Ally's step-by-step instructions

In addition to providing you with insight to your content accessibility, Ally automatically creates alternative versions of your files to support Universal Design for Learning (UDL). This allows students to choose the type of file they want that best suits their needs. While you're in the process of improving files, students still access alternative copies. 

Quick Start

Accessibility Scores

View File Accessibility

Improve File Accessibility

Frequently Asked Questions

Currently, Ally checks the following file types that have been uploaded to Blackboard: 

  • Images
  • PDF files
  • Microsoft® Word files
  • Microsoft® PowerPoint® files
  • OpenOffice/LibreOffice files
  • Uploaded HTML files
  • YouTubeTM Videos without Captions

Accessibility Tips for Creating Accessible Course Content

Back to: Faculty Help

GVSU Strategic Connection

Strategic Priority Area 1: Actively engage learners at all levels.

Institutional outcome D: Grand Valley supports innovative teaching, learning, integrative scholarly and creative activity, and the use of new technologies.

Objective 1.D.2: At least 93% of faculty members regularly use electronic course management tools, such as Blackboard, in their teaching.

Objective 4.D.1: Effective technologies are integrated into every function and structure across the institution.

Objective 3.B.1: All systems and policies ensure inclusiveness and accessibility.

Inclusiveness/Access - Incorporating multiple voices and experiences by valuing identities, perspectives, and backgrounds.  Strengthening and expanding possibilities through technology to increase accessibility and remove barriers.

Blackboard Ally Webinar Demo

“Ally documents evidence of my efforts as faculty to make my teaching more accessible.

Through incremental changes Ally guides me step by step to adjust course files.  As I’m learning how to use Word better, all other file formats are generated in my course automatically.

Ally uses gamification to indicate my progress in making files student-friendly.  Getting to 100% is an emotional rush!”

- Szymon Machajewski, CIS Affiliate Professor, in the School of Computing and Information Systems and recipient of the Most Inclusive Classrooms in the United States

“GVSU is committed to inclusive education, and I am focused on ensuring my courses are accessible. Blackboard Ally will help me ensure that my courses are as accessible as possible for my students, save me time, and most importantly help faculty at GVSU to focus on improving student success.”

- Cheryl Kautz, Affiliate Instructor in the School of Computing and Information Systems and recipient of the Most Inclusive Classrooms in the United States

Page last modified June 7, 2018