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Institutions Worldwide Building More Inclusive Digital Learning Environments with Blackboard Ally
Over 250 institutions around the globe are partnering with Blackboard to increase the accessibility of their online course content

WASHINGTON, Oct. 31, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- More than 250 institutions worldwide are partnering with Blackboard to provide support for teaching students of all learning styles and abilities. These colleges and universities are giving their students access to more accessible digital course content through Blackboard Ally, a revolutionary solution that helps make course content more accessible for all learners.

Blackboard Logo (PRNewsFoto/Blackboard Inc.)

The solution is now being used by institutions around the globe, including:

  • North Shore Community College (NSCC), MA: NSCC offers nearly 80 associate degree and certificate programs to approximately 11,000 students a year. Equal access to high quality, affordable academic programs is a key component of the college's mission and one of the four major themes laid out in its Strategic Plan for 2017-2021. NSCC decided to implement Blackboard Ally to ensure that all students had access to the learning materials necessary to be successful in their courses.
  • Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC), WA: SBCTC advocates, coordinates and directs Washington state's system of 34 public community and technical colleges, which collectively serves 381,000 students. Blackboard Ally is helping the system open the "black box" of online course accessibility for both administrators and faculty. The tool is a valuable addition to the compliance efforts of SBCTC's colleges, and also empowers faculty to improve the quality and usability of their course content.
  • Utah State University, UT: Accessibility is a priority at Utah State University, which serves over 28,000 students. The university chose to implement Blackboard Ally as part of its continued efforts to provide student-level support, raise awareness of the importance of accessibility across campus, and also provide faculty with important guidance and education to create more inclusive online experiences.
  • Framingham State University, MA: Framingham State University, which enrolls more than 6,000 learners, prides itself on quality academic programs, affordability, and commitment to access for all qualified students. Framingham State decided to implement Blackboard Ally in Fall 2017 as part of its efforts to develop a coordinated approach to student learning as it relates to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the ADAAA (ADA Amendments Act) of 2008 and section 508 compliance services. Leading the effort are members of the faculty and staff from the Center for Academic Success and Achievement (CASA) and the Office of Education Technology.
  • Athens State University, AL: Serving over 3,000 students each semester, Athens State University is committed to ensuring that its facilities and the information, services, courses, and technology that it provides are inclusive and accessible. The implementation of Blackboard Ally is part of the university's Accessible Technology and Information Plan, which was developed last year by a committee comprised of faculty, ADA, Disability Services, and technical staff. The plan lays out a comprehensive strategy for raising awareness of accessibility issues, implementing accessibility solutions, and establishing an ongoing review process for digital content.

Blackboard Ally integrates with multiple learning management systems (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 also provides educators with guidance for improving accessibility of their course materials, while supplying reporting on the current state of content accessibility at both the course and institutional level.

With its most recent release for self-hosted Moodle customers, Blackboard Ally now supports integration with four major learning environments along with Blackboard Learn, Moodlerooms and Instructure Canvas.  In addition to the new Moodle integration, Blackboard Ally continues to expand its support to a growing list of languages that now also includes French, Danish, Portuguese and Brazilian Portuguese, Finnish, Swedish and Welsh.   

"Digital accessibility is more than allowing students with disabilities to perceive, operate, and understand content; it is actually about ensuring that an institution promotes access and equity for all students. To that end, the power of Blackboard Ally extends beyond the classroom to the institution as a whole," said James Wiley, Principal Analyst at Eduventures. "By leveraging Blackboard Ally's feature set, educators are empowered to unlock content and deliver it to students who otherwise would find it challenging or impossible to use it in their efforts to be successful."

Blackboard Ally recently received a 2017 WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies (WCET) Outstanding Work (WOW) award, which is presented to colleges, universities, and organizations that implement exceptionally creative, technology-based solutions to contemporary challenges in higher education.

"Blackboard understands that accessibility of course content is an important priority at many institutions today, and that it also poses some significant challenges," said Nicolaas Matthijs, Product Manager at Blackboard. "We are committed to helping our partners overcome those challenges by providing more accessible, higher quality and more usable content that will benefit all learners."

In addition to Blackboard Ally, Blackboard also offers a range of accessibility services to help institutions more effectively serve a wide range of student needs. To learn more about Blackboard's accessibility products and services, visit http://www.blackboard.com/accessibility.

About Blackboard Inc.
Our mission is to partner with the global education community to enable learner and institutional success, leveraging innovative technologies and services. With an unmatched understanding of the world of the learner, the most comprehensive student-success solutions, and the greatest capacity for innovation, Blackboard is education's partner in change.

CONTACT:
Shawnee Cohn, Blackboard Inc.
202.303.9053 or 
shawnee.cohn@blackboard.com

SOURCE Blackboard Inc.


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