WASHINGTON, D.C. (March 29, 2018) – The Utah Education Network (UEN) has partnered with Blackboard Inc. to give hundreds of thousands of students access to a more inclusive learning environment. As part of the collaboration, UEN will implement Blackboard Ally, a revolutionary product that focuses on making digital course content more accessible, at 9 universities across the state.
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.
More than 210,000 Utah college students and 40,000 college faculty and staff will have access to Blackboard Ally once the solution is fully rolled out. The institutions adopting Blackboard Ally include the University of Utah; Utah State University; Weber State University; Snow College; Dixie State University; Utah Valley University; Salt Lake Community College; Mountainland Technical College; and Bridgerland Applied Technology College. Blackboard will also provide implementation and training services to ensure the universities and their faculty and staff take full advantage of their investment in the solution.
UEN selected Blackboard Ally as part of its efforts to create more inclusive learning experiences for all Utah students, and to increase accessibility conversations across its member campuses. The partnership will allow UEN to scale its support to multiple institutions and provide tools to assist with accessibility. Ensuring online classes are accessible is a priority throughout the system, and Blackboard Ally will provide campuses with a more complete way to measure their progress and identify areas of need where they can focus their efforts.
"Equity and diversity are core values adopted by the UETN Board and organization. Working with Blackboard Ally and our partner institutions to provide leadership in this important area of education embodies those values,” Laura Hunter, Chief Operating Officer, Utah Education and Telehealth Network.
“With our focus on student-centered academic programs, providing online learning experiences that are accessible is a priority for Utah State. Blackboard Ally is an essential part of how we are working to make that happen,” said Christopher Phillips, Electronic and Information Technology Accessibility Coordinator at Utah State University. “The tools that Ally provides have already made an immediate difference for students by offering content in their preferred format.”
“We are proud to be a part of UEN’s efforts to improve accessibility at scale,” said Nicolaas Matthijs, Product Manager at Blackboard. “This partnership will benefit many students across multiple universities by allowing learners choice in how they access and interact with course materials, and help faculty and staff develop courses according to universal design best practices.”
For more information about Blackboard Ally, visit https://www.blackboard.com/accessibility/blackboard-ally.html.
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.
About The Utah Education Network
One of the nation's premier education networks, The Utah Education and Telehealth Network brings together two well-established organizations that provide critical statewide services to Utah: The Utah Education Network (UEN) and the Utah Telehealth Network (UTN). An innovator in broadband and broadcast delivery of statewide educational and telehealth resources, UETN's robust network connects all Utah school districts, schools, and higher education institutions to quality educational resources. Providing network, application and support services to more than 1,500 schools, colleges and libraries, UETN also serves hospitals, clinics and health departments in urban, suburban and rural areas of the state.