NKU has purchased an innovative new product called Ally (which is a division of Blackboard), which assists with digital content accessibility. The University is utilizing Ally in two ways - Ally for LMS (Canvas courses) and Ally for Web (the NKU website). Ally for LMS integrates with Canvas to provide faculty with instructions to improve accessibility of their course materials. Ally for Web scans the NKU website weekly and provides a report of all accessibility issues.
This product will help guide us towards a more accessible online environment. We realize that many will have questions about their responsibilites regarding accessibility. IT, Marketing and Communications, and CITE, are all available to help. We can provide information, guidance, assistance, training, and documentation to ensure your content will be accessible for all.
The "curb cut" principle is the idea that some accommodations intended for specific audiences provide benefits to others as well. For example, sidewalk curb cuts for wheelchair users are also beneficial for bicycles, shopping carts, and strollers.
This same principle applies to digital accommodations. For example, captions are essential for students who are deaf or hard of hearing but are also beneficial to second-language learners or anyone in a noisy environment.
Faculty can quickly and easily see the immediate value in including captions, using headings, and adding alternative text to images. A crucial part of establishing an inclusive campus is to make sure your online learning experiences are both usable and accessible. Accessibility provides a tremendous opportunity for instructors and their students.
Accessibility benefits everyone and gives us the opportunity to provide multi-modal learning environments. The way faculty share inclusive content can have a significant impact on the availability of the learning material to all their students.
Ally will be enabled for all Canvas courses, campus-wide, beginning with winter and spring semester terms. It will not adversely affect your course because all Ally findings are only viewable by you, as a faculty member (not your students). Our hope is that you will be able to use the tool to assist in your progression toward fully accessible courses.
Ally will automatically place colored gauges next to your course content. These represent the Accessibility Score of the item. Remember, these gauges will not be visible to students. Clicking on the gauge will take you to the Instructor Feedback panel.
The accessibility score screen shows the level of accessibility, the file's accessibility issues (highlighting the most important accessibility issue) with an explanation of how the issue affects inclusive learning, and detailed steps on how to fix the issue.
Detailed how-to documents and links to training sessions can be found on the Ally for LMS page.
Ally for Web scans the NKU website weekly and provides a report of all accessibility issues. However, this report is only available to members of the Accessibility Committee. This means that reviewing your website's data, training, and remediation efforts will initally be a joint effort.
IT will be reaching out to departments to schedule website accessibility discussions. The web editors and content owners will discuss accessibility issues with IT and MarComm, review training materials, and agree to a remediation effort to make their site more accessible.
More information and training materials can be found on the Ally for Web page.