Making course materials accessible for students is a legal requirement and the Alternative Formats Ally can do a lot of the work for you. This new plugin for Moodle is designed to help you meet accessibility requirements by giving all users the opportunity to download course resources in other formats and by providing to staff feedback and reports on accessibility of all course materials so that improvements can be made where they are needed most. Most resources uploaded to Moodle courses will have an Ally icon next to them.
Read on to find out how to make your course materials accessible to students and how the Alternative Formats Ally helps you do that.
If you want to share information on Alternative Formats Ally with students, please share this guidance for students.
Staff Guide: Getting Started with Alternative Formats Ally
Using the Alternative Formats Ally
Which icon is for Alternative Formats?
The Stylised ‘A’ Icon with a downward facing arrow to the right is for Alternative Formats.
This is the icon that both students and staff can see. Clicking on this icon allows you to download alternative versions of a file resource. For example, if a member of staff uploads a Word document to Moodle, Alternative Formats Ally provides the opportunity to download it in other formats from the course screen.
What types of Alternative Formats are available using Ally?
When you click on the Alternative Formats icon for a valid resource, a list of available formats will appear.
Quoted below is the Blackboard Ally guidance on Alternative Formats, including the types of files that Ally reads and what types can be requested.
Alternative Formats Ally provides alternative formats for these file types:
- PDF files
- Microsoft Word files
- Microsoft Powerpoint files
- OpenOffice/LibreOffice files
- Uploaded HTML files
These alternative formats can be generated:
- Optical Character Recognition (OCR) version – this allows screen readers to ‘see’ scanned documents.
- Tagged PDF (currently for Word, Powerpoint and OpenOffice/LibreOffice files) – this is a structured PDF for improved use with assistive technology.
- Mobile-friendly HTML – for viewing in a browser and on mobile devices.
- Audio – an MP3 file for listening.
- ePub (ePublication) – this creates an ebook for reading on an iPad or other ebook reader.
- Electronic Braille – this is compatible with electronic Braille displays.
- BeeLine Reader – adds a colour gradient to text to help you read faster and more accurately.
How do I access Accessibility Feedback and Reports?
Staff have more options to view accessibility scores and reports. There are ‘gauges’ icons that appear next to resources that link to feedback resources and a full report available in the Navigation Tray.
How do I use the ‘gauges’ icons?
These icons, in the shape of a fuel gauge, show you at a glance whether a file or other resource is accessible. These gauges also appear next to any images you include on the course. An accessible resource will have a green ‘full’ gauge and a resource that needs more work will be either orange or red and show as less ‘full’.
You can access further guidance on accessibility scores, an except is included below.
Low (0-33%): Needs help! There are severe accessibility issues.
Medium (34-66%): A little better. The file is somewhat accessibile and needs improvement.
High (67-99%): Almost there. The file is accessibile but more improvements are possible.
Perfect (100%): Perfect! Ally didn’t identify any accessibility issues but further improvements may still be possible.
What happens when I click on the ‘gauges’ icons?
Clicking on this icon will open a side panel that explains the score, gives guidance on how to increase your score, and if possible will allow you to apply a fix directly from the panel.
What is the Accessibility Report?
In the Navigation Tray (opened using the pink ‘hamburger’ icon in the top left corner) near the bottom there is a new ‘Accessibility Report’ button. Clicking on this will pull up the full report for the whole module. This report has a more detailed view of what issues you may need to fix and offers the opportunity to do so directly from the screen. If the fix needs to be applied on Moodle rather than on Ally, clicking on the links will take you to the relevant section on the course.