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How do I download files in alternative formats using Moodle?

Blackboard Ally, one of our Moodle plugins, makes it easier to download files added to Moodle in alternative formats. In order to meet accessibility regulations (a legal requirement), all files you add to Moodle must be downloadable in alternative accessible formats. Blackboard Ally provides a one-click download with a range of available formats.

If you need any assistance with Blackboard Ally, please do email us at digitalservices@brookes.ac.uk.

Who can use Blackboard Ally Alternative Formats?

All Moodle users can use the Alternative Formats icon to download files in different formats. In terms of accessibility, these files are only as good as the original file so please do first make the original resource as accessible as you can using the Accessibility Checklist and following the Accessibility Guidelines. When a member of staff adds a File or Folder resource to Moodle, Blackboard Ally will automatically add the Alternative Formats icon, which all users can see.

Which icon is for Alternative Formats?

The Stylised ‘A’ Icon with a downward facing arrow to the left is for Alternative Formats.

Document with the Ally Alternative Format Icon indicated by with the words 'Alternative Formats' written above in a speech bubble. The icon is a stylised capital A with a down arrow in black.
Figure 1. When you upload a file resource, like a Document, the Ally ‘A’ icon appears automatically.

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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 an instructor uploads a Word document to Moodle, Ally provides the opportunity to download it in other formats right from the course screen.

Pro Tip: The alternative formats will be better if you first make the original resource as accessible as you can using the Accessibility Checklist and following the Accessibility Guidelines.

What types of Alternative Formats are available using Ally?

Ally Alternative Format Icon

For all accepted file types the Ally icon will appear alongside the File name. When you click on the Alternative Formats icon, a list of available formats will appear.

Screenshot of the dropdown menu that will appear once you click on the Alternative Formats 'A' icon.
Figure 2. When you click on the Ally ‘A’ icon, a list of available alternative formats will appear based on the original file type.

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Quoted below is the Blackboard Ally guidance on Alternative Formats, including the types of files that Ally reads and what types can be requested.

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:

  • OCR’d version (Optical Character Recognition: allows screen readers to ‘see’ scanned documents),
  • Tagged PDF (currently for Word, Powerpoint and OpenOffice/LibreOffice files),
  • Mobile-friendly HTML,
  • Audio,
  • ePub,
  • Electronic Braille,
  • BeeLine Reader.

Pro Tip: Remember the alternative format will be better if the original source has already been created using the Accessibility Checklist and following the Accessibility Guidelines.

Updated on May 11, 2021

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