Piloting Blackboard Ally: Faculty Perspectives

Handouts Media

Presented at 3:15pm (50 min) in Waverly on Thursday, November 21, 2019.



  • Christa Miller

Session Details

  • Length of Session: 1-hr
  • Format: Lecture
  • Expertise Level: Beginner
  • Type of session: General Conference


Blackboard Ally is advertised as a tool capable of technical accessibility checks of ALL content in a learning management system (LMS). Virginia Tech pilot tested Ally to determine if it could support faculty in the design and deployment of accessible course material. This session provides lessons learned, faculty feedback, and future plans.


During 2018-2019, Virginia Tech pilot tested Blackboard Ally within the Canvas LMS. Leveraging existing financial structures, we purchased a 2000 seat pilot license to determine if and how Ally could move the accessibility needle on our campus. Our proposal emphasized how the institutional report could provide much needed data to inform our professional development and outreach efforts. We also emphasized the availability of real-time alternative text regardless of accommodation support to push our office's Universal Design for Learning initiative forward.

During our pilot, we targeted existing accessibility allies to be faculty participants. We then provided one-on-one training and monthly check-ins to monitor progress. In this session, we share our faculty participants' opinions of Ally as well as the relative accessibility of their content before and after Ally. We also share our findings related to real-time alternative text and our plans for the future.


  1. Inviting existing accessibility allies increases motivation and persistence
  2. Defining what critical gap the tool fills improves administrative buy-in
  3. Making a minimum ask and stretch ask improves financial support

Disability Areas

All Areas

Topic Areas

Accessible Course Design, Accessible Educational Materials, Alternate Format, Teaching about Accessibility in Curriculum, Uncategorized

Speaker Bio(s)

Christa Miller

Christa Miller is the Manager of Inclusive Media Services at Virginia Tech. She has worked for the Assistive Technologies Lab since 2006 in many capacities. Most notable among her duties is the production of high quality tactile graphics and Nemeth code Braille for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) courses beginning in 2010.