Blackboard Accessibility Statement
The University of Cumbria- Blackboard Learn is Partially Accessible when compared against the Web/ App Accessibility Regulations 2018
The University of Cumbria is committed to providing an accessible and inclusive learning environment that offers all of our learners the opportunity to maximise their academic potential in accordance with the Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) Accessibility Regulations 2018.
- University of Cumbria Assistive Technology Pages include a wealth of information and guidance on alternative formats, accessible apps, assistive technologies and free tools to support you during your time at the University
- AbilityNet has advice on making your device easier to use if you have a disability.
How accessible is Blackboard
Blackboard is a commercial product, designed and developed in accordance with the internationally recognised Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 Level AA as well as the US Section 508 standards. Blackboard provides information about the company’s approach to accessibility at https://help.blackboard.com/Accessibility .
The Blackboard VLE platform enables users to:
- Change the text and background colour
- Zoom in up to 300%
- The text reflows when the page is enlarged or window size changed
- Navigate the interface using just a keyboard
- Listen to onscreen text using assistive technology screen reader
- Download alternative formats
This VLE is partially compliant with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines version 2.1 AA standard.
While specific statements can be made about the accessibility of the Blackboard platform itself, content stored within Blackboard will have been created and uploaded by a wide variety of academic and administrative support staff, and the accessibility of this content may vary accordingly. We are currently developing the accessibility knowledge and skills of our content creators.
Content uploaded to Blackboard courses and organisations is the responsibility of the relevant teaching team.
Blackboard VLE digital content
- Microsoft Office software works well with screen readers e.g. Claro Read, AT Bar
- Microsoft Office software can be enlarged and will reflow
- Adobe PDF files can be used with Screen Readers if they have been saved in the accessible format.
- if an Adobe PDF file is saved in accessibility format the text can be enlarged and will reflow the text
We know that some parts of Blackboard Content are not fully accessible
- If an Adobe file is not saved in an accessible format, a screen reader or narrator cannot be used or reflow applied when magnified.
- Alternative formats are available and can improve the accessibility levels of some resources
- Many videos do not have captions, transcripts or subtitles, however Google Live Captions are available
- Alternative Formats - Pre-recorded multimedia have captions available using MS Stream, Youtube or Live captions if needed (GChrome), however, checking the accuracy of auto-captions has become a disproportionate burden. The number of hours of multimedia created each day across the University equals hundreds of hours. The inability to guarantee accurate captioning contravenes WCAG2.1 – 1.2.2, 1.2.3, 1.2.5. This does not mean that captions are not checked, as MS Stream enables caption editing, however, we cannot guarantee accuracy across all multimedia. If you require captioning, reasonable adjustments can be made. Please contact your tutor or the IT helpdesk who will connect you with the appropriate person.
- Many older documents pdf primarily are not fully accessible to screen reader software. The introduction of ALLY identifies these files and highlights the need for action.
What we’re doing to improve Accessibility
- Blackboard ALLY has been implemented in 2019/20 to enable students to access alternative formats in Blackboard.
- We are carrying out audits of our Blackboard sites and content, resulting in accessibility improvement plans
- Engaging with external specialists to ensure our improvement plans are robust
We are developing staff skills by delivering workshops on:
- Creating more accessible Blackboard sites and content
- Providing an insight into the impact of inaccessible resources on the learning experience
- Improving existing resource accessibility ratings using Blackboard ALLY
- Exploring the Assistive Technologies available to support the learning experience
- We are training staff on using MS Stream to provide Video captioning and to pre-recorded transcripts
- We are providing training on Collaborate Captioning to provide extra support to students when learning online
University of Cumbria Assistive software
You can access specialist assistive software on PCs and laptops throughout the university:
- Text help software: this is for speech feedback to support many dyslexic users and is available on all student PCs and laptops.
- Mind View: mind mapping software available on all student PCs and laptops.
- Claro Pro: Screen reader and display adjustment software available on all student PCs and laptops.
- Glean: listen back and interact with your recorded lectures using the free app or assistive software available on all student PCs and laptops
Each library location also provides assistive workstations which include specialist software and hardware including the software above:
- Zoom Text software: specialist screen magnification software available on designated accessible workstations with high contrast keyboard
- Dragon Naturally Speaking: Voice recognition software, which requires a quiet environment, to be booked in the library
There may be links from Blackboard to websites and content hosted outside the University. Such content is not covered by this accessibility statement. Accessibility information can be found by following the links below
What to do if you can’t access parts of Blackboard or its resources
The University has purchased Blackboard ALLY, which enables you to access content uploaded to Blackboard modules in a range of alternative formats. For more information on Blackboard ALLY please see these help pages
The University subscribes to an alternative formats service Sensus Access. This service will transfer most files into a chosen format e.g. an inaccessible PDF can be transferred to an accessible PDF, or a Word document can be transferred to sound. This service can be used directly by the student using their University email address.
RNIB Book Share is available to all students with a disability or Specific Learning Difference. The service provides text books in a preferred accessible format for students to access. Reading lists can be created for easy access.
Reporting digital accessibility issues
- If you have problems accessing digital learning materials or other content, your module leader or lecturers are the first people to talk to.
- If you continue to have difficulties speak to your student reps who will raise the issues with your Institute.
- You can further escalate accessibility issues to the IT Service Desk:
- Complete an online form IT Service Desk
- Contact us by phone Tel: 01228 888888 (external) or 8888 (internal)
- Contact us by email: email@example.com.
4. If you continue to experience Digital Accessibility issues after exploring the option above, visit: https://my.cumbria.ac.uk/Student-Life/Support/Responding-to-your-concerns/Student-Complaints-Procedure/ to access the formal Complaints process.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) is responsible for enforcing the accessibility regulations. If you’re not happy with how we respond to your complaint, contact the Equality Advisory and Support Service (EASS).
Testing and Monitoring Accessibility
- Accessibility Detailed Check against the Web Accessibility Regulations was carried out in August 2020 by University of Cumbria and an action plan for improvement created to monitor improvements
- Accessibility Review of the Action Plan reviewed and updated 2021