Addressing Accessibility Through an Integrated Approach


Accessibility is an important topic on the minds of today’s institutions due to an increased demand for more options and flexibility around how students learn. This is especially true when it comes to the digital course content that students are consuming daily. But with vast amounts of courses and content, how do you know where to start when it comes to improving accessibility? Up until now, it has been hard for organizations to identify and focus on scalable ways to address these challenges. Building processes and systems from the ground up can be very expensive and presents resource roadblocks that are hard to overcome. Couple these roadblocks with the wide variety of tools available to tackle different parts of the problem and you will realize how hard it can be to narrow down which approach works best.

Fostering an Integrated, Inclusive Learning Environment

To answer this demand for quality online course material, institutions have regularly turned to integrated solutions. Over the last few years, there has been a huge emphasis on providing integrated classrooms to make sure all students are given the same work in the same place as their peers. At a glance, this solution seems to work well for many students, but as we start to consider the value of providing an inclusive and accessible classroom, it’s clear that additional steps should be taken to enable a more flexible learning experience that can empower students of all abilities.

Instructors use many types of content in their courses including videos, PDFs, presentations, HTML pages and more. However, these formats may not be easily accessible. That’s why teachers are constantly looking for how to incorporate more accessible content into their content creation workflows. Tools like Blackboard Ally and Kaltura, which integrate into an institution’s existing learning management system (LMS), can play key roles in helping instructors tackle this challenge. Let’s take a closer look at each solution.

Video Accessibility with Kaltura

Kaltura, the most widely adopted video solution for the flipped classroom, online learning, personalized and social learning, has been integrated with Blackboard Learn since 2011, providing users with seamless access to Kaltura’s powerful video tools. There are many advantages to incorporating video into instruction. Video content can:

  • Be played live and on demand to view as many times as necessary
  • Be played across a variety of devices
  • Be organized to make it indexed and searchable
  • Improve student engagement, creativity, community, and learning results
  • Be incorporated as an assignment for traditional or flipped classrooms

By integrating video into the classroom, instructors can open fresh ways for students to consume information. But what about hearing impaired students or students for whom English is a second language? Adding captions to videos can prove beneficial and is a great example of leveraging content accessibility to create a more inclusive environment from the foundation of an integrated classroom. With Kaltura, every video uploaded to the platform is automatically submitted for captioning using human transcription, achieving the 99% accuracy required by accessibility guidelines.

Content Accessibility with Blackboard Ally

Blackboard Ally, a tool that focuses on improving course content accessibility, can directly complement a video captioning strategy to help instructors create more inclusive online courses. Blackboard Ally integrates with Blackboard Learn and other LMSs, and automatically runs course materials through an accessibility checklist that looks for common accessibility issues.

Blackboard Ally generates a range of more accessible alternatives for the instructor’s original content including Semantic HTML, audio, ePub, and electronic Braille. It also provides educators with guidance for improving the accessibility of their course materials, while supplying comprehensive reporting on the current state of content accessibility at both the course and institutional level.

Taking the Next Steps

The combination of integrated and inclusive solutions like Blackboard Ally and Kaltura is a powerful force. Shifting mindsets is easier said than done but moving to a more inclusive approach can be achieved with small modifications and adjustments of standard routines. By providing options, students are afforded an equal opportunity to learn in a style and format that meets their needs. In making those options more accessible, you can begin to create a truly inclusive environment.

About 200 institutions have already implemented Kaltura’s integrated solution with Blackboard Learn to provide a more engaging and accessible learning experience for students. One example is Chico State University. They are using Kaltura not only to create and manage video content, but also to help solve challenges around accessibility requirements. Chico State is also using Blackboard Ally to analyze uploaded course content from an accessibility standpoint and to provide feedback to help instructors make their materials as accessible as possible.  In this case study, you will learn how Chico State jointly worked with Blackboard and Kaltura to develop a new automated workflow for faculty to assess and update their video content to ensure it meets accessibility requirements.

We’d love to hear how your institution is addressing the accessibility of course content and discuss ways that Blackboard Ally and partners like Kaltura can help. Leave a comment below or contact us directly.