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UTSA teachers find an ally to make their courses more accessible | UTSA today | UTSA


Once faculty complete an accessibility check, Ally provides immediate feedback and personalized recommendations to address common barriers such as inaccessible digital materials and images missing alt text that cannot be read by a assistive screen reader. The accessibility check also provides guidance on whether text, image, and design elements have high enough contrast to be easily read by all learners. Ally also allows students to access alternate formats available for certain courses.

“While the law mandates accessibility, UTSA’s digital accessibility team understands that accessibility is necessary for some but beneficial for all,” said RaLynn McGuire, Academic Innovation’s lead expert in digital accessibility and Universal Design for Learning (UDL). “Often, many content creators aren’t aware of the issues that create accessibility barriers for learners. We’re here to help them troubleshoot and find a solution.”

Academic Innovation has partnered with UTSA Colleges to enable Ally for all classes in the departments of the College of Liberal and Fine Arts, Carlos Alvarez College of Business, College of Education and Human Development, from the College of Science, College of Health, Community and Policy (HCAP) and University College. Eighty faculty members accessed Ally through the pilot program to address accessibility issues and implement UDC principles in 532 courses, impacting approximately 14,391 students.

“I believe that all teachers recognize the importance of making our course material accessible. However, the difficulty has been figuring out what it looks like,” said Land William, associate professor of sports psychology at HCAP. “Ally simplifies the process of identifying accessibility issues in my Blackboard course.”

Since the tool does most of the work, professors don’t need to be accessibility experts to use it, Land continued, adding that while having a quality course content, “this content must be accessible so that all students can learn and benefit equally.”