Blackboard is fully committed to ensuring all products and services we deliver are both usable and accessible to all users regardless of age, ability, or situation. In keeping with our strong tradition of leadership around accessibility, our products are designed and developed in accordance with the internationally recognized Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 Level AA as well as the Section 508 standards in the United States. A third party conducts regular audits of our software to ensure quality expectations are being met and maintained.
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A logical heading structure is in place to properly structure the page and allow users to navigate using headings. Headings are used consistently throughout the application. This gives users the ability to understand the structure of any page in the application quickly, and move to the appropriate section of the page or content item easily.
As is required, a single H1 is provided to identify the page the user is looking at. In Blackboard Learn, the page title, for example “Course Documents,” is always the H1.
H2 headings are used to delineate major sections of a page. These headings are hidden and allow screen reader users to skip directly to each major page section. For example, a course page has two H2 headings: one for the course menu and one for the main content that is located immediately above the action bar on the content page.
H3 headings are typically used as the title of content items or key content elements on a page. For example, the title of an assignment on a “Course Documents” page is an H3 so the user easily finds it.
To reduce the visual clutter on a page, a number of elements are hidden until they receive either mouse or keyboard focus. After focus is given, these elements become active and follow typical keyboard interaction models.
Frames removed and replaced with DIVs and iFrames
Technical changes to the primary navigation in Blackboard Learn make navigation easier for visually-impaired users.
Frames have been completely removed from the Learn application and replaced with HTML5 compliant DIVs and iFrames. This change improves page printing, accessibility, and page navigation.
This change results in improved accessibility for users of screen readers where identification of page location, navigation and page titles are necessary.
Landmarks are designated based on ARIA (Accessible Rich Internet Applications Suite). ARIA defines a way to make web content and web applications more accessible to people with disabilities. Landmarks in Blackboard Learn include:
- content info
- course menu
- content area
Industry standard keyboard interactions are used throughout Blackboard Learn to move between menus, open menus, and select items within a menu. Keyboard navigation patterns differ between browsers (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, Chrome), but the interactions within any particular browser are common and consistent. In the sections below, notes are used to indicate where interactions may differ between experiences and course views in Blackboard Learn.
If you are using a Mac with Firefox or Safari and are having difficulty navigating using your keyboard, review and update your operating system and browser settings. This ensures they are properly configured for keyboard navigation. To learn more, see this information:
Keyboard navigation within the content editor
The content editor in Blackboard Learn is based on third-party technology from TinyMCE. It provides accessible controls, as well as keyboard shortcuts for formatting content created within it. The content editor appears throughout your courses, such as when you participate in a discussion.
Content editor keyboard navigation is the same in the Original Course View and the Ultra Course View. To use your keyboard to jump to the content editor toolbar, press ALT + F10. On a Mac, press Fn + ALT + F10. Use the arrow keys to select an option, such as a bulleted list.
Keyboard navigation for the Course Quick Setup Guide
The Quick Setup Guide wizard is an accordion object and uses the standard navigation. The wizard opens by default when an instructor opens their course for the first time. You can also access it from the Control Panel by expanding the Customization section. Type "Welcome" in your browser's Find tool and press ESC on your keyboard.
Navigating within the Quick Setup Guide
Within the Quick Setup Guide, press the following keys to navigate:
- Up and Down Arrow keys on your keyboard to move between the names of the sections in the accordion.
- Spacebar or Enter on your keyboard to open a section. After the section is open, the focus will still be on the heading, press Tab to navigate to the sublist. The sublist is coded as radio buttons allowing you to use arrow keys to navigate between items. Stopping on the item selects it.
- Spacebar on your keyboard to make an item active or inactive.
- Tab on your keyboard to enter the open section of the accordion and change the options within the section. After you have reached the end of a section, selecting tab again will take you to the title of the next accordion section.
Navigating within the Structures step
Within the Structures step, you must select a structure to use it. If you do not select a structure, the current structure is used.
Navigate to each structure to read about and preview it. To open the link to learn more about the course structures, press the following keys in the order listed:
- Press Tab on your keyboard to open a list of links. Press Spacebar on your keyboard for a description.
- Press Tab again to proceed to the next link, the Help page.
- Press Tab to proceed to sample content. This is the last link in the step.
- Press Tab to return to the structures step.
If you leave the Structures step, the current selected structure opens when you return to that step.
To select a structure to use, press the Spacebar on your keyboard to select it. Press the Spacebar again to deselect the structure. Visually, this turns the Use this structure button on and off.
Keyboard accessible reordering
Wherever the drag-and-drop function exists to reorder items in a list, you have a keyboard alternative. The keyboard accessible reordering tool displays the items on the page as a list. You can use keyboard commands to reorder the items.
For the best experience with your screen reader, use ChromeTM and JAWS® on a Windows® system, and use Safari® and VoiceOver On a Mac®.
Blackboard Learn has created a Screen Reader Tutorial to provide users who access the application through a screen reader with information to help them use the system successfully.
The Quick Links tool allows a user to quickly locate any heading or section within any page in the Blackboard Learn application and jump directly to it. Located in the top left, the Quick Links icon opens a pop-up window that displays the landmark and navigation links on the page.
To open the Quick Links Tool using a keyboard, press SHIFT + ALT + L to open Quick Links. To open the Global Navigation Menu, press CTRL + ALT + M. Other available keyboard shortcuts for the page also appear within the Quick Links tool.
We have improved the usability of all of our interactive tools (discussion boards, wikis, blogs and journals). Each release introduces usability improvements for everyone, especially those customers that use assistive technology. The new experience of reading a thread is simple to consume with screen reader technology. We also removed clutter on the page, so screen reader and keyboard-only users have less to sift through as they navigate the interface.
To learn more about Blackboard's commitment to accessibility, see the Blackboard website.
*Statements regarding our product development initiatives, including new products and future product upgrades, updates or enhancements represent our current intentions, but may be modified, delayed or abandoned without prior notice and there is no assurance that such offering, upgrades, updates or functionality will become available unless and until they have been made generally available to our customers.
Blackboard Alexa Skill is available in the U.S. only.
With Blackboard Alexa Skill, you can use an Alexa device to find out what is going on in your courses. After you link their Blackboard account, you can verbally ask Alexa what is due in your course.
The Alexa app and devices can be beneficial to students with accessibility needs related to vision, mobility, cognitive impairments, and speech.