MENU

UMKC Instructional Technology

☎ (816) 235-6700

Blackboard

Support Solutions

Accessing Alternative Formats

Blackboard User Guide: Accessing Alternative Formats

Access the information you need, the way you need it. Have you ever accessed a file in your course that was difficult to read, or you wish came in a different format? Now, if your school uses Blackboard Ally, you can download alternative formats directly from your course.

Alternative Formats for Students

Many classrooms today, both physical and digital, are integrated. Students with diverse needs are expected to complete exactly the same work in exactly the same manner. Alternative formats provide greater opportunity for everyone to access the information they need in the way they need or want it. With alternative formats all students can meet the same learning objectives using resources that are built to target the needs of the individual student. For example, Blackboard Ally creates audio and electronic braille alternatives for students with visual impairments.

Alternative formats aren’t just for a select group of students. Alternative formats benefit everyone. For example, maybe you have a lot of course material to read and get eye strain, or maybe you’re an auditory learner. Listen to an audio format of the file your instructor uploaded instead.

Don’t stick to just one format! Use as many formats as you want. For example, if the content isn’t in your first language, you could follow along in the ePub as you listen to the audio file. All from the comfort of your favorite coffee shop or study corner. Choose the format, or formats, that best suit your learning needs.

Find the available alternative formats

After instructors attach a file to their course, Ally creates alternative formats of the file based on the original. For example, if your instructor uploads a PDF, Ally creates audio, electronic braille, and ePub formats of the same content. These formats are made available with the original file so everything is in one convenient location.

The alternative formats created depend on the original file type. If you don’t see an option to download alternative formats, your school doesn’t use Ally or the original file included copyright metadata preventing the creation of alternative formats. Find a file your instructor attached to your course. Select the menu beside it and select Alternative formats. Choose the version that is best for your needs!

You can find alternative formats anywhere your instructor has attached a file in the course.

Alternative Formats to Download in Canvas

Which format should I use?

Not sure what format to download? Let us help you decide. This table shows at-a-glance the best formats for your different study needs. You might not see every alternative format in your list of choices to download. The formats generated depend on the original file uploaded.

Your study needs
Electronic braille
Audio
PDF, OCR
PDF, Tagged
HTML, Semantic
ePub
Adjust text, font, and background color x X
Adjust audio playback speed X
Commuting X X X X
Commuting, driving X
Copy, paste, and search X X X X
Format adapts to device, responsive X X
Highlighting, note taking, and bookmarking X X X
Mobile device X X X
Offline X X X X X X
Prefer listening X
Prefer reading X X X X X
Print X X X X
Text to speech with speed adjustment X X X X

Audio

The audio alternative reads aloud the text in the original file. This also includes alternative descriptions for images, if they are provided. The audio format is saved as an MP3. MP3s are compressed, high-quality sound files that can be played on any computer or mobile device. Audio formats are only available when the original document has less than 100,000 characters.

Why use audio?

Not only does audio benefit individuals with visual impairments, research has also proven that audio can increase learning (Boyle et al., 2003).

Maybe these sound like you. If so, audio is a good option.

  • You prefer to listen than read.
  • You’re an auditory learner.
  • You want to read and listen to the content at the same time.
  • You have a lot of material to study and find your eyes get tired.
  • You study on your commute and want to take your study materials with you.
  • You don’t want to, or can’t, carry print materials for any length of time.
  • You have a visual impairment.
  • You want to adjust the speed of the audio.

Most players allow you to adjust playback speed. For example, Windows Media player, VIC, Audacity, and iTunes.

Electronic braille

The electronic braille alternative creates a BRF file that can be read on a portable braille reading device.

Why use electronic braille?

While audio is excellent for reading comprehension, those who read braille acquire higher literacy rates on average (Benefits of braille article). With braille, users with visual impairments can know the spelling, punctuation, and format of text on a page.

Maybe these sound like you. If so, electronic braille is a good option.

  • You have a visual impairment.
  • You are familiar with braille.
  • You prefer to read.
  • You want to read and listen to the content at the same time.

ePub

The ePub alternative creates a digital publishing file that can be viewed on our mobile devices. ePub files are reflowable. This means that the content displayed automatically adapts to the device it is viewed on.

Here are a few suggested apps ePubs can be viewed on.

Why use ePub?

ePub is powerful. With it, readers can take notes, highlight content, adjust text and background, and in some cases use text-to-speech.

Maybe these sound like you. If so, ePub is a good option.

  • You want to adjust font size and background color.
  • You want to highlight content, take notes, and bookmark important pages.
  • You want to be able to copy, paste, and search text.
  • You want to use text-to-speech and adjust the speed of the speech.
  • You prefer to read.
  • You study on your commute and want to take your study materials with you.

Semantic HTML

What is Semantic HTML? Tags and elements—such as blockquote, paragraph, and headings—are added to add meaning to a page. It aids screen reader users with good content structure.

Semantic HTML is viewed in a browser and adapts to the device you are viewing it on.

Semantic HTML is available offline on your mobile device, if you don’t close your browser.

Why use Semantic HTML?

Semantic HTML is ideal when the content has complex layouts.

Maybe these sound like you. If so, Semantic HTML is a good option.

  • You want to adjust font size and background color.
  • You want to highlight content, take notes, and bookmark important pages.
  • You want to be able to copy, paste, and search text.
  • You want to use text-to-speech and adjust the speed of the speech.
  • You prefer to read.
  • You use a screen reader.

OCR PDF

OCR stands for Optical Character Recognition. The OCR PDF alternatives are created when the original file is PDF of an image. OCR technology analyses the document and converts the image into searchable text.

The conversion is only as good as the quality of the original file. If the file is difficult to analyze, there may be mistakes.

Why use OCR PDF?

Maybe these sound like you. If so, OCR PDF is a good option.

  • You want to be able to copy, paste, and search text.
  • You want to use text-to-speech and adjust the speed of the speech.
  • You prefer to read.
  • You study on your commute and want to take your study materials with you.
  • You use a screen reader.

Tagged PDF

A Tagged PDF alternative uses tags and elements—such as blockquote, paragraph, and headings—to add meaning to a page. It aids screen reader users with good content structure.

Why use Tagged PDF?

Maybe these sound like you. If so, Tagged PDF is a good option.

  • You want to be able to copy, paste, and search text.
  • You want to use text-to-speech and adjust the speed of the speech.
  • You prefer to read.
  • You study on your commute and want to take your study materials with you.
  • You use a screen reader.

Library reference

If your instructor provides library reference information for their files you can see it when viewing alternative formats.

Find a file and select the menu for it. Select Alternative formats and Library reference. If there is no library reference information provided, you don’t see the option.

Library Reference information

Support Contacts

24/7 LMS Support
☎ 816.235.6700
its@umkc.edu

UMKC Technology Support Center
☎ 816.235.2000
techsupportcenter@umkc.edu
Technology Support Center

UMKC Online Instructional Design
Contact Form
online@umkc.edu