Digital Accessibility

Accessibility is vital to Nashville State’s strategic plan to promote equitable educational experiences and we should be dedicated to creating a culture of inclusion for all students and not just meet the needs of those with disabilities. The integration of a new tool within D2L Brightspace now helps us visualize this strategy to not only identify accessibility issues in courses but also provide detailed feedback on why they matter and how to improve your documents and files.

The Office of Online Learning and the Access Center are taking a proactive approach to inform you that Nashville State Community College is committed to building more inclusive learning environments through the integration of Ally within D2L Brightspace (NSOnline). Ally is an innovative tool that makes online course content more accessible for all learners. Ally does not affect your original course files in any way. This accessibility tool is not meant to penalize content within D2L but should be used to identify flagged accessibility issues within D2L courses and guide educators to creating more inclusive content.

With Ally, we will now have the opportunity to make our courses more accessible to help not only those with documented disabilities but for all learners, including those with undiagnosed disabilities and ESL learners struggling to keep up with their coursework. Ally will be available starting in the Fall 2021 semester for all courses. If you would like to get a head start on accessibility, we encourage all instructors to evaluate their own course files and take the first steps to improve accessibility with the help of Microsoft’s Accessibility Checker or please contact the Office of Online Learning to schedule a consultation with a member of our support team.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) became law in 1990. ADA is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, and transportation, as well as all public and private places that are open to the general public. It is best practice to develop and revise all D2L courses and course materials with ADA guidelines in mind to ensure your course is accessible for all students. The responsibility of accessibility in higher education falls to all of us so take the time to be proactive in how we can grow and improve accessibility at Nashville State for our students, staff, and faculty. Accessibility is for everyone!

Accessibility in Online and Hybrid Courses

Nashville State Community College is committed to building more inclusive learning environments through the integration of Ally within D2L. Ally is an innovative tool that makes online course content more accessible for all learners. Accessibility is vital to Nashville State’s strategic plan to promote equitable educational experiences and we should be dedicated to creating a culture of inclusion for all students and not just meet the needs of those with disabilities. The Ally integration in Desire2Learn (D2L) now helps to visualize this strategy as a tool that can automatically scan content and uploaded files (documents, slides, and images) to provide instructors with accessibility “scores” for each file. Ally also provides detailed feedback on accessibility issues, why they matter, and how to fix them. Going green is the goal!

Ally also offers students alternative formats to download content, including Semantic HTML, Tagged PDF, Audio, ePub, and Electronic Braille, among others. Students now have several choices to engage with course content that best suits their individual learning preferences. On a larger scale, accommodating online courses for accessibility does help meet accreditation standards and can improve both retention and graduation rates.

Nashville State also supports the Kaltura Lecture Capture tool, available within D2L, for providing accurate captioning of video content either recorded through the tool, imported through MP4 files, or linked YouTube videos.

What does the Ally Accessibility Tool Do?

Currently, Ally checks for files in these formats:

  • PDF files
  • Microsoft® Word files
  • Microsoft® PowerPoint® files
  • OpenOffice/LibreOffice files
  • Uploaded HTML files
  • Image files (JPG, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP, TIFF)
  • WYSIWYG/VTBE content (The results for WYSIWYG content only appear in the Institutional Report and Course accessibility report.)
  • YouTube videos embedded in WYSIWYG/VTBE content

Ally provides an accessibility “score” seen only by instructors for all files (Word, PDF, PowerPoint, images, etc…) in D2L (scores are not visible to students). This tool also provides helpful information on revising accessibility issues. One advantage Ally allows for ALL students is the option to download files in alternative formats including; Tagged PDF, HTML, ePub, Electronic Braille, Audio Versions.

Ally Score Icons

Scores range from Low to Perfect. The higher the score the fewer the issues.

Instructor View of Accessibility Icons in D2L

Please note that the indicators are only visible to instructors.

Course dashboard shows accessibility indicator. Scoring icons are color-coded from red, orange, light green, and dark green.
The Ally accessibility tool is not meant to penalize content within D2L but should be used to identify flagged accessibility issues within online courses and guide educators to creating more inclusive content. A goal for the Office of Online Learning is to provide collaborative support for faculty and staff in meeting goals for quality, accessibility, and inclusiveness for all online courses offered at Nashville State.

With this tool, we have the opportunity to make our online campus more accessible to help not only those with documented disabilities but for all learners, including those with undiagnosed disabilities and ESL learners struggling to keep up with their coursework. We encourage all instructors to evaluate their own course content and take the first steps to improve accessibility with the help of Microsoft's Accessibility Checker. If you need additional resources or support or if you would like to schedule a consultation with an expert, please contact the Office of Online Learning.

Accessibility Support

The Office of Online Learning is committed to supporting Ally within D2L. There are multiple levels of planned support available with tier 1 and tier 2 support for every division at the college. Tier 1 support is dependent on you utilizing resources provided by D2L, Ally, and Nashville State to help you understand accessibility issues and learning how to resolve those issues. Tier 2 support is for faculty or staff who need additional help via workshops or scheduling individual consults with an instructional designer. Our goal is to be proactive in addressing accessibility and work with divisions and departments to improve the accessibility of our online courses and programs.

Tier 1 Support: Self-Help

Addressing accessibility in common files like documents, slides, and images is not difficult to achieve. In fact, some documents can be revised in only a few minutes. Common issues have to do with formatting headers, tables, slide titles, and the use of tables. Please review the information regarding Ally and associated resources that guide users on locating and addressing accessibility issues.

Supported Accessibility Tools

Ally Tutorials and Resources

Microsoft Office365 applications have an accessibility feature, which can be used to check and improve the accessibility of files before sharing them or uploading them to D2L. Tips on using this feature may be found on the Microsoft Office365 Accessibility Checker.

Video Lecture Capture and Transcripts with Kaltura

Legal Compliance and Additional Information

Tier 2: Nashville State Support

The Office of Online Learning is committed to supporting all Nashville State stakeholders to meet accessibility standards. Please utilize the Tier 1 resources or the following support services. If you, or your department, would like to assist in meeting accessibility goals for the institution please contact online learning.

Workshops and Consults

  • Consults with Instructional Designers or Instructional Support Specialists at the Office of Online Learning.
  • Workshops or trainings sponsored by Online Learning and the Access Center.
  • IT Accessibility Laws and Policies. Visit Section508.gov maintained by the U.S. General Services Administration. The GSA also has a number of tools and guides that will help you understand conformance to 508 standards.

For additional questions or support requests please contact the Office of Online Learning.