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Blackboard Help


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) 2.0 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.

More on the VPAT for Collaborate with the Ultra experience (available in English only)

More on WCAG 2.0 Level AA for Collaborate with the Ultra experience (available in English only)

More on Blackboard’s commitment to accessibility (available in English only)

Blackboard Collaborate includes the following:

  • Full-screen reader support of all key workflows.
  • Global keyboard shortcuts for common actions. There are additional keyboard shortcuts. To learn more, see Keyboard Shortcuts.
  • Screen reader support for whiteboard activities and uploaded files, without requiring complex conversions.
  • Live closed captioning. To learn more, see Live Closed Captioning.

Best screen reader experience

For the best Blackboard Collaborate experience with your screen reader use Firefox® and Jaws on a Windows® system. On a Mac® use Safari® and VoiceOver.

Keyboard navigation

Industry standard keyboard interactions are used throughout Blackboard Collaborate. Keyboard navigation patterns differ between browsers (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, Chrome), but the interactions within any particular browser are common and consistent.

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 the following information:

Global keyboard shortcuts have been established for common actions within Blackboard Collaborate. Additional keyboard shortcuts include the following:

  • To turn the microphone on and off, press Alt + M.
  • To turn the camera on and off, press Alt + C.
  • To raise and lower your hand, press Alt + H.
  • To move to the next slide, press Alt + Page Up. On a Mac, press Alt + Fn + Up Arrow.
  • To move back a slide, press Alt + Page Down. On a Mac, press Alt + Fn + Down Arrow.

Navigating the Collaborate panel with screen readers

Using the “button” or link quick keys (B in JAWS or VO + Command + L in VoiceOver) look for the button labeled “Open Collaborate Panel”.

If the link quick key in VoiceOver doesn’t identify this action, try VO + Command + G to go to the next graphic, or VO + Right Arrow to read the next item until you find it. VoiceOver doesn’t have a great method for specifically finding BUTTON controls.

Activating this button opens a ‘tab list’ which works as follows:

  1. The first tab “Chat” is focused by default. Use the TAB key on your keyboard to interact with the elements within the chat panel including reading and posting messages.

    More on navigating chat history with keyboard controls

  2. Use the right and left arrow keys to move through the tabs (Chat, Participant, Content, and Settings).
  3. Once a tab has focus you can use the TAB key to move through the elements on the page. Or back to the list of tabs.
  4. Tab to the “close Collaborate Panel” button to exit out of this experience.

Chat history keyboard controls

Use the keyboard controls at the top of the Chat panel to move between messages. The keyboard controls are only available after messages have been posted in Chat and are only available with keyboard navigation.

  1. From the text entry field in the Chat panel press Shift + Tab to open the keyboard controls. Or from the Chat with menu at the top of the panel press Tab.
  2. By default, the focus is on the Next chat message control. Press Shift + Tab to find the Previous chat message and First chat message controls. Press Tab to find the Last chat message control.

    Collaborate's chat history only has 50 messages displayed at any given time.

  3. Press Spacebar to activate the control and listen to the message.
  4. Press Tab to move through the controls and return to the chat text entry field.

Share content

Application sharing is not currently supported for screen readers in Blackboard Collaborate. If you are using a screen reader, you can share files and a blank whiteboard with your participants. You cannot share an application.

Share files

Screen reader users can access text from PowerPoint and PDF files shared in the session. This provides an easy way to follow along as slides change.

Moderators and presenters must select Share Files and upload the files to Collaborate for screen readers to access the text.

Audio and video set up

Having trouble setting up your audio and video with JAWS? Jump to Audio Set Up with Jaws in Google ChromeTM.

Having trouble setting up your audio and video with VoiceOver? Jump to Audio Set Up with VoiceOver.

Live closed captioning

The Ultra experience includes live closed captioning. This provides an accessible learning experience for students who are deaf or hard of hearing, as well as for students whose native language is different from the moderator's.

Moderators must make participants captioners. Captioners type what is being said during a session. Other participants can view what is being typed in real time. You can have multiple captioners for multiple languages.

More on making a participant a captioner for Moderators

Being a captioner

As a captioner, you can provide captions for others in your session. This is a role that is assigned to you by a moderator.

There can be more than one captioner in a session. Captioners are identified in the Participants panel with a Closed Caption icon by them.

Live closed captioning is not supported in Japanese, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, and Korean. Users with browsers set to these languages receive an error when they start.

Let's get started

When you are made a captioner you see an alert letting you know that you can now provide captions.

Select Let's get started when you are ready. This alerts other participants that captions are available. Your captions appear on their screen as you type them—in real time.

Selecting Let's get started also opens a text field for you to type what you hear during the session.

Your name is used as the title of your captions by default. It is good practice to change the title to something others can recognize when they view your captions. For example: Closed Captions or Spanish Subtitles.

Do you see the content being shared and want to watch the speaker? Select the picture-in-picture to see the active speaker.

Check it out!

We've put together this video to show you how closed captioning works in Blackboard Collaborate with the Ultra experience.

Video: Closed Captioning in Blackboard Collaborate

Chinese, Japanese, and Korean browsers

The input process for live closed captioning is not supported in browsers set to Chinese, Japanese, and Korean. This means that what you type may not appear how you want. Participants see all keystrokes, not just the resulting word.

Image showing what is typed and what is seen

Example: To type the Japanese word "河口", the captioner types "kakou", which appears as "kかkこう". These characters are manually converted into "河口". Participants viewing the captions see both the typed and converted characters, making the captions difficult to understand.

Set your browser to English to type captions in Chinese, Japanese, and Korean.