Blackboard is committed to ensuring that the platform is usable and accessible. The code and user interface design techniques are continually audited to ensure that the application is usable by everyone, to the greatest extent possible, regardless of age, ability, or situation.
Blackboard measures and evaluates accessibility levels using two sets of standards: Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act issued from the United States federal government and the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0) issued by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). A third party conducts audits of our software releases to ensure the accessibility of the products. This is done using the Voluntary Product Accessibility Template® (VPAT®) tool and Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0, Level AA.
More on the VPAT for Blackboard Learn Release 9.1 (available in English only)
More on WCAG 2.0 Level AA for Blackboard Learn Release 9.1 (available in English only)
More on Blackboard’s commitment to accessibility. (available in English only)
About the Structure of Blackboard Learn Pages
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.
About Keyboard Navigation
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.
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:
About 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, clicking 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.
Accessibility Training Resources
Enroll in our free self-paced course, Universal Design and Accessibility for Online Learning, available through CourseSites, for guidance in building courses that are accessible. Click Self-Enroll.
Universal Design and Accessibility for Online Learning Course Archive
Download a copy of the course archive to customize and facilitate at your own institution. This archive (1.9 MB) is compatible with Blackboard Learn 9.1 SP 8 and later. Do not unzip or open the archive. A system administrator must restore the course to the system.
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.
To download the tutorial, click the following link: Blackboard Learn Screen Reader Tutorial.