Blackboard Announces Acquisition of UK-Based Fronteer

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Software product Ally assists instructors and institutions in increasing the accessibility of online course content.

Blackboard, a leading education technology company for teaching, learning and student engagement, today announced the acquisition of U.K. based Fronteer, including its flagship Ally product. Ally is designed to help institutions and instructors make course content more accessible for learners.

Developed and designed by Fronteer, Ally provides educators with essential guidance for improving accessibility of their course materials, while supplying comprehensive reporting on the current state of course content accessibility across the institution.

The platform automatically checks posted course materials for accessibility issues and, through advanced Machine Learning algorithms, generates files in different formats to assist students who may require alternatives. Supplemental file formats include Semantic HTML, Tagged PDF, Audio, ePub and Electronic Braille.

Accessibility of course content is a significant challenge for institutions. Through this acquisition, Blackboard is strengthening its commitment to accessibility both by offering itself as an accessibility partner for the institution and by expanding its internal capacity through the addition of the Fronteer team to drive advancements in accessibility.

At the same time, Blackboard is helping educators address the accessibility challenges they face integrating technology into the classroom and teaching students of all learning styles and abilities.

“Blackboard and Fronteer share a strong commitment to making education available to all students,” said Bill Ballhaus, Chairman, CEO and President of Blackboard.

“We’re pleased to continue investing in technology and people that understand our vision to provide product experiences that enable greater accessibility. We both recognize the close connection between accessibility and the quality and usability of course content, and the benefits accessibility can bring to all learners.”

Ally will be made readily available to all institutions, including those using non-Blackboard products.

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