Author: Jan Thomson

We are pleased to announce that we will be launching the new responsive design for Blackboard Learn and the Student Portal for the beginning of Semester 2.  The new updated theme will deliver a contemporary, streamlined feel and significantly increase the responsiveness of the interface across a range of mobile devices whilst also improving overall accessibility.

The Student Portal

UCLan Student Portal

As well as an updated modern look and feel we have also reordered some of the tabs.  This is to facilitate positioning of priority options/tabs, including your Blackboard Modules and will significantly improve navigation on a mobile device.

Blackboard Learn

Blackboard new module page.

You will notice a significant change within your module and programmes spaces, as they will all display the new standard default theme. This theme does prevent the use of customisable themes and menu buttons being applied by instructors within individual spaces, however, it will provide consistency of experience for users either on a desktop or mobile platform, as well as better support for assistive technologies and the accessibility features available within web browsers.  Image banners will still be available on all entry pages and can be updated at any time via the Customisation area.

A new, more contemporary icon set has also been applied as the default theme within all spaces:

Blackboard icon set

Improved accessibility

The new default theme will ensure that all users with visual impairments including those who have low vision or are colour blind are no longer disadvantaged.  The new, standardized colour scheme will offer a positive experience for all users, whilst following WCAG 2.0 principles and accessibility guidelines for structure, colour contrast and navigation.

Screen Readers

Blackboard’s advice for the best experience with screen readers is to use Firefox® and JAWS® on a Windows® system or use Safari® and VoiceOver on a Mac®.

Blackboard have also 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.

The Blackboard Apps

The Blackboard Apps are designed to work with the accessibility features built into iOS, Android, and Windows devices. These features help make mobile content available for people with physical, visual, or hearing impairments.

iOS accessibility features

  • A screen reader that allows users to navigate their phones with gestures and touch the screen to hear what they tap on.
  • A magnifying tool used to enlarge any item on the screen from 100–1,500 percent.
  • Colour filters. Display adaptations that allow the fine-tuning of colours, hues, and tints to support visual impairments and colour blindness.
  • Switch Control. A navigation tool that enables actions through Bluetooth switch hardware for users with physical disabilities and limited motor skills.
  • An on-screen menu for navigation and functionality rather than more complex actions such as pushing the Home button or tapping two places on the screen simultaneously.
  • Learn more about iOS accessibility features

Android accessibility features

  • TalkBack. A screen reader that uses both touch and spoken feedback to help with navigation, alerts, and notifications.
  • Visual settings. This group of settings allows for adjustments to be made to display and font sizes, colours, contrast and magnification.
  • Switch Access. A switch used to control actions in place of using the touch screen. Switch Access uses external switch devices, keyboards, and alternative buttons built into the device.
  • Learn more about Android accessibility features

Mobile users

The new responsive theme is specifically designed to be mobile-friendly. Users logging into Blackboard Learn on a mobile device or tablet will see screen elements such as the course menu and control panel compress or change position, so they continue to stay visible. As the screen reduces, modules and tool tiles stack to ensure continued access.  The submit button is also pinned to the bottom of the screen so there is minimal scrolling.

Contact the Blackboard Support team for further information or advice


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