NILE Accessibility Statement


NILE – Blackboard Accessibility statement

We want everyone who uses NILE – Blackboard (hence termed NILE) to be able to find, read and understand the content.

NILE includes:

  • The Blackboard core product that you access when going to or
  • The content inside the Blackboard core product.

Using NILE

NILE is run by The University of Northampton. We want as many people as possible to be able to use this service. For example, that means you should be able to:

  • Use just the keyboard in NILE, with the following exceptions:
    • Date picker controls cannot be operated using the keyboard in dialogs on the calendar screen.
    • Some buttons cannot be operated using the spacebar.
  • Use screen readers such as JAWS and VoiceOver.
  • Jump directly to any heading or ARIA landmark on the current page using quick links.
  • Enable high contrast styles 
  • Collapse the course menu to reduce the clutter on the page and help you focus on the task at hand.

We aim to create content to meet the accessibility standards outlined in our technical accessibility statement. Content we create should be compatible with assistive technology.

AbilityNet has advice on making your device easier to use if you have a disability.

How accessible is NILE?

As of May 2022, the NILE core product is composed of the screens that you will see prior to accessing an actual course (termed Ultra Base Navigation) and then the actual course itself (Normally based on Blackboard original format). The University is in a two year process to move all courses to being fully Ultra formatted. This guidance is updated to cover the main experience at each stage of the transition.

We know some parts of NILE aren’t yet fully accessible:

  • Text is resizable to 200% throughout NILE without a loss of content or functionality, but pinch zoom is disabled for touch screen.
  • Some older PDF documents aren’t fully accessible to screen reader software
  • NILE has sufficient contrast between the foreground and background colours with the following exceptions:
    • Light gray text on some screens has insufficient contrast.
    • Checkbox labels on the updates screen have insufficient contrast.
  • NILE provides the correct name, role, state, and other important accessibility information for some form controls, but there are some issues that prevent people using assistive technologies from completing their task.

What to do if you can’t access parts of this website

We have enabled a service on NILE which allows alternative format downloads for each item of content.

If you have problems accessing the different formats like tagged PDFs, ePub, audio recording or electronic braille:

We’ll consider your request and get back to you in 2 working days.

Reporting accessibility problems with NILE

We’re always looking to improve the accessibility of NILE - Blackboard. If you find any problems that aren’t listed on this page or think we’re not meeting the requirements of the accessibility regulations, contact: 

Enforcement / escalation procedure

If you need to escalate your issue further, contact the University Chair of the Student Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Forum 


You can expect an acknowledgement within 6 working days and a full reply within 20 working days. If your complaint raises complex issues that cannot be answered within 20 working days, we will keep you informed of progress until we can fully respond.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) is responsible for enforcing the accessibility regulations. If you’re not happy with how we respond to your complaint, contact the Equality Advisory and Support Service (EASS).

Contacting us by phone or visiting us in person

The Learntech team are based on the second floor of the Learning Hub at Waterside.

You can contact us by email to .

Technical information about NILE’s accessibility

The University of Northampton is committed to making NILE accessible, in accordance with the Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) (No. 2) Accessibility Regulations 2018.

This website is partially compliant with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines version 2.1 AA standard, due to the non-compliances listed below.

We work to achieve and maintain WCAG 2.1 AA standards, but it is not always possible for all our content to be accessible. 

If we have failed to identify a barrier, please contact: or phone 01604 892696.

Issues with NILE


Conformance Level

Remarks and Explanations

1.4.3 Contrast (Minimum)

Supports with exceptions

The Blackboard Learn 9.1 web application has sufficient contrast between the foreground and background colours with the following exceptions:

  • Light grey text on some screens has insufficient contrast.
  • Checkbox labels on the updates screen have insufficient contrast.

1.4.4 Resize text

Supports with exceptions

Text is resizable to 200% throughout the Blackboard Learn 9.1 web application without a loss of content or functionality, but pinch zoom is disabled for touch screen.

2.4.6 Headings and Labels 

Supports with exceptions

Headings and labels are descriptive throughout the Blackboard Learn 9.1 web application, with the following exception:

  • Visually hidden headings in the top navigation panel have heading text that does not match the content that follows 

2.4.7 Focus Visible 

Supports with exceptions

The Blackboard Learn 9.1 web application has a visible indication of focus with the following exceptions:

  • There is no visible indication of focus on the skip link.
  • Focus goes to hidden links when the hamburger menu is collapsed.
  • A hidden link receives keyboard focus on the Add Module screen.
  • Some focusable items have no visual indication of focus.

Accessible uploaded content

Supports with exceptions

Staff are provided with guidance on creating and uploading accessible content. Blackboard Ally allows additional formats to be downloaded depending on your needs.


We continue to review the Blackboard service and are moving over to full Ultra courses by 2023. 

Issues with text

Some link text doesn’t make sense when read on its own (for example, ‘click here’).

When we publish new content we’ll make sure link text meets accessibility standards.

Issues with PDFs and other documents

Some of our older PDFs and Word documents don’t meet accessibility standards - for example, they may not be marked up so they’re accessible to a screen reader.

Some of our PDFs and Word documents are essential to providing content material on NILE. The Blackboard Ally service will allow you to access these documents in alternative formats. 

The accessibility regulations don’t require us to fix PDFs or other documents published before 23 September 2018 if they’re not essential to providing our services. 

Any new PDFs or Word documents we publish should meet accessibility standards.

Issues with images, video and audio

Some images don’t have alternative text.

Live video streams don’t have captions.

Recorded video does not have captions.

All tutors have been provided with the means to audit their site for inaccessible content and update images with alternative text.. Recorded video hosted in Kaltura should have machine generated captions as a minimum. Some videos may have human generated captions. We don’t plan to add captions to live video streams because live video is exempt from meeting the accessibility regulations.

Issues with interactive tools and transactions

Our site includes 3rd party content and functionality.

Depending on our relationship with the 3rd party, we cannot always guarantee its accessibility.

We are working with our suppliers to review all linked tools and will phase out use where these are inaccessible.

We will make another assessment when the supplier contracts are up for renewal, and check tools for accessibility at that time.

How we tested NILE

The Blackboard products behind NILE were last tested on 22nd October 2021 (for the Ultra Base Navigation) and on 1st April 2021 (for the traditional interface). The test was carried out by Elizabeth Simister, Product Accessibility Manager,

The full Voluntary Product Accessibility Templates (VPAT) are available using the links below.

Blackboard Ally was enabled on Blackboard during May 2019. This has provided extra information and support to identify inaccessible content and provide guidance on resolving this.

What we’re doing to improve accessibility

1. The University has a student Equality Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Forum along with a Digital Steering Group.  These groups consider ways in which University accessibility may be improved.

2. Equality Impact Assessments (EIAs) are required for new policies and services and ensure a focus on the range of people expected to access that material.

3. Ally has been acquired for NILE and provides alternative formats.

4. Training (synchronous and asynchronous) has been developed for all staff to ensure they are aware of the requirements and have the skills needed to update materials.

5. The Northampton Additional Student Support and Inclusion Services Team (ASSIST) works with students with disabilities to help achieve their full potential and to promote equal opportunities. ASSIST aims to enable students to access all aspects of university life, take control of their learning and develop the skills needed for employment. This is underpinned by a commitment to accessibility and respect for confidentiality. ASSIST provides support for students with:

  • physical impairments
  • sensory impairments
  • mental health difficulties
  • medical conditions
  • Autistic spectrum disorders
  • specific learning difficulties, for example dyslexia

The team provides a range of services, including a variety of dyslexia and other disability-related guidance for all new and current students, staff and parents.

This statement was prepared on 10th July, 2019. It was last updated on 26th May, 2022.

This information is also available to download in Word format in the Links & Files section below.


  • Last Updated May 26, 2022
  • Views 3696
  • Answered By Rob Howe

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