November 1, 2023

Catalyst Awards Blog Series: Making Online Learning More Inclusive: The Award-Winning Ally Rapid Remediation Project at the University of Miami

The Catalyst Awards program recognizes innovation and excellence in the Anthology community of practice. In this blog series, a selection of 2023 award-winning institutions from across the globe share their success stories and best practices. 

Why should educators prioritize accessibility in online learning? Dive into the journey of the Ally Rapid Remediation Project, a winner of the Catalyst Award in the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging category, and discover the transformative power of accessible course design. 



In the landscape of modern education, few initiatives shine brighter than the Ally Rapid Remediation Project. Guided by the Distance Learning Institute at the University of Miami, this award-winning project (Catalyst Award in the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging category) epitomizes dedication to student learning, focusing on the pillars of accessibility and inclusivity. 


The Initiative: Beyond the Award 

Being recognized with the Catalyst Award speaks volumes. But what led to this accolade? The answer: uncompromised accessibility. In 2019, the Distance Learning Institute (DLI) launched a pilot, "The Ally Project", aimed at enhancing content accessibility in the Blackboard® Learn learning management system (LMS) through the use of Anthology® Ally. The underlying goal? Ensuring students could access content in formats they were comfortable with, without any roadblocks. 


Challenges & Pivot 

While there were aspirations to synchronize with a university-wide Ally deployment, unforeseen circumstances caused delays. Undeterred, the DLI team doubled down on their commitment, evolving the project into the "Ally Rapid Remediation Project". This shift tackled two pressing challenges: 

  1. Mitigating the pandemic-induced accessibility chasm 
  2. Amplifying faculty awareness and adoption of Ally 


Goals & Anticipated Outcomes 

The project's vision was crystalline: holistic accessibility for all. Specific milestones included: 

  • Enable Ally's alternate formats in every online course 
  • Achieve 80% accessible content in DLI's online courses by Fall 2021 
  • Empower faculty with the tools to create accessible content 
  • Boost the DLI team's proficiency in accessible course design 

The anticipated ripple effects? Pervasive Ally utilization, a minimum of 85% courses with accessible content, and a robust 60% shift to alternate formats. 


Strategy & Execution 

This award-winning initiative unfurled in three meticulously crafted stages: 

Stage 1: The genesis - the initial pilot phase  

Stage 2: The pivot to rapid remediation  

Stage 3: Addressing entrenched accessibility pain points in legacy courses, rolling out faculty awareness drives, and in-depth team training sessions 

This concerted effort culminated in the successful remediation of 130 courses, with a majority boasting an accessibility score between 85-90%. 


Impact & Legacy 

A staggering 4000+ content enhancements were executed in a mere 10-week window, dispersed across 130 courses. As 2023 dawned, an impressive 95% of DLI courses met accessibility benchmarks. Conversations surrounding accessibility are no longer in the background; they're front and center, fostering a culture of awareness. 

DLI's groundbreaking strides have not only earned them the prestigious Catalyst Award but have also positioned them as pivotal players in the May 2023 university-wide Ally deployment. 


Conclusion: The Accessible Future 

The Ally Rapid Remediation Project is a testament to the infinite potential when accessibility is prioritized. The key takeaway? True accessibility transcends compliance—it's a heartfelt commitment to every student's learning journey. 


For educators and institutions: Embrace tools like Ally, champion accessibility, and pioneer a more inclusive, award-worthy academic future for all. 

View Our Catalyst Award Video


For more information on the program, visit Catalyst Awards. Learn more about our 2023 winners and their stories.