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Ally 1.49 | Release to production 6 September 2020
Next to the reporting provided at the institutional level and the individual course level, Ally 1.49 now introduces the ability to view reporting based on the configured institutional hierarchy. This features makes it significantly easier to understand how different parts of the institution are performing around accessibility, can help better determine where to target efforts, and starts to provide insight for departmental administrators. We think this feature will be especially useful for large institutions and institutions sharing an LMS instance.
The provided reporting is based on:
- Blackboard Learn: Configured institutional hierarchy
- Instructure Canvas: Configured sub-account structure
- Moodle: Configured categories
- D2L Brightspace: Configured “Department” organizational units
The departmental reporting can be accessed through a new Directory tab in the institutional report. Global administrators will see the list of all top level nodes, and can continue to drill down into the hierarchy or view a more detailed report for each node. This more detailed report is similar to what can be found in the institutional report, but the data, CSV export and usage reports are all narrowed down to the selected node.
Departmental or node administrators will only be able to see the report for the node they can manage, and will be able to view the report for any sub-nodes they can manage as well.
The “Directory” tab will not display if no institutional hierarchy is configured in the LMS.
Arabic alternative formats
With the Ally 1.42 release, the Ally user interface became available in Arabic, including full right-to-left layout support.
Ally 1.49 introduces support for the Ally alternative formats in Arabic as well. This includes availability in Arabic of the Tagged PDF, semantic HTML, Audio, Electronic Braille and BeeLine Reader alternative formats, as well as right-to-left layout support for the machine learning algorithms that drive the generation of these alternative formats.
WYSIWYG alternative formats for D2L Brightspace
Following the release of WYSIWYG alternative formats for Blackboard Learn Original and Instructure Canvas as part of the Ally 1.48 release, WYSIWYG alternative formats are now also available for D2L Brightspace courses.
Ally 1.49 bug fixes and improvements
- Fixed a bug that occasionally caused the usage reports to be empty.
- Fixed a bug in the conversion of complex tables (e.g., table cell that spans multiple columns) in the different alternative formats.
- Implemented several improvements to the accessibility checklist for HTML files and web pages.
- Implemented several improvements to the checking of larger and more complex Word and PowerPoint documents.
- Improved the Moodle integration to process content in copied courses more quickly.
- Fixed a bug that caused marking an image as decorative through the instructor feedback to fail.
- Fixed a bug that occasionally caused Tagged PDFs containing lots of large images to be flagged as a scanned document.
- Implemented data encryption at rest for AWS S3 storage.
- Implemented several translation improvements to the Brazilian Portuguese translation.
Ally 1.48 | Release to production 19 August 2020
WYSIWYG alternative formats
Ally is now able to generate alternative formats for content created through the LMS content editor (WYSIWYG content). The available alternative formats for this WYSIWYG content include ePub, Audio, Electronic Braille, BeeLine Reader and the Translated Version.
This means that Ally is now able to provide alternative formats for both WYSIWYG content and uploaded files (PDF documents, Word documents, PowerPoint documents, etc.), providing good coverage of the types of content that can be found in the LMS. Given the exponential growth in alternative format usage observed in the last year, we’re excited to provide students with additional choice and flexibility in how they engage with their course content.
To access the alternative formats for a WYSIWIG content item, the alternative format icon next to the item can be selected. For WYSIWYG content items that also include uploaded files, students are provided a choice between accessing the alternative formats for the WYSIWYG item and accessing the alternative formats for the embedded files.
This feature is currently only available for Blackboard Learn Original and Instructure Canvas. Because of dependencies on new LMS APIs and functionality, this feature will be introduced for Blackboard Learn Ultra, D2L Brightspace and Moodle courses as part of a future Ally release.
Ally 1.48 bug fixes and improvements
- Fixed a bug in the audio alternative format that occasionally caused HTML characters to be read out as part of the audio.
- Fixed a bug in the accessibility checklist that prevented PDFs produced using LaTeX Beamer from being scored.
- Improved the Moodle integration to better handle content with a negative creation time.
Ally 1.47 | Release to production 10 August 2020
Blackboard Learn institutional hierarchy
The Blackboard Learn integration has been expanded to include the institutional hierarchy information for a course under the Department id and Department name columns in the courses.csv CSV export in the institutional report. This institutional hierarchy information is based on the institutional hierarchy configured within Blackboard Learn.
This work enables the calculation of the Ally score for each department in the institutional hierarchy through a tool like Excel, and serves as part of the foundational work to support the upcoming native reporting by institutional hierarchy in the institutional report.
This features requires Blackboard Learn 3800.13.0, and is therefore currently only available for institutions using Blackboard Learn SaaS.
Ally 1.47 bug fixes and improvements
- Improved the feedback and guidance for documents containing tables with missing table headings
- Fixed a bug in the Canvas integration that prevented the alternative formats modal from opening correctly in Modules
- Fixed an accessibility bug in the tabs in the Course Accessibility Report
Ally 1.46.2 | Release to production 9 July 2020
Ally 1.46.2 bug fixes and improvements
- Fixed a bug in the D2L Brightspace integration that occasionally caused content items to not be correctly marked as deleted due to a change in the Brightspace REST API response. All affected content items have now been reprocessed and should be correctly listed as deleted
Ally 1.46.1 | Release to production 2 July 2020
Ally 1.46.1 bug fixes and improvements
- Fixed a bug that prevented the instructor feedback from being launched by admins from the institutional report for courses that have the instructor feedback disabled for instructors
- Implemented several improvements for the rendering of Word and PowerPoint documents as part of the instructor feedback
Ally 1.46 | Release to production 22 June 2020
We’re excited to expand our integration with EesySoft, a popular tool that integrates into the Learning Management System. EesySoft can be used to create campaigns to communicate with users, guide them through tasks in the LMS, and view the impact on behavior and tool adoption.
EesySoft already captured clicks on the alternative format icons and the accessibility indicators, and included this in the Eesysoft reports and campaigns. Now, institutions with an EesySoft license can allow more detailed monitoring of interactions in the alternative formats modal, the instructor feedback, and the course accessibility report. Institutions can use this data for adoption reports and campaigns within EesySoft.
The EesySoft integration is disabled by default, and can be enabled in the Ally Configuration UI. Note that this integration requires an EesySoft license.
Moodle institutional hierarchy
We expanded the Moodle integration to include the institutional hierarchy information for a course. You’ll find additional information in the institutional report under the Department id and Department name columns in the courses.csv CSV export. This institutional hierarchy information is based on the “categories” that have been configured within Moodle.
Now, administrators can calculate an Ally score for each department in the institutional hierarchy with a tool like Excel. This is the first step to support native reporting by institutional hierarchy in the institutional report in the future.
Note that this feature requires the additional `moodle/category:viewhiddencategories` permission for the Ally API user. This permission is granted automatically in the latest version of the Ally Moodle plugins.
Image contains text not in the description
Previously, Ally required that text it detected in an image was part of the image’s alternative description. Because not all text in an image is required in the description and because OCR text detection isn’t 100% accurate, Ally 1.46 removes this check from the accessibility score. In a future release, the extracted text will become a description suggestion.
The removal of this accessibility check applies to all new and updated images, and will retroactively be applied to existing images over the next few weeks.
Ally 1.46 bug fixes and improvements
- Fixed a bug that would occasionally cause the incorrect image to be highlighted when showing a document containing images without a description in the instructor feedback.
Ally 1.44.2 | Release to production 4 June 2020
Ally 1.44.2 bug fixes and improvements
- Fixed a bug that caused the Library Reference fields to be empty when attempting to edit an existing Library Reference
- Implemented improvements in the D2L Brightspace integration to reduce the number of LMS API calls made to adhere to Brightspace’s new API rate limiting
- Improved the workflow for editing an image description through the Ally instructor feedback
- Fixed a bug in the Moodle integration that prevented Book Chapters from being removed from the Ally reporting when deleting a Book
- Prevent Ally from processing .dwg (from drawing) files
Ally 1.44.1 | Release to production 1 June 2020
Audio alternative format
The audio alternative format is now available in Arabic and Icelandic. The voice for the Turkish audio alternative format has also been replaced with a higher quality alternative.
D2L Brightspace course templates
Ally is now able to check the content in Brightspace course templates for accessibility issues and provide alternative formats for them. This allows for the accessibility of course templates to be improved before they are used to create new course offerings.
Ally 1.44.1 bug fixes and improvements
- The YouTube caption check has been improved to reflect the full set of permutations provided by the YouTube API
- Fixed a bug in the Canvas integration that caused the “Disable alternative formats” option for a content item to not be available when the instructor feedback was disabled for the course
Ally 1.44 | Release to production 15 May 2020
Course accessibility report in Safari
Due to the 3rd party cookie blocking policy recently introduced by the Safari browser, Ally LTI tools wouldn’t load in Safari unless 3rd party cookies are explicitly allowed in the browser settings.
More information about how these browser changes affect LTI tools on these sites:
The course accessibility report LTI tool has been updated to no longer rely on these cookies, and should now always load correctly in Safari.
This improvement doesn't yet apply to the Ally institutional report and configuration UI LTI tools. These will be updated in a future release.
Ally 1.44 bug fixes and improvements
- Fixed a bug in the Canvas integration that prevented the alternative formats modal from loading when selecting Alternative Formats in a Canvas content preview.
- Fixed a bug in the Moodle integration that caused too much content to be pulled through the Moodle API when re-synchronizing a course.
- Fixed a bug that caused the incorrect tab to be selected when returning to the Courses tab in the institutional report.
- Fixed a bug in the instructor feedback that caused an error when selecting the I need to keep it button for a seizure inducing animation.
Ally 1.43 | Release to production 6 May 2020
Blackboard App integration
We’re excited to announce that the Blackboard Ally alternative formats can now be accessed directly from the Blackboard App. Many of the alternative formats provided by Ally such as the responsive HTML version, the Tagged PDF version, the ePub version and the Audio version are particularly relevant for use on mobile devices, and we were already seeing a large percentage of alternative formats accessed through mobile devices. With the addition of the alternative formats in the Blackboard App, we believe this will further increase use of the alternative formats in mobile contexts.
Ally 1.42.1 | Release to production 1 May 2020
HTML Block support
The Ally for Moodle integration has been expanded to provide support for the “HTML Block” plugin. Content created through this plugin will now also be checked for accessibility issues by Ally, and the results will be included in the institutional report and the course accessibility report. Alternative formats and instructor feedback will be provided for file content linked from the HTML block as well.
The HTML block support requires the latest version of the Ally Moodle plugins that correspond with your version of Moodle.
Ally 1.42.1 bug fixes and improvements
- Added the institution name to the file name for the institutional report CSV export and the usage report export
- Added a more meaningful error message when an audio alternative format can’t be generated because the original document is longer than 100,000 characters
- The usage report export is now supported on older versions of Excel as well
- Fixed a bug that caused the Features tab in the Ally Configuration UI to not be internationalized correctly
- Fixed a bug in the Accessibility Score overview graph in the institutional report that caused time periods without any associated data to show as a 0% score
- Implemented improvements to reduce the number of LMS API calls made when a sudden spike in LMS activity takes place
Ally 1.42 | Release to production 23 April 2020
Ally in Arabic
As part of our efforts to support universal design and equitable access around the world, Ally 1.42 makes the Ally User Interface available in Arabic. There is now Arabic support to the Ally institutional report, configuration UI, alternative formats modal, instructor feedback and course accessibility report, including full right-to-left support for all of these.
Note that the Ally alternative formats are not yet available in Arabic. This is the team’s next priority, and will be made available in a future release.
Ally 1.42 bug fixes and improvements
- Fixed a bug in the instructor feedback that caused the Help link to overlap with the instructor feedback guidance
- Fixed a bug that would occasionally cause files smaller than 50MB uploaded through the instructor feedback to fail
Ally 1.41.1 | Release to production 17 April 2020
The “courses.csv” file that is part of the institutional report CSV export now contains a new Ally enabled column. This column shows TRUE when the instructor feedback and alternative formats are enabled for a course, and shows FALSE when the instructor feedback and alternative formats are disabled for a course.
Ally 1.41.1 bug fixes and improvements
- Improved the instructor feedback to better handle the uploading of a content type that’s different from the original content type.
- Improved the wording of the success and failure messages that are shown when uploading a new content item through the instructor feedback.
- Fixed a bug in the institutional report that caused the comparison between the current time period and the previous time period to be incorrect.
- Fixed a bug in the Moodle integration that occasionally prevented the seizure protection for images flagged as seizure inducing from rendering correctly.
- Fixed a validation bug in the date picker for the Usage Reports.
- The Ally for D2L Brightspace and Ally for Canvas integrations have been improved to require less REST API calls when synchronizing a course.
Ally 1.41 | Release to production 6 April 2020
PDFs without title
A full new feedback flow for instructors and editors has been added for PDFs that don’t have a title. This flow contains documentation on what this means, why this is important, and detailed step-by-step guidance on how to add a PDF title.
Generate tagged PDFs
The feedback guidance for instructors and editors on how to generate a tagged PDF from a Microsoft Office Word and PowerPoint document has been updated to reflect the latest changes in Microsoft Office 365. Several screenshots to help visualize the different steps have been added as well.
BeeLine Reader night mode
The BeeLine Reader alternative format has been extended to offer an additional “Night Mode” view with a corresponding color gradient. This night mode can help reduce eye strain in low light conditions, can reduce screen glare while outside and can help save energy for mobile devices.
Ally 1.41 bug fixes and improvements
- Fixed a bug that would cause the instructor feedback Print View to occasionally be empty.
- Improved the speed at which alternative formats are generated.
Ally 1.40 | Release to production 27 March 2020
BeeLine Reader alternative format
The BeeLine Reader alternative format is aimed at making on-screen reading faster and easier. To achieve this, it uses an eye-guiding color gradient to help pull the reader’s eyes from one line to the next, and reported benefits include increased reading speed and enhanced focus. The tool can benefit students with dyslexia, ADHD and low vision, as well as providing a better on-screen reading experience for all students.
Several institutions have been piloting this new alternative format over the last few months, and based on the extremely positive feedback we’re now making this alternative format available for all. The BeeLine Reader alternative format is available as part of your Ally license at no additional cost, and is now enabled by default.
The BeeLine Reader alternative format is also available in the Ally Feature Flag configuration, allowing for the format to easily be enabled / disabled if necessary.
Thanks so much to the institutions that have participated in the pilot!
Due to COVID-19, we have been seeing a significant increase in Ally usage and a large number of institutions adopting Ally as part of their move to fully online. The team’s primary consideration remains making sure that we provide a seamless service, and a lot of work is being done behind the scenes to ensure that all components are scaled up / out as required and to create additional onboarding capacity.
Ally 1.40 bug fixes and improvements
- Implemented support for PPSX (PowerPoint Slideshow) files.
- Improved the accessibility of the tabs in the institutional report to allow them to be selected using the arrow keys.
Ally 1.39.2 | Release to production 4 March 2020
Usage data export
The usage data export functionality in the Ally institutional report now includes the following additional columns in the “data” tab:
- Term Id
- Term Name
This allows for custom term-based usage data queries and visualizations to be created when required.
Ally 1.39.3 | Release to production 4 March 2020
The team has been taking several pre-emptive infrastructure measures to help prepare for significantly increased traffic as a growing number of schools move to fully online courses. We will continue to monitor closely and take any additional steps required to ensure a seamless service.
Ally 1.39.3 bug fixes and improvements
- Fixed a bug that prevented the BeeLine Reader alternative format from rendering correctly on some mobile devices.
- Improved the “Is this PDF tagged” accessibility check by excluding PDFs that only contain empty tags.
- Fixed a bug that caused an unexpected animation when hovering over the accessibility score in the instructor feedback.
- Fixed an accessibility score rounding error in the institutional accessibility report.
Ally 1.39.1 | Release to production 2 March 2020
Electronic Braille Configuration
The Braille code used for a particular language can now be configured at the institutional level. For example, this means that the Braille code used for English can be mapped to either Unified English Braille contracted (grade 2) or uncontracted (grade 1).
Electronic Braille configuration changes can be requested through a Behind The Blackboard support ticket.
Ally 1.39.1 bug fixes and improvements
- Fixed a bug that would occasionally cause the Tagged PDF alternative format to be downloaded using the wrong mime type.
- Fixed a bug that caused the instructor feedback to be loaded in a small window when launched from the course accessibility report.
- Fixed a bug in the display of the total number of content items in the course accessibility report.
Ally 1.39 | Release to production 19 February 2020
Blackboard Learn Ultra Integration
As part of the Learn Ultra February SaaS release, the Ally integration for Blackboard Learn Ultra has been expanded significantly.
The Course Content page now includes the Alternative Formats download icon, providing immediate access to the alternative formats from the course landing page. The Course Content page also includes the accessibility indicators, allowing the instructor to immediately see the accessibility score for content items in the Course Content page and access the instructor feedback.
Files attached within Ultra documents now also include the Alternative Formats download icon and the accessibility indicators.
Ally 1.38.2 | Release to production 7 February 2020
Ally 1.38.2 bug fixes and improvements
- Fixed a bug that caused courses in the Ally Configuration UI to not correctly reflect their actual enabled / disabled state. Learn more on the Ally Usergroup site.
- Fixed a bug in the display of the Term menu in the Ally Configuration UI when long term names are part of the list of terms.
- Fixed a bug that would occasionally cause the x-axis labels in the Accessibility Score graph in the institutional report to overlap.
Ally 1.38.1 | Release to production 1 February 2020
Ally 1.38.1 bug fixes and improvements
- Updated the institutional report to show accessibility scores to the 1st decimal place.
- Fixed a bug in the D2L Brightspace integration that caused copied courses to not be checked automatically by Ally.
- Fixed a bug in the D2L Brightspace integration that sometimes caused files downloaded from the instructor feedback to not have a file extension.
- Fixed a bug in the D2L Brightspace integration that occasionally caused the department association for a course to not synchronize correctly.
- Fixed a bug that occasionally caused the institutional report CSV export to contain future dates.
- Fixed a bug that would occasionally prevent the correct language from being detected in Norwegian documents. This would also cause the audio to be read in English instead of Norwegian.
- Fixed a bug that prevented image descriptions consisting of a URL followed by text from being considered a valid image description.
- Improved the display of the Library Reference in the alternative formats modal.
Ally 1.38 | Release to production 17 January 2020
The Ally institutional report used to provide a Without Ally score and a With Ally score. The Without Ally score was the baseline average accessibility score based on the content in the LMS or on the website, while the With Ally added an estimated level of automated improvement based on the alternative formats.
The Without Ally and With Ally scores have now been replaced by the following scores:
- Overall average accessibility score
- Average file accessibility score
- Average WYSIWYG accessibility score (for Ally for LMS integrations)
- Average Web Page accessibility score (for Ally for WCM and Ally for Websites)
The Average file accessibility score is the score for uploaded file content such as PDFs, Word documents, PowerPoint documents, Images, and so on. The Average WYSIWYG accessibility score is the score for (HTML) content created through the LMS content editor. Average Web Page accessibility score is the score for the website’s pages. The Overall average accessibility score is the combined accessibility score for both files and WYSIWYG / Web Page content.
Typically, HTML content is much more accessible in nature. This is especially true for WYSIWYG content in the LMS, as they are usually small and simple HTML fragments. Splitting out the scores in this way allows for a better distinction between content that tends to be more accessible in nature and content that tends to be less accessible in nature, allowing for a better understanding of the overall accessibility score and allowing for more informed training and remediation strategies to be identified.
Ally for LMS
Ally for Websites
Ally 1.38 bug fixes and improvements
- Fixed a known issue that prevented the Ally LTI tools (institutional report, configuration UI, course accessibility report) from loading correctly in Chrome 80+. More information about this known issue is available on the Ally user group site.
- Fixed an issue that would prevent the usage reports from generating for institutions with large amounts of usage data.
- Fixed a bug in the display of the Add description button in the instructor feedback for images without a description for the Welsh translation.
- Fixed a bug that prevented the Download icon in the instructor feedback from displaying correctly in the Swedish translation.
- Implemented several screen reader accessibility improvements in the institutional report.
Ally 1.37.2 | Release to production 14 January 2020
Ally for Websites Translated Version
The Translated Version alternative format for web pages in the Ally for Websites integration has been improved to retain the styling and images of the original page. This provides a translated version that’s much closer to the original page in appearance and content.
Ally 1.37.2 bug fixes and improvements
- The automated weekly Ally for Websites crawls have been rescheduled to take place on Wednesdays by default.
- The instructor-facing Course Accessibility Report is now refreshed more frequently make it more up-to-date at any point in time.
- Fixed a bug that prevented the LTI role for a user to be refreshed after launching one of the Ally LTI tools, changing their role in the LMS and then reloading the same LTI tool within the same session.
- Fixed a bug that prevents PDFs with an invalid language attribute from being processed correctly.
Ally 1.37.1 | Release to production 7 January 2020
Ally for Websites Alternative Formats
Ally for Websites now makes it possible to exclude links to PDFs, Word, Powerpoint and other documents from showing in the list of available alternative formats for that page. This can be achieved by adding the `data-ally-af-disabled` attribute to the link that should be excluded from the alternative formats.
Ally 1.37.1 bug fixes and improvements
- Added the content id to the Data tab in the usage reports.
- Fixed a bug in the Ally Configuration UI that prevented the Terms menu from filtering the list correctly.