Release Notes for Ally - 2017

Ally 1.12 | Release to production 20 December, 2017

Updated Features, LMS Integrations, Web Community Manager Integration

Web Community Manager (WCM) integration

The Ally integration for Web Community Manager (WCM) is now available. WCM is distinct from Ally’s other integrations, as WCM is a content management system that is mostly used by K-12 schools and districts in the US.

In the first release of the Ally - Web Community Manager integration, Ally provides the ability to check the pages and embedded media in a WCM instance for accessibility issues, and generates an accessibility report similar to the LMS institutional report. Instructor feedback and alternative formats are on the roadmap for future releases.

More on Ally in Web Community Manager

WYSIWYG content reporting

Ally 1.12 introduces the ability to check content created in the LMS (through the text/WYSIWYG editor) for accessibility issues, and includes this data in the institutional report.

This allows Ally to review a significantly larger part of the LMS content, and is a first step towards providing alternative formats and instructor feedback for this content.

This feature is currently only available for Instructure Canvas. Blackboard Learn, Moodle, and Blackboard Open LMS require additional APIs and/or push notifications to support this feature. Those teams are working hard on this additional functionality, and we are hoping to enable WYSIWYG content reporting for Blackboard Learn, Moodle, and Blackboard Open LMS as soon as possible.

Additional language support

Ally is now available in these languages.

  • German
  • Italian
  • Turkish

Availability in these languages includes the Ally interface, as well as the alternative formats (including the audio format).

Ally 1.12 was originally going to include the ability to post alternative descriptions for images provided through the instructor feedback back into the LMS, and we have been working with all of you to make the required API permission updates. However, not all institutions have been able to make these permission changes in time. Therefore, the feature has not been enabled yet, as we didn’t want to introduce any risk over the holidays. The current plan is to enable this feature during the first week of January.

More on permission updates

Ally 1.11.4 | Release to production 14 December, 2017

Updated Features, LMS Integrations

OCRd documents

The reporting for scanned and OCRd documents has been improved. The institutional report now lists both the scanned documents that have been OCRd, and the scanned documents that have not been OCRd.

Note that the institutional reports are currently being reprocessed to reflect these changes, and it may take up to 24 hours for this to be available in your institutional report.

Bug fixes

  • Fixed a bug in the Canvas integration that would cause the alternative formats to be available for locked content items.
  • Improved the positioning of the accessibility indicators for Blackboard Learn 9.1 Q2 2017 CU4 and above. The accessibility indicator positioning has also been improved in text-only mode for all Learn releases.

Ally 1.11.2 | Release to production 27 November 2017

Updated Features, Blackboard Learn Integration

Blackboard Learn Lesson Modules

A bug was fixed in the Blackboard Learn integration that caused the Ally instructor feedback indicators to not be available in the Lesson Modules.

Ally 1.11.1 | Release to production 21 November, 2017

Updated Features, LMS Integrations

Instructor feedback indicators

The instructor feedback indicators now show a tooltip with a summary of the item’s accessibility score. An additional “perfect” indicator has also been introduced, which is used when the item’s accessibility score is 100 percent. These improvements are aimed at increasing instructor engagement with the indicators and making them more obvious.

Canadian French

Ally is now also available in Canadian French. Availability includes the Ally interface, as well as the alternative formats (including the audio format).

OCR documents

OCRd documents are no longer marked as just scanned. Instead, the document will be flagged as OCRd and additional instructor feedback will be shown. The accessibility score of OCRd documents will be discounted by roughly 33 percent, as OCRd documents can still be difficult to read.

Improved scanned document recognition

Several improvements have been made to the recognition of scanned documents, including those with narrow or uncommon margins.

Moodle theme support

A number of improvements have been made to allow Ally to support a larger amount of Moodle themes, including the “express” theme.

Bug fixes

  • There was a bug that caused the institutional report to not always reflect alternative text that was provided for images through the instructor feedback. This issue has now been resolved, and the institutional report should be showing the up-to-date scores.
  • Fixed a bug where downloading a content item from the institutional report would cause the item to be downloaded inside of the institutional report frame, making it difficult to get back to the report. The content item will now always download in a different tab/window.
  • Fixed a bug in the Moodle integration where Ally wasn't be able to process content items uploaded by users that are no longer in the system.
  • Fixed a bug in the Canvas integration where images wrapped in a link to a different content item would not be displayed. The image will now be shown, and there will be an accessibility indicator for both the image and the linked content item.

Ally 1.11 | Release to production 19 October, 2017

Updated Features

Self-hosted Moodle integration

Ally is now fully available for self-hosted Moodle! The self-hosted Moodle integration has the same functionality as the other LMS integrations and is made available as a standard Moodle plugin. This integration is available for Moodle 3.2 and above.

This is fourth Learning Management System to support Ally, along with Blackboard Learn, Blackboard Open LMS, and Instructure Canvas.

Alternative format modal

The alternative accessible formats modal has been updated to provide a clearer description and possible uses for each alternative format.

Institutional report performance improvements

The loading times in the institutional report have been significantly decreased, especially for larger institutions. Listing the list of courses that have a specific issue, the list of items within a course with a specific issue, etc. should now be significantly faster.

Canvas administrators

Up until the 1.11 release, Canvas administrators would be unable to provide improvements through the Ally instructor feedback, as Ally would attempt to masquerade as those users and Canvas would (correctly) not allow this.

A fix for this limitation is now available, and will allow Canvas administrators to also provide improvements through the Ally instructor feedback.

Bug fixes

  • We fixed a bug in Learn where courses that do not have Ally enabled would show the placeholder used for the accessibility indicator, which unnecessarily altered the spacing within the content.
  • We fixed a bug in Learn where improved content items provided through the Ally instructor feedback would not have a meaningful name in the content collection. All items provided through the Ally instructor feedback will now have a meaningful name.

Ally 1.3.1 | Release to production 26 May, 2017

Blackboard Learn Integration, Updated Features

Blackboard Learn support for Content Editor files

Ally is updated to support files attached in the Content Editor within Blackboard Learn. Presently this support is limited to certain content types such as “Item.” Instructors will see accessibility scores for these attachments, students can download more accessible alternative versions of those files, and administrators will be able to report on the collective accessibility of these additional files.

Institutional Report improvements

Courses that don't belong to a specific term are now included in the Institutional Report. They are available under a new Other courses option.

Bug Fixes

  • Fixed a bug where Ally would cause certain tools to be printed as an empty page in Canvas

Ally 1.0 | Release to production 12 April, 2017

Blackboard Learn Integration, New Features, Updated Features

Blackboard Learn 9.1 Integration

Ally is now also available for Blackboard Learn 9.1. The Ally integration was included as a building block in the Blackboard Learn 9.1 Q2 release that was released this week.

Audio Alternative Format

The audio version is now available as an additional alternative format for all PDFs (including scanned), Word, Powerpoint and HTML files.

We would love to get your feedback about the quality of the voice.

Instructor Feedback: Malformed Content

An additional instructor feedback flow has been added for content that can potentially not be opened by all students.

Algorithm improvements

Several improvements have been made to the alternative accessible format generation algorithms. This includes automatically converting all links to clickable links, improved classification of figure text, improved classification of headings, etc.

Instructor Feedback: Headings

A set of new instructor feedback flows has been added for content that does not use headings appropriately.

Instructor Feedback: Tables

A new instructor feedback flow has been made available for content that contains tables without proper table headings.

Fixing multiple issues in a row

At the end of each instructor feedback flow, Ally will now show an appropriate success/failure message, and will provide a seamless way to start fixing the next most significant accessibility issue.

Synchronization improvements

Ally should now also automatically pick up on copied courses or any content that’s imported into a course. We have been working closely with Instructure to add Live Events support for this, and this should result in Ally and Canvas being in synch at all times.

Let us know if you encounter any content items that don’t have an Ally indicator or alternative formats, but should have them.

Accessibility improvements

Following an accessibility review of the Ally user interface by SSB Bart, several accessibility improvements have been implemented. This includes improved keyboard focus management in the instructor feedback, improved accessibility of the radio button labels in the alternative accessible formats modal, etc.