General

What languages are supported in Blackboard Ally?

Blackboard Ally is available in many different languages. 

Blackboard Ally is available in these languages.

  • Catalan
  • Danish
  • Dutch
  • English, US
  • English, UK
  • Finnish
  • French
  • French, Canadian
  • German
  • Italian
  • Norwegian Bokmål
  • Norwegian Nynorsk
  • Polish
  • Portuguese
  • Portuguese, Brazilian
  • Spanish
  • Swedish
  • Turkish
  • Welsh

What about the servers for localized deployments?

The Ally deployments that reside outside of North America now also utilize non-US servers for 3rd party services that Ally relies on. This means that local deployments do not rely on US servers for any Ally functionality.

Where can I find the Blackboard Ally service level commitment?

Blackboard Ally Service Level Commitment document (available in English only)

Is there a fixed release schedule for Blackboard Ally?

Ally uses a true software as a service (SaaS) approach where new releases are frequently pushed to production. There is no fixed release schedule at this point, although on average a new release goes out every 1-2 weeks. These releases typically do not coincide with any other Blackboard products.

The only exception to the continuous release approach is when a significantly user-facing change is coming up. In this case, we provide 1 month’s notice before making it available in production.

With this continuous release cadence, it is not possible to get access to an early version of a release on a test/staging environment.


Accessibility checklist

What content does Ally check?

Ally currently checks these file formats:

  • Web pages/HTML content
  • Images
  • PDF files
  • Microsoft® Word files
  • Microsoft® Powerpoint® files
  • OpenOffice/LibreOffice files
  • Uploaded HTML files
  • Embedded YouTube™ videos

What accessibility issues does Ally check for?

Ally’s accessibility checklist is based on WCAG 2.1 AA (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines). This is an international accessibility standard, and most of the legislation and legal requirements worldwide align with this standard.

Additionally, Ally also adds a number of additional checks on top of this that start to target the usability and quality of the web content a bit more.

What does Ally do with content it can’t check?

Ally includes content it can’t check for accessibility issues, such as ZIP archive and XML file, under “Other” in the accessibility report. This content does not receive an accessibility score and does not contribute to the institution’s accessibility score. 

More on the institution report for admins

What is a contrast check?

Contrast checks verify whether there is sufficient contrast between the text color and its background color. Text with poor contrast can be difficult to read for everyone, but especially for students with visual impairments such as color blindness.

Ally uses the contrast requirements specified as part of the WCAG 2.1 AA guidelines

Use the Colour Contrast Analyser from The Paciello Group any time to check your content.

Where do I find the Ally accessibility checklist?

More on the accessibility checklist

Instructor and Editor FAQs for Ally

Alternative Format FAQs

Alternative formats

What alternative formats does Ally generate?

What alternative formats does Ally generate?

Ally provides alternative formats for these file types:

  • PDF files
  • Microsoft® Word files
  • Microsoft® Powerpoint® files
  • OpenOffice/LibreOffice files
  • Uploaded HTML files

These alternative formats can be generated:

  • OCR’d version (for scanned documents)
  • Tagged PDF (currently for Word, Powerpoint and OpenOffice/LibreOffice files)
  • Mobile-friendly HTML
  • Audio
  • ePub
  • Electronic Braille
  • Translated Version
    • Translated Version is disabled by default. Administrators can submit a support case to have it enabled.
  • BeeLine Reader

    We are currently running a pilot of the BeeLine Reader version. The pilot will run for the next few months and will be used to collect feedback about how to best integrate this capability into Blackboard Ally going forward To apply for this pilot, please fill out the BeeLine Reader Alternative Format Pilot request form.

More on alternative formats

Are alternate formats generated when a request to download is made?

When a particular alternative format for a particular content item is requested for the first time, Ally generates this on demand. In most cases, this completes within 1-2 minutes.

As soon as it has been generated, the alternative format is downloaded. Ally then also caches the result, so any additional requests for the same alternative format can be served and downloaded from cache immediately.

Does Ally generate alternative formats for student content?

Ally currently only processes instructional content. For example, content added by someone with edit permissions in the course, such as the instructor or instructional designer. Ally currently does not process student content or student submissions.

What format is the OCR’d alternative format?

The OCR’d version is made available as a tagged PDF.

What format is the Audio alternative format?

The audio alternative format is made available as a downloadable MP3 file. We also add some of the extracted semantic information into the speech, which adds additional structure to the audio and makes it easier to follow.

Which Braille code does Ally use for the Electronic Braille Format?

Ally uses Braille Ready File (.brf) as the electronic Braille format. The braille code used depends on the language the document is in. For English documents, Ally uses Grade 2 Unified English Braille (contracted).

More on Unified English Braille on the UKAAF website

Can the Ally Electronic Braille Format be printed using a Braille printer?

The Braille Ready File (.brf) format can be used for both electronic braille displays and braille embossers (printers).

You still need to check whether a specific Braille embosser/printer supports the .brf format.

More on BRF on the Accessible Instructional Materials website

Why do I see "The alternative formats for this file have been disabled"?

Instructor and administrators can turn off alternative formats for an individual content item within a course. For example, on a file uploaded to the course.

What does the instructor need to do to generate alternative accessible formats for a content item?

Nothing. Ally automatically picks up on any existing or new materials, runs it through the accessibility checklist, and makes the alternative accessible versions available to both the student and the instructor.

Is there a file size limit?

No, there is no file size limit. There may be cases where the algorithm fails to generate alternative accessible formats for certain large files, but Ally doesn’t enforce a maximum file size.

How does Ally handle password protected content?

Ally detects password-protected content, gives them a 0% accessibility score and provides guidance to help remove the password through the instructor feedback. Ally does not generate any alternative formats for password protected content, as we can’t get access to the actual content.

Can I disable alternative formats?

Not at this time.