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Ally 1.51 | Release to production 6 November 2020

New features, Updated features

WYSIWYG Alternative Formats for Ultra documents

Ally alternative formats are now also available for Ultra documents for instructors and students within the Ultra Course View. This follows the release of WYSIWYG alternative formats for Blackboard Learn Original and Instructure Canvas as part of the Ally 1.48 release, and D2L Brightspace as part of the Ally 1.49 release.

Ally Alternative Formats for Attachments in the Blackboard App

As part of the Blackboard App 5.8 release, students can now view and download alternative formats for attachments in content items in Original courses to further expand on the current Ally capabilities in the mobile app.


Ally 1.49.2 | Release to production 29 September 2020

Updated features, Blackboard Learn integration

Ally 1.49.2 bug fixes and improvements

  • Implemented improvements to Ally’s alternative formats to support PDFs /ActualText property for referenced marked content.

    This is in addition to already supported /ActualText properties of tags.

  • Fixed a bug where Ally’s Alternative format indicator was not appearing for students on certain items with a description in Learning Modules within Blackboard Learn.
  • Fixed a bug where in some cases French letters with accents were not converted properly in the ePub, Audio file and BeeLine alternative formats.

Ally 1.49 | Release to production 6 September 2020

New features, Updated features, Blackboard Learn Original, Instructure Canvas, Moodle, D2L Brightspace

Departmental reporting

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.

Read the press release

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

New features, Updated features, Blackboard Learn Original, Instructure Canvas

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

Updated features

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 1.43 | Release to production 6 May 2020

New features, Blackboard Learn integration

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.

This integration requires the latest version (version 5.3) of the Blackboard App on iOS and Android.

More on Ally in the Blackboard app


Ally 1.39 | Release to production 19 February 2020

Updated features, Blackboard Learn

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.