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Ally 1.29.2 | Release to production 5 May 2019

New Features, Updated Features

Institutional report CSV export

An additional column has been added to the `courses.csv` institutional report CSV export that shows the date and time at which each course was last synchronized. This should correspond roughly with the last event Ally received for that course.

The CSV export for an individual course now also contains an additional column that shows when each content item in that course was checked for accessibility issues by Ally.

Web Community Manager institutional report

The section URL has been added to the list of available sections and the report for an individual section in the institutional report for the Web Community Manager integration.

Blackboard Ally for Websites accessibility report

The “By Month” view is now the default view when accessing the Blackboard Ally for Websites accessibility report.

Ally 1.29.2 bug fixes and improvements

  • Fixed a bug in the Spanish Audio alternative format that caused certain characters to be pronounced incorrectly.
  • Implemented several improvements to the instructor feedback flow for malformed documents.
  • Improved the French translation of the institutional report.
  • Fixed a bug in the processing of OLE2 Word documents without a defined `styledescription`.
  • Improved the synchronization of Moodle courses when unable to process an individual content item in that course.
Updated Features, New Features, Web Community Manager Integration, Web Integration

Ally 1.29.1 | Release to production 16 April 2019

Bug Fixes, Minor Enhancements

  • Fixed a bug that prevented the ePub alternative format from generating correctly for HTML files using UTF-16 LE encoding.
  • Implemented several stability improvements in the Ally for Websites crawler.
  • Ally accessibility indicators are now easier to click on mobile devices.
  • Improved the HTML alternative format to beautify the HTML code output, like line breaks and indentation, making it easier to manually alter the generated alternative format. 
Bug Fixes, Minor Enhancements

Ally 1.29 | Release to production 11 April 2019

New Features, Updated Features

PowerPoint alternative formats

The alternative formats for PowerPoint documents have been improved significantly, especially benefiting the responsive HTML, ePub, Audio and Tagged PDF alternative formats. A number of improvements have been implemented, making the alternative formats for PowerPoint files cleaner and higher quality:

  • Background and slide template images are no longer included in the alternative formats
  • Improved handling of lists and sub-lists
  • Improved handling and extraction of images
  • Fixed a bug where the alternative description for an image wouldn’t always move over to the alternative formats

Course synchronization

A full course resynchronization will now be run automatically every week for each Ally integration. This provides the following benefits:

  • Automatically remove deleted courses from the Ally Configuration UI and Ally Institutional Report
  • Automatically update term associations for courses
  • Automatically update other course metadata, such as the course name, number of enrollments, etc.
  • Automatically include courses without content in the Ally Configuration UI

Ally 1.29 bug fixes and improvements

  • Improved the accessibility check that checks for text in an image and whether that text has a contrast issue
  • Implemented several wording improvements to the instructor feedback guidance
  • Implemented several localization improvements in the Ally institutional report (display of percentages, numbers, etc.)
  • Improved the handling of unsupported file types when uploading a new version through the instructor feedback
Updated Features, New Features

Ally 1.28 | Release to production 6 April 2019

New Features, Updated Features

Ally for Websites scoring

The Ally for Websites accessibility scoring in the institutional report has been reworked significantly to include all pages and content that’s available at a particular point in time. While the Ally for LMS By Month and By Academic Year reporting is based on the content that was added / updated during that month / year, the Ally for Websites By Month and By Year scoring is based on all content that was available during that month / year.

This provides an overall accessibility score across the entire website, making it very easy to identify how a website is currently performing. This is in line with accessibility regulations that require all website content to be accessible, and is slightly different than the Ally for LMS integration that contains lots of “unused” content from previous terms / years.

This means that the starting point for an Ally for Websites accessibility report will always be the current month and year (based on everything available on the website during the initial scan), with additional months and years added to the report as time goes by. This provides an exact measure of how the accessibility score across the entire website is evolving over time and makes it easier to identify when significant regressions were introduced and/or significant improvements were made.

More on the Ally for websites report

New Features, Updated Features, Web Integration, Web Community Manager Integration

Ally 1.27.3 | Release to production 20 March 2019

Updated Features, Blackboard Learn Integration

Ally 1.27.3 bug fixes and improvements

  • When copying a course, content items for which the alternative formats were disabled in the original course will remain disabled in the copied course.
  • Implemented several improvements to the Ally for Websites crawler to better detect when a page has changed.
  • Fixed a bug that prevented certain Microsoft Word Online exports from being processed correctly.
  • Fixed a bug where sub-lists would not be included in the alternative formats for certain PowerPoint PDF exports.
  • Improved the Canvas integration to also show the alternative formats for content linked through a MathML formula.
  • Implemented several improvements for the processing of large content items.
Updated Features

Ally 1.27.2 | Release to production 14 March 2019

Updated Features, Blackboard Learn Integration

Ally 1.27.2 bug fixes and improvements

  • Fixed a bug in the Blackboard Learn integration that caused a small number of courses with files to be listed in the CSV export as not having files.
Updated Features, Blackboard Learn Integration

Ally 1.27.1 | Release to production 10 March 2019

Updated Features

Ally 1.27.1 bug fixes and improvements

  • Introduced a more descriptive name for the currently selected accessibility issue in the help request emails.
  • Improved performance of the YouTube video caption accessibility check.
Updated Features

Ally 1.27 | Release to production 1 March 2019

New Features, Updated Features, Moodle Integration

Additional Moodle content types

Ally 1.27 introduces the ability to check a number of additional Moodle WYSIWYG content types for accessibility issues, and includes these results in the institutional report.

Support for the following Moodle WYSIWYG content types has been added:

  • Book
  • Book chapter
  • Lesson
  • Lesson page
  • Page content
  • Page introduction
  • Syllabus

This functionality is available for all institutions using Blackboard OpenLMS or self-hosted Moodle institutions using Moodle 3.5 or above and the latest version of the Ally Moodle plugins

https://github.com/blackboard-open-source/moodle-tool_ally

https://github.com/blackboard-open-source/moodle-filter_ally

https://github.com/blackboard-open-source/moodle-report_allylti

Configuration UI in Moodle

The Ally Configuration UI can now be accessed directly through the Moodle administrator interface. The Configuration UI is available through Site administration > Plugins > Admin Tools > Ally configuration.

This feature also requires the latest versions of the Ally Moodle plugins.

Ally 1.27 bug fixes and improvements

  • Added a “Url” column to the course CSV export in the Blackboard Learn and Canvas integrations that contains the download/access URL for each content item.
  • Added a “Url” column to the domains CSV export in the Ally for Websites integration that contains the download/access URL for each web page and content item.
  • Fixed a bug that caused the “Send” button to show in the alternative format “Help” screen when the help request feature was disabled.
  • Fixed a bug in the Learn integration that prevented courses containing content items with blank titles from synchronizing correctly.
  • Implemented several improvements to the list recognition algorithm used for the alternative formats.
  • The Ally for Websites crawler has been extended to make the maximum crawl depth configurable at the institutional level.
  • Improved the Canvas integration to show the alternative formats for links containing a “span” tag.
Blackboard Open LMS Integration, Moodle Integration, New Features, Updated Features

Ally 1.26.1 | Release to production 20 February 2019

Updated Features

Ally 1.26.1 bug fixes and improvements

  • Fixed a bug in the Canvas integration that prevented pasting text into the WYSIWYG editor in certain scenarios.
  • Implemented several accessibility improvements in the Translated Version alternative format dropdown.
  • Implemented several icon improvements in the Instructor Feedback.
  • Fixed a bug in the Web Community Manager integration where uploading a file with the same name through the Ally feedback component would result in an error.
  • Fixed a bug in the Blackboard Learn Q2 2017 release that caused accessibility indicators to be pushed to the bottom of discussion forums.
Updated Features

Ally 1.26 | Release to production 14 February 2019

New Features, Updated Features

Request help

As a follow-up from the configurable help content introduced in Ally 1.23, it is now possible to allow students and instructors to request help from the Ally alternative formats modal and the instructor feedback panel. With this feature, we’re intending to provide an easy bridge between Ally and resources/processes available at the institution already, as well as allowing Ally to be connected to a helpdesk system.

An email address for alternative format help requests can be configured in the Ally Configuration UI. When alternative format help is requested, an email containing the help request and details about the current course, content item and user will be sent to this address. Similarly, an email address can be configured for instructor feedback help requests through the Configuration UI.

The Ally API user for the Blackboard Learn integration needs to be given the "Administrator Panel (Users) > Users" or "system.user.view" permission to allow Ally to include the student name and email address in the help request email. The Ally API user for the Moodle integration needs to be given the “moodle/user:viewalldetails” permission to allow Ally to include the student name and email address in the help request email.

More on configuring Ally help settings

Institutional report improvements

Ally 1.26 introduces several institutional report usability improvements:

  • The comparison with the previous term/month/academic year in “Total courses”, “Total content created” and “Overall accessibility score” has been made clearer.
  • The total number of items with an issue in the “Accessibility issues” list has been made clearer.
  • “Document” has been renamed to “Word document” in the “Total content created” chart.

Ally 1.26 bug fixes and improvements

  • Fixed a bug that caused the highlights for tables without headings to show on the incorrect page in the content preview.
  • Implemented visual improvements for downloading the original file in the Instructor Feedback.
  • The accessibility issue type is now tracked as part of the usage data when clicking the accessibility indicator.
  • Implemented several accessibility improvements in the Instructor Feedback.
  • The accessibility indicator can no longer be copied and pasted into the WYSIWYG editor in the Blackboard Learn and Canvas integrations.
  • Fixed a bug in the Blackboard Learn integration that caused the accessibility indicator for a link to overlap with the preceding text in certain cases.
  • Fixed a bug in the Canvas integration that prevented embedded images from being processed when copying a page from a different course.
  • Fixed a bug that caused the CSV export for a courses with special characters in the course name to fail.
New Features, Updated Features

Ally 1.25 | Release to production 4 February 2019

New Features, Updated Features, WCM Integration, Blackboard Learn Integration

Alternative Formats for Web Community Manager

The Ally Alternative Formats are now available for the Web Community Manager integration. Documents embedded in Web Community Manager will show an Alternative Formats icon, giving access to the following Alternative Formats for anyone visiting the website:

  • OCR’d version (for scanned documents)
  • Tagged PDF (for Word, Powerpoint and OpenOffice/LibreOffice files)
  • Mobile-friendly HTML
  • Audio
  • ePub
  • Electronic Braille
  • Translated Version

This should now be available for all Web Community Manager schools that have Ally integrated.

Content Feedback for Web Community Manager

The Ally content creator feedback is now also available for the Web Community Manager integration. When accessing the Ally accessibility report for a site or section, the accessibility indicator for individual content items can be clicked to launch the Ally feedback. This also includes the “Preview” functionality that was made available as part of the Ally 1.24 release. Fixes can be provided directly through the Ally feedback and will be posted back into Web Community Manager.

This should now be available for all Web Community Manager schools that have Ally integrated.

Ally 1.25 bug fixes and improvements

  • Fixed a bug in the Blackboard Learn integration that would occasionally cause the Alternative Formats dropdown to not be visible to students.
New Features, Updated Features, Web Community Manager Integration, Blackboard Learn Integration

Ally 1.24 | Release to production 28 January 2019

New Features, Updated Features

Previews and highlights

The instructor feedback will now show in-browser previews for PDFs, Word documents and PowerPoint documents. These previews are then used to identify where in the document specific accessibility issues can be found. Highlights are currently provided for these items:

  • Images without an appropriate alternative description
  • Text fragments with insufficient contrast
  • Tables without table headings

The instructor feedback for other accessibility issues will just show the content preview without highlights.

This feature should make it significantly easier to identify issues in a document, and should help cut down remediation time dramatically.

Missing text description

Text contrast

Scanned PDF

Ally 1.24 bug fixes and improvements

  • Fixed a bug in the Ally for Websites integration that caused the CSV export for an individual (sub)domain to fail.
  • Hidden heading tags are now excluded from HTML accessibility checks.
  • Fixed a bug that caused headings to not be identified correctly in certain Word documents exported from Google Docs.
  • Fixed a bug that caused the language to be misidentified for Word documents that only contain tables.
  • Fixed a bug that caused a small number of “.docx” documents to be identified as “Malformed”.
  • Fixed an encoding issue that prevented certain HTML files exported from Word from being processed correctly.
New Features, Updated Features, Web Community Manager Integration, Web Integration

Ally 1.23.6 | Release to production 22 January 2019

Updated Features, Web Integration, WCM Integration

Audio alternative format

The audio alternative format is now also available in Polish, Catalan, American Spanish, Mexican Spanish and Colombian Spanish.

Institutional report CSV export

The “courses.csv” file in the institutional report CSV export now includes an additional column for the Course URL, containing a direct link to each course.

The CSV export for the Ally for Web Community Manager integration now also contains a Section URL column, and the CSV export for the Ally for Websites integration includes a Domain URL column.

Ally 1.23.6 bug fixes and improvements

  • Fixed a bug that prevented launching the instructor feedback from the institutional report for courses that don’t have Ally enabled in the Configuration UI.
  • Original files downloaded from the instructor feedback will now use the original file name.
  • Implemented several accessibility improvements in the Configuration UI.
Updated Features, Web Community Manager Integration, Web Integration

Ally 1.23.5 | Release to production 5 January 2019

Updated Features

Institutional report term ordering

The ordering of terms in the Ally for LMS institutional report has been updated to sort terms that don’t have a configured start date by ascending term id. Terms with a configured start date still sort by that start date.

Bug fixes and improvements

  • Implemented several improvements in the detection of characters with contrast issues in PDFs.
  • Reduced the amount of space taken up by the accessibility indicator for images in the Moodle integration.
  • The default Portuguese accent for the audio alternative format has been set to Brazilian Portuguese for institutions hosted from North America.
  • Fixed a bug that could cause the total items with a particular accessibility issue to be slightly off in the institutional report for the WCM integration.
Updated Features, Moodle Integration, Web Community Manager Integration, Web Integration

Ally 1.23.4 | Release to production 11 December 2018

New Features, Updated Features

Learn Ultra image descriptions

The Learn Ultra integration update automatically applies alternative descriptions for images set directly through the LMS as an alternative description for other uses of the image in the course. The automated process is reflected accordingly in the institutional report and applies automatically to all new images and all new and updated WYSIWYG content.

Bug fixes and improvements

  • Fixed an issue to make the Help link in the alternative formats available for the Ally for WCM integration.
New Features, Updated Features, Canvas Integration, Blackboard Learn Integration

Ally 1.23.3 | Release to production 4 December 2018

New Features, Updated Features

Instructor Help

Following the introduction of configurable help content for the alternative formats modal in Ally 1.23, Ally 1.23.3 brings the ability to configure custom help messaging for the Ally instructor feedback. This provides institutions an opportunity to point instructors to additional institutional documentation, contact information, and so on. The custom instructor help content can be configured through the Ally Configuration UI, and is available throughout the instructor feedback experience.

Instructor experience

Canvas administrators

Following the User Group poll, the Canvas administrator behavior has been made configurable. By default, administrators will only be able to see Ally in courses that have Ally enabled in the configuration UI. However, there is also an option to opt in to administrators being able to see Ally in all courses they can manage, regardless of their setting in the configuration UI (i.e., previous Canvas administrator behavior).

Please create a Behind The Blackboard support ticket if you want to opt into the ability for Canvas administrators to always see Ally in all courses. Institutions that indicated in the poll that they rely on this feature have already been enabled.

Institutional report and Configuration UI performance

Ally 1.23.3 introduces an underlying technology change that significantly speeds up the listing and searching for courses in the institutional report and configuration UI. This is also an important step toward allowing more complex querying and sorting in the institutional report going forward.

Ally 1.23.3 bug fixes and improvements

  • Show the correct title in the institutional report for WYSIWYG content in the Learn Ultra integration.
  • Improved the recognition of the primary content language for PDF, Word and Powerpoint documents.
New Features, Updated Features, Canvas Integration, Blackboard Learn Integration

Ally 1.23.2 | Release to production 28 November 2018

Updated Features

Bug fixes and improvements

  • Fixed a bug that caused the Audio alternative format to be generated in an incorrect language for certain non-English languages.
  • Correctly change back to the first page of results when searching for courses in the Configuration UI.
Updated Features

Ally 1.23.1 | Release to production 23 November 2018

Updated Features

Bug fixes and improvements

  • Fixed a bug that prevented downloading of files from the institutional report when launched through the direct access URL.
  • Fixed a bug in the Canvas integration that would cause some sub-account admins to see the accessibility indicators in courses they can't manage.
  • Fixed a bug that prevented alternative formats generating correctly for tagged PDFs containing empty or invalid tags.
  • Fixed a bug in the Learn Ultra integration that prevented library references provided through the instructor feedback from displaying in the alternative formats modal.
  • Improved the accessibility of the dropdown button in the Canvas integration by announcing it as “Actions”.
  • Added an indication that the instructor feedback will open in a new window when launching it from the institutional report.
Updated Features

Ally 1.23 | Release to production 14 November 2018

New Features, Updated Features

Student Help

Ally 1.23 introduces the ability to configure a custom student help message that will be displayed in the Alternative Formats modal. This custom help message can be used to point students to existing institutional documentation, share contact information, and so on. The custom help content can be configured in the Ally Configuration UI, and uses the Markdown format to help provide a structured (and accessible) message.

When no custom message has been configured, the Help link points to a default Ally documentation page that explains how and when the different alternative formats can be used.

This is the first of several help features. Upcoming releases will include the ability to configure custom help content for instructors and the ability for students and instructors to reach out for help from Ally.

Student experience

Ally 1.23 bug fixes and improvements

  • The course enrollment number displayed in the institutional report no longer includes disabled enrollments for Blackboard Learn institutions.
  • Implemented several improvements to the language detection for Microsoft Office documents.
  • Fixed a bug that would cause the Please enter an image description error message to flash when marking an image as decorative in the instructor feedback.
  • Fixed a bug in the Canvas integration that would prevent the window from growing sufficiently when opening the content preview.
New Features, Updated Features, Blackboard Learn Integration, Canvas Integration

Ally 1.22.1 | Release to production 6 November 2018

Updated Features

Bug fixes and improvements

  • Fixed a bug that prevented a language from being selected for the Translated Version alternative format in certain browsers.
Updated Features

Ally 1.22 | Release to production 5 November 2018

New Features, Updated Features

Ally for Blackboard Learn Ultra

Ally is now available for Blackboard Learn courses using the Ultra experience. While content from Learn Ultra courses was already present in the institutional report, it is now possible to download alternative formats and receive instructor feedback for content within Ultra courses.

Note that this is Milestone 1 of the Ally integration for Learn Ultra, and this will be followed by additional functionality such as the ability to see accessibility indicators in the “Course Outline” and alternative formats in additional areas.

Ally 1.22 accessibility improvements

A range of additional accessibility improvements have been introduced:

  • Ensure that keyboard focus is set to the previously selected element when closing the Alternative Formats modal.
  • Fixed several contrast issues in the Alternative Formats modal.
  • Improvements to preventing background from receiving keyboard focus when opening the Alternative Formats modal.

Ally 1.22 bug fixes and improvements

  • Allow for a library reference to be submitted without a URL in the instructor feedback for scanned and untagged PDFs.
  • Fixed an image that didn’t load correctly in the “How to write a good description” documentation for images.
  • Improvements to the recognition of scanned documents that have been OCRd.
New Features, Updated Features, Blackboard Learn Integration

Ally 1.21 | Release to production 22 October 2018

New Features, Updated Features

Instructor feedback in institutional report

It is now possible to access the instructor feedback and fix accessibility issues directly from the institutional report. Administrators, disability services, and instructional designers can now improve content items from a single place. This is also foundational work for the upcoming instructor-facing course report.

Go to the institutional report in your LMS. From the Accessibility issues table, find a specific content item in a course with an accessibility issue. Select the content item's accessibility score indicator to open the feedback panel.

More on the accessibility score and instructor feedback panel

This feature is disabled by default. Submit a request on Behind The Blackboard to have it turned on.

This feature is only available when accessing the institutional report from the LMS and not when using the direct access URL.

Image descriptions

The Blackboard Learn and Canvas integrations have been updated to pick up on alternative descriptions for images set directly through the LMS (i.e,. WYSIWYG editor) and automatically apply these as a fallback alternative description for other uses of the image in the course (e.g., Content Collection, Files Tool). This will also be reflected accordingly in the institutional report.

This functionality will be applied automatically to all new images and all new/updated WYSIWYG content.

This functionality will also be introduced for the Moodle and Blackboard Open LMS integrations in a future Ally release, which will also require an upgrade to the Ally Moodle plugin.

Image description instructor feedback

Based on usability testing feedback, “alternative description” has been renamed to “image description” in the instructor feedback to help instructors better understand the purpose of the description.

At the same, an additional panel has been added to the “How to write a good description" guidance on what to avoid when writing an image description.

Ally 1.21 accessibility improvements

Building on the accessibility improvements that were introduced in Ally 1.20.1, this release contains a number of additional accessibility improvements:

  • Improved keyboard accessibility for the carousel component in the instructor feedback, allowing for a content panel to receive focus by pressing the space bar.
  • Improved keyboard focus when navigating to the next page of instructions in the instructor feedback.
  • Improved screen reader accessibility for optional form fields when entering a library reference for a scanned or untagged PDF.
New Features, Updated Features, Canvas Integration, Blackboard Learn Integration

Ally 1.20.1 | Release to production 17 October 2018

New Features, Updated Features

Accessibility improvements

As part of a full independent Ally accessibility audit and in anticipation of an updated Ally VPAT, a range of accessibility improvements have been introduced:

  • Screen reader accessibility of the validation messages when providing an alternative description for image has been improved.
  • Screen reader accessibility of the “Translated Version” alternative format option in the alternative formats modal has been improved.
  • Improved initial keyboard focus when opening the alternative formats modal.
  • Improved the contrast ratio for input field placeholder messages.

Ally 1.20.1 Big fixes and improvements

  • Fixed a bug in the institutional report CSV export that caused values to show under the incorrect columns.
  • Fixed a bug that caused printing instructor feedback instruction to result in an empty page in Chrome.
  • Improved handling of content items that are reported by the LMS as being created in the future.
Updated Features

Ally integration available for the Ultra Course View

Blackboard Learn SaaS Continuous Delivery v3500.3.0 | Release to Production 1 November 2018
Ultra Course View

Starting with this release, Blackboard Ally integrates with the Ultra Course View. Ally provides detailed accessibility reports for content uploaded to Blackboard Learn. The integration is available to institutions who license Ally. 

In the Ultra Course View, instructors have access to Ally’s accessibility scores and feedback, including tutorials on how to make common file types more accessible to learners of all abilities. Students can view and download course content in alternative accessible formats. 

In a future release, we’ll show the file’s accessibility score on the Course Content page so instructors can quickly prioritize items to edit. 

Get started with Blackboard Ally

Course View: Ultra

Ally 1.20 | Release to production 11 October 2018

New Features, Updated Features

Contrast issues guidance

A full new Instructor Feedback guidance flow has been added for documents (PDFs, Word and Powerpoint) that contain text with insufficient contrast. This contains documentation on why this is important, different types of contrast issues and step-by-step guidance on how text with insufficient contrast can be fixed.

Microsoft® Office 2013 and 365 guidance

The Instructor Feedback guidance has been expanded in several areas to also include documentation for Microsoft Office 2013 and Microsoft Office 365.

Images Without Alternative Descriptions guidance

As part of the Ally 1.19 release, the Ally accessibility checklist was updated to support the new ways in which alternative descriptions for images can be provided in Office 365, as well as how images can be marked as decorative.

Ally 1.20 contains fully updated Instructor Feedback guidance to reflect these Office 365 improvements.

Institutional Report CSV export

The institutional report CSV export functionality has been improved to only include columns for the content types that are relevant for the current Learning Management System or Content Management System.

Ally 1.20 Big fixes and improvements

  • Improved how links are announced in the Audio alternative format.
  • Fixed a bug that caused the incorrect course score to show in the “Courses” list in the institutional report. The actual course report already always showed the correct course score.
  • Fixed a bug that prevented tagged PDFs with multiple root “Document” tags from generating correct alternative formats.
  • Improved the stability of the accessibility check that verifies whether embedded YouTubeTM videos have been captioned.
New Features, Updated Features

Ally 1.19.4 | Release to production 25 September 2018

Updated Features

Big fixes and improvements

  • Improved the Ally for WCM and Ally for Web integrations to always use a consistent viewport width when checking HTML pages for accessibility issues.
  • Further improved the wording of the Terms of Use for the alternative formats.
  • Introduced stability improvements to the YouTube caption accessibility check.
Updated Features, Web Community Manager Integration, Web Integration

Ally 1.19.3 | Release to production 9 September, 2018

Blackboard Learn Integration, Updated features

Bug fixes and improvements

  • Fixed a bug in the Blackboard Learn integration that would cause the accessibility indicators for attachments in a Learn Content Item to not be properly aligned on all Learn skins
Updated Features, Blackboard Learn Integration

A special note from Product Management

Ally 1.19.2 | Release to Production 6 September, 2018

We are developing our teaching and learning products toward the greater good of a holistic, next generation digital learning environment through the lens of three critical, unifying product themes: academic effectiveness, learner engagement, and education insight. By focusing on these themes, we will unify the development of our products to empower excellence in teaching and learning, inspire genuine interest, attention, and interaction in the learning process, and enable continuous improvement through accurate and deep understanding of the teaching and learning process.

In the Ally 1.19.2 release, we focused our development and design on academic effectiveness and learner engagement. You’ll see below that we’ve also aligned our feature list into groups based on value and benefit to you and your users.

Universal design

  • Deleted courses
Updated Features

Ally 1.19.2 | Release to production 6 September, 2018

Updated features

Deleted courses

Ally now picks up on deleted courses and reflects these accordingly in the institutional report. This results in the following functionality:

  • Deleted courses will no longer show in the By Term report and will no longer contribute to the term’s accessibility score. Deleted courses will also no longer show in the Courses tab and the Ally Configuration UI.
  • Deleted courses will still be included in the By Month and By Academic Year reports for historical reporting purposes. However, they will be marked as Deleted when viewing the list of courses with an issue in a specific month/year.

There will be a delay between deleting a course and Ally picking up on this. However, the deleted courses should eventually be reflected correctly in the institutional report.

Bug fixes and improvements

  • Fixed a bug that would cause certain alternative formats to not have the correct spaces between words.
  • Fixed a bug where a tagged PDF containing an empty document tag would not be recognized as a tagged PDF.
Updated Features

A special note from Product Management

Continuous Delivery v1.19.1 | Release to Production 31 August, 2018

We are developing our teaching and learning products toward the greater good of a holistic, next generation digital learning environment through the lens of three critical, unifying product themes: academic effectiveness, learner engagement, and education insight. By focusing on these themes, we will unify the development of our products to empower excellence in teaching and learning, inspire genuine interest, attention, and interaction in the learning process, and enable continuous improvement through accurate and deep understanding of the teaching and learning process.

In the Ally 1.19.1 release, we focused our development and design on academic effectiveness and learner engagement. You’ll see below that we’ve also aligned our feature list into groups based on value and benefit to you and your users.

Universal design

  • Alternative format on mobile devices
  • Institutional Report Overview
Updated Features

Ally 1.19.1 | Release to production 31 August, 2018

Updated features

Alternative format on mobile devices

The HTML alternative format is now fully responsive, which greatly improves the readability and usability on mobile devices. The HTML and ePub alternative formats have also been styled (font, heading styling, table styling, etc.) to improve readability even further.

Institutional Report Overview

Several improvements have been introduced in the Overview page of the institutional report. Institutions that don’t take advantage of the LMS terms functionality now automatically see the By Academic Year view, rather than first seeing the empty By Term view.

For institutions that do take advantage of the LMS terms functionality, terms that don’t have any associated courses or content are now hidden from the institutional report. This cleans up the report significantly, and makes the overview chart much more readable.

Bug fixes and improvements

  • Fixed a bug that prevented the audio alternative format from playing on mobile devices for institutions hosted in the Frankfurt, Singapore or Sydney data centers.
Updated Features

A special note from Product Management

Continuous Delivery v1.19 | Release to Production 28 August, 2018

We are developing our teaching and learning products toward the greater good of a holistic, next generation digital learning environment through the lens of three critical, unifying product themes: academic effectiveness, learner engagement, and education insight. By focusing on these themes, we will unify the development of our products to empower excellence in teaching and learning, inspire genuine interest, attention, and interaction in the learning process, and enable continuous improvement through accurate and deep understanding of the teaching and learning process.

In the Ally 1.19 release, we focused our development and design on academic effectiveness and learner engagement. You’ll see below that we’ve also aligned our feature list into groups based on value and benefit to you and your users.

Universal design

  • Alternative formats update
  • Microsoft® Office update
  • Institutional Report update
New Features, Updated Features

Ally 1.19 | Release to production 28 August, 2018

New features, Updated features

Disable alternative formats

It is now possible for an instructor or administrator to disable the alternative formats for an individual content item within a course. This provides full flexibility over which content items should have alternative formats, and can be especially useful for content items that don’t have a license that allows the creation of alternative formats.

Students now also have to agree to the Terms of Use for the alternative formats before being able to download them.

Microsoft Office updates

Microsoft® Office recently introduced new functionality that simplifies how an alternative description for an image can be provided and allows for an image to be marked as decorative. Ally is fully compatible with this new functionality, and now also recognizes images that have been marked as decorative.

Institutional Report improvements

The historical “By Academic Year” and “By Month” views in the institutional report will now show whether an issue detected by Ally has since been fixed.

Bug fixes and improvements

  • Several irrelevant columns have been removed from the Ally for Websites CSV export.
  • Fixed a bug where an ePub alternative format may not load correctly because of special characters in the content.
  • Improved encoding detection for HTML content.
  • Fixed a bug in the Canvas integration where an instructor would not be able to upload an improved version of a content item through the Instructor Feedback because of a change in the Canvas API.
  • Fixed a bug where Ally would incorrectly pick up on invisible artifacts such as EMF, PICT and WMF files in Microsoft Office documents.
Updated Features, New Features

A special note from Product Management

Continuous Delivery v1.18 | Release to Production 22 August, 2018

We are developing our teaching and learning products toward the greater good of a holistic, next generation digital learning environment through the lens of three critical, unifying product themes: academic effectiveness, learner engagement, and education insight. By focusing on these themes, we will unify the development of our products to empower excellence in teaching and learning, inspire genuine interest, attention, and interaction in the learning process, and enable continuous improvement through accurate and deep understanding of the teaching and learning process.

In the Ally 1.18 release, we focused our development and design on academic effectiveness and learner engagement. You’ll see below that we’ve also aligned our feature list into groups based on value and benefit to you and your users.

Universal design

  • Moodle WYSIWYG content reporting
  • Audio alternative format update
  • Institutional Report updates
New Features, Updated Features, Moodle Integration, Blackboard Open LMS Integration

Ally 1.18 | Release to production 22 August, 2018

New features, Moodle Integration, Updated features

Moodle WYSIWYG content reporting

Ally 1.18 introduces the ability to check content created in the Moodle WYSIWYG editor for accessibility issues, and includes these results in the institutional report.

These Moodle WYSIWYG content types are currently supported:

  • Course summary
  • Section
  • Label
  • Forum description
  • Forum post (first in thread)
  • Glossary description
  • Glossary entry
  • Assignment

This functionality is available for all institutions using Blackboard Open LMS or self-hosted Moodle institutions using version 3.4.3 of the Ally Moodle plugin. WYSIWYG content reporting will automatically be enabled for institutions on these supported versions, and any courses with new activity should show the WYSIWYG content results in the institutional report.

Going forward, institutions upgrading the Moodle Ally plugin should create a support ticket to request that this functionality is enabled.

Audio Alternative format

In the audio alternative format, images without an alternative description that follow each other are grouped in a single “x images without an alternative format” to help remove some redundancy from the generated audio.

Institutional Report updates

Improvements made through the Ally Instructor Feedback are now reflected immediately in that course’s report within the Institutional Report. This removes the 15 minute delay that was previously present.

Bug fixes and improvements

  • Introduced several improvements to the contrast checking algorithm, especially in cases where individual punctuation marks were incorrectly generating contrast issues.
  • Fixed a bug that prevented Ally from successfully checking HTML files with older encoding (e.g., CP1252 instead of UTF-8) for accessibility issues.
  • Improved the Instructor Feedback to always provide an upload option, including when guidance is not yet available.
  • Fixed a bug that prevented the successful creation of the Electronic Braille Alternative Format for Croatian documents.
  • Fixed a bug in the Ally for Websites integration that removes the number of web pages from the reported number of files/attachments.
New Features, Blackboard Open LMS Integration, Moodle Integration

A special note from Product Management

Continuous Delivery v1.17 | Release to Production 2 August, 2018

We are developing our teaching and learning products toward the greater good of a holistic, next generation digital learning environment through the lens of three critical, unifying product themes: academic effectiveness, learner engagement, and education insight. By focusing on these themes, we will unify the development of our products to empower excellence in teaching and learning, inspire genuine interest, attention, and interaction in the learning process, and enable continuous improvement through accurate and deep understanding of the teaching and learning process.

In the Ally 1.17 release, we focused our development and design on academic effectiveness and learner engagement. You’ll see below that we’ve also aligned our feature list into groups based on value and benefit to you and your users.

Universal design

  • Blackboard Learn WYSIWYG content reporting
New Features, Updated Features, Blackboard Learn Integration, Canvas Integration, Web Community Manager Integration

Ally 1.17 | Release to production 2 August, 2018

New features, Blackboard Learn Integration, Canvas Integration, Updated features, Web Community Manager Integration

Blackboard Learn WYSIWYG content reporting

Ally 1.17 introduces the ability to check content created in the Blackboard Learn WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editor for accessibility issues, and includes these results in the institutional report. This allows Ally to review a significantly larger part of the Blackboard Learn content, and is a first step towards providing alternative formats and instructor feedback for this content.

These Blackboard Learn WYSIWYG content types are currently supported.

  • Content Item (Build Content > Create > Item)
  • Blank Page (Build Content > New Page > Blank Page)
  • Web Link (Build Content > Web Link)
  • Content Folder (Build Content > New Page > Content Folder)
  • Learning Module (Build Content > Create > Learning Module)
  • Lesson Plan (Build Content > Create > Lesson plan)
  • Module Page (Build Content > New Page > Module Page)
  • A link to a Forum (Tools > Discussion Board)

This functionality is available for all institutions using SaaS, the Q4 2017 CU4 release (or above) and the Q2 2018 CU1 release (or above). WYSIWIG content reporting will automatically be enabled for institutions on these supported versions, and any courses with new activity should show the WYSIWYG content results in the institutional report.

Going forward, institutions upgrading to a supported release should create a ticket to request that this functionality is enabled.

The ability to check for accessibility issues in Moodle WYSIWYG content will be included in one of our upcoming releases.

Canvas API token

Following changes in the Canvas permission system, it is now possible for the Canvas API token used by Ally to have fewer associated permissions than before.

As the "ACCOUNT PERMISSIONS - Manage account-level settings” permission is no longer required to retrieve the list of available terms, this permission can now be removed from the Ally API token.

These are the permissions required for a Canvas integration.

  • Courses - view list
  • Users - act as
  • Announcements - view
  • Assignments and Quizzes - add / edit / delete
  • Course Content - add / edit / delete
  • Course Content - view
  • Course Files - add / edit / delete
  • Discussions - moderate
  • Discussions - view
  • Pages - add / edit / delete

More on generating an Ally access token

Bug fixes and improvements

  • Fixed a bug that prevented the course report in the institutional report from automatically updating following a course copy.
  • Fixed a bug where paragraph text that spans multiple pages could be missing from the alternative formats.
  • Fixed a bug in the Web Community Manager integration that prevented some dynamically loaded content (through JavaScript) from being incorporated in the accessibility checks for a web page.
  • Fixed a bug in the Learn integration that caused a failure when setting the alternative description for an image embedded in a large Content Item (200KB+)
New Features, Blackboard Learn Integration

Ally 1.16.7 | Release to production 22 July, 2018

Updated features

Bug fixes and improvements

  • Fixed a bug that caused the audio alternative format to use the incorrect language for certain PDFs.
  • Fixed a bug that prevented PowerPoint documents with embedded audio from receiving an accessibility score.
  • Fixed a bug in the institutional report that would cause the reported number of items with an issue in the “By Year” view to be different than the actual number of items listed.
Updated Features

Ally 1.16.6 | Release to production 6 July, 2018

Updated features

Copyright restrictions

Because of copyright restrictions, Ally will not generate alternative formats for PDFs that have one of these properties set to “Not Allowed” as part of its metadata.

  • Content Copying
  • Content Copying for Accessibility
Updated Features

Ally 1.16.5 | Release to production 2 July, 2018

Updated features

Term moving

A course that is moved between terms will now automatically show in the correct term in the institutional report as soon as a new activity takes place in the course.

Bug fixes and improvements

  • Fixed a bug in the Learn integration that could cause a content item to be listed in the incorrect year in the institutional report. This was caused by a bug in Xythos that prevents the content item from having the correct “Last Modified” date.

 

Updated Features