Looking for the latest release information? Check out the Ally release notes feed.

Ally 1.37 | Release to production 25 December 2019

New features, Updated features

Usage Reports

Ally 1.37 introduces the ability to download an Ally Usage report directly from the institutional report. An additional Usage tab is now available in the institutional report, allowing for a date range to be selected and the usage report for that date range to be downloaded as an Excel file.

A usage report contains the following usage data about the alternative formats:

  • How often has the alternative formats modal been triggered?
  • How many alternative formats have been triggered?
  • How often has triggering the alternative formats model led to an alternative format download?
  • How often has each alternative format type been downloaded?
  • In how many courses have alternative formats been downloaded?
  • In which courses have alternative formats been downloaded (and how many per course)?
  • What is the evolution of the alternative format modal triggers and alternative format downloads over time (by week)?

Usage reports also contain the following usage data about the instructor feedback:

  • How often has the instructor feedback been triggered?
  • How many content improvements have been made directly through the instructor feedback?
  • How often has triggering the instructor feedback led to an immediate improvement of the content item through the instructor feedback?
  • In how many courses have improvements been made through the instructor feedback?
  • In which courses have improvements been made through the instructor feedback (and how many per course)?
  • What is the evolution of the instructor feedback triggers and instructor feedback improvements over time (by week)?

Lastly, usage reports also include a Data tab that contains the full list of raw usage events that have been captured, and can be used to create additional custom visualizations.

More on the Usage report 

Note that making the usage data graphs available directly in the institutional report UI is part of a future roadmap item.

 

Feature Flags

Blackboard Ally is increasingly moving to feature flags as part of its development approach, allowing institutions to decide when to opt in or out of a particular feature. To help support this, a new Features tab is now available in the Ally Configuration UI. This Features tab lists all of the optional features that are available for your integration.

Examples of available optional features are the Translated Version alternative format, the ability to launch the instructor feedback from the institutional report, and so on. They can easily be enabled or disabled at any point in time, and more optional features will be added over time.

More on how to customize Ally features

Ally for Websites Alternative Formats

The Ally for Websites integration now allows for specific HTML elements to be excluded from the alternative formats. Excluding an element can be achieved by adding the `data-ally-exclude` attribute to the element.

Next to Ally already limiting the content of the alternative formats to the `<main>` element or the element containing the `role=”main”` attribute, this new attribute provides some additional control on which page elements should be included or excluded from the generated alternative formats.

Ally 1.37 bug fixes and improvements

  • The accessibility check for the presence of headings in Tagged PDFs has been expanded to also recognize `H` tags as a valid heading.
  • Implemented several usability improvements in the Configuration UI based on the feedback from usability testing sessions.
  • Improved the Print View in the instructor feedback to not include icons that are not relevant when printing the instructor feedback guidance.
  • Fixed several bugs in the content preview component of the instructor feedback that occurred when closing and re-opening the instructor feedback for the same content item without refreshing the page.
  • Fixed a bug that occasionally caused updates to image descriptions through the instructor feedback to fail.
  • Fixed a bug in the Blackboard Learn integration that occasionally caused the alternative formats for content in a Learning Module to not be available.
  • Fixed a bug in the Blackboard Learn integration that would occasionally cause the Ally accessibility indicator to overlap with the file name.
  • Added support for courses with non-standard URLs because of their institutional hierarchy association in the Blackboard Learn integration.

Ally 1.35.6 | Release to production 7 November 2019

Blackboard Learn integration, D2L Brightspace integration, Updated features

Blackboard Learn Ultra integration

The Blackboard Learn Ultra integration has been improved to show the alternative formats and instructor feedback indicators for attachments in Ultra documents and tests.

Additional improvements, such as showing the alternative formats and instructor feedback indicators in the Course Outline, are scheduled to be included in the February Learn SaaS release.

Ally 1.35.6 bug fixes and improvements

  • Fixed a bug that occasionally caused uploading a fixed version through the instructor feedback to fail.
  • Fixed a bug that caused the “Request Help” email feature to show when it was not enabled in the Ally Configuration UI.
  • Fixed a bug in the D2L Brightspace integration that caused clicking a file in the course accessibility report to result in a 404.
  • Fixed a bug in the Blackboard Learn integration that prevented the more prominent Alternative Formats icon from showing in Learning Modules.
  • Fixed a bug that caused the parsing of certain documents containing long ISBN numbers to fail.

Ally 1.35.3 | Release to production 4 October 2019

Updated Features

Ally 1.35.3 bug fixes and improvements

  • Fixed a bug that caused the institutional report and course accessibility report to not load in IE11
  • Fixed a bug in the Blackboard Learn Ultra integration that caused a link to an Ultra document in the course accessibility report to redirect to the original course view instead of the Ultra course view
  • Improved the accessibility of the severity icons in the course accessibility report

Ally 1.34.2 | Release to production 23 August 2019

Updated Features

Course accessibility report

Fixed a bug in the course accessibility report that ensures that instructors aren’t able to access the report in courses for which Ally has been disabled through the Ally Configuration UI.

Ally 1.34.2 bug fixes and improvements

  • Re-introduced Alternative Formats in the content menu in the Content Collection page for the Blackboard Learn integration. Note that this option is only available for content that’s attached in the course and visible to students.

Ally 1.33 | Release to production 2 July 2019

New Features, Updated Features

D2L BrightSpace integration

We are extremely proud to announce that Blackboard Ally is now available for D2L BrightSpace. Ally is seamlessly integrated into the D2L BrightSpace interface and provides the same functionality as the other Ally for LMS integrations, with alternative formats and instructor feedback being available for uploaded files such as PDF, Word documents, PowerPoint presentations and Images.

Next to these different file types, the institutional report also contains the results of checking the following WYSIWYG content types for accessibility issues:

  • File topics
  • Quiz topics
  • External link topics
  • Discussion topics
  • Modules

It may take up to July 25 for the integration to be available in D2L BrightSpace production environments, depending on which monthly release wave the environment is on.

Student alternative formats

Alternative formats panel

Instructor accessibility score

Instructor feedback panel

Administrator institutional report

More prominent alternative formats

In the last year alone, students have downloaded more than 2 million alternative formats through Ally. This has been a great confirmation of the Universal Design for Learning principles that Ally was designed with and how improved accessibility and choice can benefit all learners. Therefore, we are making the “Alternative Format” option more prominent to allow students to more easily find the alternative formats and access them more quickly.

Given that these more prominent Alternative Format icons affect the main LMS UI, we are doing a soft release of this feature. Institutions that want to enable the more prominent alternative formats straight away can request this through a Behind The Blackboard ticket. On August 1, all institutions will automatically be moved to the more prominent alternative formats, although it is possible to request a later date as well through a Behind The Blackboard ticket.

This is an overview of how the more prominent alternative formats are displayed in the different LMSs:

  1. Blackboard Learn: The Alternative Formats icon has been removed from the content dropdown and is now available as a single click next to the original file name.
  2. Blackboard Open LMS and Moodle: The Alternative Formats icon replaces the “Download” dropdown and is available as a single click next to the original file name.
  3. Instructure Canvas: The dropdown icon next to the original file name has been made more prominent. There are multiple actions that can be taken on a file (e.g., preview), so the dropdown is still in place to group those various actions and prevent the screen from becoming too cluttered.
  4. D2L BrightSpace: The Alternative Formats icon is available as a single click from the Table of Contents and the individual content pages.

Usage tracking

Detailed usage tracking is now available for the Ally for Websites and Ally for Web Community Manager integrations. The following (anonymous) usage data is tracked for the alternative formats:

  • How often is the alternative formats modal opened?
  • How many alternative formats are downloaded?
  • What alternative format types are downloaded?
  • In which (sub)domains or sections have alternative formats been downloaded?

In the Ally for Web Community Manager integration, the following content creator feedback is tracked as well:

  • How often is the content creator feedback opened?
  • How many content items are improved through the content creator feedback?
  • In which sections have improvements been made through the content creator feedback?

Similar to the Ally for LMS integrations, a usage report can be requested through a Behind The Blackboard support ticket. As part of our 2019 roadmap, this data will be exposed directly in the Ally report as well.


Ally 1.31 | Release to production 18 June 2019

New Features, Updated Features

Configuration UI in Blackboard Learn

The Ally Configuration UI is now available in the Blackboard Learn Administrator Panel, providing easier access to the various Ally configuration options and the ability to enable/disable Ally for individual courses.

Note that this requires the Blackboard Learn SaaS 3700.3.0 release (released to production on June 6 2019). It will be available for self-hosted and managed hosted Blackboard Learn institutions as of the Blackboard Learn Q4 2019 release.

Also note that Blackboard Learn doesn’t always automatically pick up on this new link when upgrading to this release. If that’s the case, you can toggle the availability of the Ally Building Block to Off and then to On again. At that point, the Ally Configuration link will become available.

ePub alternative format

The ePub alternative format generation algorithm has been significantly improved. This results in a much smaller file size, and should greatly benefit mobile usage of the ePub alternative format.

Ally LTI Tools in Canvas

The Ally LTI cartridge for the Institutional Report and Configuration UI in the Canvas integration has been updated to ensure that these tools are no longer visible in areas where instructors can select known LTI tools (e.g., “external module” or “external tool submission type”). To utilize these new LTI cartridges, the existing Ally Institutional Report and Ally Configuration UI LTI tools need to be removed and re-added using the existing installation instructions.

Ally 1.31 bug fixes and improvements

  • Additional configuration options have been added to the Ally for Websites crawler to allow the frequency of the automated recrawls to be increased or decreased.
  • The months in the Ally Institutional Report have been fully localized.
  • The audio alternative format now distinguishes between ordered and unordered lists. Ordered lists will be announced as “Begin numbered list”, and unordered lists will be announced as “Begin bulleted list”.
  • Decorative images will no longer be announced in the audio alternative format.
  • Fixed a bug in the “This document has no headings” check for Word documents to prevent empty paragraphs from contributing to the minimum document length threshold.
  • Fixed a bug that caused the incorrect severity label to be used for certain issues in the institutional report CSV export.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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

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+)

Ally 1.13.1 | Release to production 20 February, 2018

New Features, Updated Features, Learning Management System Integrations

In this Ally 1.13.1 release, we focused our development and design on academic effectiveness. You’ll see below that we’ve also aligned our feature list in to groups based on value and benefit to you and your users.

Universal design

  • Alternative formats
  • Blackboard Learn Learning Modules
  • Moodle and Blackboard Open LMS course copies
  • New courses

Alternative formats

The existing “Accessible versions” option has been renamed to “Alternative formats” to better represent the purpose of these alternative formats, as well as help encourage all students to explore and use these formats.

Blackboard Learn Learning Modules

Ally now supports posting alternative descriptions for images provided through the Ally instructor feedback back into the page source for the Blackboard Learn “Learning Modules” content type.

This means that all images in Learning Modules are now expected to have the Ally accessibility indicator.

Moodle and Blackboard Open LMS course copies

Ally now automatically processes the content in copied Moodle and Blackboard Open LMS courses.

Large Moodle and Blackboard Open LMS course copies can take several hours to complete, and Ally only scans the copied content items once the course copy has been fully completed.

New courses

In the last few weeks, there have been several cases where delays built up in the processing of new courses. Ally 1.13.1 contains several improvements that should greatly speed up the processing of new courses in the Learning Management System (LMS).

Bug fixes and improvements

  • Fixed a bug in the Blackboard Learn integration that prevented alternative descriptions for images to be saved through the instructor feedback in “Forums”.
  • Fixed a bug that prevented alternative descriptions for images containing a non-breaking space character from successfully saving.
  • Fixed a bug in the Instructure Canvas integration that occasionally caused the “Accessibility” column to show in the Files tool for courses that do not have Ally enabled.
  • Implemented a number of wording improvements in the descriptions for the available alternative formats.
  • A number of small accessibility improvements have been made in the course report within the institutional report.

Ally 1.12.1 | Release to production 16 January, 2018

New Features, Updated Features, LMS Integrations

Alternative descriptions

Alternative descriptions for images provided through the Ally instructor feedback are now also pushed back into the source of the context in which the image is used.

For Blackboard Learn, this is currently available for:

  • Content Item
  • Web Link
  • Content Folder
  • Course Link
  • File

For Instructure Canvas, this is currently available for:

  • Page
  • Announcement
  • Assignment
  • Discussion Topic
  • Syllabus
  • Quiz

Additional areas will be added as new LMS REST APIs become available.

Course copy

Any metadata provided through the Ally instructor feedback that can not be pushed back into the LMS (e.g., library reference) will now automatically be copied over when a course is copied.

WYSIWYG content reporting

The WYSIWYG content reporting feature announced as part of Ally 1.12 (Ally 1.12 announcement) has now been enabled for all Instructure Canvas institutions.

Therefore, any new or updated WYSIWYG content will immediately be reflected in the institutional report. We will also be processing existing WYSIWYG content in existing courses in the background, but it’s expected that this will take several weeks to complete given the large number of items that need to be onboarded.

Instructor feedback wording improvements

Several wording improvements have been introduced in the various instructor feedback flows. These improvements cover the different languages in which Ally is available.


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.