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Ally 1.49 | Release to production 6 September 2020

New features, Updated features

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

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.
  • 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.
  • Implemented several robustness improvements to the Ally for Websites crawler.

Ally 1.48 | Release to production 19 August 2020

Updated features

Ally 1.48 bug fixes and improvements

  • Fixed a bug in the Ally for Websites web page feedback that caused the background color for the embedded web page preview to not always have the correct background color.
  • 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.
  • Reduced the overall concurrency of the crawler for a single website by spreading crawling across multiple institutions at once.

Ally 1.47 | Release to production 10 August 2020

New features, Updated features

Ally for Websites web page feedback

The Ally for Websites feedback component is now available for web pages (HTML). In the Ally for Websites accessibility report, the score indicators for web pages can now be selected to launch the feedback component. Within the feedback component, a list of all identifies issues can be found, as well as a preview of the web page with highlights that show exactly where those issues have been identified on the page.

This complements the feedback and guidance that was already available for file content such as PDFs, Word documents and PowerPoint documents. Ally for Websites now provides feedback and highlighting for most content types, which makes it significantly easier to identify and remediate issues.

This feature requires the following to be in place:

  • The Ally JavaScript snippet needs to be added to the web page. This also allows for the Ally alternative formats to be made available on the page, although the JavaScript snippet can be added without enabling the alternative formats.
  • Institutions that have implemented any measures that prevent their web pages from being iFramed into other websites need to explicitly allow Ally for Websites for the preview and highlighting functionality to work.

    More on Configure Ally

Ally 1.47 bug fixes and improvements

  • Improved the feedback and guidance for documents containing tables with missing table headings
  • Implemented several improvements to the Ally for Websites crawler to further improve the handling of very large websites

Ally 1.46.2 | Release to production 9 July 2020

Updated features

Ally 1.46.2 bug fixes and improvements

  • Improved the detection of failed crawls in Ally for Websites due to too many requests resulting in an error response

Ally 1.46.1 | Release to production 2 July 2020

Updated features

Ally 1.46.1 bug fixes and improvements

  • Implemented several improvements for the rendering of Word and PowerPoint documents as part of the instructor feedback
  • Implemented several improvements for the crawling of large and complex websites

Ally 1.46 | Release to production 22 June 2020

Updated features

Image contains text not in the description

Previously, Ally required that text it detected in an image was part of the image’s alternative description. Because not all text in an image is required in the description and because OCR text detection isn’t 100% accurate, Ally 1.46 removes this check from the accessibility score. In a future release, the extracted text will become a description suggestion.

The removal of this accessibility check applies to all new and updated images, and will retroactively be applied to existing images over the next few weeks.

Ally 1.46 bug fixes and improvements

  • Fixed a bug that would occasionally cause the incorrect image to be highlighted when showing a document containing images without a description in the instructor feedback.
  • Implemented several stability improvements in the Ally for Websites crawler.

Ally 1.45 | Release to production 9 June 2020

New features

Broken link checking

The Ally for Websites accessibility checklist has been expanded to include a new check for broken links (404 errors). Broken links are an important and frequent website accessibility issue, and Ally for Websites now reports on this as part of the accessibility report. Broken links also contribute to the accessibility score for a web page, and this contribution is dependent on the number of broken links on the page. Ally reports on broken links on the website itself as well as any external links that are broken, and all links are rechecked automatically as part of the automated weekly crawl.

The overall website accessibility score for most institutions will drop compared to previous months because of the introduction of this new accessibility check.

As part of a future Ally release, we are also planning to bring this new check to the Ally for LMS and Ally for WCM integrations.


Ally 1.44.2 | Release to production 4 June 2020

Updated features

Ally 1.44.2 bug fixes and improvements

  • Fixed a bug that caused the Library Reference fields to be empty when attempting to edit an existing Library Reference
  • Prevent Ally from processing .dwg (from drawing) files

Ally 1.44.1 | Release to production 1 June 2020

New features, Updated features

ePub alternative format

The ePub alternative format is now available in Ally for Websites as an additional alternative format for web pages. This makes it possible to download website content and access it (offline) on a mobile device, as well as use it for reading and annotation purposes.

Audio alternative format

The audio alternative format is now available in Arabic and Icelandic. The voice for the Turkish audio alternative format has also been replaced with a higher quality alternative.

Ally 1.44.1 bug fixes and improvements

  • The YouTube caption check has been improved to reflect the full set of permutations provided by the YouTube API

Ally 1.44 | Release to production 15 May 2020

Updated features

Ally 1.44 bug fixes and improvements

  • Fixed a bug that caused the incorrect tab to be selected when returning to the Domains tab in the accessibility report.
  • Fixed a bug in the instructor feedback that caused an error when selecting the I need to keep it button for a seizure inducing animation.

Ally 1.43 | Release to production 6 May 2020

Updated features

Ally 1.43 bug fixes and improvements

  • Fixed a bug that caused the alternative formats modal to not close once the generated alternative format was downloaded

Ally 1.42.1 | Release to production 1 May 2020

Updated features

Ally 1.42.1 bug fixes and improvements

  • Added the institution name to the file name for the institutional report CSV export and the usage report export 
  • Added a more meaningful error message when an audio alternative format can’t be generated because the original document is longer than 100,000 characters 
  • The usage report export is now supported on older versions of Excel as well 
  • Fixed a bug in the Accessibility Score overview graph in the institutional report that caused time periods without any associated data to show as a 0% score 

Ally 1.42 | Release to production 23 April 2020

New Features, Updated features

Ally in Arabic

As part of our efforts to support universal design and equitable access around the world, Ally 1.42 makes the Ally User Interface available in Arabic. There is now Arabic support to the Ally institutional report, configuration UI, alternative formats modal, instructor feedback and course accessibility report, including full right-to-left support for all of these.

Note that the Ally alternative formats are not yet available in Arabic. This is the team’s next priority, and will be made available in a future release.

Ally 1.42 bug fixes and improvements

  • Fixed a bug in the instructor feedback that caused the Help link to overlap with the instructor feedback guidance

Ally 1.41.1 | Release to production 17 April 2020

Updated features

Ally 1.41.1 bug fixes and improvements

  • Fixed a bug in the institutional report that caused the comparison between the current time period and the previous time period to be incorrect.
  • Fixed a validation bug in the date picker for the Usage Reports.

Ally 1.41 | Release to production 6 April 2020

New Features, Updated features

PDFs without title

A full new feedback flow for instructors and editors has been added for PDFs that don’t have a title. This flow contains documentation on what this means, why this is important, and detailed step-by-step guidance on how to add a PDF title.

Generate tagged PDFs

The feedback guidance for instructors and editors on how to generate a tagged PDF from a Microsoft Office Word and PowerPoint document has been updated to reflect the latest changes in Microsoft Office 365. Several screenshots to help visualize the different steps have been added as well.

BeeLine Reader night mode

The BeeLine Reader alternative format has been extended to offer an additional “Night Mode” view with a corresponding color gradient. This night mode can help reduce eye strain in low light conditions, can reduce screen glare while outside and can help save energy for mobile devices.

Ally 1.41 bug fixes and improvements

  • Fixed a bug that would cause the instructor feedback Print View to occasionally be empty.
  • Improved the speed at which alternative formats are generated.

Ally 1.40 | Release to production 27 March 2020

New Features, Updated features

BeeLine Reader alternative format

The BeeLine Reader alternative format is aimed at making on-screen reading faster and easier. To achieve this, it uses an eye-guiding color gradient to help pull the reader’s eyes from one line to the next, and reported benefits include increased reading speed and enhanced focus. The tool can benefit students with dyslexia, ADHD and low vision, as well as providing a better on-screen reading experience for all students.

Several institutions have been piloting this new alternative format over the last few months, and based on the extremely positive feedback we’re now making this alternative format available for all. The BeeLine Reader alternative format is available as part of your Ally license at no additional cost, and is now enabled by default.

The BeeLine Reader alternative format is also available in the Ally Feature Flag configuration, allowing for the format to easily be enabled / disabled if necessary.

More information on BeeLine Reader

Thanks so much to the institutions that have participated in the pilot!

COVID-19

Due to COVID-19, we have been seeing a significant increase in Ally usage and a large number of institutions adopting Ally as part of their move to fully online. The team’s primary consideration remains making sure that we provide a seamless service, and a lot of work is being done behind the scenes to ensure that all components are scaled up / out as required and to create additional onboarding capacity.

Usage reports

The Usage Reports for the Ally for Websites integration have also been updated to use Website-specific vocabulary such as “Domain”.

Ally 1.40 bug fixes and improvements

  • Implemented support for PPSX (PowerPoint Slideshow) files.
  • Fixed a bug in the Ally for Websites integration that prevented the default “Help” link from opening the Blackboard Help website.
  • Improved the accessibility of the tabs in the institutional report to allow them to be selected using the arrow keys.

Ally 1.39.3 | Release to production 4 March 2020

Updated features

COVID-19

The team has been taking several pre-emptive infrastructure measures to help prepare for significantly increased traffic as a growing number of schools move to fully online courses. We will continue to monitor closely and take any additional steps required to ensure a seamless service.

Ally 1.39.3 bug fixes and improvements

  • Fixed a bug that prevented the BeeLine Reader alternative format from rendering correctly on some mobile devices.
  • Improved the “Is this PDF tagged” accessibility check by excluding PDFs that only contain empty tags.
  • Ally for Websites now automatically tries to re-generate alternative formats that failed to generate previously.
  • Fixed a bug that caused an unexpected animation when hovering over the accessibility score in the instructor feedback.
  • Fixed an accessibility score rounding error in the institutional accessibility report.

Ally 1.39.2 | Release to production 4 March 2020

Updated features

Ally 1.39.2 bug fixes and improvements

  • Fixed a bug that would occasionally cause the Accessibility score chart in the institutional accessibility report to not load correctly due to a race condition in loading the Ally UI assets.

Ally 1.39.1 | Release to production 2 March 2020

Updated features

Electronic Braille Configuration

The Braille code used for a particular language can now be configured at the institutional level. For example, this means that the Braille code used for English can be mapped to either Unified English Braille contracted (grade 2) or uncontracted (grade 1).

Electronic Braille configuration changes can be requested through a Behind The Blackboard support ticket.

Ally 1.39.1 bug fixes and improvements

  • The Translated Version alternative format for the Ally for WCM and Ally for Websites integrations now opens immediately in the browser instead of being downloaded.
  • Fixed a bug that would occasionally cause the Tagged PDF alternative format to be downloaded using the wrong mime type.
  • Fixed a bug that caused the Ally for Websites alternative formats to be blank for web pages that require the “Accept-Encoding” header.

Ally 1.38.2 | Release to production 7 February 2020

Updated features

Ally 1.38.2 bug fixes and improvements

The following bug fix is for both Ally for websites and Ally for WCM.

  • Fixed a bug that would occasionally cause the x-axis labels in the Accessibility Score graph in the institutional report to overlap.

Ally 1.38.1 | Release to production 1 February 2020

Updated features

Ally 1.38.1 bug fixes and improvements

  • Bug fix and improvement for Ally for websites only:
    • Improved the Ally for Websites crawler to never trigger Google Analytics on the crawled web pages.
  • Bug fixes and improvements for Ally for websites and WCM:
    • Updated the institutional report to show accessibility scores to the 1st decimal place.
    • Fixed a bug that occasionally caused the institutional report CSV export to contain future dates.
    • Fixed a bug that would occasionally prevent the correct language from being detected in Norwegian documents. This would also cause the audio to be read in English instead of Norwegian.
    • Fixed a bug that prevented image descriptions consisting of a URL followed by text from being considered a valid image description.
    • Improved the display of the Library Reference in the alternative formats modal.

Ally 1.38 | Release to production 17 January 2020

New features, Updated features

Accessibility Scoring

The Ally institutional report used to provide a Without Ally score and a With Ally score. The Without Ally score was the baseline average accessibility score based on the content in the LMS or on the website, while the With Ally added an estimated level of automated improvement based on the alternative formats.

The Without Ally and With Ally scores have now been replaced by the following scores:

  • Overall average accessibility score
  • Average file accessibility score
  • Average WYSIWYG accessibility score (for Ally for LMS integrations)
  • Average Web Page accessibility score (for Ally for WCM and Ally for Websites)

The Average file accessibility score is the score for uploaded file content such as PDFs, Word documents, PowerPoint documents, Images, and so on. The Average WYSIWYG accessibility score is the score for (HTML) content created through the LMS content editor. Average Web Page accessibility score is the score for the website’s pages. The Overall average accessibility score is the combined accessibility score for both files and WYSIWYG / Web Page content.

Typically, HTML content is much more accessible in nature. This is especially true for WYSIWYG content in the LMS, as they are usually small and simple HTML fragments. Splitting out the scores in this way allows for a better distinction between content that tends to be more accessible in nature and content that tends to be less accessible in nature, allowing for a better understanding of the overall accessibility score and allowing for more informed training and remediation strategies to be identified.

Ally for LMS

Ally for Websites

Ally 1.38 bug fixes and improvements

  • Fixed a known issue that prevented the Ally LTI tools (institutional report, configuration UI, course accessibility report) from loading correctly in Chrome 80+. More information about this known issue is available on the Ally user group site.
  • Fixed an issue that would prevent the usage reports from generating for institutions with large amounts of usage data.
  • Fixed a bug in the display of the Add description button in the instructor feedback for images without a description for the Welsh translation.
  • Fixed a bug that prevented the Download icon in the instructor feedback from displaying correctly in the Swedish translation.
  • Implemented several screen reader accessibility improvements in the institutional report.

Ally 1.37.2 | Release to production 14 January 2020

Updated features

Ally for Websites Translated Version

The Translated Version alternative format for web pages in the Ally for Websites integration has been improved to retain the styling and images of the original page. This provides a translated version that’s much closer to the original page in appearance and content.

Ally 1.37.2 bug fixes and improvements

  • The automated weekly Ally for Websites crawls have been rescheduled to take place on Wednesdays by default.
  • The instructor-facing Course Accessibility Report is now refreshed more frequently make it more up-to-date at any point in time.
  • Fixed a bug that prevented the LTI role for a user to be refreshed after launching one of the Ally LTI tools, changing their role in the LMS and then reloading the same LTI tool within the same session.
  • Fixed a bug that prevents PDFs with an invalid language attribute from being processed correctly.

Ally 1.37.1 | Release to production 7 January 2020

Updated features

Ally for Websites Alternative Formats

Ally for Websites now makes it possible to exclude links to PDFs, Word, Powerpoint and other documents from showing in the list of available alternative formats for that page. This can be achieved by adding the `data-ally-af-disabled` attribute to the link that should be excluded from the alternative formats.

Ally 1.37.1 bug fixes and improvements

  • Added the content id to the Data tab in the usage reports.
  • Fixed a bug in the Ally Configuration UI that prevented the Terms menu from filtering the list correctly.