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

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 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

A special note from Product Management

Continuous Delivery v1.16.4 | Release to Production 21 June, 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 1.16.4 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

  • Institutional report improvements
New Features

Ally 1.16.4 | Release to production 21 June, 2018

New features, Updated features

Institutional report improvements

Several improvements have been added to the institutional report CSV exports.

Library references provided through the Ally instructor feedback for scanned and untagged PDFs are now included in a Library reference column in the course CSV export for individual courses. This is intended to make it easier to review library references provided by instructors.

The new Library reference column is not the same as LibraryReference, which counts the number of items that don't have references and could be improved with them.

The severity level for each reported issue is now also included as part of the CSV exports. This makes it easier to parse the severity of each issue in an automated way.

The severity level is included in the column headings. For example, ImageSeizure:1 and AlternativeText:3.

  • 1 represents severe issues
  • 2 represents major issues
  • 3 represents minor issues

More on the institution report export

Bug fixes and improvements

  • Fixed a bug in the Moodle(rooms) integration that would cause unexpected items from being included in the institutional report, including Moodle skin resources and assignment feedback resources. We are also in the process of removing these resources from the existing institutional reports.
  • Fixed a bug in the Moodle(rooms) integration that prevented image previews from showing in the instructor feedback for images.
  • Implemented several accuracy improvements to the contrast accessibility checks for HTML content.
  • Fixed a bug that incorrectly reported “The page contains form elements without labels” errors for HTML content.
Updated Features, Blackboard Open LMS Integration

A special note from Product Management

Continuous Delivery v1.16.3 | Release to Production 8 June, 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 1.16.3 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

  • Audio alternative format improvements
New Features

Ally 1.16.3 | Release to production 8 June, 2018

New features, Updated features

Audio alternative format

Several quality and usability improvements have been added to the audio alternative format, such as announcing the corresponding column and/or row heading for a table cell.

Bug fixes and improvements

  • Fixed a bug that would cause spaces to be missing in the alternative formats for specific PDFs.
  • Fixed a bug that caused headings in single slide PowerPoint presentations to not be recognized correctly.
  • Fixed a bug in the Canvas integration that prevented the instructor feedback indicator from showing when wrapped in an `<i>` or `<em>` element.
  • Implemented several accuracy improvements to the contrast accessibility check for PDF documents.
Updated Features, New Features

Ally 1.16.2 | Release to production 23 May, 2018

Updated features

Bug fixes and improvements

  • Fixed a bug in the Canvas integration that caused the Preview button to download the file instead of showing the expected preview.
  • Fixed a bug that prevented the “Other” content items (for example, content items that couldn’t be checked for accessibility issues) from showing in the institutional report.
  • Ensure that checking an HTML content item for accessibility issues doesn’t fail when a YouTube video can’t be checked for valid captions.
  • Renamed “courses” to “sections” in the Web Community Manager institutional report CSV exports.
Updated Features, Canvas Integration

Ally 1.16.1 | Release to Production 15 May, 2018

Updated features

Bug fixes and improvements

  • Fixed a bug that caused the alternative formats to be available for content used in locked Canvas modules for students that are an instructor in a different course.
  • Fixed a bug that caused the list of available languages for the Translated Version alternative format to not render correctly on IE11.
  • Fixed a bug that prevented table column headers from being announced as table headers in the audio alternative format.
  • The reported number of students in the institutional report for a Learn course no longer includes instructors or other administrator roles.
  • Implemented several visual improvements in the configuration UI.
  • Fixed a bug that caused the alternative formats dropdown in Canvas to be partially hidden when opened at the bottom of a page.
Updated Features

A special note from Product Management

Continuous Delivery v1.16 | Release to Production 8 May, 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 1.16 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

  • Configuration user interface
  • YouTubeTM caption checks
  • Usage tracking
New Features

Ally 1.16 | Release to production 8 May, 2018

New features, Updated features

Configuration user interface (UI)

Ally now includes a configuration UI that makes it possible to easily control the courses for which Ally is enabled, which should be especially helpful for institutions taking a more gradual roll-out approach. The following configuration options are provided:

  • See the list of courses for which Ally is currently enabled and disabled
  • Enable Ally for additional courses
  • Disable Ally for additional courses
  • Control whether Ally should automatically be enabled for new courses
  • Enable Ally for all courses at once
  • Disable Ally for all courses (just in case)

One of our technical consultants will be in touch in the next few days with instructions on how to access this configuration UI. Note that the configuration UI does not provide support for institutions that have a non-standard configuration.

More on Ally Configuration

YouTube caption checks

Ally 1.16 introduces the first of many planned steps to help increase its support for audio and video content. As part of this first step, we are now able to check HTML content (uploaded files and supported WYSIWYG content) for YouTube videos that don’t have any captions. Any videos that fail this accessibility check are then included in the institutional report. YouTube videos with auto-generated captioning are not considered to have valid captioning.

This new accessibility check does not yet contribute to the overall accessibility score. As part of a future release, these videos will be changing to top-level content items with their own accessibility scores.

Usage tracking

The detailed usage tracking introduced in the Ally 1.14 release has now also been enabled for institutions hosted from the European and Australian data centers.

Bug fixes and improvements

  • Fixed a bug that caused metadata provided through the Ally Instructor Feedback to not move over correctly when importing an existing Canvas course into a new one.
  • Files that are no longer used within a Learn course will no longer have an accessibility indicator in the Content Collection.
  • Fixed a bug that would cause the alternative format generation to fail for PDFs that contain images or paths with a 0px width or height.
  • Fixed a bug that caused the instructor feedback print view to be cut off after the first page.
  • Implemented several accessibility improvements within the Ally UI.
  • Introduced a number of improvements for determining and extracting the language of a document.
  • Introduced several updates to the Instructor Feedback guidance and screenshots.
  • Fixed a bug where Ally would throw a JavaScript error when a Portfolium item is included within a Learn Content Item.
New Features, Updated Features

A special note from Product Management

Continuous Delivery v1.15 | Release to Production 27 April, 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 1.15 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

  • Machine translated version
  • Alternative format improvements
  • Norwegian Bokmål support
New Features

Ally 1.15 | Release to production 27 April, 2018

New features, Updated features

Machine translated version

We are launching a trial for a new alternative format. This alternative format provides a machine translated version of the instructor’s original into a total of 50 different languages, and supports PDF, Word, Powerpoint and HTML documents.

The trial will run for the next few months and will be used to collect feedback about the use cases for the format and the quality of the translations. If you would like to be included in this trial, please contact [email protected]. For those of you that have already requested to participate, this additional alternative format will become available in the next 1-2 weeks.

Alternative format improvements

A set of improvements have been included in the alternative format generation algorithms, allowing them to pick up on content encoded into the `ActualText` properties of a tagged PDF. This should result in higher quality alternative formats, especially for PDFs that have been exported from PowerPoint documents.

Norwegian Bokmål support

Ally is now also available in Norwegian Bokmål. This includes the Ally interface, as well as the alternative formats.

Bug fixes and improvements

  • Fixed a regression that was causing a higher than expected number of failures in generating the HTML alternative format.
  • Fixed a bug in the Canvas integration that would cause the “Accessibility” column in the Files tool not to show when all content items in the folder had a 0% accessibility score.
New Features, Updated Features, Academic Effectiveness

Ally 1.14.2 | Release to production 19 April, 2018

Updated Features

In this Ally 1.14.2 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 format size

Alternative format size

The file size for HTML and ePub alternative formats containing images has been reduced significantly, allowing for faster downloads and easier reading on mobile devices.

Bug fixes and improvements

  • Renamed the “unknown” column to “other” in the institutional report CSV export to align with the institutional report UI.
  • Implemented several visual improvements to the “Overview” graph in the institutional report.
  • Fixed a bug that was preventing accurate tracking of the unique number of students downloading an alternative format.
Updated Features, Academic Effectiveness

Ally 1.14.1 | Release to production 11 April, 2018

Updated Features

In this Ally 1.14.1 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

  • Library reference validation

Library reference validation

When going through the Instructor Feedback for a scanned or untagged PDF, Ally allows the instructor to provide library reference metadata about the PDF. Several validation rules have now been added to prevent incorrect use of this form.

Bug fixes and improvements

  • Implemented several improvements to how the language of a document is detected.
  • Fixed a bug that caused certain UTF-8 characters to be read as “question mark” in the audio alternative format.
  • Fixed a bug where HTML characters were included in several tooltips within the institutional report.
Updated Features, Academic Effectiveness

Ally 1.14 | Release to production 25 March, 2018

New Features, Updated Features

In this Ally 1.14 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

  • All issues
  • Usage tracking

All issues

It is now possible to easily see the full list of accessibility issues that have been identified in a particular content item by selecting All issues in the instructor feedback. This also explains how much the accessibility score can be improved by fixing each issue and makes it easy to switch to a different feedback and guidance flow.

The list of all issues is also available when the instructor has completed fixing an issue and the list of remaining issues is presented.

Usage tracking

More detailed usage tracking is now available for the alternative formats:

  • How often is the alternative formats modal opened?
  • How many alternative formats are downloaded?
  • What format types are downloaded?
  • How many courses are the alternative formats used in?
  • How many unique students are using the alternative formats?

Detailed usage tracking has also been put in place for the instructor feedback:

  • How often was the instructor feedback opened?
  • What is the distribution by feedback flow type?
  • How many content items are improved through the instructor feedback?
  • How many alternative descriptions are provided through the instructor feedback?
  • How many images are marked as decorative through the instructor feedback?
  • How many library references are provided?

The collected data can currently be made available on request as a data export. This usage data will also be exposed directly in the institutional report as part of a future release.

Spike impact

Several processing and infrastructure improvements have been put in place to reduce the impact of a large number of content items and/or courses being created at once and the potential processing delays this could cause.

Bug fixes and improvements

  • Prevent the institutional CSV export from intermittently timing out and failing for institutions with a lot of LMS data.
  • Scanned documents that have been OCRd will no longer show "OCRd PDF” as an available alternative format.
New Features, Updated Features, Academic Effectiveness

A special note from Product Management

As we move into 2018, we are thinking about and 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.

New Features, Updated Features

Ally 1.13.3 | Release to production 15 March, 2018

Updated Features

Ally 1.13.3 is a maintenance release, focusing on improvements and bug fixes.

Bug fixes and improvements

  • Implemented several improvements to the tooltip that’s shown when hovering over an accessibility indicator, including removal of flickering, better positioning based on available space, etc.
  • Fixed a bug that caused the language of a document to not be extracted correctly and the audio to be generated in English instead of the source language.
  • Fixed a bug where not all text would be extracted from a tagged PDF in certain cases.
  • Fixed a bug where Ally would not correctly recognize absolutely anchored images in Microsoft Word.
  • Fixed a bug that resulted in the count for the total number of items with a particular issue in a month or year to be incorrect.
  • Fixed a bug that occasionally caused too many decimals to show for scores within the institutional report.
  • Several improvements have been made to the institutional report CSV export, including a better export file name and date formats that work better in Microsoft Excel.
  • Fixed a bug in the Canvas integration that caused the Alternative Formats button in the Files tool action bar to not be rendered correctly.
Updated Features

Ally 1.13.2 | Release to production 27 February 2018

New Features, Updated Features

In this Ally 1.13.2 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

  • Unified English Braille
  • Alternative format improvements
  • Nearly perfect files

Unified English Braille

For English documents, the Electronic Braille alternative format has been updated from the Contracted (grade 2) US English braille code to the Contracted (grade 2) Unified English Braille (UEB) braille code. Unified English Braille has become the standard braille code across all English dialects.

Alternative format improvements

Several improvements have been added to the alternative format generation algorithms. This includes improved list recognition and conversion, the removal of unnecessary HTML tags, the removal of unused elements, etc.

Nearly perfect files

Because of rounding, it was possible for files with a 99.x% accessibility score to show in the LMS as having a 100% accessibility score. To help make it clear that minor further improvements are possible, the score display has been updated to always round the score down.

Bug fixes and improvements

  • Fixed a bug in the score calculation that caused the accessibility score to be too low in certain cases.
  • Fixed a bug where Ally didn't correctly recognize that the correct language was set in certain PDFs.
  • Fixed a bug that caused the alternative formats to download icon to display incorrectly in Firefox.
  • Added several internationalization improvements for the French Ally translations.
  • Implemented various accessibility improvements in the Instructor Feedback.
  • Fixed a bug that prevented PDFs that include Type 3 fonts from receiving an accessibility score and indicator.
New Features, Updated Features, Academic Effectiveness

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.
Updated Features, New Features, Canvas Integration, Blackboard Learn Integration, Blackboard Open LMS Integration, Academic Effectiveness

Ally 1.13 | Release to production 12 February, 2018

New Features, Updated Features, Learning Management System Integrations

In this Ally 1.13 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 for learning

Improved alternative formats

The conversion algorithms for the alternative formats have been updated and should bring a significant improvement in accuracy for documents with a higher accessibility score. This is achieved by incorporating more of the semantic information that’s present within the original document.

Improved instructor feedback for images

Several improvements have been introduced in the instructor feedback flow for images without an alternative description. This includes improved guidance and error messages for images with an invalid alternative description, an easier editing workflow for images that already have an alternative description, and so on.

Library reference information available to students

Students are now able to see library reference information in the alternative format modal. This library reference information can be provided by the instructor in the instructor feedback flow for scanned documents and untagged PDFs.

New language support

Ally is now available in these languages.

  • Polish
  • Norwegian
  • Catalan

Availability in these languages includes the Ally interface, as well as the alternative formats (including the audio format).

Heading check for WYSIWYG content

An additional accessibility check has been added for WYSIWYG content. This accessibility check verifies that the heading levels in the WYSIWYG content correctly follow the heading levels that are present in the Learning Management System (LMS) itself.

This check should now be part of the reported accessibility issues in the institutional report.

Decorative images

The Ally integration for Canvas has been updated to align with the new “Decorative image” functionality that was recently introduced in Canvas. This ensures that Ally is able to recognize images that have been marked as decorative in Canvas, as well as Canvas recognizing images that have been marked as decorative through Ally.

Bug fixes

  • Fixed a bug in the Blackboard Learn Original integration where the accessibility indicators for Content Items with multiple attachments wouldn’t display properly.
  • Fixed a bug in the Web Community Manager integration where courses with a space in the URL would not be checked for accessibility issues.
  • The CSV export in the institutional report will now correctly mark the HTML accessibility checks that succeeded as a “1”.
  • Prevent the “This image does not have an alternative description” issue from being listed in the institutional report for images that have been marked as decorative.
New Features, Updated Features, Academic Effectiveness

Ally 1.12.3 | Release to production 6 February 2018

Updated Features, Instructure Canvas Integration

Bug fixes

  • Fixed a bug that prevented the alternative format download option and accessibility indicator from displaying for content items linked from WYSIWYG content (e.g., Page, Syllabus). This was caused by a display change in the latest Instructure Canvas release.
  • Fixed a bug where the instructor feedback guidance on how to generate a tagged PDF from Powerpoint® 2016 on Microsoft® Windows® did not load correctly.
Updated Features, Canvas Integration

Ally 1.12.2 | Release to production 31 January, 2018

Updated Features

Moodle Performance

A number of changes have been introduced in the Moodle and Blackboard Open LMS integrations that significantly improve performance, especially for larger installations. These performance improvements include both the initial onboarding process, as well as the rendering of the accessibility indicators and alternative formats in courses.

Improved CSV Export

Within the Institutional Report CSV export, WYSIWYG content data is now split out by WISYWIG type (e.g., Page, Syllabus, etc.), making it easier to understand the content type distribution within courses.

Bug Fixes

  • Fixed a bug where items that were improved through the Ally instructor feedback and then deleted from the course would still be included in the institutional report
  • Fixed a bug where the correct content type would not be shown when listing content items with a specific issue in the institutional report
Blackboard Open LMS Integration, Updated Features, Academic Effectiveness

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.

New Features, Updated Features, Blackboard Learn Integration, Canvas Integration, Academic Effectiveness

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

New Features, Blackboard Learn Integration, Canvas Integration, Blackboard Open LMS Integration, Web Community Manager Integration, Academic Effectiveness

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.
Updated Features, Blackboard Learn Integration, Canvas Integration, Blackboard Open LMS Integration

Ally 1.11.3 | Release to production 7 December, 2017

Updated Features, LMS Integrations

Improved list recognition

Several improvements have been made to how list are recognized and converted in the alternative formats, especially for lists created in Word or Powerpoint.

Bug fixes

  • Fixed a bug that prevented alternative descriptions for images from being present in the audio alternative format.
  • Fixed a bug in the Canvas integration that would cause the instructor feedback indicator to show up in certain scenarios for courses that don’t have Ally enabled.
  • Fixed a bug in the Canvas integration that would cause some jumping of the interface when hovering over an accessibility indicator.
  • Fixed a bug in the Canvas integration that would cause the Canvas content preview icon to disappear in Pages.
Updated Features, Canvas Integration

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.

Updated Features, Blackboard Learn Integration

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.
Updated Features, Blackboard Learn Integration, Canvas Integration, Blackboard Open LMS Integration

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.
New Features, Updated Features, Blackboard Open LMS Integration, Blackboard Learn Integration, Canvas Integration

Ally 1.10.2 | Release to production 5 October, 2017

Updated Features

HTML accessibility checks

The speed at which Ally can check for accessibility issues in HTML content has been significantly improved, resulting in faster scoring for HTML files.

Improved file processor

Several improvements have been made to the file processor to reduce the number of files that can’t be processed successfully.

Bug fixes

  • Seizure inducing images are now also shielded in the Ally mobile view.
  • We fixed an issue that caused the columns in the Canvas files tool to be slightly misaligned.
  • Items added as an “Image” type within Learn no longer have a redundant second accessibility indicator.
Updated Features

Ally 1.10.1 | Release to production 26 September, 2017

Updated Features

Course CSV Export

Next to the existing CSV export capabilities in the institutional report, you can now export the data for an individual course as a CSV file.

This CSV export contains an entry for each content item in the course, including:

  • Item name
  • Item type
  • Accessibility score
  • Identified accessibility issues and score breakdown

Custom heading styles

The Ally accessibility checklist has been updated to also recognize custom heading styles as valid headings in Microsoft Word documents.

Accessibility indicator improvements

The Blackboard Learn 9.1 integration has been expanded to show accessibility indicators for images in a number of additional areas, including when embedded inside of the content editor.

We currently expect all images that don’t have alternative text set directly through the LMS to have an accessibility indicator.

Updated Features

Ally 1.10 | Release to production 15 September, 2017

New Features, Updated Features

Additional language support

Ally was already available in US English, UK English, Spanish and Dutch. With the 1.10 release, Ally is now also available in these languages:

  • French
  • Danish
  • Portuguese
  • Brazilian Portuguese
  • Finnish
  • Swedish
  • Welsh

Availability in these languages includes the Ally interface, as well as the alternative formats (including the audio format).

Alternative formats for uploaded HTML files

Uploaded HTML files will now have alternative formats including audio, ePub, and electronic braille.

Institutional reporting for uploaded HTML files

Accessibility issues identified in uploaded HTML files are now included in the institutional report.

Improved list recognition

The accuracy of recognizing lists in documents has been improved. Therefore, more lists will be correctly converted to a semantic list in the alternative formats.

Bug fixes

In Blackboard Learn, the Ally indicator was incorrectly positioned when embedding content inside of the WYSIWYG editor. This has now been resolved and the indicator is now displayed in the correct position.

New Features, Updated Features

Ally 1.9.2 | Release to production 9 September, 2017

Updated Features

Tagged PDF Parsing

Several improvements have been made to Ally’s handling of tagged PDFs, especially those tagged through Adobe Acrobat Professional.

Institutional Report CSV Export

A bug was fixed that would occasionally cause the institutional report CSV export to fail, especially for institutions with lots of content.

Alternative Format Downloads

A bug has been fixed that would occasionally cause the alternative formats to be incorrectly downloaded on Firefox.

Updated Features

Ally 1.9.1 | Release to production 7 September, 2017

Updated Features

Audio Format Accents

The audio alternative format now uses the most appropriate accent based on the location of the Ally deployment. For example, a user in North America would receive a North American English accent, a user in Europe would receive a British English accent and a user in Australia would receive an Australian English accent for an English document.

Bug Fixes

  • Fixed an issue where the accessibility indicator would be displayed in Canvas when the instructor feedback was disabled for that course.
  • Ensure that the accessibility score for a document is consistently rounded to prevent indicator inconsistencies.
Updated Features

Ally 1.9 | Release to production 29 August 2017

Updated Features

Improved audio generation

The audio alternative format has been significantly improved. Items such as headings, lists and tables are now read in a more consistent and structured way.

Deleted files in institution report

Files that are deleted from courses are no longer displayed in the institutional report, making it easier to get an up-to-date overview of every course.

Localized deployments

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

Bug Fixes

  • In Blackboard Learn, the instructor feedback icon is now displayed in the correct position for items with multiple attachments.
  • The accessible versions download option in Blackboard Open LMS is now localized.
Updated Features

Ally 1.8.1 | Release to production 12 August, 2017

New Features, Updated Features

Stability Improvements

  • Improved parsing for Microsoft Word documents, reducing the number of Microsoft Word documents that could not be processed
  • Improved OCR stability for large scanned documents
  • Increased the number of Canvas user roles that can be interpreted

Term Changes

Ally will now automatically pick up on term changes for courses and will update the institutional report accordingly.

Integration Improvements

An additional set of underlying improvements have been made to help speed up the initial integration process and allow for faster processing of existing courses and content items.

New Features, Updated Features

Ally 1.8 | Release to production 21 July, 2017

New Features, Updated Features

CSV Export

Ally now provides a CSV export of the institutional report data. This includes a full export of the yearly overview, term overview, monthly overview and all course reports. This CSV export allows institutions to do custom reporting and programmatically extract the Ally institutional report data.

Audio Format Internationalization

The audio alternative format is now made available in a voice that reflects the language of the source document. The audio format can be generated in US English, UK English, Australian English, Dutch, Spanish, French, Danish, Portuguese, Finnish, Swedish, Welsh, German, Italian, Turkish and Norwegian.

Alternative Format Improvements

Various stability improvements have been made to the alternative format generation process, reducing the number of instances in which an alternative format fails to be generated.

Integration Improvements

A wide range of underlying improvements have been made to help speed up the initial integration process and allow for faster processing of existing courses and content items.

New Features, Updated Features

Ally 1.7 | Release to production 6 July 2017

New Features, Blackboard Open LMS Integration

Blackboard Open LMS integration

Ally is now fully available for Blackboard Open LMS! This is the third Learning Management System to support Ally, along with Blackboard Learn and Instructure Canvas.

New Features, Blackboard Open LMS Integration

Ally 1.6 | Release to production 29 June, 2017

Updated Features

Spanish language support

Ally now has full support for Spanish across all Learning Management System integrations.

Improved mobile support

Viewing the Semantic HTML format of a document on a mobile device has been improved. The experience for the audio format has also been improved. On mobile devices, the audio will now play in the browser, with the ability to download the MP3 file.

Alternative Accessible Formats

The average file size for generated Alternative Accessible Formats has been significantly reduced. This especially benefits documents that contain images.

Documents without a language

Several improvements have been made to Ally's detection of documents without a language, especially for Word (.docx) and Powerpoint (.pptx) files.

Bug fixes and improvements

  • Fixed a bug in the Canvas Modules tool where all accessibility indicators would be updated to the same state when improving a single item.
  • Fixed a parsing issue that was causing occasional failures while generating an audio format.
  • Various wording improvements were made in the Instructor Feedback workflows.
  • The name under which an Alternative Accessible Format is downloaded is now the same as the original file name.
Updated Features

Ally 1.5.0 | Release to production 17 June, 2017

Updated Features

Audio alternative version

The generation of the audio alternative accessible version was previously limited to 20,000 characters. This has now been increased to 100,000 characters.

We are working on further improvements to split up the audio alternative format into chapters, allowing us to accommodate any document size.

Institutional report enhancements

The institutional report now benefits from many behind-the-scenes technical improvements, including updating the report every 15 minutes.

Updated Features

Ally 1.4 | Release to production 5 June, 2017

New Features, Updated Features

Dutch language support

Ally now has full support for Dutch in all Learning Management Systems.

Braille Ready File (.brf)

Ally now supports Electronic Braille in the Braille Ready File (.brf) file format. This is a specialized digital text format used to create embossed braille or be read using a braille display. The .brf file format is available as one of the alternative accessible formats provided to students.

Scanned document recognition

Improved recognition for scanned documents, especially for Powerpoint presentations or PDFs exported from a Powerpoint presentation.

Bug fixes

  • Fixed a bug where an incorrect message was shown when adding a library reference to an untagged PDF.
  • Fixed a bug where upon selecting the Close button in the Instructor Feedback, the screen remains open rather than closing the sidebar.
New Features, Updated Features

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

Updated Features, Blackboard Learn Integration

Ally 1.3.0 | Release to production 16 May, 2017

Updated Features

Images in Alternative Formats

The Semantic HTML and ePub alternative accessible formats generated by Ally now include all extracted images and figures from the original document.

Bug fixes

  • Prevent the Syllabus page in Canvas from showing the accessibility indicator multiple times for the same content item.
  • Fixed an issue where the Grades tool in Canvas would sometimes not load correctly in Safari.
Updated Features

Ally 1.2.0 | Release to production 9 May, 2017

New Features, Updated Features, Canvas Integration

UK English

Ally is now fully available in UK English for both the Blackboard Learn and Canvas integrations.

Canvas Tools

The Ally instructor feedback and alternative accessible formats are now also available in the Modules, Syllabus, and Assignments within Canvas. This extends support for Ally to all of the major native Canvas tools.

Errors

Ally now provides clearer error messages whenever an unexpected error occurs.

Institutional Report

The Courses view in the institutional report will now default to the current active term.

Bug fixes

  • Improved the placement of the accessibility score indicator in the Icon only and Text only views in Blackboard Learn.
  • Fixed a bug where a screen readers would not announce transitions between certain views in the report.
  • Fixed a bug where an item with a specific accessibility issue couldn’t always be downloaded from the institutional report in Blackboard Learn.
New Features, Updated Features, Canvas Integration

Ally 1.1 | Release to production 27 April, 2017

New Features, Updated Features

Administrator preview

It is now possible to enable the Ally alternative accessible formats and instructor feedback for administrators only, prior to enabling it for instructors and students. This option can help administrators to ensure proper configuration before turning the feature on for other users at the institution.

Accessibility improvements

A number of different accessibility improvements have been implemented:

  • Removed a keyboard trap in the alternative accessible formats overlay in Firefox
  • Improved form labels when entering a library reference for scanned or untagged PDFs
  • Improved focus control on form validation messages
  • Improved tab handling in the institutional report

Instructor feedback improvements

Various workflow and content improvements were implemented in the instructor feedback.

Bug fixes

  • We fixed a bug that would cause the institutional report to fail loading upon initial log in
  • We fixed an internationalization problem on the institutional report sign in page
  • In the Blackboard Learn integration, alternative descriptions provided through the Ally instructor feedback are now correctly incorporated when rendering the page
New Features, Updated Features

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.

New Features, Updated Features, Blackboard Learn Integration