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Ally 1.51 | Release to production 6 November 2020

New features, Updated features

WYSIWYG Alternative Formats for Ultra documents

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

Ally Alternative Formats for Attachments in the Blackboard App

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

Ally 1.49 | Release to production 6 September 2020

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

Departmental reporting

Next to the reporting provided at the institutional level and the individual course level, Ally 1.49 now introduces the ability to view reporting based on the configured institutional hierarchy. This features makes it significantly easier to understand how different parts of the institution are performing around accessibility, can help better determine where to target efforts, and starts to provide insight for departmental administrators. We think this feature will be especially useful for large institutions and institutions sharing an LMS instance.

The provided reporting is based on:

  • Blackboard Learn: Configured institutional hierarchy
  • Instructure Canvas: Configured sub-account structure
  • Moodle: Configured categories
  • D2L Brightspace: Configured “Department” organizational units

The departmental reporting can be accessed through a new Directory tab in the institutional report. Global administrators will see the list of all top level nodes, and can continue to drill down into the hierarchy or view a more detailed report for each node. This more detailed report is similar to what can be found in the institutional report, but the data, CSV export and usage reports are all narrowed down to the selected node.

Departmental or node administrators will only be able to see the report for the node they can manage, and will be able to view the report for any sub-nodes they can manage as well.

The “Directory” tab will not display if no institutional hierarchy is configured in the LMS.

Arabic alternative formats

With the Ally 1.42 release, the Ally user interface became available in Arabic, including full right-to-left layout support.

Ally 1.49 introduces support for the Ally alternative formats in Arabic as well. This includes availability in Arabic of the Tagged PDF, semantic HTML, Audio, Electronic Braille and BeeLine Reader alternative formats, as well as right-to-left layout support for the machine learning algorithms that drive the generation of these alternative formats.

Read the press release

WYSIWYG alternative formats for D2L Brightspace

Following the release of WYSIWYG alternative formats for Blackboard Learn Original and Instructure Canvas as part of the Ally 1.48 release, WYSIWYG alternative formats are now also available for D2L Brightspace courses.

Ally 1.49 bug fixes and improvements

  • Fixed a bug that occasionally caused the usage reports to be empty.
  • Fixed a bug in the conversion of complex tables (e.g., table cell that spans multiple columns) in the different alternative formats.
  • Implemented several improvements to the accessibility checklist for HTML files and web pages.
  • Implemented several improvements to the checking of larger and more complex Word and PowerPoint documents.
  • Improved the Moodle integration to process content in copied courses more quickly.
  • Fixed a bug that caused marking an image as decorative through the instructor feedback to fail.
  • Fixed a bug that occasionally caused Tagged PDFs containing lots of large images to be flagged as a scanned document.
  • Implemented data encryption at rest for AWS S3 storage.
  • Implemented several translation improvements to the Brazilian Portuguese translation.

Ally 1.48 | Release to production 19 August 2020

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

WYSIWYG alternative formats

Ally is now able to generate alternative formats for content created through the LMS content editor (WYSIWYG content). The available alternative formats for this WYSIWYG content include ePub, Audio, Electronic Braille, BeeLine Reader and the Translated Version.

This means that Ally is now able to provide alternative formats for both WYSIWYG content and uploaded files (PDF documents, Word documents, PowerPoint documents, etc.), providing good coverage of the types of content that can be found in the LMS. Given the exponential growth in alternative format usage observed in the last year, we’re excited to provide students with additional choice and flexibility in how they engage with their course content.

To access the alternative formats for a WYSIWIG content item, the alternative format icon next to the item can be selected. For WYSIWYG content items that also include uploaded files, students are provided a choice between accessing the alternative formats for the WYSIWYG item and accessing the alternative formats for the embedded files.

This feature is currently only available for Blackboard Learn Original and Instructure Canvas. Because of dependencies on new LMS APIs and functionality, this feature will be introduced for Blackboard Learn Ultra, D2L Brightspace and Moodle courses as part of a future Ally release.

Ally 1.48 bug fixes and improvements

  • Fixed a bug in the audio alternative format that occasionally caused HTML characters to be read out as part of the audio.
  • Fixed a bug in the accessibility checklist that prevented PDFs produced using LaTeX Beamer from being scored.
  • Improved the Moodle integration to better handle content with a negative creation time.

Ally 1.44.1 | Release to production 1 June 2020

Canvas integration, D2L Brightspace integration, New features, Updated features

Audio alternative format

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

D2L Brightspace course templates

Ally is now able to check the content in Brightspace course templates for accessibility issues and provide alternative formats for them. This allows for the accessibility of course templates to be improved before they are used to create new course offerings.

Ally 1.44.1 bug fixes and improvements

  • The YouTube caption check has been improved to reflect the full set of permutations provided by the YouTube API
  • Fixed a bug in the Canvas integration that caused the “Disable alternative formats” option for a content item to not be available when the instructor feedback was disabled for the course

Ally 1.43 | Release to production 6 May 2020

New features, Blackboard Learn integration

Blackboard App integration

We’re excited to announce that the Blackboard Ally alternative formats can now be accessed directly from the Blackboard App. Many of the alternative formats provided by Ally such as the responsive HTML version, the Tagged PDF version, the ePub version and the Audio version are particularly relevant for use on mobile devices, and we were already seeing a large percentage of alternative formats accessed through mobile devices. With the addition of the alternative formats in the Blackboard App, we believe this will further increase use of the alternative formats in mobile contexts.

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

More on Ally in the Blackboard app

Ally 1.42 | Release to production 23 April 2020

New Features, Updated features

Ally in Arabic

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

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

Ally 1.42 bug fixes and improvements

  • Fixed a bug in the instructor feedback that caused the Help link to overlap with the instructor feedback guidance
  • Fixed a bug that would occasionally cause files smaller than 50MB uploaded through the instructor feedback to fail

Ally 1.41.1 | Release to production 17 April 2020

New Features, Updated features

CSV export

The “courses.csv” file that is part of the institutional report CSV export now contains a new Ally enabled column. This column shows TRUE when the instructor feedback and alternative formats are enabled for a course, and shows FALSE when the instructor feedback and alternative formats are disabled for a course.

More on the CSV export

Ally 1.41.1 bug fixes and improvements

  • Improved the instructor feedback to better handle the uploading of a content type that’s different from the original content type.
  • Improved the wording of the success and failure messages that are shown when uploading a new content item through the instructor feedback.
  • Fixed a bug in the institutional report that caused the comparison between the current time period and the previous time period to be incorrect.
  • Fixed a bug in the Moodle integration that occasionally prevented the seizure protection for images flagged as seizure inducing from rendering correctly.
  • Fixed a validation bug in the date picker for the Usage Reports.
  • The Ally for D2L Brightspace and Ally for Canvas integrations have been improved to require less REST API calls when synchronizing a course.

Ally 1.41 | Release to production 6 April 2020

New Features, Updated features

PDFs without title

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

Generate tagged PDFs

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

BeeLine Reader night mode

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

Ally 1.41 bug fixes and improvements

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

Ally 1.40 | Release to production 27 March 2020

New Features, Updated features

BeeLine Reader alternative format

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

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

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

More information on BeeLine Reader

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


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

Ally 1.40 bug fixes and improvements

  • Implemented support for PPSX (PowerPoint Slideshow) files.
  • Due to a recent change in how Canvas loads the Global Javascript Include, implemented a fix to prevent the Ally javascript snippet being included multiple times from causing any issues.
  • Improved the accessibility of the tabs in the institutional report to allow them to be selected using the arrow keys.

Ally 1.38 | Release to production 17 January 2020

New features, Updated features

Accessibility Scoring

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

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

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

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

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

Ally for LMS

Ally for Websites

Ally 1.38 bug fixes and improvements

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