General

What languages are supported in Blackboard Ally?

Blackboard Ally is available in many different languages. 

Blackboard Ally is available in these languages.

  • Catalan
  • Danish
  • Dutch
  • English, US
  • English, UK
  • Finnish
  • French
  • French, Canadian
  • German
  • Italian
  • Norwegian Bokmål
  • Norwegian Nynorsk
  • Polish
  • Portuguese
  • Portuguese, Brazilian
  • Spanish
  • Swedish
  • Turkish
  • Welsh

What about the servers for 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.

Where can I find the Blackboard Ally service level commitment?

Blackboard Ally Service Level Commitment document (available in English only)

Is there a fixed release schedule for Blackboard Ally?

Ally uses a true software as a service (SaaS) approach where new releases are frequently pushed to production. There is no fixed release schedule at this point, although on average a new release goes out every 1-2 weeks. These releases typically do not coincide with any other Blackboard products.

The only exception to the continuous release approach is when a significantly user-facing change is coming up. In this case, we provide 1 month’s notice before making it available in production.

With this continuous release cadence, it is not possible to get access to an early version of a release on a test/staging environment.


Accessibility checklist

What content does Ally check?

Ally currently checks these file formats:

  • Web pages/HTML content
  • Images
  • PDF files
  • Microsoft® Word files
  • Microsoft® Powerpoint® files
  • OpenOffice/LibreOffice files
  • Uploaded HTML files
  • Embedded YouTube™ videos

    GoogleTM Privacy Policy

What accessibility issues does Ally check for?

Ally’s accessibility checklist is based on WCAG 2.1 AA (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines). This is an international accessibility standard, and most of the legislation and legal requirements worldwide align with this standard.

Additionally, Ally also adds a number of additional checks on top of this that start to target the usability and quality of the web content a bit more.

What does Ally do with content it can’t check?

Ally includes content it can’t check for accessibility issues, such as ZIP archive and XML file, under “Other” in the accessibility report. This content does not receive an accessibility score and does not contribute to the institution’s accessibility score. 

More on the institution report for admins

What is a contrast check?

Contrast checks verify whether there is sufficient contrast between the text color and its background color. Text with poor contrast can be difficult to read for everyone, but especially for students with visual impairments such as color blindness.

Ally uses the contrast requirements specified as part of the WCAG 2.1 AA guidelines

Use the Colour Contrast Analyser from The Paciello Group any time to check your content.

Where do I find the Ally accessibility checklist?

More on the accessibility checklist

Content Editor FAQs for Ally

Visitor FAQs About Ally For Websites

What alternative formats does Ally generate?

Ally provides alternative formats for these content types:

  • PDF files
  • Microsoft® Word files
  • Microsoft® Powerpoint® files
  • OpenOffice/LibreOffice files
  • Uploaded HTML files
  • Content created in the web page editor tool (WYSIWIG)

These alternative formats can be generated:

  • OCR’d version (for scanned documents)
  • Tagged PDF (currently for Word, Powerpoint and OpenOffice/LibreOffice files)
  • Mobile-friendly HTML
  • Audio
  • ePub
  • Electronic Braille
  • BeeLine Reader
  • Translated Version
    • Translated Version is disabled by default. Administrators can submit a support case to have it enabled.

More on alternative formats

Are alternate formats generated when a request to download is made?

When an alternative format for a content item is requested for the first time, Ally generates the format on demand. In most cases, it generates within 1-2 minutes.

As soon as it is generated, the alternative format is downloaded. Ally then caches the result, so any additional requests for the same alternative format can be served and downloaded from cache immediately.

Braille questions

Ally Braille FAQ

Which Braille code does Ally use for the Electronic Braille Format?

Ally uses Braille Ready File (.brf) as the electronic Braille format. The braille code used depends on the language the document is in. For English documents, Ally uses Grade 2 Unified English Braille (contracted).

More on Unified English Braille on the UKAAF website

Can the Ally Electronic Braille Format be printed using a Braille printer?

The Braille Ready File (.brf) format can be used for both electronic braille displays and braille embossers (printers).

You still need to check whether a specific Braille embosser/printer supports the .brf format.

More on BRF on the Accessible Instructional Materials website

 

Why do I see "The alternative formats for this file have been disabled"?

Administrators can turn off alternative formats for individual web pages and files. 

What do content editors need to do to generate alternative accessible formats for a content item?

Nothing. Ally automatically picks up on any existing or new materials, runs it through the accessibility checklist, and makes the alternative versions available to both the visitor and the editor.

Is there a file size limit?

There is no file size limit for the checking of content for accessibility issues. It is possible that particularly large or complex files can fail to be checked.

There is a 50MB file size limit for fixed files that are uploaded directly through the Ally content editor feedback panel.

There is no limit on the generation of alternative formats, including the HTML alternative format. It is possible that the alternative formats for particularly large or complex files can fail to generate. There are exceptions:

  • There is a 30MB / 100 page limit for generating the OCRd alternative format for scanned documents. The OCRd alternative format is a pre-requisite for generating the other alternative formats for scanned documents. 
  • There is a 100,000 character limit for the audio alternative format. This character limit typically corresponds to at least 30 pages or several hours of audio.

How does Ally handle password protected content?

Ally detects password-protected content, gives the content a 0% accessibility score and provides guidance to help remove the password through the content editor feedback panel. Ally doesn't generate any alternative formats for password protected content, as we can’t get access to the actual content.

Can I disable alternative formats?

Yes, administrators can disable alternative formats.

 

Content editor feedback panel

Instructor Feedback FAQs

How do I see all issues?

Select All issues to see every issue in the file. This view shows you by how much the score can improve by fixing each issue. Find the issue you want to start fixing and select Fix.

What threshold is used for the color of the accessibility indicator?

We provide every document with an accessibility score, which is a percentage score that is supposed to reflect how accessible an item is, how many people it can affect, how severely it affects them, and so on. To calculate the accessibility score for a document, we take a weighted average of the different accessibility rules/checks, as some rules are more important/impactful than others.

Within the User Interface, we use thresholds for determining the color of the indicator.

Ally Accessibility Score Icons

Scores range from Low to Perfect. The higher the score the fewer the issues.

  • Low (0-33%): Needs help! There are severe accessibility issues.
  • Medium (34-66%): A little better. The file is somewhat accessible and needs improvement.
  • High (67-99%): Almost there. The file is accessible but more improvements are possible.
  • Perfect (100%): Perfect! Ally didn't identify any accessibility issues but further improvements may still be possible.

Accessibility is very much a spectrum where further improvements are always possible, so it’s hard to provide a point the item becomes “accessible”. However, once an item is in the green zone it should be doing reasonably well.

What content types are in-browser previews available for?

In-browser previews are currently available for these files:

  • Images
  • PDF Documents
  • Word Documents
  • PowerPoint presentations
  • OpenOffice/LibreOffice files (Writer and Impress)

These previews are then used to identify where in the document specific accessibility issues can be found. Highlights are currently provided for these issues:

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

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

More on previews


YouTube videos

What does Ally do with YouTube videos?

Ally checks YouTubeTM videos for captions and presents this information in the accessibility reports. Auto-generated YouTube captions aren't considered to be valid captions. Any YouTube video with auto-generated captions is considered "not captioned" in the Institutional Report.

Ally checks for both embedded YouTube videos and links to YouTube videos.

Within the report, the "HTML: The HTML content contains videos without captions" column highlights the number of HTML content and files that have YouTube videos without captions. In the export of the Institutional Report, the column name is HtmlCaption:2.

There isn't any feedback or alternative formats available at this time for videos.