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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 1.47 | Release to production 10 August 2020

Updated features

Blackboard Learn institutional hierarchy

The Blackboard Learn integration has been expanded to include the institutional hierarchy information for a course under the Department id and Department name columns in the courses.csv CSV export in the institutional report. This institutional hierarchy information is based on the institutional hierarchy configured within Blackboard Learn.

This work enables the calculation of the Ally score for each department in the institutional hierarchy through a tool like Excel, and serves as part of the foundational work to support the upcoming native reporting by institutional hierarchy in the institutional report.

This features requires Blackboard Learn 3800.13.0, and is therefore currently only available for institutions using Blackboard Learn SaaS.

Ally 1.47 bug fixes and improvements

  • Improved the feedback and guidance for documents containing tables with missing table headings
  • Fixed a bug in the Canvas integration that prevented the alternative formats modal from opening correctly in Modules
  • Fixed an accessibility bug in the tabs in the Course Accessibility Report

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 1.44 | Release to production 15 May 2020

Canvas integration, Moodle integration, Updated features

Course accessibility report in Safari

Due to the 3rd party cookie blocking policy recently introduced by the Safari browser, Ally LTI tools wouldn’t load in Safari unless 3rd party cookies are explicitly allowed in the browser settings.

More information about how these browser changes affect LTI tools on these sites:

Full third party cookie blocking and more

LTI frames and cookies oh my

The course accessibility report LTI tool has been updated to no longer rely on these cookies, and should now always load correctly in Safari.

More on the course accessibility report LTI tool

This improvement doesn't yet apply to the Ally institutional report and configuration UI LTI tools. These will be updated in a future release.

Ally 1.44 bug fixes and improvements

  • Fixed a bug in the Canvas integration that prevented the alternative formats modal from loading when selecting Alternative Formats in a Canvas content preview.
  • Fixed a bug in the Moodle integration that caused too much content to be pulled through the Moodle API when re-synchronizing a course.
  • Fixed a bug that caused the incorrect tab to be selected when returning to the Courses tab in the institutional report.
  • Fixed a bug in the instructor feedback that caused an error when selecting the I need to keep it button for a seizure inducing animation.

Ally 1.41.1 | 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 1.40 | 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.