We want all learners to interact as fully as possible with the courses you create in Rise 360. We know it’s important to you as well. That’s why accessibility is a critical part of our roadmap. Below we’ve put together a journal of the work we’ve done so far. And we’ll keep this updated as we continue our accessibility journey.

Section 508 and Improved Accessibility for Labeled Graphic Blocks

January 28, 2021

Section 508

When U.S. agencies present information and offer services, what they produce must be accessible to persons with disabilities. To ensure they’re in compliance, those agencies (and folks that produce content for them) abide by the Revised Section 508 standards

To make it easier for those working with the U.S. government, we’ve added Section 508 criteria to our Rise 360 accessibility report.

Labeled Graphic Blocks

Labeled graphic blocks are a great way to bring visual flair to your courses and let learners explore at their own pace. However, especially if paired with a white background, the default labeled graphics markers need more contrast to meet accessibility guidelines. 

That’s why authors now have the ability to modify their markers with a handy color picker. Found in the labeled graphic block settings, the color picker lets you quickly change the color of all your markers either by entering the hex code, using the brand color, or selecting a custom color of your choice.

Other improvements to the labeled graphic block include: 

  • Markers are now read as an ordered list by screen readers.
  • Screen readers announce marker icons as part of the marker.
  • The marker state (whether or not it’s been viewed) is also announced by screen readers.
  • When you open a marker, you’ll now tab into the content first instead of the controls for a more user-friendly experience.
  • Closing a marker label with the ESC key brings the focus back to the marker.
  • When you navigate away from an open marker label, it closes automatically.

With these upgrades in place, we can now say that the labeled graphic blocks are 100% accessible! 

The improvements we made in this update follow these WCAG criteria: Non-text Content 1.1.1 (Level A), Info and Relationships 1.3.1 (Level A), Descriptive Labels 2.4.6.b (Level AA), Name, Role, Value 4.1.2.a (Level A)

Screen Reader Support and Our VPAT®!

December 2, 2020

In the past few weeks, we improved screen reader responses for quizzes and knowledge checks. For multiple choice and multiple response questions, it’s obvious when learners enter list elements. Additionally, keyboard navigation makes it clear when a choice has focus. Answer reviews and reveals are now accessible to screen readers, and feedback announcements are more intuitive. The quiz results page follows a logical order with fewer distractions, making it easier for learners to understand their results.

With these latest updates, we now officially support NVDA, JAWS, VoiceOver, and TalkBack screen readers with Rise 360 courses. Our goal is to ensure that learners who rely on screen readers have as satisfying and rich of a learning experience as everyone else when exploring Rise 360 courses. 

Today we also released a Voluntary Product Accessibility Template® (VPAT®) that outlines the WCAG Level A and Level AA criteria conformance for Rise 360.

With our VPAT® in place, we’re confident that Rise 360 now provides an accessible learning experience. Of course, meeting the criteria is only the first step. Our accessibility work is ongoing. In the coming months we’ll dive deeper to make even more improvements and address the exceptions we listed in our VPAT®. We want to ensure that everyone has the best Rise 360 experience possible, no matter what.

The improvements we made in this update follow these WCAG criteria: Info and Relationships 1.3.1 (Level A), Meaningful Sequence 1.3.2 (Level A), Keyboard 2.1.1 (Level A), Focus Order 2.4.3 (Level A), Focus Visible 2.4.7 (Level AA), Name, Role, Value 4.1.2 (Level A)

Ensuring Alternate Text Is Available Where It’s Needed

September 15, 2020

Alternative text (alt text) is a key element of accessibility. With the multitude of image-based blocks in Rise, we made sure you can add alt text to your images and that screen readers announce that text elegantly. 

First, we went through our image blocks and verified that alt text is only read once by screen readers. This includes: 

  • Image Centered
  • Image Full Width
  • Image & Text
  • Text on Image
  • Image Carousel
  • Image Grids (2, 3, and 4 column)
  • Accordion
  • Tabs
  • Labeled Graphic marker images (not the background image)
  • Process 
  • Timeline 
  • Knowledge Checks
  • Quiz

If there are images in these blocks that don’t have alt text, screen readers ignore the tag and just announce them as images or read the file name. 

To wrap things up, we addressed click-to-zoom images. Screen readers now announce a zoom button for images. The interface won’t be any different for sighted users but ensures those who use screen readers have a comparable experience. When users zoom in on an image, screen readers announce the alt text associated with it for context.

The improvements we made in this update follow these WCAG criteria: Info and Relationships 1.3.1 (Level A), Meaningful Sequence 1.3.2 (Level A), Parsing 4.1.1 (Level A), Name, Role, Value 4.1.2 (Level A)

Improving Color Contrast

August 14, 2020 

Most people don’t give a second thought to color contrast and how it affects design. But it has a marked effect on how you and your learners approach Rise 360. 

If the contrast between elements is too stark, like black checkboxes on a white background, it can make things feel a little basic. Conversely, if the contrast is too subtle, like light grey boxes on a white background, it becomes harder for learners with low vision to experience the full impact of your content. 

That’s why we’ve gone through and closely examined the color contrast and opacity of the following elements and made adjustments. They’re more accessible, while still ensuring your learners enjoy the high-end design they’ve come to expect from Rise 360. Here’s what we’ve done to improve contrast in Rise 360:

  • Darkened the color of the X icon in the search bar 
  • Increased the default opacity of the text on image blocks to improve readability 
  • Improved the contrast of unselected step counters in process blocks
  • Ensured that the “Click to Flip” text on flashcard blocks doesn’t appear lighter than what you pick in block settings
  • Darkened the colors for several knowledge check elements, including radio buttons, checkboxes, text field borders, and drag-and-drop borders
  • Darkened the border color for the interactive elements of sorting activities
  • Increased the opacity on the unselected dots and darkened the progress arrows for quote carousels 
  • Replaced the download icons for the attachment block with more accessible alternatives

The improvements we made in this update follow these WCAG criteria: Contrast (Minimum) 1.4.3, Non-context Contrast 1.4.11 (Level AA)

Improving Sidebar Accessibility

May 28, 2020

The sidebar is more than just a menu. It displays a list of lessons and sections and also functions as a results box when you use the search bar. We wanted to make it even easier to access the information in the sidebar when using just the keyboard or a screen reader. 

Keyboard Navigation

When you use the Tab button to navigate, you should only be able to interact with the elements displayed on the screen. We made sure that you can’t press Tab to access lessons hidden under collapsed section headers in the sidebar. 

Also, when the sidebar itself is hidden completely by the course author, we found that you could still tab to the search field. Not only is that not accessibility compliant, but it can bypass author intent. We changed this and now you can’t access the search field if the sidebar is hidden.

Speaking of restricted course navigation, if the learner is required to take a quiz to continue in a course, there are several visual cues, including a pop-up tooltip. Those tooltips now display when a user tabs to a lesson they can’t yet access.

The improvements we made in this update follow these WCAG criteria: Content on Hover 1.4.13 (Level AA), Keyboard 2.1.1 (Level A), Focus Order 2.4.3 (Level A), Name, Role, Value 4.1.2 (Level A)

Screen Reader Support

Since the sidebar does so much, we wanted to make sure that screen readers properly announced each section. We labeled each individual portion of the sidebar with its true function, rather than having the entire element announced as a “menu.”

Search Field

Searching from the sidebar needed additional tweaks to make it work better with screen readers. This was tricky. After all, we’re taking a section of the interface you usually use to navigate and turning it into something completely different—a search field and results list. Now, screen readers announce if the sidebar is displaying search results or the course outline. 

We reworked the icons as well. The X that closes the search field was announced simply as “X,” so we gave it more context. Now, screen readers announce that button as “Close the Search Form.” Much more descriptive! We also hid the magnifying glass icon from screen readers since it’s purely decorative.

The improvements we made in this update follow these WCAG criteria: Non-text Content 1.1.1 (Level A), Identify Purpose 1.3.6 (Level AAA)

Progress Indicator 

As you scroll through a lesson in Rise 360, one thing happening in the periphery is that the “progress pie” fills up in the sidebar as you reach completion. For quiz lessons, you can glance at the sidebar and see if you passed or failed based on their icons. They’re nice visual reminders when you return to a course of how far along you are and how you’re doing.

Screen readers now announce the lesson title as well as the current recorded progress as a percentage. If it’s a quiz lesson, the screen reader announces if you passed or failed that quiz previously.

And to support our sidebar labeling effort, all of these lessons are now listed as buttons with the necessary pressed and unpressed states.

The improvements we made in this update follow these WCAG criteria: Non-text Content 1.1.1 (Level A), Identify Purpose 1.3.6 (Level AAA)

Sidebar Control

Learners can collapse and expand the sidebar using the menu icon (☰) in the upper left corner of the lesson content. And now, screen readers announce the icon's function so visually impaired learners know what it does: “Open/Close Lesson Sidebar.”

The improvements we made in this update follow these WCAG criteria: Identify Purpose 1.3.6 (Level AAA), Name, Role, Value 4.1.2 (Level A)


Mark Banit
Mark Banit
Marvie Yap-Mulder

Hi Mark, Flashcard interactive block is not 100% WCAG 2.1 compliant at the moment, but you make a good point about the opacity changes on hover. I'll make sure to pass it along as we continue our accessibility journey. We have been working hard towards our goal to make Rise courses WCAG 2.1 compliant. The items listed in this article are the highlights and critical areas that we fixed. The sidebar, for example, is a critical component for your course navigation where we made a sizeable amount of A11y fixes. In the months that have passed, we have incrementally fixed and streamlined accessibility issues and workflows. These are incremental, but substantial fixes. While we are not yet 100% WCAG 2.1 compliant, I'm curious to find out what your experience is if you were to run a scre... Expand

Carol Dawson

Hello! Thank you for doing the very important work of making Rise accessible. I just tested a course in Review 360. I'm happy to see that the issue of having all the completed questions repeated on subsequent questions is no longer an issue. Thank you! Here are the challenges I encountered in a quiz: 1. After the screen reader read the question, I arrowed to the next one. While the first choice was highlighted, the question was repeated. I had to arrow down again to hear the question. Subsequent choices did not include the question, so this has improved over prior experiences. 2. Check boxes in multiple response (more than one choice is correct) are announced as "graphic checkmark". It would be more helpful if it read as "checkbox unchecked" or "checkbox checked". 3. The text is... Expand

Organization & Staff  Development
Nicola Fern
Frederick Bergeron