508, WCAG 2.0 and 2.1 Conformance - SL 360 not meeting standards.

We have read everything provided re: SL 360's conformance with WCAG 2.0, 2.1, and 508. However, after our product was review by a federal agency they said features like the player tab order did not meet the standards for conformance.

How was conformance determined and vetted and what standard is it set to ISO, HHS, DOJ, etc.? Did Articulate get approval from any of the previously named organizations for their standards for certification of conformance as they all vary? And does Articulate have a point of contact re: 508 and WCAG conformance that can provide assistance when issues like this arise?

Has anyone else had this issue? And, if so, how did it get resolved?

 

3 Replies
Julie Stelter

Hi Meredith,

I feel your pain. WCAG is the guideline that you are measured by. However, it guides website accessibility, not eLearning courses. There is obvious applicability between the two but it is not 1:1. I do not believe there is a standard (legally defensible) for website or eLearning courses at this time in the U.S. However, there are guidelines and organizational expectations and these as you have found out may vary depending upon the government agency. With that said, I would like to hear Articulate's response to your question.

I too have found the player tab order lacking in accessibility and usability. It can be buggy at times and work at other times. As a result, I only use custom navigation when the organization is expecting the strictest of conformity to the guidelines to keep users out of the player. I would be happy to chat with you about your project and strategies to resolve the issues noted in the review. You can call me at 262.385.1494 or email me at julie@waldengroup.net

To designers who are starting projects that need to be accessible, you need to have frank conversations about what exactly this means to the organization so you know how to comply. Conversations need to be discussed feature by feature, element by element using the WCAG as the starting point.

Cheers,

Julie

Simon Taghioff

Hi Meredith,

Thanks for sharing your experience with us. The accessibility conformance statements we make in our Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT) are based on extensive auditing by our internal teams over a long period of time. The VPAT statement is updated frequently to reflect changes in our level of support, the most recent revision being April 2019. There is no requirement that our own assessment is externally validated or certified.

Although there is no common standard for e-learning specifically, our goal is to be in compliance with WCAG 2.0/AA. The standard was written with web pages in mind, and leaves room for subjectivity when it comes to implementing those standards in an e-learning course. It is entirely understandable that, however robust our internal process, third parties such as federal agencies might well take a different view on whether we meet their interpretation of the standard.

Having said this, we accept that there are several areas where we could improve our level of support for the relevant standards as well as improve the subjective learner experience for a user of assistive technologies.

We’ve been investing heavily to evolve our accessibility support, initially focusing on the player (the tabs, menus etc.). We’re currently running an Early Access Program so that external stakeholders can evaluate these improvements and give feedback as they’re being worked on.

We believe it’s important to involve our accessibility community in this process from an early stage if we are to meet your needs and validate our efforts as widely as possible. If you or anyone else are interested in our early access program for accessibility, please email beta@articulate.com and we’ll get you set up.

Kind regards,

Simon Taghioff
Product Manager, Articulate 360

Noel Sapp

In my brief experience with this, it seems that Articulate adherence to 508 compliance is quite loose. In a way, it can be argued that compliance can be subjective to the discretion of any agency's compliance officer or review staff; however, that's not standard against literal standards that have been defined. "Well, we can't do this specific thing but if we provide an alternative version of the material presented then we can wash our hands of that compliance obligation."

For example, so far my biggest tabbing issue has been in dealing with interactions that trigger layered responses. Perhaps there is a way to show focus to force tab order from an active button to the response layer but, so far, I've not found it. Instead, assistive technology users seem to be forced to tab through the entire contents of a slide's base layer before even becoming aware that a response layer has been presented. I admit that this specific item may be be due to my ignorance in the Articulate workflow. I am hoping someone will correct me either here or in another thread that another user has posted on the very topic.

I do like that I have a dedicated Tab Order interface to help control some of that, but groups and layered responses do not play nice with 508 and tabbed order.

Granted the argument can be made that technically there are no standards for eLearning and that it doesn't necessarily have to follow the rules for HTML compliance being, semantically, a different entity; however, I doubt government agencies tasked to evaluate compliance would agree.

Thank you, Simon, for your response and for the link to take part in the accessibility early access.