Section 508

Here is some of Articulate's current documentation on Section 508 compliance:

Looks pretty good to me but I'm no expert on this.  Looks "better" than Studio, right?

Questions:  How robust is this Section 508 support with Storyline and how does it compare to other authoring tools?

I know we discussed this a bit during the beta but I can't find those threads.  The issue has also come up at my former company with some training that needs to be done for the government and I'm hoping that Storyline is the best choice for them.


31 Replies
Steve Flowers

Hey Brent,

On keyboard accessibility in Flash based media, this assertion that Flash isn't keyboard accessible is false. Flash is both keyboard and screen reader accessible. That is, the technology is accessible and how well keyboard controls work are determined by the implementation of the output. Storyline's published Flash output is, in fact, keyboard accessible for the most part. There are some exceptions:

  • Tab control works from upper left to lower right in this order. This constrains what you're able to do with keyboard controls but there are workarounds.
  • Scrolling objects within the published output are not keyboard accessible. The workaround here is to avoid using them.
  • There are limitations to the menu. One workaround here is to implement your own menu system using a slide or lightbox. 

Additionally, you can use master slide triggers to listen to key events, further enabling keyboard controls. Take a look at this example:

Tabbing through you'll see some of the offscreen objects highlight. This is an earlier version of the module. It could be a little buggy. A couple of features in this output:

1) Next / Back keyboard controls.

2) Keyboard number selections for questions and choices 1-5, A-F.

Steve Flowers

Meant to mention, I would anticipate accessibility will get even better in Storyline 2 in a future point release. It's not the worst tool on the market now but as a leader, having the best accessibility support on the market would be a big differentiator. Speculating HTML5 canvas is not unlike Flash in that many accessibility features aren't necessarily built-in. For canvas, a lot of work could be required to make content  screen reader and keyboard accessible.

I love that folks are looking at better accessibility. However, there are some considerations folks should make and take on a case by case basis, particularly with slide-based content. Many of the WCAG priority 2 requirements are going to require developer / designer intervention. For example:

  • 2.2 Color contrast. You'll need to manually select colors. A few validators check HTML contrast and this is helpful but the developer still needs to make a choice.
  • 7.4 Do not create auto periodically refreshing pages. Content loads from a single page in Storyline and content updates either with a timeline or internal navigation. This could be hardline interpreted as a no-go. But it seems to me this is an implementation issue. Considering how a user with _____ disability will experience the content is key.

And a few things that are going to be difficult / impossible to do in an elearning authoring tool that outputs exclusively to screens / slides. For example: 

  • 3.3 Style sheets to control layout and presentation. This is largely aimed at Web content. I get the intent here. It makes things easier for those that want to reshape their view of content without the pretty decoration. However, in fixed layout stuff and presentations - this doesn't really jive. It's possible, just not necessarily compatible with intent.
  • 3.5 Use header elements for structure. Again, aimed at longer form web based content, not bits of presentation. There is probably a way to do this efficiently but no tools on the market (that I'm aware of) abstract to build out header structure for a single screen / slide / page.

If folks are hard-over on WCAG 2, you might want to consider simplifying design and sticking with low-grade HTML and video embeds. There are a few frameworks that help in this area but it's got a higher technical component than tools like Storyline.

Mike Enders

Hi Hanna,

It's certainly not a mandatory part of the process.  However, if you're new to building 508 compliant courses, then it would certainly be a good practice to have a professional guide you through the process and audit the course.  As for finding them,  that's easier said than done. But here's a forum thread that should help get you started.

Good Luck!


david mckisick

Hey all. This is an important topic for me as well. SL is indeed quite good in terms of supporting 508 but it does fall short in closed captioning. I currently use a custom setup for doing closed captions that works quite well, but does take a lot of work. In fact, I think its a solution that Steve Flowers (?) posted a while back which uses a placeholder object to "hold" a text variable. This works well with a master slide closed caption layer. Other than that, it really is incumbent upon the developer to ensure that the course is compliant with all the various 508 standards.