JAWS does not read items in the set tab order

May 04, 2020

Hi all, I have an open ticket with support, but wanted to try and get some input from others. 

I am using the version of Storyline from January. I have a course that worked fine up until March. It languished for 6 weeks while I waited for our 508 testing team to get to it. That team found that JAWS does not read items in order. For example, if I have 5 text boxes on the page, it will read them in some odd order that does not seem to correspond to anything. The Tab Order is set correctly. 

I sent a sample of the course to support, and they updated it to the latest version of Storyline to see if that would fix the problem. With that updated version, JAWS does not read anything on the page. 

In both versions, JAWS will read the slide name (which should be "invisible" to the end user) and slide regions multiple times. For example: 

"Slide colon course objectives. Slide colon course objectives main region. Slide colon course objectives."

And then with the upgraded version of the course it just sits there and reads nothing. With the January version of Storyline it will read all that, and then read the items on the screen in no particular order, but will read it multiple times. 

Has anyone else experienced such a thing? I have now found that all my courses act this way, and updating Storyline will not resolve the issue. 

10 Replies
Kristin Hatcher

Brief update: I found another thread about this here.

Also, apparently upgrading to the latest version of Storyline does help a little. I wasn't using the up/down arrow keys to navigate through the text on the screen (oops). However, JAWS will occasionally read "Blank" for no apparent reason, and it will stop reading the text partway through a sentence. Also, it puts the word "Clickable" after every object on the screen even though the text boxes are not clickable.

Here is a video of it working this way.


Lauren Connelly

Hi Kristin!

I see that you've been working with our Support team! I'm happy to explain what you/re noticing with JAWS and Storyline!

First, you'll find that in Update 36 (Build 3.36.21213.0) for Storyline 360 the slide content was auto-read by screen readers. We heard a lot of feedback from users who agreed that it wasn't the best option for their learners who use screen readers. With that, we changed this setting in Update 37 (Build 3.37.21453.0) so the slide content wouldn't be auto-read by screen readers.

Also, which version of JAWS are you using? It looks like JAWS 2020 includes the fix for the two bugs you've listed; JAWS reads clickable and blank. Here are the release notes.

Lastly, you can find our accessibility improvements listed out here. We are continuing to monitor and track customer input. When we have more updates, I'll report back to this discussion.

Kristin Hatcher

Hi Lauren, thank you so much for the response. I'm glad to hear that you've fixed the issue with JAWS reading "blank" and "clickable."

The main problem was that no matter the tab order or how items were arranged on the screen, JAWS did not read the items in any discernible order. This happened with my current version of Storyline (January 28) or the latest version of Storyline. For now I've rolled back to December and the support team has opened a bug report. 

Lauren Connelly

Hi Kristin!

I was able to look into your project and found a few reasons why JAWS isn't reading the tab order.

First, JAWS won't read the text in or on an image. There is one alt text assigned to each object.

Second, if you're using slide masters then that content isn't included in the tab order. So you'll only hear and be able to interact with objects on the slide. 

Lastly, you'll need to make sure that every object is visible to screen readers. 

Here's how to check this setting:

Kristin Hatcher

Hi Lauren,

Thanks for continuing to look into this. I am familiar with the process of setting the tab order and making items visible or invisible to screen readers. I have one page with a number of text boxes and images. I had the tab order set with the text boxes grouped with their corresponding image. JAWS does not read those items in the set tab order. To be clear, it does read all the items I want it to read, but it reads them 2 or 3 times each, and in no order I've set. I can't see where it's getting the order it's choosing. 

The images do not have alt text, and are not in the tab order and are not visible to screen readers. I do not want them to be. 

I am using slide masters, but the items in question are not part of the master. 

I tried ungrouping the text and images, and JAWS does not read the set tab order. 

I tried ensuring that the item I wanted read first was "brought to front" on the page, and the next items was next, etc. JAWS does not read the set tab order. 

I tried retyping the text, in case I had copied/pasted the text from MS Word. Word can leave behind meta data that causes odd issues. I try never to do that, and will often copy text from Word into Notepad first as Notepad will strip out that meta data. Retyping the text did not work. JAWS will not read the items in the set tab order. 

I rolled back to the December version of Storyline, and JAWS will read the items in the set tab order. I had thought maybe my Storyline file had become corrupted, but I am thinking that if it works with the December version then the file is not corrupt. I could be wrong I suppose. 

Phil from support has opened a bug report for this issue. He tells me that he could be wrong and someone else will have a solution, but thus far no luck. 

With any version beyond December, JAWS will read the items on the screen in some order it chooses, and I'm not sure how it chooses. It also reads those items 2 or 3 times each. It also reads the slide name multiple times. Not the slide title, but the name of the slide as set in Storyline that should be invisible to the course participant. It also reads the slide name 2 or 3 times each. 

I'm happy to keep looking for a solution with you, if you have more ideas. 

Kristin Hatcher

I have experienced the same thing as Javier. The Accessibility tab will pick up the text that is in the text box, but it's a lighter gray as if it were disabled. To enable it you must add a space after the text. Once "enabled" it will carry over the the Tab Order function. If you do not add the space after the text, it will not appear in the Tab Order feature. It sounds like it doesn't work that way for everyone?

I will say that wasn't part of my problem, but if it's not supposed to work this way, it would sure save me a lot of time. Here is a video of what Javier is talking about. 


Kristin Hatcher

Hi Lauren,

You are correct, what I am seeing is exactly what you are seeing. Perhaps I need to submit an enhancement request: Unless you make a change to the  Accessibility text, such as adding a space at the end of it, that text will not automatically carry over to Tab Order or Focus order. I'm not sure it needs to, but I guess it makes me nervous when I'm looking at the tab order and see a blank or empty space, as in the screenshot. 

Side note: I'd love to upgrade to a newer version, but there is a bug that is preventing me from doing so. I have an open ticket about the bug. Sadly it would appear that once you squash one bug, another appears - but of course this is how it is in software development! 

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