Recent accessibility improvements in Storyline 360

We know it’s important for you to be able to create accessible e-learning—not just because it’s a compliance issue, but because it’s critical to build training that’s inclusive. And we’re committed to delivering the features you need to help you do that.

We’ve taken some important steps to empower you to create accessible e-learning content. We’ve partnered with accessibility experts, Deque, to audit our products and help us prioritize new features and feature enhancements. We’ve also worked closely with a large, diverse group of early access testers on features and feature enhancements to make sure any changes we’re making are the right approach.

Because of this work we’ve been able to roll out several new features in the past few months like the ability to add alt text and closed captions to your media library assets, as well as the ability to add closed captions to Rise 360 videos. 

We’ve also recently released several features in Storyline 360 that are focused on making the course player and slide content more accessible by standardizing the user experience so it’s more in line with other web experiences. These features also ensure that courses work with a broader range of screen readers, web browsers, and devices. 

Below is a broad comparison of the user experience before and after these enhancements.

Before

After

The Course Player

Screen reader users and keyboard users tabbed through every button and menu item in the player.

This approach was burdensome and inconsistent with other web navigation experiences, particularly for screen reader users.

The course player has been re-organized to make it easier for users of accessibility aids to understand where they are and move around quickly. 

This includes the use of ARIA landmarks and regions as appropriate (e.g. navigation regions), as well as restructuring of the player behind the scenes into discrete areas of functionality that follow a consistent order and hierarchy.

The course player in Storyline 360 supported the JAWS screen reader on desktop devices.

In addition to JAWS, the course player in Storyline 360 supports NVDA, VoiceOver, and TalkBack to view courses on desktop, tablet, and mobile devices.

Navigating Slides 

 Just as they navigated the course player, screen reader users and keyboard users tabbed to move to, or focus on, each individual item on the screen. Then users could use their spacebar to activate interactive elements on the screen like buttons or other controls. 

This put a burden on users who needed to hit the tab button to navigate each and every item.

Navigation has been made more consistent with other web experiences. 

The tab order dialog in Storyline is still used to define the reading order of the page, but the ‘tab’ key will only focus on interactive objects like buttons, controls and links.

Screen reader users press their screen reader’s navigation keys (typically the down / up arrows) to move through all text and interactive objects in order. 

Most objects in Storyline were drawn as shapes. For example, a radio button would be drawn as a circle with a dot instead of a standard HTML radio button.

This allowed for more control over the appearance of published courses in different web browsers, but wasn’t compatible with assistive technologies.

Now, most objects on your slides are rendered as standard HTML that follows best practices for web accessibility.

This means your learners can use a broader array of accessibility aids, such as screen readers, to navigate your courses much the same way they browse web pages.

 

Our work in this area is ongoing. We’re digging into all of the helpful feedback you’ve shared with us so far as well as the improvements identified by our outside accessibility experts. We’re also hotlisting and addressing critical bug fixes, and we’re reviewing ideas for more feature enhancements. You can learn more about the steps we’re taking in our roadmap.  

We’re on this journey with you and we’re listening. We know new ways of doing things may take some time to get used to—for you and for your learners. We’re here to help and we appreciate your feedback and suggestions.

40 Replies
Tara Warne-Griggs

I am having some issues using screen readers with my course and am looking for advice:

1. The menu button reads the state inconsistently.  Sometimes it says open when it is not and visa versa. 

2. Once the menu button is expanded, using the tab button takes you to the lock icon before the URL.  This navigation doesn't make sense.  I don't think I have any control over when the URL displays, do I?

3. When the seekbars are in focus, they read a long list of numbers that do not seem meaningful. 

Kenny Dyer

Hey everyone,

The latest versions of Storyline 360 simply do not meet our accessibility needs with the JAWS screen reader. Because of that, I've been keeping my Storyline 360 at version 3.35 (December 2019) before the new accessibility player was released. This version is no longer available to roll back to. Is there a way that I can have access to version 3.35 to roll-back when needed? Many government clients simply cannot get the JAWS reader to work properly with the new player.

Erich Renken

I'll share that when I asked this recently, I was told that we weren't gonna be able to roll back beyond what was available in the app (https://community.articulate.com/discussions/articulate-storyline/visually-disabled-learners-are-currently-unable-to-differentiate-between-an-active-and-a-disabled-next-button). 

This has been a frustrating rollout of accessible features as I keep encountering problems that keep me from using the latest versions. I'm currently stuck on 3.40.x because of an issue with question feedback (https://community.articulate.com/discussions/articulate-storyline/accessibility-issue-with-multiple-choice-question-feedback). Every release turns into an evaluation of what's fixed versus what's newly broken.

Erich Renken

I'll share what I've said in the past...

Here's my take. We've all gotten used to tabbing between all the items (text, buttons, images, etc.) on our slides because that's the only way Storyline has ever worked. Use a screen reader on a regular webpage, though, and you'll see that the TAB button only navigates between interactive objects like a hyperlink or a button. (BTW, hyperlinks are still not tabbable in the "accessible player" and that's lame.)

You know what stinks if you're disabled? Being told that "accessibility in this course works differently than it does for you anywhere else." Forcing disabled users to use the TAB key to access everything was the real crime.

So, that's how Storyline works now, too. You tab between interactive elements. Now, if you want to read what's on the screen, you use the down arrow (in JAWS) or use similar commands in the other screen readers. 

So, in my estimation, this was a hard change for me to adapt to. Granted, I still have issues with the way accessibility is being handled, in general, but I'm starting to see this as progress (and so is my accessibility vendor who QAs our courses).

Phil Mayor

Agree wholeheartedly with Eric in this Storyline is moving towards the way the web works which is they way our courses should work. Also it is not really about how we want them or expect them to work but how anybody who needs to use a screen reader would expect them to work.

Sent from my iPhone

Melanie Sobie

I agree with Storyline’s move towards courses behaving in a similar manner to other digital environments that vision impaired users are already familiar with when using a screen reader. This is similar  to what we experience when using Microsoft Office products. I can use The keyboard shortcut Ctrl + F to find something in Word. I can use that also in Excel, etc. The menus and interface have common elements throughout, making them easy to use  

A blind employee should be able to navigate our courses in a similar way they navigate in the employer’s Human Resources system to enter their timesheet, or the company’s intranet site, etc, etc.

 

Melanie King

Hi there,

Can you tell me how the new accessibility updates are handling radio buttons and built in multiple choice radio buttons etc? I am updating an old module and the tabbing doesn't seem to recognise those buttons as interactive elements so is not opening layers or selecting buttons in MC questions etc. 

My version of SL360 is 3.42.22

cheers,

Mel

Kristin Hatcher

I have the exact same problem with JAWS reading the slide name several times. Originally some of my issues were, apparently, a bug in the version of JAWS I was using. I have updated to JAWS 2020, and still have the problem of JAWS reading slide names several times in a row. To be clear, I don't mean slide title, which is visible on the screen. I mean slide name, which should be invisible to the course participant. 

I work for the Federal government, and by law all of our courses must be 508 compliant. The version from December of last year is the only one that works for me, which is annoying because I can't get access to the great new features. 

Oddly, some of my coworkers also use Storyline and don't have the same problem I have. Because of that, I've tried this on both my work computer and my personal computer, and I have the same problem on both. Could it somehow be an issue in the installation, or some problem with interactions with other software? I do have an open ticket about this. I've tried uninstalling and reinstalling the software, with no difference in behavior.