Screen Reader Woes (508)

Hi all-

Sorry in advance for the long post...

I am trying to get a couple of courses to work properly with screen readers, but am having mixed results. I think I am doing everything properly--setting Alt text via the Size and Position dialog box (as described here), but the behavior is not consistent.

Problem 1: Not consistent across browsers

In one course (let's call this course A), things seem to be working in I.E. and FireFox for the most part. In Chrome I get the little yellow tabbing boxes, but the screen reader doesn't read any of them. I've seen some of the other threads that Chrome is problematic, but the threads are a little older, so thought I'd throw it out again to see if there was any change on that front. Unfortunately it's not working on Mac either.

Problem 2: Reading something other than the Alt text

I've built custom navigation in course A. The various buttons (next, previous, etc.) all have Alt text assigned to them. The screen reader "sees" the various buttons, but instead of reading the Alt text I've assigned ("next button", "previous button", etc) it reads the name of the graphic that I've imported as the Normal state for each button ("buttons_back_active.png", "buttons_next_active.png", etc.). Is there a way to actually have the screen reader read the Alt text?

Problem 3: Inconsistent ability to read from course to course

I'm also working on separate course (course B) with a similar setup. However, the screen reader is not able to "see" that course at all in any browser. I am able to tab through the yellow boxes, but the reader doesn't read anything. I don't understand why it would work for one course but not the other.

Is there a difference in the way that functionality is handled in the different versions of Storyline? If so, perhaps that is my problem as course A is Storyline 1 and course B is Storyline 2.

Then to make things more confusing, the client requested a sample version of course B that includes just 4 screens. I replicated the Storyline file and deleted all but the first few screens. When I try the sample course, the screen reader does see the content.

Any thoughts and/or suggestions are greatly appreciated.


5 Replies
Ashley Terwilliger-Pollard

Hi David,

Thanks for reaching out here in regards to the 508 compliance and screen readers. I'll try to deal with each of your questions here:

Problem 1: What screen reader are you utilizing? For example, I believe JAWS only supports the latest release of Internet Explorer, which may explain the issues you're having in Chrome/Firefox (although they are browsers our content can be viewed in, the screen reader will trump that). 

Problem 2: For images and other media elements, I believe it will read the file name to you as well - and you may want to review the information here on how Jaws works with reading image, buttons, etc. 

Problem 3: If the smaller sample file worked as expected and it was created in SL2, I'd think it was something file specific in that one that is causing your screen reader to not pick up on elements. Have you confirmed to be working on local project files and testing the published content within the intended environment.  

In regards to HTML5, only Storyline’s Flash-based output is compliant with Section 508 accessibility guidelines

David Oskorus

Hi Ashley,

Thanks for the response. More info below...

1. I'm using NVDA, and someone on the client side is using JAWS with similar results. According to Chrome and FireFox documentation, they both support JAWS and NVDA.  I realize there are a lot of parts that need to play nice for this to work properly, so I'm looking at troubleshooting from that end as well.

2. The reader does add "graphic" or "button" to each item--including text. That's generally fine as it helps to describe the purpose of the object in question--although with text, it may be accurate, but it's confusing. Unfortunately, when it comes to interactive elements/custom navigation, getting them to read the alt text rather than the image file name so far has been elusive.

3. So far only testing locally as well as on my server. Ultimately the courses will reside on an LMS, hopefully that doesn't introduce any other reasons for the reader to not work. I agree it appears to be something file specific... maybe I need to delete one screen at a time to see where the offending items are. Arrrrgh!

Thanks for the clarification regarding the HTML5 output. That's counter-intuitive to me, so it's good to know.

I'm going to try to share what works and what doesn't work once all is said and done, but if anyone has found ways to make this work, I'm open to all suggestions.


Ashley Terwilliger-Pollard

Hi Dave,

I'm not familiar with NVDA, but you may want to look at the requirements on their support pages, vs. what Chrome/firefox say - as it was on JAWS page that I had read they only support Internet Explorer. 

Yes, it was confusing and we originally reported it to our team as a bug, but after doing some further investigation and looking at how the different screen readers report things, it's by design on the screen readers. 

You'll want to test within the intended final publish environment, just to ensure everything works as expected and you can look at utilizing SCORM Cloud as an option as it's an industry standard for LMS content.