Section 508

Jun 02, 2012

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, Gerry - 

In my experience, Storyline's 508 compliance support is on par with other tools and far better than Presenter. Storyline provides many of the right mechanisms to pull off a universally accessible solution. The real success factor becomes the designer / developer. 508 / ADA / WCAG covers lots more than just vision and hearing disabilities. In fact, those with sight and hearing disabilities are a thin minority of most learner populations. Learning disabilities (including dyslexia), color blindness, motor control and degraded senses are far more prevalent - yet we tend to focus on total vision impairment the most.

One thing I think is missing is a convenient way to caption. The notes field is OK but sometimes you really want to provide folks a way to synchronize the captions with presentation elements. It's not tough to do in tools that support this feature and it's not just for those with a hearing disability. If the narrator annoys me, I would opt for the captioned option and tune out the audio. The notes field doesn't provide the same experience.

Diane Elkins

Here are my thoughts on Storyline and 508.

Yes, it is infinitely more accessible than Studio. 


  • You can add alt text (either name in the Timeline or on the Size and Position dialog box.
  • Most features are keyboard accessible. As with most software, there are some features that are not, such as questions that require dragging.


  • Closed captioning is a big manual.  See this post for ideas.
  • Review quiz uses red/green to indicate right vs. wrong
  • Tab order is based on screen position (top items first, moving left to right), rather than author preference.  Not a show-stopper, but you have to design screens carefully.
  • Interface elements (menu, resurces, items on the top of the interface) are read on every slide by a screen reader, so they cannot be used on a very strict 508 course (which requires that there be an option to skip repetitive navigation elements).

Even though the Pro list is shorter than the Con list, you can make an accessible course in Storyline.  As with any software, you'll need to know exactly what you can and can't do, and you'll want to do thorough testing.

Mike Enders

Speaking of 508.  Just had an accessibility professional do a 508 audit of an SL course this week.  

Some strange behaviors he noted:

JAWS didn't read the Notes pane title (bug?)

The tab navigation only activates the menu and glossary as global items.  This is unfortunate as you have to let JAWS read through the entire menu and or glossary instead of quickly tabbing through individual items.  

JAWS also ignored the alt-tag that I had applied to the photo characters and instead read the timeline description (Brian, Neutral Expression, Looking at the Camera).  

He also mentioned something about the virtual cursor struggling to work effectively in SL (not sure what that meant!).

On the positive side, the overall navigation seemed to work well, and it handled launching layers, etc. in fine fashion.  He was generally happy with the steps that SL has taken. His overall assessment:  SL probably meets the legal definition of accessibility, but could still use a fair amount of work on the usability front.

Steve Flowers

Agree, Mike. Those are great observations and I think they're fixable.  Might want to see about documenting each of the issues that appear and possibly running a screen recording to illustrate. I think Team Articulate really does want accessibility support to be second to none. First step is clearly articulating where the problems are

Colleen Ortega Brassington

Simon Perkins said:

Have any of the issues flagged above been addressed in the update or are they on the immediate roadmap?  Am bidding on a project right now that is going to be very tight on WCAG 2.0.


I too am bidding on a project that will need to meet strict WCAG 2.0 standards and would love to know how others are addressing this in SL.

Peter Anderson

Tanmay Ghosh said:

Can a Storyline published course be compliant to WCAG 2.0 standards? Or, it just only supports Section 508?

Welcome, Tanmay

Thanks for asking. WCAG is more complicated than 508

However, most of the additional elements are requirements of the course author, not the output. Without having walked through the requirements completely to see if there's anything that can't be done, the short answer is: We don't officially support WCAG, but you may be able to fulfill the requirements of WCAG by using Section 508 as a guideline and filling in the gaps.

Hope that helps...

Alana McCall

Katherine wolf said:

Are there any good examples of courses designed for accessibility in Storyline?  In particular, what are the options for interactivity?

I too would be very interested in seeing a course designed for accessibility in Storyline. I work for an e-learning company that produces accredited courses (some requiring ADA compliance) and serves thousands of customers on a daily basis. We are currently running into a lot of complaints about how storyline works with JAWS. I'm wondering what others have done to answer this. Some issues we've run into are:

1) To get to navigation (prev/next) JAWS tabs through the player, menu, prev first, and then next- We thought we had solved this by making "invisible" controls on the master slide, but this poses its own issues. For example, (and only sometimes, for which we can't understand) the viewer will get stuck in a continuous loop when trying to go backwards in the course, as the "previous" button will go to the previously viewed slide, which was actually the slide AFTER the current slide ( ie, the person views A, B, C, but when trying to get back to A, they go back to B, then it goes forward to C, back to B, etc...). Additionally, we still have to manually input controls on the first and last slides of scenes, since storyline doesn't recognize the "next" slide as the first slide of the next scene and has to be manually directed to the next scene.

2) Anything with states is always present to JAWS, even if they (and their states) are "hidden" from assistive technology. It will still tab to the object. The only solution we've found to this is to create a branched slide that is JAWS friendly. However, this poses it's own issues, as it seems it may or may not contribute to the problem we ran into with the hidden previous button I mentioned above (it seems that the above issue nearly always occurs around the branched slides, but it also occurs randomly too...)

... I know there are more things we've run into that I'm not remembering at the moment, so I may come back and post again as I think of things. I know that these are our biggest obstacles ( )

We are a rapid e-learning company, so time is of the essence with our development. We want/need to find fast and efficient solutions to our ADA accessibility needs.


Jason Johnson

You probably already know this but just in case, the "Jump to Previous" trigger does not work in a linear fashion like you expect (or I originally expected). Instead of slide 3 taking you back to slide 2 in a linear order, it takes you to the last slide you viewed, which may or may not be the previous slide in linear order (slide 2). It definitely becomes noticeable when traversing the course in reverse if your triggers are not manually tied to specific slides. It's a pain to do and I don't understand why there's not a "previous" option that is linear in nature but there's not.

Again, just an FYI.

Alana McCall

Yes, I did discover a while back that "Previous" is previously viewed.. which is counter-intuitive to me as well. 

But this is what is interesting about the "Jump to Previous" trigger though-- if we put a button on the master slide and set a "jump to previous slide" trigger on the button, it will actually go to the sequentially previous slide... most of the time. For whatever reason, it will randomly get "confused" and start the loop thing I described in my first post. I really think it may just be a bug, as we typically "solve" it by just manually entering the buttons on the slide and setting it on a blank master (which, in this case, we do have to "point" the previous button to the slide sequentially previous), or just recreating the slide altogether.

Also, I've learned that the second issue I mentioned (with the states of objects) is another "only sometimes" issue. I have been able to "hide" everything on each individual state and JAWS not tab to them, but other times I can do the EXACT same thing and it will tab to them. JAWS is definitely a wonky program, so it's hard to tell if its JAWS that's causing the issues or storyline half the time.. but there are definitely some issues with ADA and storyline that I'd love to be able to get working solutions to.

I am working diligently to figure out ways our courses will not only be COMPLIANT but also ACCESSIBLE-- yes, these are two very different things . If anyone has any opinions or suggestions about this, I'm all ears!

And thanks, Jason, for your comment!

Vivayic Inc.

Hi all,

A client has asked us to make sure our Storyline course meets not only level 1 (priority 1) 508 requirements but also level 2. I know Articulate has published their Voluntary Product Accessibility Template which is very helpful but it does not break down which requirements are level 1, 2 or 3. Has anyone done this sort of analysis? Or does anyone have any advice on how I can parse Articulate's VPAT with the different levels of compliance?

Thanks all!


Steve Flowers

Hi Nicki -

Couple of clarifications and questions. The VPAT only applies to the authoring tool. So compliance of the output won't be helped with the VPAT. 

Also, as far as I know, Section 508 doesn't dictate more than one level. There was some talk early on about mapping to WCAG levels but the Federal guidelines didn't follow WCAG levels in the final form for the standing release. The new guidelines haven't yet been published. 

Do you have a reference to exactly what they're asking for? As you can see here, WCAG maps to 3 priority levels. Section 508 exceeds these levels in some cases and not in others. As a side note, implementation of some requirements isn't necessarily up to the tool and requires some developer control to make sure everything is accessible as it can be.

Brent Berheim

Good morning - I thought I would start this thread again, as I am just running into accessibility questions for projects I am hoping to create in Storyline.  My company has decided that our media going forward should meet the WCAG 2 standards.  Also - I have been told that if the media is flash-based, then it is NOT accessible for keyboard functionality(!?!) which sounded like it had more to do with flash than with Storyline?

Anyone else running into these requirements?  Any ways people are handling them?

This discussion is closed. You can start a new discussion or contact Articulate Support.