Storyline - Screen Reader issues - 508 compliance

Jan 07, 2013

After trying to ask for tutorials for 6 months from Articulate on Storyline 508 compliance best practices with no success, I created a separate course from our main one that has been created entirely for use by a screen reader. There are 2 videos in this screen reader course, but otherwise there is no audio, no animation, no closed captioning. Just text boxes for the screen reader to read the content.

I have tried to keep the course and each slide very simple - one text box containing the content, on some slides 1 image with an 'alt text' description, and the only "buttons" in the frame are the Previous and Next button in the bottom, and a FAQ and Resources tabs at the top right. There is also not a menu or transcript shown in the player.

I have published and reviewed the course without a screen reader and used TAB to move through the course. I see the Yellow box around each item as it should be.

My issue when reviewing with a "Thunder" screen reader

  • The screen reader does not "read" the Previous or Next buttons on the player. It DOES read the FAQ and Resources tabs. The yellow box will go around those buttons, but nothing is 'read' by the screen reader. Because I can see them, I know to press enter when I'm on them, but someone who can't see them would not receive help from their screen reader.
  • The screen reader does not read the text box on the first slide. Yes, the checkbox for making the text box visible is checked. I have even tried placing all of the text into the Alt Text box, and that does not make a difference. When I go to the 2nd slide, the screen reader begins reading all of the information that is tabbed to (except for the Previous and Next buttons).

A co-worker tried to review the course in the JAWS screen reader

  • Nothing would "read" in JAWS - no text boxes and no buttons on the player frame.

Can anyone tell me what steps we're missing or how to make our storyline course readable by a screen reader?

Thanks in advance. 

26 Replies
Peter Anderson

Hey Laura!

If you've enabled the accessibility box, I'm not sure what the problem could be with JAWS not reading correctly. We'd be really interested in being able to take a look at your project though, if that's okay with you. The tech team would probably be able to offer some insight into the Thunder reader as well. You can open a case here, and upload your .story file on the second page of that link. Thanks!

Steve Flowers

I think JAWS relies on the browser passing stuff to / from the Flash player to pick up accessible cues. Since IE is the only one that implemented this early on with their MSAA, I believe this was the primary channel the Flash player used for direct communication with the JAWS reader. Other readers may use different methods. It's been awhile since I tinkered with JAWS and Flash and we deal exclusively in IE so it's not something we've looked into deeply. Could be the same issue. JAWS might only read Flash content using IE.

More info here: 

Camille Kilbourne

In addition to JAWS, I have been able to get NVDA, a free screen reader that many college students with disabilities use, to read a Storyline quiz output. However, I was only able to do so in Firefox and IE, but not Chrome. Was banging my head up a wall trying to figure out why it wasn't reading it, but then after reading above, tested it in Firefox and IE and it read the yellow boxes correctly. I found it helpful to make all images that were just for design (to be pretty), unviewable by the screen reader by selecting each object, right clicking, then going to Size and Position and unchecking the box that says "Object is visible to accessibility tools." I had to do this in View, then Slide Master. I found it helpful in the player options to not display the "menu" by unchecking that feature. This allows the yellow boxes to go straight to the question and answer choices, making it less confusing for the person using a screen reader. Hope this helps someone else!

Darren D

Hi Team,

I am experiencing similar issues as the original poster. I've got ahead and ensured the check boxes are selected for images, but I'm having difficulty getting the screen reader to read the words for "Notes, Resources, Exit" on the player top menus themselves.

The reader will acknowledge and say "tab" indicating my keystrokes on the keyboard, but when it gets to the text, it appears not to read it.

Your assistance is much appreciated!

Ashley Terwilliger-Pollard

Hi Darren, 

What browser are you viewing the course in? What screen reader are you using? For example, I believe JAWS only works with the latest update of JAWS and the latest version of Internet Explorer (per their documentation). Also are you using Storyline 1 or Storyline 2? This thread is a bit older, and I know there were a lot of improvements in Storyline 2 in terms of 508 support. 

When you press the Tab key while viewing published Storyline content, you should notice a yellow box or rectangle that appears around an object on the slide. If you repeatedly press the Tab key, you'll notice that the yellow box cycles through the items on the slide and then moves through the player controls for the course. When it gets to the Notes section, you should be able to select it with the Enter key and read the notes. It should be enabled by default, but you can learn more here. (that article is for SL1, but the same applies in SL2). 

Darren D

Thanks Ashley,

I'm using storyline 2 and I will be getting JAWS soon but currently was testing with the narrator for windows on IE version 9.

The tab key and yellow box work well, but when the menu items are selected with the yellow box it only responds that the user has pressed "TAB" and it doesn't read the work "notes" or "exit" or the Next/Previous buttons.

Should I try it in firefox perhaps? The client that is using the training is an organization I believe Which has a limit for which browser they can use. I'll try to find out what version they have.
Thanks again.


Ashley Terwilliger-Pollard

Hi Darren,

You'll definitely want to find out which browser they're required to use and ensure you're using a browser that matches the screen reader you're using and our system requirements here. 

I am not familiar with the Windows narrator, but another element with JAWS is I believe it has to be running before opening the course to read things correctly. So there may be a few other elements you'll want to look into. 

Please let us know if you're still having difficulty once you've tested within the intended environment. 

Darren D

Thanks again Ashely,

The client uses both IE and firefox in updated formats.

They have also informed me that they have JAWS open prior to launching any browsers to access any training.

Unfortunately we are still experiencing the same situation. I have also tried clearing my browser cache with no success.

Once again I appreciate your help!

Kirby Phillips

Hi Ashley -- I'm experiencing the same problem that Darren is with screen readers (using NVDA, IE 11, and SL2).  Menu, Notes, etc (things in the interface) -- I can only tab to them on the very first slide of the course. After that, I can no longer access them via tabbing (no yellow box or anything for them).  Was there any solution?

Ashley Terwilliger-Pollard

Hi Kirby,

I don't see any additional information from Darren, but Storyline supports JAWS 16 and later with Internet Explorer 11 and later (Flash output only).

Although the NVDA screen reader will work with many aspects of Storyline content, it isn't officially supported at this time. With that in mind, I'd look to see if they had any additional information about supported browsers and also confirm that you were viewing the published output in the intended environment vs. viewing it locally which is known to cause security issues and other elements to not work as expected. 

John Mayfield

I also need help with this issue.  I have marked all of the proper boxes for ADA complaint in Storyline, tested in every browser and two different screen readers (including JAWS) and my course will not work.  Only the graphics will read text I have prepared, however, no reading of text boxes and no reading of correct or incorrect answer boxes that display.  Am I missing something?

I have a student right now who needs the screen reader to work and I was so excited because of all the ADA complaint work I included in the course.  Very disappointing.  

I desperately need help to resolve this problem.  

Thank you,


Julia Hammond

We are in the exact same situation as others here.  We have created a course with alt tags, and followed the above recommendations to use Internet Explorer.  We have checked that the boxes have been marked for accessibility. However, the screen reader reads graphics and none of the alt text we have created.  We have a state client that very much needs the screen reader to work.  Any suggestions?  

Lauren Connelly

Hello Julia!

Sorry, you're running into this issue! You will find that some screen readers read differently depending on the browser. I've tested a course with a graphic in IE using NVDA, and NVDA wouldn't access the graphic so I didn't hear the alt text. However, if I viewed the same course in Chrome then I could hear the alt text on the graphic.

Is it possible for you to use Chrome instead of Internet Explorer? 

Shawn Stiles

I am facing the same challenges that others have reported. We are using the most recent version of SL360 and I just purchased JAWS professional.  JAWS will read the player buttons but does not recognize any screen text. I have checked and the text boxes are enabled for accessibility and have ALT text.  I have tested in both IE11 and Edge with no difference. 

Lauren Connelly

Hi Shawn!

I'm happy to help! First, which version of Storyline are you using? Also, is this happening with all of your courses, or just this specific course?

I ran a similar test on my end with JAWS 2020 and IE 11. I was able to move through the slide content and hear the text. You can see my test here.

If you have a file that I can test on my end, feel free to either attach it to this discussion or upload it privately.

Shawn Stiles

Hi Lauren,

Your video helped a great deal, it appears part of my issue is my lack of familiarity with JAWS.  With the help of your video I was able to get it to work properly.

I did notice that it identifies all screen elements, such as the graphics and shapes on the screen. Is it better to push those to the master or is there a way to get JAWS to only recognize the screen text?



Lauren Connelly

Hi Shawn!

I'm glad the video was helpful! By default, JAWS will read every element. If there are elements like graphics, characters, and shapes that aren't necessary for a screen reader to read off, then you can make them invisible to accessibility tools.

Here's how to do that:

  1. Right-click any element on the slide. Choose Accessibility from the drop-down.
  2. Uncheck "Object is visible to accessibility tools." 

If you want to see this in action, here's a short demo!

Shiv Naresh


My client is facing an issue with Storyline 3 (latest update 11) output. We have developed a customized course (without default Menu, top and navigation pannel). Client has raised the following issues:

1. Tab order is not reading the text boxes but only the buttons. 
2. Arrow keys are inoperable when using screen reader.
3. Small blue boxes are coming to focus not the content areas.

For me in chrome the screen reader is reading the page, but in Edge and IE it is not working

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