Storyline Tab order for Accessibility.

I’m currently working on a compliance module, trying to convince the Powers that Be at my agency that Storyline will produce accessible trainings, so we can buy it and use it (so I don’t have to keep using SoftChalk).  I’m on a trial version.

I need help with tabbing.

I'm attaching a zip file that has a storyline .story that has the slides in question.  Since I wrote this originally a few days ago to Articulate support, I've tried some twists on my original slides to try to improve their usability.  Those trials, with some descriptions in the Notes section, are also included in the attached .story.

I’ve got a page of interactions, for example, that has 3 tabs on the left.  You click each one to view info on that subject (borrowed from a downloaded template).  Works like a charm for mouse-and-sight users.  Sort of works OK for a sighted keyboard user (3 tab example.png attached). The problem is with JAWS.
Problem is, for a screen reader, to read what’s in the big explanatory text field that's on the layer that opens when you click the tab, you have to tab to that object/text box.  Ideally it would be the next thing that came up when you hit TAB.  Is it?  No.   I improved things a LOT by unchecking the “visible to screen reader” checkbox in Size and Position for all the colored shapes, etc., but it’s still problematic.  The text that the user needs to read, and logically should come next, is 6 tabs away.
It’s even worse on this other slide, where there are 10 circles, each with a name of a group protected from discrimination (Race, Religion, Disability, etc.), and every circle opens a different layer containing info on that group (screenshot in word doc). 

Sometimes you have to tab 12 or more times to get from the original circular button to where the JAWS user can actually "see and read" the text on the new layer.
Any suggestions? 

So, one enhancement I want to suggest or +1 is to make the tab order adjustable by the developer.  I've submitted this as an enhancement request.  But this is beyond that I think – I need to dynamically adjust tab order (and/or visibility to screen reader) as part of a trigger.
With the Protected Groups slide (the one above with the circle of circles), one of the alternate versions for JAWS is where all other group circles are disabled except the next one that you will click.  This reduces the total number of tabs to “get to the goodies” but is involving a TON of triggers.

This work (with a dozen triggers for each of a dozen layers) causes me to want another enhancement: macros that allow me to bundle multiple triggers.  What I came up with is to put dozens of triggers on an invisible layer and call it up every time someone clicks on a button.  A numeric variable ultimately tells that invisible "macro layer" where to go next after it's done its work.

I'd really like some feedback about how other people are handling tab order, or how specifically you would modify these slides so they're not frustrating for a JAWS user.

92 Replies
Ashley Terwilliger-Pollard

Hi Steve and Nancy,

Thanks for sharing your thoughts here in the forums, I'm sure it'll be helpful for other community members to hear what you had to do instead. In the meantime, please always feel free to submit feature request for things that you need which would make your Storyline experience better. 

Steve Chorny


i really don't see why I should be submitting this as a "feature request" when this is something that Storyline should recognize as a must have feature inorder to remain competitive.  The long and short of it is I truly believe Storyline will lose ground (read market share and money) to Captivate 7, on Storyline's lack of ability to control tab order.   

If someone wishes to discuss why this is needed, feel free to send me an email and we can arrange a call.  

Getting Around the Limitations

is not always possible and frankly tonget around them takes much more development time and money.  The solution is to design your product to do the right job.... When it comes to making content accessible.

Ps:  I like Storyline but frankly, I find it very hard to recommend it to my clients especially without tab order control. Accessibility is a major concern in Canada (and the rest of the world).   I have a meeting with another govt agency this Friday and I will not be recommending they adopt Storyline,,, primarily for the lack of this one feature.  I keep asking Articulateand all I get is "submit a feature request" which to me is sort of guys are just not interested.  

Ashley Terwilliger-Pollard

Hi Stephen, 

I'm really sorry that you've continued to experience difficulty with this and feel that we're not interested in your needs. We pride ourselves on being a customer focused company, and as such, having you or anyone submit a feature request is our way to ensure that your request and needs are heard and tracked for our development team. It's how we gather customer feedback and insight, and the more input we receive the higher likelihood that we will be able to create and implement that feature.  We take all feedback and feature requests seriously, so I hope that if you find some time to submit a feature request that you'll do so and share your views on why this is an essential need for you as you create new courses. 

Luke Stollings

After reading Ashley's post yesterday, I went ahead and submitted another feature request -- even though I did one months ago.  Squeaky wheel gets the grease.

I try to balance my frustration about not getting this feature RIGHT NOW against the realization that the community of people needing to develop accessible content is a teeny tiny fraction of the overall market.  We're out there on the long tail....  That said, it's just going to get increasingly important for government entities and others, and Stephen is right that Storyline is getting left behind until they can address this key issue.

Helledk Wittrup-Jensen


I had one of my colleagues test my courses for accessibility because he uses JAWS and he noticed something wrong with the tab order. I searched in here and found this thread. It's a great help this forum provides!

I also think it is neccessary to make a feature allowing the developer to choose the tab order. I hope it will be in an update soon and will follow this thread until.


Steve Chorny

First off, I want to start off by saying I like Articulate Storyline and love using the product.... that is except for creating accessible content because of the lack of Tab Order controls ( I know, I have stated this in the past, just reiterating).

I came across an interesting statistic that I thought I would share with Articulate and the rest of the community who are building accessible content.

The link shows a breakdown of countries that have accessibility laws. It also shows what level they are building content to. 

What this means, at least to me, is the rest of the world is either at WCAG 2.0 or moving towards it.  Any additional tools and/or functionality,  that a vendor, such as Articulate, provides that can aide in the building of accessible content, in a quick and timely manner, will only help the vendor to achieve more market share of the WORLDWIDE marketplace for eLearning Authoring tools. Functionality, such as being able to control tab order, goes a long way towards making content accessible. 

My two cents ( Canadian) for the day.... Steve

Caitlin Markham

I'm also developing a few courses using Storyline for US government clients, where 508 compliance is a must have. I know it's been stated here multiple times, but just to reinforce the point - having the ability to control the tabbing order is crucial to ensure 508 compliance. 

I'd argue that fixing this bug in the next version of Storyline should be a top priority. 


Steve Chorny

So, this is a serious question.  If nobody submits a feature request, nothing progresses?  

Good, innovative, product Design is not about submitting feature requests, not about following process, not about judging whether or not something should be built, changed, innovated based on the number of feature requests. It is about thinking, looking around, being innovative, being creative, throwing caution to the wind, going with you gut feel (even though the world may say you are wrong.  

I somehow feel that if Steve Jobs waited for feature requests, we would never have seen innovations such as the iPod and the iPhone.

It would be really nice if someone, anyone at Articulate could acknowledge something (such as tab order etc) and say something other than "submit a feature request".....End of rant,,,,,,,fow now.

John Shepherd

I have been developing e-learning using Presenter and Storyline for 4 years.  Recently, the need for full WCAG compliance has become crucial for us and I have been very disappointed to say the least by Articulate's dismissal of the concerns expressed here and elsewhere.

Please don't tell me to submit a feature request...the fact that you respond to customer concerns in this way shows that you think your users have no other options and that they will sit and wait patiently, with NO indication of development plans or timelines.  This is not the case. 

Due to Articulate's non-responsiveness we are now looking to move to Captivate 7...not a perfect solution but accessibility is make-or-break. I don't think we'll the first, or the last, to move to Captivate because of this issue...come on, Articulate!

Jason Tilley

So is there any solution to this as yet? Or at the very least an actual response to indicate progress towards this outcome. As John pointed out, Captivate already provides this functionality.

Could one of the staff please advise A) What happens to a Feature Request once submitted? Is it simply added to the list and dealt with when its time comes about, or is it investigated immediately for viability with the current system? Also is there a communication area that we can actually see the status of a feature request?

Ashley Terwilliger-Pollard

Hi Jason,

We don't publish or share our development timelines or what features may be included in new updates/versions. All feature requests do go through a process as described here.  There is not a public listing of feature requests submitted or how many users have submitted them, although that is something I've heard other users ask for - so it may be something worth sharing as a feature request as well. 

Neil Livesey

I too am having a similar issue. It is compounded by the fact that I'm using buttons to display layers which contain text. With no control over the tabbing order the next active button is chosen on the slide before the layer is highlighted. It would be sensible to highlight the text on active layer before moving to other buttons on the slide.  I'm now having to rethink the design of my whole module to support accessiblity which is a legal requirement in most countries atht we operate.  Please can you make this a priority for your next release.

Ashley Terwilliger-Pollard

Hi Neil and welcome to Heroes,

I'm sorry to hear that you're running into the issue as well - and the tab order is currently set to travel from the upper-left corner of the slide to the lower-right corner. If you haven't already, you'll want to share your thoughts on setting up the tab order yourself in the form of a feature request. 

Chad Cardwell

Coincidentally enough, I just had an in-depth discussion this morning with some colleagues regarding how our courses can/will be Section 508 compliant.

As it stands, I've been able to implement a fairly robust and time-synchronized closed captions solution (more than just using the Notes tab). Most of my ideas for implementing that came from these great forums!

However, my hands are tied when it comes to making the course easy to use and navigate with a keyboard and screen reader. As it stands, yes - the tab order is Top Left to Bottom Right, but there is very little control over the tab order when the cursor has to navigate through multiple items on multiple layers. Add in the items on the player interface, and the tab order becomes even more complicated and less user friendly.

I haven't given up hope for making our courses fully accessible for screen readers (meaning I'm still inserting alt-text and hiding objects that don't need to be seen by a screen reader). However,  I'm afraid that right now our best solution for vision-impaired accessibility is to develop a separate text-only PDF file of each lesson that a screen reader can easily navigate through.

Luke Stollings

amar kulshreshtha said:

Hi All,

I am creating a 508 compliance module, And when i am testing my course with JAWS Screen Reader, i am not able to hear anything from jaws. If any one can share me 508 Compliance output it will be very helpful for me . Also I’m on a trial version of JAWS.


In my experience, in Storyline a JAWS user must repeatedly hit the TAB key on the keyboard to jump from one object to another.  If you don't see the yellow box jumping from one object to another, then you probably have all your objects set to invisible, and you'll never hear anything.  Hope that's all it is!
Luke Stollings

julie wynn said:

I found by putting all my Data entry box / Buttons on a separate layer it would tab correctly.

And simply have a "Show layer when timeline starts" trigger to display everything as if it was the one layer.


It's been a year since you wrote this, but I'm very curious about it.  Could you explain this more in-depth or upload an example?  I can't see how "showing a layer when the timeline starts" is an improvement over just having those buttons on the main layer to begin with. 

Plus, in my experience, calling up a new layer (by clicking a button) doesn't change the tab focus to that new layer; it just keeps tab focus on the old layer you were on before, so again, I hope you can help me see the benefit of your approach.  Thanks!

Li Li

Luke, thanks for initiating this thread.

Everyone else, thanks for responding in this thread.

I read through each one as we have the same problem regarding the 508 Compliance as a government agency. I submitted a feature request and hopefully that they will consider to make it compliant with Section 508.

Does anyone work on making drag-and drop or hotspot keystroke equivalent with Storyline 2? I attended their online demo and asked this question, but did not get the answer other than some general information about Section 508.

Adobe and Lectora also have this features, but neither of them is accessibility compliant. 

Does anyone have any suggestions/work-around about building a dynamic course that is 508 compliant except a PDF file as an attachment?