Tab Order, Layers, JAWS Screen Reader (SL2)

I'm trying to understand how tab order interacts with layers when it comes to users who interact via screen reader and tab/arrows.

It's well-documented that, when a layer is triggered, a user will still have to tab through every item in the Base Layer before getting to the new items on the new layer, unless "Prevent user from clicking on base layer" is turned on.

My question is, if the tab order has the non-base-layer objects ABOVE the base layer ones, shouldn't the new layer items come up before the base layer items once the new layer is triggered?

E.g.: Here, "Time's Up!" text and button look like they should come before the base layer objects, once that Time's Up layer is triggered.

But it doesn't work that way, does it? Any clarification would be much appreciated!

15 Replies
Ashley Terwilliger

Hi Belen,

Thanks for reaching out here and sharing the images. Based on your tab order and the elements the user has first accessed on the base layer that they've already started the tab order and therefore once they access the layer it does not restart the tab order but continues where it was when accessing the later. 

Hope that helps clarify and if you're seeing something different or would like us to take a look we're happy to. You can share a section of the .story file here by using the "add attachment" button. 

Cristina Colquhoun

Hi there Ashley, could you provide a bit more clarification on this topic? In regards to tab order and layers, my tab order looks similar to what Belen posted, where the layers are shown first in the tab order (see attached image). I have set mine to "Prevent the user from clicking on the base layer" so they don't have to tab through all of it when viewing a layer. I just want to make sure that Articulate will only tab over the proper layer's alt text. So, when a user is on the base layer "Menu Base," it will start with the "Menu Base" shapes and not the "MenuClickLayer." And when they're viewing the "MenuClickLayer," it will start tabbing over those shapes in that order. Is that correct?

Ashley Terwilliger

Hi Cristina,

Are they shown the layer immediately or does that appear later on from the base layer? If so, and they've already tabbed through images and items on the base layer it will not cycle them back to the top - so you may want to look at changing that tab order to include the layer items after the base layer. 

Cristina Colquhoun

Hi Ashley, the user will start on the base layer and will click on an object to open the secondary layer. I will rearrange the tab order so the base layer is on top. Does that sound like a good idea? Almost every slide I've created has layers and, on each "Tab Order" screen for each slide, the layers all start at the top and the base layer objects are listed at the bottom. That just seems counter intuitive. Should it be shown the other way around?

Also, I've been scouring the message boards for a clear answer on a couple of questions and have seen some answers here and there. Perhaps Articulate may want to add it into the alt text tutorial when they update it, since it's pretty basic info about how alt text functions in certain ways:

-If you don't specify alt text for an object, will the screen reader read the object's file name OR the assigned timeline label?

-Do you need to include alt text for a text box, or will the screen reader read the text that is within the textbox OR the object's name?

-(Going along with my initial question) Will the screen reader tab to objects in the order I specify in the "Tab Order" window, or will it ALWAYS follow left to right, top to bottom?

-Finally, will the screen reader read the alt text and THEN add "...button. To activate press space bar"? I saw something similar on a message board and also heard it at an Articulate presentation at last year's Learning Solutions conference, but wanted to confirm.

Thanks for your help!

Ashley Terwilliger

Hi Cristina, 

I'll be the first to admit that I'm not the most knowledgeable on accessibility issues, so if it's not clear I can also see if anyone else can offer more explanation...but here's my attempt. ;) 

Since the layers technically sit on top of the base layer and are created after the initial layer, that's why you'll see them in that tab order. Storyline doesn't know within that tab order how you've set up each layer to be triggered, but that's why you're also able to move them around in a custom tab order.

Storyline objects such as shapes will be read based on their object name. When inserting an image or another item from outside Storyline you'll also want to include some alt text so that the screen reader accesses that instead of the file name of the object/image itself.You can modify any of those as you wish and change the name that appears within the timeline too. 

A text box should be read out by the screen reader, so that the user is aware of what text is there. You could also include it in the alt text. 

Tab order will follow what you specify and other elements such as player items will still go left to right, top to bottom. If you don't specify, it'll continue the left to right, top to bottom. 

The JAWS screen reader adds graphic or button to object descriptions when it's narrating a published course. This is how JAWS is designed to operate for accessibility support. I don't believe every screen reader says "press spacebar to select" though - so that may be screen reader specific? 

Lastly, these are some of the best discussions and articles on accessibility and Storyline:

If you run into any other issues or questions, we're also happy to take alook at your set up. You can send files along to our Support engineers here.