Use Up/Down arrows instead of Tab key for navigating content within slide

Sep 07, 2017

I'm building a course in Articulate Storyline 360 and publishing that in Flash only output. But while testing it with JAWS reader v18, the up/down arrow keys are not working to focus the content within slide. I'm aware that Tab key is used to focus content or UI element but I still want Up/Down arrow keys to navigate content.

Can it be possible to make this work in Storyline 360 + JAWS reader?

I'm actually working towards A and AA level of accessible course.

26 Replies
Kara Campbell

Hi Alyssa,

I came across this post because we have encountered the same problem. Just wanted to confirm that using the tab key is still the only form of navigation in Storyline 360 courses. We are having our courses evaluated for accessibility with screen readers and this is a major issue. 



Kara Campbell

Hi Alyssa, thanks for responding :) Our accessibility advisor is using a JAWS screen reader, I'm not sure which version, but I'm sure its current. The issue is that he needs to be able to navigate text line by line, so he can return to something he didn't understand and 'read' it again without having to listen to entire box of text again. From my understanding this is typically done by navigating to a text box and hitting enter, which changes JAWS to another mode where the learner can then navigate line by line using the arrow keys (this is how PowerPoint functions) Is this possible in Storyline?



Ashley Terwilliger-Pollard

Hi Kara,

I just gave this a test in JAWS and with Storyline 360. Jaws will read the entire text box upon navigating too it, and there wasn't a way to have it read each line individually. If you needed to have each individual line read out, I'd look at breaking them up into individual text boxes. 

I tried using the enter as you mentioned (and the space bar) but it didn't allow me to navigate within a text box. Although you would use that to navigate say the menu or resources list in the player, those are are listed out as individual items. 

karen forkish

Hi Alyssa,

I just wanted to chime in about navigating through Storyline content via the Tab key vs. navigating with the arrow keys.

Our JAWS users always navigate by using the arrow keys. For them, this is standard operating procedure. When the arrow keys don't work for navigation the content seems inaccessible. Do you know if there are any plans to include arrow key navigation in future versions of Storyline as part of your support for JAWS?


Leslie McKerchie

Hey Karen,

Thanks for reaching out and sharing your concerns as well.

Could you share a bit more about what you would like your learners to be able to do? I'm not clear if you're sharing the same idea shared above with navigating to specific lines of text and words via arrow keys or if you were wanting to navigate the course (prev/next) buttons with arrow keys.

Thanks so much for any additional information you can provide so that we can best help you with your questions.

Ashley Terwilliger-Pollard

Hi Rob,

Thanks for adding your voice here. Our team designed the accessibility and navigation elements based on the ARIA standards outlined here.

Currently, the Tab key allows you to navigate around the player and slide, and then within something like a menu, resources list, or even the answer choices on question slide the learner can use an arrow key to navigate within those items.

We've been consulting extensively with our customers and have identified a range of improvements we could make to serve customers with accessibility needs. The current player architecture allows us to deliver incremental improvements, but we want to aim higher. Our current active development work focuses on upgrading the overall architecture and structure of the player to enable us to deliver industry-leading accessibility support for Storyline customers that complies with the latest accessibility standards across a broader range of screen readers and web browsers.

joyce noval


Is there any update on this issue?

I've encountered the same problem. I'm using JAWS 2019 and I know that we use the TAB key to focus selection. BUT the instruction it says when it's reading the Knowledge Check radio buttons is "To change the selection, press UP or DOWN arrow". When I press the buttons, it doesn't do anything.

Thanks in advanced!

John Low

I posted this in the original discussion, but it looks like this thread is getting more activity, so here it is again:

Here is my understanding of the issue. Jaws has two modes, 1) Forms mode; 2) Browse mode. 

Browse mode: user will navigate with arrow keys and has access to Jaws shortcut key combinations, (E.g. selecting Ctrl+Insert+B will bring up a list of available buttons that are on screen and allow the user to navigate and select within that button list, vs. having to tab through all on screen elements until they find the button they are looking for); In this mode, Jaws users can also left and right arrow key through words, sentences and letters if they need to re-hear something.

Forms mode: user will navigate with tab key; Latest version of Jaws automatically changes to this mode when it recognizes that there are on-screen controls (Buttons, etc.); Jaws will almost always default to this In the case of Articulate Storyline given that there are usually navigation buttons, (Next, Prev, etc.); Jaws will play a sound effect when it switches to this mode, thus alerting the user that arrow keys and Jaws shortcut keys are no longer available and user should rely on the tab key; Jaws users can manually switch back to browse mode by selecting ++ on the numpad. 

Based on our research and troubleshooting, Articulate Storyline only works consistently in Forms mode, that is using tab keys for navigation and enter or space for selection. When Jaws users switch between modes Browse mode a number of issues can arise, including on-screen visual focus not aligning with keyboard focus, and tab order can be effected. 

It would be great to hear if and how Articulate is planning to address this, since non-sighted users rely on both Jaws modes to navigate more efficiently. 

Noel Sapp

How many years now posting compliance issues on a tool that claims compliance features?

I too now have a compliance officer rejecting an Articulate 360 course because of a lack of keyboard accessibility. Clearly a lot of developers are having issue with Articulate's limited accessibility using only the TAB key (specifically cited in this thread the JAWS audible instruction to use the arrow key to move up/down in an Articulate 360 standard quiz slide).

If no update is going to be made to provide keyboard accessibility, is there a way then to edit the quiz answer options to disable whatever the trigger is used for the audible JAWS instructions to use the arrow keys?

Do I have to now manually create new quizzes with manually created radio buttons to avoid this? Effectively rebuilding much of our course?


Lauren Connelly

Hi Noel!

I can assure you that we are just as excited as everyone to make building accessible courses way easier! Keyboard navigation is high on our list, but we aren't quite ready to release it yet. You're right, specifically with the up/down arrows that aren't moving users throughout the course. even though this is JAWS suggestion.

An Accessibility Conformance Report was also on our Accessibility roadmap which was completed in August. You can find how we did here!

Noel, I will be back to share good news when I hear it!

Kristin Hatcher

I am having the same issue as everyone on this thread. My compliance tester is blind, and so uses JAWS all the time. He tells me he prefers to use the up/down arrow keys, because when forced to use the Tab key JAWS reads the text all in one chunk. This might not seem like an issue to a sighted person who can read at the speed they prefer and easily jump back to the beginning of a sentence or paragraph to re-read text they didn't quite understand the first time, but for someone who is sight disabled it becomes a problem. To have JAWS re-read text they have to tab to the next item and then shit+tab back to the original item and listen to the whole thing again. 

Since JAWS does have a way to read text on the screen Articulate is technically 508 compliant, but it comes down to the experience for someone who is sight disabled - do other tools allow for easier navigation with JAWS? My clients rely on me to recommend a tool, and if they require 508 compliance I may not be able to recommend Articulate in the future.

I am interested in an enhancement to Articulate that would allow JAWS users to use the up/down arrow keys. I suspect this isn't an easy enhancement in the code but would be a worthwhile enhancement for anyone who is working for the government or a client who mandates 508 compliance. Please add my name to the enhancement request. 

David Crocker

While we are talking enhancements, it would be great if the "Object is visible to accessibility tools" was opt in instead of opt out. It is most often that only a few objects need to be visible to accessibility tools.  I work for a disability services organisation and it would save me lots of time if it was opt in only. Perhaps even the ability to change the default behaviour.

Lauren Connelly

Hi David!

It's helpful to hear this approach especially coming from the position of creating content for a disability services organization. I can see how this directly impacts the courses you create. 

I'm going to pass this along to our team since we haven't heard this type of request. Just to clarify, you're looking for the default option to be for screen readers to ignore the objects by default. Are there specific objects that consistently choose to be visible to accessibility tools? 

I appreciate your feedback and will be sure to update our team once I receive more information on exactly what would be beneficial.

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