WARNING: Accessibility bug in Storyline (WCAG/508 compliance)

Nov 05, 2016

For those of you who think you have created an accessible course in Storyline, I urge you to test your published courses using a screen reader. There are two important bugs you need to be aware of as they may have caused you to breach your contractual obligations in relation to WCAG 2.0/Section 508 compliance (not to mention being extremely frustrating for your learners who rely on screen readers).

Bug #1: If you add Alt text to a button after adding a state, the Alt text doesn't work.

Bug #2: If you update Alt text on a button after adding a state, the Alt text doesn't work.

I've created a video demonstrating these bugs. Click the image below to watch it. 

Articulate Storyline WCAG 508 Accessibility Alt text not working

Articulate are aware of these bugs. While we await a bug fix, the only workaround is to do the following:

  • Ensure you add Alt text before adding states.
  • Do not attempt to duplicate a button and then update the Alt text on the subsequent buttons. Create all buttons from scratch. 
  • If you need to update the Alt text on a button at a later stage, ensure you delete the button and recreate it (and all its states and triggers) again from scratch. 

This workaround is extremely tedious and time-consuming, but at least it's better than finding out that your course is not accessibility compliant!

Please test your published courses using a screen reader (you can download a free one here) and reply to this post if these bugs have impacted on any of your work. Hopefully we can get them bumped up the bug priority list!  

83 Replies
Tamara Tarasova

Thanks to all for the contributions and especially Kuriko for bringing this bug. Update on SL 360 - the bug is still there as of now. Another thing that has not been raised here is the inability to combine several objects under the same state to make them accessible. The reader picks up on each elements despite the  alt text assigned to a state. Maybe they should have been combined as invisible at the beginning but there is no way to redo those combinations. Mark's suggestion to delete the states and recreate them worked for me in some instances. When several objects were combined in 1 state,  I had to unbundle the states into separate elements, then made some elements invisible for the screen reader and set triggers to text on top so buttons underneath change the states when clicking on the text. 

Jackie Waskewicz

bsi el I too am seeing a break with tab order and layers since the 3.17 releases hit. I have an open case and the QA person was able to also see (and record) the issue, but still have no ETA on a fix. We were able to have users with v. 3.16 installed open and publish the file, and get it to work, but we really need a better solution.

Alyssa Gomez

Hey folks, 

Thanks so much for sharing your experience with us. I'm glad to hear that you were able to roll back to Update 16 and continue working while our team irons out this issue. 

If anyone else runs into this problem in the future, please reach out to us here to request a rollback. We certainly don't want this bug keeping you from making your deadlines!

Crystal Horn

Hey everybody - particularly Henri. I'm excited to let you know that we just released update 5 for Storyline 3! It includes new features and fixes - check them all out here.

One of the fixes addresses an issue where disabled custom buttons were still accessible with keyboard navigation.

Here’s where you can download and install the latest version of Storyline 3. Let me know how you make out!

Alyssa Gomez

Great news, folks!  We just released another update for Articulate 360.  It includes new features and fixes listed here!

We were seeing a problem where the yellow focus indicator would jump back to the first object on the slide when a layer was opened. That issue is now fixed!

You can take advantage of this fix by downloading and installing the latest update of Storyline 360. Let me know if you have any questions!

Crystal Horn

Hi Mark - thank you for clarifying.  I believe you're referring to the issue with the alt text of a button not being read properly by JAWS.  We have it documented that the screen reader will actually read the default alt text of the Normal state of buttons.

We still have this issue with our team and are investigating a fix.  I know it's been a few months, and I'm sorry you're being impacted!

Ashley Terwilliger-Pollard

Hi Erin,

The issue with the alt text of a button not being read properly by JAWS when you've entered that text into the Tab Order window or when it's on a button with multiple states is still open with our team for investigation. 

So in short, our team still has our eyes on this issue, but we haven't released a fix for it yet. 


Leslie McKerchie

Hi Erin,

I apologize for any confusion. I was simply sharing that we would update the conversation here as it related to the issues identified, but wanted to verify that she was running into an issue that we already had reported as there have been many replies and conversations on this forum thread alone.

Hi Steven, 

Thanks for chiming in to share your thoughts along with the specific issue you are running into. I have verified that this conversation is linked to the report and have added your thoughts as well.

Hannah R Conner

Hi Leslie,

Thanks for the quick response! To give you more context, we have shapes with "picture fill" used throughout all of our lessons that have multiple states on them. No matter where we put the alt text, whether it's in the tab order window or in any combination of the states themselves, it still will not read the alt text we've assigned it. Because we built all of our interactions as templates that were used to develop every lesson, we are always going to be adding alt text after the states have been made. So, you can imagine at this point why it is out of the question for us to delete and re-create all of these from scratch. It would be like rebuilding every slide.

We are now having to look at the possibility of creating "accessible alternative" versions, which will not meet the letter of the law for section 508. We are a digital high school trying to help other high schools with their teacher shortages, but those schools can't use our lessons if they do not meet 508. We really need to know whether this fix is likely to happen very soon, or if we need to go with plan B.

Thank you!

Jothan Sargent

Hannah, we had a similar problem with buttons. Our work-around that seemed to work was removing accessibility from the button and its states (no ALT text, can't tab to it), and adding an invisible rectangle (rectangle shape with 100% transparency) on top that held the ALT text (and added to tab order). I think this idea will work with any invisible shape (e.g. circle, irregular shape), but we haven't tested that yet. Would that approach work for you? We did find that hotspots are not accessible, so you should avoid those, but you can use an invisible rectangle just like a hotspot.

Also, there was a change in functionality that happened between Storyline 3 Update 1 and Storyline 3 Update 2 that got us in some difficulty with our work-around: in Update 2 and beyond it seems to work better if the ALT text is in the state for the object rather than at the layer level, if that makes sense. In other words, if you are using Update 2 or later, it seems to work better if you click to edit the states for your object and add the ALT text to the state.

I should also note that it seems that checkboxes work properly now (I think it was Update 3 or Update 4, can't remember which), but we still see a problem with radio buttons (JAWS will announce that you need to use up or down arrow keys to change the selection, but those key presses don't work, you have to use TAB or SHIFT-TAB to move between the radio button choices).

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