Question regarding screen readers

Hello community,

I´m in the planning stages of creating a course that needs to be completely accessible and I have a question regarding the function of screen readers. If a slide has audio and the learner is using a screen reader, do they have control over when the screen reader starts reading? If we create the course with audio, I just want to make sure the audio and the screen reader won´t play at the same time. Hope my question makes sense!



8 Replies

I don't know much about screen readers so I am not sure I can be of much help. What I do know is that not all screen reader users use text-to-speech; many use braille output. Additionally, other types of accessibility tools - such as content highlighters and voice input apps - use the same techniques and APIs (eg. DOM, MSAA) that screen readers do, so any technique that "detects a screen reader" will likely detect these also - so you cannot assume that it means that the user is fully blind and using only speech. 

My approach would be to default to audio narration OFF with a button that lets the visually enabled attendee turn ON the narration if they want to listen. That would avoid the conflict.

Fern McCracken

Hi Nadia,

I am wondering if you learned anything further about competing for audio when planning for accessibility.  I have created a storyline 360 project that has audio narration and I don't want the screen reader to compete with the slide narration.

I was also wondering if there is any way to control the order in which the leaner tabs to each of the player features (i.e. volume, cc, resources, back, next...buttons) as well.

Have you learned any tips?


Nadia Zaid

Hi Fern,

I've not yet gotten a definitive answer on this; however, I did recently update the accessibility for a voiced course, the client tested it with a screen reader and they were thrilled with the way it functioned. I did not do anything special with the audio in this course. My suspicion is that the user has control over when they start to tab through the elements. I base my alt text on this assumption- if the user has already listened to the audio, will the alt text enhance what they've read? Not sure if that's helpful...

Regarding having control over the order in which the learner tabs through the player features, hopefully a Hero will chime in as this is something I don't know. 

Ben Cutrufelli

Yes, the screen reader should allow the user to scroll though with keyboard shortcuts. The alt text might enhance what the user has already read if its relevant to emphasizing the learning/ topics.

Does the image help a person who can see the slide understand the material better? If so, the alt text would be important to emphasize the content in the same way. 


Sharon English

Hi Nadia, having audio set to off as default for all accessible courses is best practice. Without a visual cue that there is audio coming, it often can give users a fright if content just plays and they are not prepared or volume is turned up high. Alternatively, if there is audio that does play automatically, then the user could be advised of this in the intro.