Storyline 360: Our Accessibility Journey

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We're committed to accessibility and know that it's important to you. Here's a journal of our work so far, and we'll continue to update you on our progress. (If you're curious about our accessibility journey with Rise 360, we have you covered: Rise 360: Our Accessibility Journey.)

Winter Accessibility Enhancements

March 28, 2024

Wondering what we were up to this winter? We improved the user experience by increasing the quality of visual and auditory aids. Visual aids benefit people with low vision and increase legibility and readability for everyone, while auditory aids benefit people experiencing low vision and learning disabilities.

Diving into some specific examples on the visual side, we rolled out new features for closed captions. You can now position captions on your slides to avoid covering content and customize foreground and background colors to meet contrast needs. We bumped up the default font size for slide notes from 9pt to 12pt, set new projects to use accessible feedback layers by default, and updated our user interface terminology from “Alternate Text” to “Alternative Text.” Finally, we ensured that all player controls met the latest accessibility standard for minimum target size.

On the auditory side, we introduced enhancements using speech synthesis markup language (SSML) to offer additional options for Text-to-Speech (TTS). Now, you can play around with speech rates, pronunciation, and add pauses to make it sound more natural.

The improvements we made in our winter accessibility enhancements follow these WCAG criteria: 1.1.1 Non-text Content (Level A), 1.4.3 Contrast (Minimum) (Level AA), 2.5.8 Target Size (Minimum) (Level AA), 3.1.5 Reading Level (Level AAA)

Accessible Tooltips

November 30, 2023

Ever wish you had a little help understanding those tricky icons and controls? Well, good news! Our player controls and navigation buttons now display tooltips that are accessible to mouse, keyboard, and screen reader users. Let the tooltips guide you to all the necessary info and handy shortcuts.

The improvements we made in this update follow these WCAG criteria: 1.1.1 Non-text Content (Level A), 1.3.3 Sensory Characteristics (Level A), 1.4.13 Content on Hover or Focus (Level AA)

Fall Focus Shift

November 8, 2023

Over the summer, we honed in on improving the overall quality of Storyline 360, and now we're excited to announce the accessibility enhancements we've rolled out.

In our latest update, we've made some player enhancements. We paid particular attention to meeting color contrast guidelines, which led us to enhance the Back to Top and Skip Navigation buttons and the volume slider. We also fine-tuned the focus order in the player menu for smoother navigation. Now, when you start a new project with the modern player, you'll notice that the navigation buttons display icons and text by default. In addition, screen readers now announce the link icons in player resources, making the overall experience more seamless. 

We've also been working to address various NVDA screen reader navigation issues that some of you may have experienced. After careful investigation, we were happy to discover that the latest NVDA update has already solved many of these issues! We'll continue to dig in on additional navigation issues.

The improvements we made in this update follow these WCAG criteria: 1.1.1 Non-text Content (Level A), 1.3.3 Sensory Characteristics (Level A), 1.4.11 Non-text Contrast (Level AA), 2.4.3 Focus Order (Level A)

Inclusive Innovation

September 21, 2023

Text-to-speech technology turns text into spoken words, making information accessible to more users and promoting inclusivity. Hearing and seeing the text helps people with learning or cognitive disabilities and those who prefer to listen while multitasking. People who have low vision or can’t read the text also benefit. 

While text-to-speech technology can be a lifeline, the result has traditionally sounded robotic and unnatural. That’s why we’re excited about our new neural voices feature, which can generate realistic, natural-sounding text-to-speech narration

The improvements we made in this update follow this WCAG criterion: 3.1.5 Reading Level (Level AAA).

Elevating Quality

July 19, 2023

As we pursue superior user experiences, our engineering team made significant strides in prioritizing quality improvements for Storyline 360. Over the last three months, our team resolved 72 bugs affecting over 1,000 customers. For regular updates, subscribe to this discussion: “Storyline under a Microscope: An update from the CTO.” 

Among those 72 bug fixes is one notable improvement in this month's release related to accessibility. Whether the Storyline 360 player controls are on or off, the Storyline block displays full-screen in Rise 360 with a visual and intuitive “X to close” function to exit full-screen view.

The improvements we made in this update follow this WCAG criterion: 1.4.11 Non-text Contrast (Level AA)

Spring Trio

April 17, 2023

We released three new features to streamline your workflow and keep learners engaged.

Set the tone and create immersive experiences with continuous background audio. This engaging feature is one of our top requests for Storyline 360. While not a specific feature for accessibility, the default slide-related settings combined with the ability for learners to turn off background audio allows for use when creating accessible courses too.

We also delivered another video accessibility feature. Generate synchronized video transcripts from closed captions so visual content is accessible to all learners, including those who rely on screen readers, use braille displays, or prefer to read.

Finally, you can empower learners with accessible question feedback layers that meet color, contrast, and focus guidelines by default.

The improvements we made in this update follow these WCAG criteria: 1.2.1 Audio-only and Video-only (Prerecorded) (Level A), 1.3.2 Meaningful Sequence (Level A), 1.4.3 Contrast (Minimum) (Level AA), 1.4.7 Low or No Background Audio (Level AAA), 1.4.11 Non-text Contrast (Level AA)

Accessibility at Articulate

March 14, 2023

Today we launch Accessibility at Articulate. This accessibility policy statement provides transparency on the accessibility of our products, demonstrates progress, and shares our commitment to accessibility and social responsibility. 

Playback and Publishing Video

March 9, 2023

We released two new features, both video related, to boost accessibility for your learners.

Streaming video lets you deliver video content to all learners, regardless of their internet speed. Smoother playback allows learners to engage with the video content while increasing accessibility and inclusivity. 

In addition, you can also boost accessibility by including closed captions when publishing projects as MP4 video files. Our engineering team takes three days at the beginning of each quarter to participate in a hackathon. One of our engineering managers, Jesse Taber, took this highly requested feature on as a project, and it was so successful it’s now an official feature.

The improvements we made in this update follow this WCAG criterion: 1.2.2 Captions (Prerecorded) (Level A) and focus on digital inclusion for those with limited internet connectivity.

Improve Learner Playback

February 10, 2023

Allowing learners to adjust the course speed is a highly anticipated feature. Now you can let learners explore at their own pace by choosing a course playback speed between 0.25x and 2x. Speed control complements accessibility by empowering learners to customize their experience. For example, learners might slow content down to accommodate language barriers or cognitive disabilities. And they might speed up when reviewing content they're already familiar with.

In addition, we improved the learner's experience by fixing the positions of the modern player controls across the bottom of the player so they're consistent and easy for learners to remember. Now, when you turn off the seekbar, the other controls no longer move to the opposite side of the player. 

Finally, learners can now benefit from automatic, real-time captions of any video or audio in their course. With the latest update, Storyline 360 output supports Live Caption in Google Chrome.

The improvements we made in this update follow these Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 criteria: 3.2.3 Consistent Navigation (Level AA)

Work Smarter, Not Harder

November 29, 2022

Creating accessible training is important but, sometimes, it takes a backseat to getting a project out on time. So we took the step to make accessible development, well, more accessible. Save development time and create quizzes faster by setting default slide layer properties. The slide layers in your project inherit properties from the feedback master, including accessibility attributes. This feature is an enhancement to the dialog layers we introduced on May 24, 2022.

We have other time-saving features as well! Check out our user guide for slide masters and the article, 5 Storyline 360 Timeline Tips for Working Smarter, Not Harder.

For even more time-saving goodness, scroll bars on slides, layers, and slide masters now meet color contrast guidelines by default.

The improvements we made in this update follow these Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 criteria: 1.3.1 Info and Relationships (Level A), 1.4.11 Non-text Contrast (Level AA), and 2.1.1 Keyboard (Level A)

Display Content in Full-Screen Mode

August 23, 2022

Learners experiencing cognitive or learning disabilities can complete tasks better with limited interruptions and distractions. Help learners focus with minimal distractions by adding a player toggle to let learners view courses in full-screen mode.

The improvements we made in this update follow the Help Users Focus Objective in the Cognitive Accessibility Supplemental Guidance by W3C.

Our Story So Far and New Beginnings

July 15, 2022

We launched our Storyline 360 accessibility journal! Why now? After seeing the success of Rise 360: Our Accessibility Journey, we wanted a place to showcase all the accessibility accomplishments we've made in Storyline 360 over the years. You'll find an exhaustive history of what we've done so far, and we'll keep updating this journal as we achieve more.

Take Advantage of Accessible Video Controls and Quiz Result Slides

June 21, 2022

The visual design of your training content sets the tone for the learners' experience. This experience includes aesthetic appeal and accessibility. 

Learners can easily navigate the video controls with a keyboard or screen reader. Simply add a video to your course, enable Storyline 360 accessible video controls in the modern player, and publish. The published output includes accessible navigation with a logical focus order, providing a more inclusive experience for all learners.

Storyline 360 includes accessible quiz result slide templates with fresh designs meeting color, contrast, and focus guidelines. Define custom theme colors for correct and incorrect quiz elements, then use the new result slide templates to quickly create quiz results that are accessible by default. 

The improvements we made in this update follow these Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 criteria: 1.4.3 Contrast (Minimum) (Level AA), 1.4.11 Non-text Contrast (Level AA), 2.1.1 Keyboard (Level A), 2.4.7 Focus Visible (Level AA)

Use Dialog Layers to Enhance Screen Reader Experience

May 24, 2022

Turn a standard layer into a dialog layer to make interactions more intuitive and inclusive. When learners encounter a dialog layer, the keyboard focus stays on the modal dialog and its contents by dimming everything else in the browser window. While the layer is open, learners can't interact with anything else in the course.

Learners can navigate dialog layers with a screen reader or keyboard. Enhance the screen reader experience for dialog layers by defining accessibility attributes for an alternative title and description.

The improvements we made in this update follow these Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 criteria: 1.3.1 Info and Relationships (Level A), 2.1.1 Keyboard (Level A)

Update Focus Order Faster

April 20, 2022

Customize the accessibility focus order faster by selecting multiple objects and moving them all at once.

The improvements we made in this update follow these Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 criteria: 2.1.1 Keyboard (Level A), 2.4.7 Focus Visible (Level AA)

Boosted Visibility During Keyboard Navigation 

February 15, 2022 

Continuing our accessibility journey into 2022, we started with improvements to enhance our keyboard navigation.

The accessibility focus indicator is a rectangle that lets sighted keyboard-only users see which object is currently selected. Both visibility and accuracy are essential, and the latest improvements ensure that the accessibility focus indicator:

  • Resizes or repositions to accommodate objects after adjusting the browser window.
  • Jumps to the correct object after closing a layer or modal.
  • Displays correctly on hyperlinks when using custom line spacing.
  • Moves through the topbar player tabs in the correct reading order.

The improvements we made in this update follow these Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 criteria: 1.1.1 Non-text Content (Level A), 1.3.1 Info and Relationships (Level A), 2.1.1 Keyboard (Level A), 2.4.3 Focus Order (Level A), 2.4.7 Focus Visible (Level AA)

Accessible 360° Images

October 26, 2021 

In July 2021, we allowed authors to create immersive learning experiences with 360° images. Now, you can empower all learners to have the same engaging experience with built-in accessibility features for 360° images, including alt text, keyboard navigation, and screen reader support.

The improvements we made in this update follow these WCAG criteria: 1.1.1 Non-text Content (Level A)

Perceivable and Operable Improvements to Text and Color Contrast

The four principles of website accessibility that make up the POUR acronym are: perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust. If you're familiar with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1, these principles are in sections: 1. Perceivable, 2. Operable, 3. Understandable, and 4. Robust. We made quite a few improvements around perceivable and operable principles to ensure that learners can perceive the presented information and operate courses, regardless of their abilities.

July 27, 2021 

We know your branding and logos are essential. Now, you can add alternative text (alt text) to your course logo, making it accessible to screen readers and other assistive technologies. 

We also made closed captions easier to read. You can increase the captions font size up to 200% in the modern player.

Color contrast refers to the difference in light between the foreground (such as text) and its background. Using sufficient color contrast helps users with low vision, low contrast vision, or color vision deficiency. The modern player custom background color lets you brand your course with a custom color and instantly adjusts the contrast of player elements to maintain visual contrast. In addition, the two-color focus indicator allows you to choose two colors—one light and one dark—for the focus rectangle, so it's visible against any background in your course (modern player only).

The improvements we made in this update follow these WCAG criteria: 1.1.1 Non-text Content (Level A), 1.4.4 Resize text (Level AA), 1.4.11 Non-text Contrast (Level AA), 2.1.1 Keyboard (Level A)

Better Readability for Learners and Assistive Technology

May 18, 2021 

Accessible text improves the readability of course content for learners and assistive technology by allowing learners to adjust text properties, such as size and spacing. We also made it easier to create courses that support accessible text:

  • The built-in widescreen (16:9) slide size is bigger—960x540—giving you more room to work and fewer unexpected scroll bars in text objects.
  • Text autofit improvements make the text easier to read by controlling how it displays when it overflows its bounding box. Let the object's width or height expand to accommodate your text or lock the object at a fixed size to preserve your slide design. When locked, a scroll bar displays for the text that doesn't fit.
  • Make accessible text the default text for a course with the click of a button.

Learners should be able to access closed captions when needed. So we ensured that the closed captioning button remains visible when slide layers pause the timeline of the base layer, and the active state of the closed captioning button is more noticeable on the modern player, displaying an underline that matches the accent color.

The improvements we made in this update follow these WCAG criteria: 1.2.2 Captions (Prerecorded) (Level A), 1.3.1 Info and Relationships (Level A), 1.4.4 Resize text (Level AA), 2.1.1 Keyboard (Level A)

Modern Player Color Contrast 

March 23, 2021 

We want everyone to enjoy Storyline 360 courses, so we turned up the contrast in the modern player. Modern player accessible contrast now exceeds WCAG accessibility guidelines for visual contrast and color, enabling all learners to read the text, decipher the icons, perceive the controls, and navigate easily.

The improvements we made in this update follow these WCAG criteria: 1.4.3 Contrast (Minimum) (Level AA), 1.4.11 Non-text Contrast (Level AA)

Improving and Personalizing the Learning Experience

December 15, 2020

We closed out 2020 with momentous accessibility wins for learners, setting the stage for the next evolutionary leap in accessibility maturity.

Accessible semantic formatting automatically publishes text with the correct semantic structure for assistive technologies. This empowers screen reader users to identify the text's layout and relationships, such as headings, paragraphs, and lists. An additional feature that pairs with semantic formatting is accessible text styles, including hyperlink states (normal, hover, active, and visited). These give your course a consistent design and clear visual distinction for learners with low vision.

Adjustable accessible settings allow learners to personalize their learning experiences according to their needs and preferences. When you enable the new accessibility controls, learners can change the zoom mode, turn accessible text on or off, and toggle keyboard shortcuts.

Accessible text takes personalization even further, letting learners adjust text properties, such as font, size, and spacing, to suit their needs and learning styles.

Accessible player controls let learners use keyboard shortcuts to mute/unmute audio, replay the slide, turn closed captions on/off, etc. These player controls follow a more intuitive navigation order similar to popular video-streaming sites.

The improvements we made in this update follow these WCAG criteria: 1.3.1 Info and Relationships (Level A), 1.4.4 Resize text (Level AA), 2.1.1 Keyboard (Level A), 3.1.2 Language of Parts (Level AA)

Refinements for Keyboard Navigation and Screen Readers

September 29, 2020 

The Tab Order window is now called Focus Order to reflect its purpose better. The focus order of your content improves keyboard navigation and allows the course to be accessible to screen readers. It manages the tab order of interactive objects, such as buttons and markers, for keyboard-only users and the reading order of non-interactive objects, such as text and images, for screen readers.

Text styles control the visual appearance of text elements, such as paragraphs and headings. You can even define custom styles for repetitive elements, such as button labels, blockquotes, image captions, or speech bubbles.

The improvements we made in this update follow these WCAG criteria: 1.3.1 Info and Relationships (Level A), 2.1.1 Keyboard (Level A), 2.4.7 Focus Visible (Level AA)

Keyboard Navigation Enhancements and Modern Player Zoom

June 23, 2020 

Keyboard accessibility gives all learners access to the course content and delivers the same engaging experience. So we refined keyboard accessibility for interactive markers and scrolling panels

When using the modern player style, learners can use the zoom settings in desktop browsers to make slides bigger and easier to see. We also introduced a keyboard shortcut list that learners can display at any time by pressing ? (Shift+/).

The improvements we made in this update follow these WCAG criteria: 1.2.2 Captions (Prerecorded) (Level A), 1.3.1 Info and Relationships (Level A), 1.4.4 Resize text (Level AA), 2.1.1 Keyboard (Level A)

Empowering Users

March 24, 2020

We listened to your feedback and learned that auto-reading content isn't the best experience for e-learning courses. We empowered screen reader users to control their e-learning experience. Screen readers no longer auto-read slide content. Now, a screen reader announces the title of each slide and then waits for the learner to explore the content.

We also redesigned the optional launch page for published courses so it's accessible to screen readers. Screen readers announce the course title, the button label, and a warning that the button opens a new window.

Finally, we made quite a few improvements to closed captions to ensure they display consistently and adjust when changing the modern player font size.

The improvements we made in this update follow these WCAG criteria: 1.1.1 Non-text Content (Level A), 1.2.2 Captions (Prerecorded) (Level A), 1.3.1 Info and Relationships (Level A), 2.1.1 Keyboard (Level A)

Focusing on Accessibility in 2020: The Beginning

January 21, 2020 

In 2020, our engineering and quality assurance teams focused on learning more about digital accessibility. This focus launched a new level of maturity and the next evolution in accessibility features for Storyline 360.

We're committed to giving authors tools to easily create courses that are accessible to all learners. As such, we introduced the accessible player, making navigation easier for learners using screen readers or keyboards. 

We also made slide content more accessible, including keyboard-accessible hotspots and drop-down lists. We also ensured assistive technology could correctly identify text and objects. 

The improvements we made in this update follow these WCAG criteria: 1.1.1 Non-text Content (Level A), 1.2.2 Captions (Prerecorded) (Level A), 1.3.1 Info and Relationships (Level A), 2.1.1 Keyboard (Level A)

Accessibility Enhancements for 2019

November 19, 2019

As awareness grows, we adjust our commitment to accessibility maturity. We upgraded our accessibility conformance report to the latest standards using the International Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT). This template includes both WCAG and Revised Section 508.

You can manage all the assets for your project in one place with the media library, and now the media library also allows the management of your alt text. Use the media library to add alternative text to assets in your project and manage closed captions for videos and audio clips.

The improvements we made in this update follow these WCAG criteria: 1.1.1 Non-text Content (Level A), 1.3.1 Info and Relationships (Level A)

Accessibility Enhancements for 2018

December 27, 2018 

The release of WCAG 2.1 and Revised Section 508 guidelines in 2018 changed our understanding of digital accessibility and inspired us to pursue accessibility maturity for Storyline 360.

We unveiled the modern player style that displays consistently across all devices. It delivers a unified experience for desktop and mobile learners and paves the way for future accessibility features.

We gave course creators a modern text-rendering engine that allows text to flow beautifully with consistent spacing and readability on every device.

Accessibility Enhancements for 2017

December 12, 2017 

Need to narrate a course or localize narration quickly? No problem. Simply convert the text to speech and speed up course development. We also added support for XLIFF 1.2/2.0 translation, which works with more translation tools and gives translators more context.

Closed captions display a text representation of the audio within a media file. Captions empower those who can't listen to the media to read the text instead. Give your Storyline 360 courses an accessibility boost by importing closed captions for narration and videos, creating captions from scratch using the built-in editor, or auto-generating captions for text-to-speech narration.

Storyline 360 Launched

November 9, 2016

Articulate 360 officially launched! Articulate 360 includes everything you need to create engaging, effective workplace learning, including Storyline 360. Build any course you can imagine for any device imaginable.

Because Articulate 360 is a subscription service, we continually release new Storyline 360 features, including ongoing accessibility enhancements. Storyline 360 also added accessibility support for HTML5 output.

Accessibility Enhancements in Storyline 2

May 7, 2015

During the lifetime of Storyline 2, the forerunner of Storyline 360, we made several accessibility advancements in Flash output.

Storyline 2 Launched

September 16, 2014

In addition to the features that were a part of the original version of Storyline, the next generation of Storyline included better support for Section 508 guidelines in Flash output so you could make online learning more accessible.

Storyline Initially Released

May 2, 2012

Our accessibility journey began with the first version of Storyline, which introduced the following features.

  • Create Flash-based courses with partial support for Section 508 accessibility guidelines, including basic screen reader support, keyboard navigation, and a visible focus indicator.
  • Describe the purpose and appearance of images and other slide objects with alternative text (alt text), which is vital for learners using screen readers and other assistive technologies.
  • Reach learners in every language, including right-to-left scripts—such as Arabic and Hebrew—and double-byte character sets (DBCS)—such as Chinese and Japanese. Translate courses, localize the player text labels, and identify the language direction.