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Accessible Presentations with Adobe Captivate 3

Adobe Captivate 3 can be used to create multimedia training presentations that include text, graphics, recorded audio, recorded screen video, and interactive quizzes. Captivate produces presentations in Flash format that can be played in a web browser with Flash Player 7 or later.

Captivate 3 offers a number of features designed to help make presentations accessible to people with disabilities. Its Closed Captioning tool is one of the best available. Unfortunately, many of Captivate's other accessibility features do not work as described.

Key Features

The following features are key to making Captivate 3 presentations accessible:

  • "508 compliance" – Captivate automatically handles the technical aspects of activating behind-the-scenes Flash accessibility features. This feature is noticeable only in the Project Settings dialog, where the "508 compliance" check box is checked by default. The only action necessary is to confirm that this check box remains checked.
  • Accessibility Text – Each Captivate slide has a "Slide Accessibility Text" setting that provides the text that screen readers can read. Entering Accessibility Text requires an additional manual step for each slide, but Captivate makes it easy to reuse text already entered visibly on the slide.
  • Closed Captioning – Closed captions are the only way for users who are deaf to understand information presented in audio. While adding closed captions is an additional step, Captivate provides a powerful and flexible closed captioning tool that makes the task as easy a possible.
  • Shortcut Keys – Interactive elements such as buttons are typically activated using the mouse, but, to be accessible, must also be operable using keyboard commands. The buttons on the standard Captivate playback bar (the toolbar that contains the play, pause, back, forward, etc., controls) can be activated using standard keyboard commands ("tab" key to move focus to a button and "spacebar" or "enter" to activate it). However, buttons on Captivate slides are not operable from the keyboard unless they have a "Shortcut Key" assigned. Fortunately, Captivate provides a relatively easy way of assigning a Shortcut Key.

Key Failings

Several accessibility features described in the Captivate 3 product literature and help documentation do not work as described or needed:

  • Project Name and Description – Adobe's Accessibility Best Practices for Adobe Captivate indicates that "every movie should include a movie description". However, if a Project Name and/or Description is entered in the General Preferences dialog, a screen reader will read them on every slide (which is extraneous) and after the Slide Accessibility Text (which is the wrong order). Because of this undesirable behavior, the Project Name and Description need to be blank.
  • Keyboard Accessibility – Several of the Captivate product documents indicate that Captivate "provides keyboard access to content by ensuring that all buttons and clickable areas can be activated using the keyboard alone". However, click boxes are not operable using standard keyboard commands ("tab" key, "spacebar", and "enter"), and buttons are not operable from the keyboard unless they have a "Shortcut Key" assigned. Fortunately, buttons become accessible when "enter" is assigned as a shortcut (both "enter" and "spacebar" can be used to activate the button). However, the fact that Captivate shortcut keys will activate a button regardless of whether the button has focus (i.e., whether a user has pressed the tab key to move to that button) can cause problems when there are multiple buttons on a slide (it may not be clear which one Enter will activate).
  • Quizzes – Several of the Captivate product documents indicate that Multiple Choice, True/False, and Rating Scale (Likert) quiz question types are accessible. However, because there is no way for a screen reader user to "click to continue" when the Success, Failure, Incomplete, or Retry Captions are displayed, there are very few scenarios in which the built-in question types can be used with a screen reader.
  • Other Objects - Captivate 3 offers a wide range of objects that cannot be made accessible to keyboard or screen reader users. Objects with accessibility problems include: Text Animation, Zoom Area, Rollover Caption, Rollover Image, Rollover Slidelet, Transparent Button, Image Button, Click Box, Text Entry Box, Simulation, and all the Quiz Slides.

Accessibility of Captivate 3 Objects

Object Accessible Issues
Text Caption Yes Equivalent information must be included in Slide Accessibility Text.
Highlight Box Yes Equivalent information must be included in Slide Accessibility Text.
Image Yes Equivalent information must be included in Slide Accessibility Text.
Text Animation Problematic Screen reader reads text, character by character, after Slide Accessibility Text.
Zoom Area Problematic Causes screen reader to read Slide Accessibility Text twice.
Rollover Caption Problematic Screen reader reads Rollover Area as "[number] button".
Rollover Image Problematic Screen reader reads Rollover Area as "[number] button".
Rollover Slidelet Problematic Screen reader reads Rollover Area as "[number] button".
Text Button Yes Shortcut key must be set to Enter. (Do not set to Transparent; breaks tab order.)
Transparent Button No Breaks tab order.
Image Button Yes Must set Type to Text Button, enter Button Text, Apply, and then set Type to Image Button. Shortcut key must be set to Enter.
Click Box No Not in tab order; screen reader reads as "click box button"; no way to read Hint, Success, or Failure Captions.
Text Entry Box No Screen reader cannot enter text; Submit Button is read as "[number] button"; no way to read Hint, Success, or Failure Captions.
Demonstration Yes Equivalent information must be included in Narration and Closed Captioning.
Simulation No Uses Click Boxes and Text Entry Boxes (see issues above).
Quiz Slides No Screen reader cannot "click to continue" on Success or Failure Captions; keyboard user cannot answer questions when Incomplete or Retry Captions are displayed.

The test pages may be found at:

Creating Accessible Presentations with Adobe Captivate 3

MSF&W's Accessibility Team recently developed and provided a training on "Creating Accessible Presentations with Adobe Captivate 3", and we're working on getting the manual posted. In the meantime, the following "Quick Reference" outlines our recommendations and best practices:

Adobe Captivate 3 Accessibility Quick Reference

Project Preferences

  1. 508 Compliance: [check]
  2. Project Name: [space]
  3. Description: [space]

Project Skin Closed Caption Settings

  1. Count: 3
  2. Size: 18
  3. Color: white
  4. Background: black
  5. Transparency: 20% (or less)

Title Slide

  1. Narration: none
  2. Accessibility Text: slide text & image meanings
  3. Button: continue, shortcut: enter

Text Slides

  1. Narration: slide text
  2. Closed Captions: none
  3. Accessibility Text: slide text & image meanings
  4. Button: continue, shortcut: enter

Demonstration Slides

  1. Narration: all actions, essential information, universal terms
  2. Closed Captions: all narration
  3. Accessibility Text: closed captions
  4. Button: none

Quiz Slides

  1. Slides: Question, Correct Response, Incorrect Response, End
  2. Narration: question text
  3. Closed Captions: none
  4. Accessibility Text: question text
  5. Correct Answer Button(s): jump to correct response slide, shortcut: enter
  6. Incorrect Answer Button(s): jump to incorrect response slide, shortcut: enter
  7. Response Slide Button(s): jump to end (or question) slide, shortcut: enter

Text Captions

  1. Font: 18 point (or larger)
  2. Color Contrast Ratio: 3:1 (or better)

Buttons

  1. Type: text button
  2. Shortcut: enter
  3. Font: 14 point bold (or larger)
  4. Color Contrast Ratio: 3:1 (or better)

Closed Captions

  1. 1-2 lines
  2. 10-12 words
  3. Natural line breaks
  4. Identify speakers (if multiple)

Accessibility Text

  1. Slide text/closed captioning text (no button text)
  2. Information communicated by meaningful images

Order

  1. Slides
  2. Narration
  3. Closed Captioning
  4. Accessibility Text
  5. Fix Timeline
  6. Clean Library

Testing

  • Keyboard-only (tab, spacebar)
  • Speakers off

More Information

If you have questions or suggestions, please email accessibility@msfw.com.