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An Accessibility and Usability Review of the Articulate and Captivate E-Learning Software Packages

Lawrence Malakhoff

KEY WORDS: accessibility, usability, E-Learning software, Articulate, Captivate, screen-reader, Federal regulations, user-interface evaluation.


This accessibility evaluation was performed on Adobe Captivate (version 4) and Articulate (version 9) from Articulate Global, two software packages being considered at the U.S. Census Bureau for use in programming electronic(E)-Learning courses. This review of the two software packages was performed in February 2009 using the Job Access With Speech (JAWS) screen-reader, software used by people with visual disabilities. For all users to have access to E-Learning applications developed by or for the Census Bureau, the software must conform to Federal accessibility regulations. For the purpose of this report, an item was judged to be accessible (compliant with the regulations) if JAWS read its screen text out loud in a coherent order. The evaluation revealed, for example, that navigation labels generated by the Articulate software were inaccessible. Further, on screens created with Captivate, tab order alternated between the navigation buttons and media player controls. These issues violate the Federal accessibility regulations. The usability evaluation detected that both packages used background images, making text difficult to read; Articulate generated a left-navigation menu that had tab stops programmed in between the menu entries; and the Captivate package created screens that required JAWS users to navigate backwards to hear the content. This report uses screen shots to illustrate how compliance with Federal regulations can be accomplished, and includes recommendations to improve the accessibility and usability of the two software packages.

CITATION: Malakhoff, Lawrence. (2009). An Accessibility and Usability Review of the Articulate and Captivate E-Learning Software Packages. Statistical Research Division Study Series (Survey Methodology #2009-07). U.S. Census Bureau. Available online at <>.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Statistical Research Division

Published online: May 13, 2009
Last revised: April 8, 2009

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Source: U.S. Census Bureau | Statistical Research Division | (301) 763-3215 (or |   Last Revised: October 08, 2010