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SmartBuilder v3 or v4?

Please note that this is the help site for SmartBuilder version 3.

The SmartBuilder version 4 Documentation and Video Tutorials can be found in the Help menu in the tool, or view the v4 Help site.

"Web accessibility encompasses all disabilities that affect access to the Web, including visual, auditory, physical, speech, cognitive, and neurological disabilities..." (from W3C Web Accessibility Initiative).

In order to make learning content accessible to people with disabilities (e.g. the visually impaired), SmartBuilder follows web accessibility guidelines as stipulated in Section 508. To learn more about web accessibility, please visit these websites:

When most people refer to 508-compliant content, they mean that the content has to be accessible to a screen reader. To make your lessons accessible to a screen reader you must use the HTML5 Converter to create HTML5 output. You will also need to add tab indexes on individual objects to define the order the screen reader will read them, and descriptions to some objects, such as hotspots, so that the screen reader has something to read.

SmartBuilder allows many objects to be visible to screen reading software and enables authors to define a tabbing order. To create truly accessible content, however, authors must consider many other factors when developing web-based lessons. Examples include avoiding colors that color blind people cannot see properly, or choosing font colors that are easy to read by dyslexic people.

  •   The following SmartBuilder objects have properties that allow them to be read by screen readers:
    • Text objects
    • Input text objects
    • Buttons
    • Hotspots
    • Graphics
    • Check box groups
    • Radio button objects
  •   The supported environment for 508 compliant content created with SmartBuilder is:
    • Windows 7
    • Internet Explorer 9+ browser
    • JAWS screen reader

    You can use Chromevox for the Chrome browser, or Windows Narrator, for testing purposes or audiences that do not have access to JAWS, but these are not officially supported.

    Setting up a Tab Index

    Screen readers use keyboard shortcuts to help learners navigate around the screen. Most frequently, the "Tab" key is used to cycle through the interactive objects. Buttons, Hotspots, Input Text, regular Text objects, Graphics, Radio Buttons and Check Boxes have a Tab Index property which controls the order in which learners can cycle through the objects.

    Note: Only visible objects can be selected using the Tab key.  Even if something has a tab index, it will be missed if it is not currently visible.

    User tip: You may wish to set up your initial tab index in increments of 10. This will allow you to later add new objects with a tab index somewhere in the middle of your existing objects without having to re-number all the existing objects.

    User tip: Tab indexing may also be useful for your general learners. Set up tab indexes so your learners can quickly navigate through the objects on the screen.


    SmartBuilder WACG 2.0 and 508 Compliance and Guidlelines (download as PDF)


    Section 508 Regulation

    WCAG 2.0 


    How to Implement in SmartBuilder 

    § 1194.22 (a)
    A text equivalent for every non-text element shall be provided (e.g., via "alt", "longdesc", or in element content).

    1.1 Text Alternatives: Provide text alternatives for any non-text content so that it can be changed into other forms people need, such as large print, braille, speech, symbols or simpler language.

    All graphics and similar visual elements must have a text description that a screen reader can access.  This text is referred to as “alt” (alternative) text. 

    When a non-text object is selected, the name, label, and/or description is read by the screen reader. 

    SmartBuilder automatically exposes an object's name and label, if there is one, so that these can be read by a screen reader.  You should also populate the Description field in the Properties panel for graphic objects and hotspots since they have no label that can provide a text equivalent.

    § 1194.22 (b)
    Equivalent alternatives for any multimedia presentation shall be synchronized with the presentation.

    1.2 Time-based Media: Provide alternatives for time-based media.

    Videos and movies that are presented on screen require both closed captioning of the audio and a description of the visual elements.  These items must be timed to the media presentation.

    Compliance is largely a design decision and can be achieved in a number of ways.  A typical approach is to provide a display containing a text object with a transcription of the audio or video.  The display can be persistent on the page or could be shown and hidden using a button.

    § 1194.22 (c)
    Web pages shall be designed so that all information conveyed with color is also available without color, for example from context or markup.

    1.4 Distinguishable: Make it easier for users to see and hear content including separating foreground from background.

    3.1 Readable: Make text content readable and understandable.

    Any object or text that uses color for emphasis must also use emphasis techniques that do not depend on color, such as text formatting or descriptions.

    Compliance is based on design.  SmartBuilder provides the flexibility to design content using any color combinations.

    § 1194.22 (d)
    Documents shall be organized so they are readable without requiring an associated style sheet.

    3.1 Readable: Make text content readable and understandable.

    Style sheets should not affect the ability to read the content on the screen.  If the learner is using a browser that cannot use a style sheet, the learner will still be able to read the content, although it may not appear in the intended font.

    Not applicable - SmartBuilder does not use style sheets

    § 1194.22 (e)
    Redundant text links shall be provided for each active region of a server-side image map.

    Not applicable

    Each area of the image map must have an equivalent text-based hotspot that is accessible by a keyboard or assistive device.

    Not applicable - SmartBuilder does not use sever-side image maps.

    § 1194.22 (f)
    Client-side image maps shall be provided instead of server-side image maps except where the regions cannot be defined with an available geometric shape.

    Not applicable

    Server-side maps limit accessibility.  Client-side maps are preferred.

    You can create a client side image map using hotspot objects placed over a graphic.  You can associate a description with each hotspot using the Description field in the Properties panel.

    § 1194.22 (g)
    Row and column headers shall be identified for data tables.

    Not applicable

    The headers for rows and columns need to be coded so that screen readers read them in the correct order.

    Not applicable - SmartBuilder does not provide data tables as a single object.  Text and shapes can be aligned to create a table look and feel.  Text is automatically exposed to screen readers.

    § 1194.22 (h)
    Markup shall be used to associate data cells and header cells for data tables that have two or more logical levels of row or column headers.

    Not applicable

    The headers for rows and columns need to be coded so that screen readers read them in the correct order.  If multiple cells are used as a single header, the coding should indicate to read these together.

    Not applicable - SmartBuilder does not provide data tables as a single object.  Text and shapes can be aligned to create a table look and feel.  Text is automatically exposed to screen readers.

    Using the Tab Order field in the Properties panel, authors can expose objects to screen readers in the correct order.

    § 1194.22 (i)
    Frames shall be titled with text that facilitates frame identification and navigation.

    Not applicable

    Each frame within a website should have a title that a screen reader can access to ensure the learner knows which frame is active.

    Not applicable - SmartBuilder does not use frames.

    § 1194.22 (j)
    Pages shall be designed to avoid causing the screen to flicker with a frequency greater than 2 Hz and lower than 55 Hz.

    2.3 Seizures: Do not design content in a way that is known to cause seizures.

    Content should not cause the screen to refresh at a rapid rate.

    SmartBuilder does not have any rapid animations that should cause the screen to refresh in that manner.

    § 1194.22 (k)
    A text-only page, with equivalent information or functionality, shall be provided to make a web site comply with the provisions of this part, when compliance cannot be accomplished in any other way. The content of the text-only page shall be updated whenever the primary page changes.

    1.3 Adaptable: Create content that can be presented in different ways (for example simpler layout) without losing information or structure.

    If a screen has too many elements or too much interactivity to be made 508 accessible through other means, it must have a text only page with equivalent content.  This page should be updated every time the screen is.

    Compliance is based on design.  Authors can create a text-only version of a lesson.

    § 1194.22 (l)
    When pages utilize scripting languages to display content, or to create interface elements, the information provided by the script shall be identified with functional text that can be read by assistive technology.

    Not applicable

    Any content dynamically generated through script must include accessibility information, such as button names and alt text, that is accessible to screen readers.

    SmartBuilder automatically exposes an object's name and label, if there is one, so that these can be read by a screen reader.  For example, if a button is used to launch a pop-up window, the button label can be used to explain via the screen reader what will happen when the button is clicked. For hotspots, which don’t have labels, the description property can be used to describe when the hotspot is clicked.

    § 1194.22 (m)
    When a web page requires that an applet, plug-in or other application be present on the client system to interpret page content, the page must provide a link to a plug-in or applet that complies with §1194.21(a) through (l).

    Not applicable

    Any plug ins required to access content must be available to the user.

    For example, a site that contains a Flash-based solution must also include a link to the appropriate Flash player.

    SmartBuilder's HTML5 output does not require any plugins.

    § 1194.22 (n)
    When electronic forms are designed to be completed on-line, the form shall allow people using assistive technology to access the information, field elements, and functionality required for completion and submission of the form, including all directions and cues.

    3.3 Input Assistance: Help users avoid and correct mistakes.

    Assistive technology must be able to navigate through the form and provide assistance to the user when filling out the information.

    SmartBuilder automatically exposes an object's name and label, if there is one, so that these can be read by a screen reader.  Descriptions can also be added to each form object such as radio buttons, check boxes, input text, etc. Conditional actions can be created to look for inappropriate answers or to help them avoid and correct mistakes.

    § 1194.22 (o)
    A method shall be provided that permits users to skip repetitive navigation links.

    2.1 Keyboard Accessible: Make all functionality available from a keyboard.

    2.4 Navigable: Provide ways to help users navigate, find content, and determine where they are.

    3.2 Predictable: Make Web pages appear and operate in predictable ways.

    All content must be available without going through the complete navigational path again.

    For example, to access a program in Windows, the user may have to click Start, Programs… etc.  The user could save a shortcut to the program on the desktop or task bar for future reference. 

    If a website contains multiple navigational levels to access content, the user should be able to return to that content without going through all the navigational levels again.

    SmartBuilder provides authors with the ability to select the tab order that optimizes accessibility.

    § 1194.22 (p)
    When a timed response is required, the user shall be alerted and given sufficient time to indicate more time is required.

    2.2 Enough Time: Provide users enough time to read and use content.

    If there is a limit on the amount of time the system allows you to be inactive or if a test is timed, then a warning must inform the learner that time is ending.  The learner must have the option of extending the time limit.  I. e. "Warning, your session is about to expire.  Please click here to continue."

    Compliance is achieved through design. Authors can include text or audio warnings that can be triggered based on timer progress.

    Not applicable

    4.1 Compatible: Maximize compatibility with current and future user agents, including assistive technologies.

    Make sure that your content follows accessibility standards.

    SmartBuilder will continue to be updated to ensure compatibility with accessibility standards and assistive devices.