PowerPoint presentations can be made up of many elements that help to convey messages, allowing you to deliver content in an engaging, interesting way. These different elements can however, present problems for users with accessibility requirements. An accessible PowerPoint presentation includes multiple ways for users to access content, whether it’s made up of text, images, audio or videos. To make your presentation accessible, you’ll need to use the available styles and templates in Microsoft PowerPoint, and the accessibility tools provided.
The easiest way to get started with an accessible PowerPoint presentation is to use a template. There are a range of templates in different colours and styles available, from simple text-based styles to styles with images and graphics.
- To use a PowerPoint template, create a new presentation, and then click on the Design tab to find one that suits your purposes. You can select different layouts from the ribbon along the top of the page, and designs from the pane on the right hand side. You can also change the template or design by using this tab, while you’re working on your presentation. These templates are designed so that screen readers can read the text you add to them.
- Add text to the slides in the order you would like it to be read. While a sighted user will likely read the text on slides in the order in which it appears, a screen reader will read out the text in the order in which it has been added, which may in some cases be different than how the text appears on the slide. So, add your title first, then add body text, and if you’re adding extra text boxes, make sure you add them in chronological order.
- Create unique, descriptive titles for all of your slides, as a screen reader will identify each slide by its title. This will allow users of screen readers to easily differentiate your slides, and gain an overview of your presentation by skipping through the slides by title.
- If you use hyperlinks in your slide, make sure that the links are written descriptively. Many screen readers will collect links into a list for users to scan, so if the link text is not descriptive (for example, a link that only says ‘click here’) users will not be able to identify the content outside of its immediate context. You can use the full title of the link destination to avoid confusion, or write your own description of the link.
- Do not put too much text on slides, and use a sans serif font, size 18 pt or larger. This will assist users who are blind or have low vision, as well as those with reading disabilities such as dyslexia.
- Ensure that you have added alt text to all visuals in your presentation, such as images or graphics. You can do this by:
- Right-clicking on the image or graphic, and selecting Edit alt text from the pop-up menu.
- In the box, write a description of the image, with its content and function in mind. If the content in the image is only decorative, check the Decorative box.
- Try to avoid using images of text, and if you need to, ensure that the text is repeated elsewhere on the slide and note this in your alt text description.
- Some versions of PowerPoint may automatically generate alt text when you add an image. Make sure to check and edit the alt text description if necessary, so that it suits the context and function of your image.
- If you are including video content in your presentation, make sure that captions are included. If you are not able to include captions (for example, if the video is hosted on a video streaming site by someone else), provide a transcript of all dialogue and sound.
- Use foreground/background colours for text that have a good contrast ratio. The 4.5:1 ratio recommended by the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 is a good minimum. If you’re not sure about the contrast levels of different colours, play it safe by sticking with the default style colours.
- Don’t use colour or shape as the only way to identify something in your document. Use text labels or descriptions instead.
- You can check colour contrast by using a free online checking tool, such as WebAIM’s Contrast Checker, or you could download an app, such as Contraste. There are many options available.
- If you need to include a table in your presentation, make sure to use a simple structure. Avoid nesting tables within each other, as a screen reader will not be able to keep track of the information in the table in its correct order. By using a simple structure, and providing clear column headings, your table will remain accessible to all users.
- Try to avoid using images of tables, and instead generate tables with text directly in PowerPoint. If you do need to use an image of a table, either repeat the information in the table using text, or provide as much information as possible in your alt text description. Do not use an image of a table where it is imperative that students have access to all information in the table. Check the section above on providing alt text for more information.
The accessibility checker automatically scans your document and identifies issues, with information on how to fix them. Use the accessibility checker by selecting the Review tab and clicking Check accessibility. Follow the instructions provided by PowerPoint to fix any issues, but keep in mind that this is an automated process which may not always provide advice that is appropriate for your context, so use your judgement while reviewing the Accessibility checker’s report.