Creating Accessible Powerpoint Presentations

Using Microsoft PowerPoint to Create Accessible Presentations


Use Built-In Slide Layouts

Use slide layouts within PowerPoint to ensure files have correctly structured headings, lists, and proper reading order.

  1. Select Home > New Slide, then choose a layout from the dropdown.
  2. To change a slide layout, select Home > Layout, then choose a layout from the dropdown menu.
  3. Make sure to include a Title for every slide (it can be hidden using the Selection Pane).

Adjust the Reading Order on Each Slide to Make Sense to Assistive Technology

  1. To check or correct reading order, select Home > Arrange > Selection Pane.
  2. The Selection Pane will appear to the right of the slide view. Reading order is shown in reverse, bottom to top.

  1. You can verify reading order by clicking on each element in the Selection Pane list and viewing the corresponding item on the slide.
  2. Click and drag or use the arrow buttons to change reading order as necessary.

All Images Need ‘Alt Text’

Images (including shapes, pictures, charts, graphs, etc) must have a text description that clearly explains the image and its context in the slide. Images should be described so that those using a screen reader are not missing any relevant information.

  1. Insert an image OR right-click on an existing image and choose “Format Picture.”
  2. Select the Size and Properties icon (third icon from the left) and choose “Alt Text.”
  3. Enter succinct yet descriptive alt text in the Description field (title is optional).

Hyperlinks should provide descriptive text and make sense contextually instead of simply pasting a “raw” URL or using generic link text such as “click here” or “read more.” (Please note: PowerPoint automatically creates a hyperlink when a user pastes a full URL onto a slide and presses Enter or Space, but following the steps below will allow anyone using a screen reader and others to understand the hyperlink information.)

  1. Click “Insert” from the top menu and click Hyperlink
  2. In the “Text to Display” field, enter descriptive text about the link
  3. Paste or type the actual URL in the Address box near the bottom.

As your Final Step: Run an Accessibility Check

Like all Microsoft programs, Powerpoint includes a built-in Accessibility Checker.

  1. With your presentation open, select File and make sure you are on the “Info” menu at left.
  2. On the screen, click the button that says ‘Check for Issues’ and then select ‘Check Accessibility’ from the dropdown menu.
  3. If using Powerpoint on a Mac, click “Review” on the top ribbon and then select “Check Accessibility.”
  4. Powerpoint will populate an Accessibility Checker report on the right side of the screen.
  5. Go through each item in the Accessibility Checker report and follow the recommendations and directions listed under ‘Additional Information.’

General PowerPoint Accessibility Tips

  • Ensure font size is sufficient. If your presentation will be viewed on a
    projector, font size may need to be even larger.
  • Provide sufficient contrast. If your presentation will be viewed on a
    projector, sometimes the contrast needs to be even more pronounced.
  • Do not use color as the only way to convey meaning.
  • Avoid automatic slide transitions and use simple slide transitions when possible.
  • Do not put accessibility information (like alternative text) in the Notes pane.
  • If you have embedded video, make sure it is captioned.
  • If you have embedded audio, include a transcript.
  • If your slides contain animations, ensure they are brief and do not distract from the most important content on the page.
  • Use simple language.