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Microsoft Powerpoint Accessibility

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Microsoft PowerPoint Accessibility

Discover techniques that can be used to make accessible PowerPoint presentations. Steps may vary depending on the version of Microsoft PowerPoint and the type of Operating System that you are using. The version used on this page is Microsoft PowerPoint 2016 for PC.

Page Contents

Slide Layouts

Each slide in your presentation should be created using a slide layout containing placeholder text boxes. Slide layouts help to address three important areas:

  • Heading Structure: most layouts contain a "title" text box so that a unique title can be added to each slide.
  • Reading Order: as long as the layout text boxes are not moved, content will be read from top to bottom, left to right.
  • Readability: layout text boxes are set to a large font size, ensuring your slides can easily be read.

How to add slide layouts

  1. Under the Home tab, click New Slide.
  2. Click on a slide layout to add to your presentation (avoid using Blank).
  3. Type appropriate text into each text box.
Next Slide selected with list of layouts.

Reading Order

Being able to read content in the order that it was intended is essential in a user's understanding. If you used the built-in slide layouts and did not move any of the text boxes around, your content reading order is already correct. However, there may be times when you need to move text boxes around or you created a blank slide and added your own elements, in such cases, your reading order will need to be checked. Although your reading order looks correct to sighted users, it may not be read correctly by visually impaired users who are using screen readers. Screen readers read the slide content in the order it was added to your slide, not necessarily in the order that you visually arranged the content.

How to rearrange the reading order

  1. Under the Home tab, click Arrange and then choose Selection Pane. The Selection Pane will list the order in which the objects on the slide will be read. The object at the bottom of the list will be read first, while the object at the top will be read last.
  2. Using the Selection Pane, click and drag content around to rearrange the list.
  3. Click the X to close.
Arrange selected with Selection Pane listed.

Hyperlinks

Every hyperlink should have a clear description of its destination and the description should make sense even when taken out of context. Hyperlink descirptions tell users exactly where the hyperlink will be taking them before even clicking on it. While surrounding text may be helpful for sighted users, it will not benefit visually impaired users who choose to navigate a list of hyperlinks taken out context.

How to add alternative text

  1. Right-click on a hyperlink.
  2. Select Edit Hyperlink.
  3. In the Text to display field, enter a description of the hyperlink destination.
  4. Click OK.
Edit hyperlink window with text to display text box.

Examples of hyperlink descriptions

Images

Images should be given alternative text, also called alt text, serving as a description of what is happening in the image, allowing visually impaired users, through the use of a screen reader, the opportunity to receive the same content from an image that a sighted user would receive.

How to add alternative Text

  1. Right-click on an image.
  2. Select Format Picture.
  3. Select Size & Properties.
  4. Select Alt Text.
  5. Enter a description for the image in the Description field (Title is optional).
Format picture window with alt text text field.

Alternative text tips

  • Don't describe every detail of an image, just describe the main idea you are trying to convey to users.
  • Be as concise as possible. If the image conveys a main idea that is already discussed in detail in the document, one sentence may be all the alt text that's needed.
  • Don't begin alt text with "Image of..." because images are already identified to the user as images by the screen reader.
  • Alt text should be left blank for purely decorative images, or images that don’t help with the understanding of content.

Tables

Tables should have a header row, the top-most row in a table that tells users the type of content that will be displaed in each column. Tables should also be given alternative text, also called alt text, serving as a description of the table, allowing visually impaired users, through the use of a screen reader, the opportunity to receive the same content from a table that a sighted user would receive.

How to add table headers

  1. Select a table.
  2. Under the Design tab, locate the Table Style Options section.
  3. Select the Header Row checkbox.
  4. Type headings into the top row of the table.
Header Row option selected in Table Style Options.

How to add alternative text

  1. Right-click on a table.
  2. Select Format Shape.
  3. Select Size & Properties.
  4. Select Alt Text.
  5. Enter a description for the table in the Description field (Title is optional).
Format Shape window with Alt Text text field.

Alternative text tips

  • Don't list the contents of each table cell, just give an overall summary for the table.
  • Be as concise as possible. One sentence may be all the alt text that's needed.

Accessibility Checker

The Accessibility Checker is used to check your presentation for issues that could potentially make it inaccessible to those with disabilities. The Accessibility Checker results can be clicked on to provide details about why the issue should be changed and how to go about changing it.

How to run the accessibility checker

  1. Select the File tab.
  2. Select Info.
  3. Select Check for Issues > Check Accessibility.
Check Accessibility under Info tab and Check for Issues menu.

Other Accessibility Practices

Color and Font Schemes

Because PowerPoint is a highly visual medium, it is important to take into account visual imparities such as color blindness. When deciding the color and font schemes, be sure to use some best practices:

  • Avoid using orange, red, and green in your text and backgrounds. Instead use colors that provide maximum contrast for the viewer.
  • Do not add text on top of busy backgrounds.
  • Make sure all text is large and readable.
  • Periodically check the contrast of objects in Grayscale view to get an idea of how color blind users might see your presentation. Grayscale view is located under the View tab in the Color/Grayscale section.

Narration

If you plan to use narration in your PowerPoint presentations, it's recommended to use Adobe Presenter. Adding audio with spoken words to a presentation using PowerPoint's Insert Audio tool is not accessible to hearing impaired users. However, audio can be made accessible by using the Adobe Presenter add-in. More information is available at our Learning Technologies page.

More Help

For more help with creating accessible PowerPoint presentations, please contact Studio 6.

Additional Resources