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How To Make Your PowerPoint Slides Accessible

When creating a new PowerPoint presentation, it’s important to remember that you are preparing your presentation for everyone, including those with disabilities.

PowerPoint includes many features that enable people with various abilities to read and create documents. The accessibility checker is a built-in PowerPoint tool to help you review your content and flag potential problems. Here’s a video demonstration showing how to use the accessibility tracker.

A demonstration of the accessibility checker in PowerPoint

In addition to using the accessibility checker, here are a few ideas to help make your slides more accessible.

10 Tips For An Accessible Presentation

1. Use a presentation template

Several PowerPoint templates are ready-made to ensure that your slide includes design, colours, and fonts that are accessible and readable to everyone. To find a template, choose File and New. Search for “accessible templates.” Choose a template and click Create.

2. Create a title for every slide

Go to the Accessibility ribbon to include a title for each slide.

3. Hide a slide title

If your slide does not contain a title, you can add a title above the slide. A screen reader will read it, but it will not be visual for your audience when presenting. You can modify the master slide to hide all titles, if necessary.

An example of a hidden slide title in PowerPoint. This is highlighted on the Accessibility ribbon on the right-hand side of the image.

4. Prepare content for the correct reading order

You can set the screen readers’ order by using the Accessibility Checker and the Reading Order pane. Screen readers read the information in the order listed in the Reading Order pane. If using infographics, grouping the content will help to organize the reading order.

5. Use built-in slide designs to determine reading order, colours, and other formatting

PowerPoint has built-in slide designs with placeholders for text, video, and picture formatting. These designs include colours, fonts and effects to make sure slides are easily read by people using assistive technologies. They will be set up with colour contrast and reading order in mind.

  1. Select Normal on the View tab
  2. On the Design tab
    • Select the slide layout you want on the Themes gallery
    • Choose one of the designs in Design Ideas 

6. Do Not Use Tables

Avoid fixed-width tables and make sure they fit appropriately on all devices. Prepare the information, so it is easily read with Magnifier. (Magnifier is a Windows function that makes part or all of your screen bigger so you can see words and images better). If you include a table, use table headers, as the screen reader will read the header, which may make more sense for your audience.

7. Include alt text with visual content

Alt text helps screen reader users to know what’s essential in the visuals in your slides.  The alt text briefly describes the picture’s visual element, intent, and necessary information. Ensure all images include alt text and repeat the text in the slide. Remember to mark visuals such as logos as decorative, which will not be read aloud by the screen reader.

The Alt Text input box in PowerPoint

8. Use easily accessible font formats and colours

A standard, clean-looking font can be easily read by anyone, including blind, with low vision or a reading disability. Change the fonts or the default font for easy readability.

9. Use captions, subtitles, and alternative video audio tracks

PowerPoint supports video playback with many audio tracks, closed captions, and subtitles in video files. Currently, only PowerPoint for Windows supports the insertion and playback of closed captions or subtitles stored in files separate from the video. Ensure your PowerPoint presentations with videos are accessible by including an audio track with video descriptions. Videos including dialogue also include closed captions, in-band closed captions, open captions, or subtitles in a supported format for deaf and hard-of-hearing users.

10. Test for easy accessibility with a screen reader

When your presentation is ready, and you’ve run the Accessibility Checker to ensure it’s inclusive, try navigating the slides with a screen reader, including the Narrator. For example, this is one additional way to spot issues in the navigation order.

  1. Begin using the screen reader
  2. Start Narrator, press Ctrl+Windows logo key+Enter
  3. Press F6 until the blue rectangle’s focus is on the slide contents
  4. Press Tab to navigate the slide elements and change the navigation order if necessary.
  5. Press Esc or F6 to move the focus away from the content
  6. Exit the screen reader. For example, to exit Narrator, press Ctrl+Windows logo key+Enter.

Thank you for reading this blog. I’d love to hear your feedback.

If you’d like to know how I can help you create accessible slides like these for your next PowerPoint presentation, check out my Services page! 

To see more tips and tricks on slide design and presenting with PowerPoint, connect with me on LinkedIn

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