Microsoft PowerPoint

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Summary: Microsoft PowerPoint is a powerful tool for creating presentation files or "slide decks". Applying the six core skills to your PowerPoint slides will make the file more accessible to people with disabilities as well as others in your audience.

Creating accessible PowerPoint presentations


Why create accessible presentations?

At its most basic, a presentation is the act or process of making information available to an audience.  Accessible presentations are about ensuring readability, usability and navigability for everyone - not just those with visual impairments. Whether you are giving a live presentation or posting your slides for viewing, there are a number of techniques and best practices for ensuring that a presentation will engage as many members of the audience as possible. Thoughtful delivery will ensure more users gain more from the presentation. 

How to create an accessible PowerPoint presentation


Creating a new presentation by using a predefined template from Microsoft

Predefined templates (Not the Blank one) have been specially crafted and lots of design options. Screen readers read containers within a slide in the order that they were created and not in the order they appear. These templates make this much easier. 

A template will also give you some best design practices, such as a readable font size and sharp contrast with the color pallette. And the color pallette is adjustable. 

The predefined templates also have a number of slide layouts that have been designed for proper navigation and whitespace. Use these layouts rather than adding items to a blank slide. 

Consider presentation best practices when adding content to your slides

Rather than cramming as much text as you can into your presentations, create a strong outline and include only the most essential points, and deliver the rest yourself. Presentations are meant to be, well, presented. If you find you have too much content on your slide - so crowded that you need to decrease the font size, consider breaking up your content into multiple slides, or delivering some of the content through other means like a document.

Ensure the tab reading order is the actual reading order        

  • On the Home tab, select Arrange and choose Selection Pane (or Reorder Objects)
  • To see the reading order of the slide, tab through the slide and the corresponding element will highlight.
  • To re-arrange the reading order, select the arrow up/down button on the Selection Pane (On a Mac you will drag layers. Highest number is read first.)
  • Test reading order with the Tab key again.

Use high quality images, shapes and graphs and add alt text to any non-decorative element    

  • To insert an image, choose Image from the Insert menu and follow the instructions. Don't copy and paste images into your slide.
  • To add alt text, select the image. Then in the Format menu, select alt text (at bottom of the menu).
  • Enter alt text in the Description field (not the Title field). Include extended descriptions for charts and other graphics intended to convey information.

Create meaningful links that describe the destination        

  • Explore the Hyperlinks page on this site for a more full explanation of accessible hyperlinks.
  • Make your links clear, concise, and descriptive. "Musings on veganism" is better than "Musings".
  • Do not use “Click Here” or “more info”.
    • To create a hyperlink in your text:
      • Select the text you want to be the hyperlink
      • Right click and choose Link from the menu.
      • Paste or type in a hyperlink.
      • Select the Apply button to save the link. 
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