Create an Accessible PowerPoint Presentation
What makes a PowerPoint presentation accessible?
A PowerPoint presentation is accessible when it can be read by assistive technology, such as a screen reader. It has effective alternative text (alt text) and contains captioning for any imbedded video/audio.
What is assistive technology?
Assistive technology are various tools and software able to adapt information into a format usable for some students with various learning needs. A couple of common examples of assistive technology include: screen readers and screen enhancement software.
Note: Mac users should be aware that versions of PowerPoint prior to 2008 and Keynote presentation software are not recommended for creating accessible presentations as they have serious accessibility limitations.
Tips for creating an accessible PowerPoint presentation:
- The font type must be large enough to read easily. Remember that if you are showing the presentation using a projector, the type should be larger than on the printed handouts. A 30-point font type is recommended.
- High contrast is most effective; have black text on a white background. If you do use colours, use highly contrasting colours.
- Make sure that the document can be interpreted in gray-scale should someone choose to print it in black and white.
- Use slide layout templates provided by PowerPoint. These templates are designed to meet accessibility standards.
- Use titles on each slide to make sure the flow of the presentation is consistent.
- Avoid using complex transitions as they can be distracting and cause problems with screen readers.
- Use simple language and do not overcrowd the slides.
- Avoid inserting animations as they can be distracting.
- If embedding video, make sure a transcript is available. Make sure the video is captioned and the start/pause/stop controls are accessible.
- Use alt text to explain images, graphics, graphs, tables and flowcharts.
- Post the slides electronically using a learning management system, such as Moodle to all for access for everyone. Because some may not have the software required to view PowerPoint presentations, it is best to convert your file to an accessible PDF (see “Creating an Accessible Word Document”).
What is Alternative Text (alt text)?
Alternative text (alt text) appears when you move the cursor over an image. It describes an image allowing assistive technology to explain the image. By using alternative text, it ensures that no information is missed. Alternative text must be added to all photos, images, graphs, charts, clipart, autoshapes, etc., to ensure that a document is accessible.
Alt text must be added to all graphics, images and multimedia content.
Effective Alt Text should:
- Contain a short description of the image
- Indicate if it is an image taken from a computer screen, eg. “screen shot of…..”
- Indicate if it is a photo, eg. “photo of…..”
- Use punctuation for full sentence descriptions of images
Adapted from materials developed by the Council of Ontario Universities and York University