Create an accessible document using Microsoft PowerPoint
For an individual with disabilities, much of the success in using course materials depends on how those documents were created. When using Microsoft PowerPoint, it's important to follow a few basic steps to ensure your presentation is readable. For more detailed instructions to implement the principles discussed below, see Microsoft's Make your PowerPoint presentations accessible to people with disabilities.
Slide titles provide the heading structure for screen reader users. This allows for easier navigation and will help readers better understand the organization of the content.
You should use the built-in slide templates, as they have slide titles built-in by default. Make sure each slide title has a unique name. If multiple slides refer to the same topic of information, add
continued to the end of the slide title.
Reading order is important, as it is the order in which a screen reader will read the content to the user. PowerPoint's built-in templates will already have a defined reading order. If you create a new custom slide, you will need to set the reading order manually. When creating new slides, reading order is assigned in the order items are added to the slide.
Alternative text for images
Users who cannot see images must rely on you, the author, to provide alternate text to describe the content of an image. This alternate text should be succinct, convey the important information, and not overburden the reader. Add the alternate text to the description field in the "Format Picture" dialog.
- PowerPoint has a built-in Accessibility Checker that can identify many of the issues mentioned above. To access it, navigate to > > > .
- Table navigation is difficult in PowerPoint for a screen reader user. Consider providing tabular data in another format.
- Videos embedded into PowerPoint presentations are typically inaccessible. If these videos are hosted on an outside source (YouTube, Vimeo, etc.), consider including a link to the video.
- Screen reader users can interact with PowerPoint in various ways. When providing a copy of your presentation to them, provide the actual PowerPoint file, not a PDF version, to allow for this.
Because using a screen reader to open and explore a PowerPoint file, even an accessible one, is so different than the experience of viewing a preview of a PowerPoint's slides, it is often appropriate to provide an alternative instead. This also reduces the amount of time needed to completely remediate a PowerPoint file, which is often much more difficult than remediating other file types.
- If students are receiving a PowerPoint file or a slide preview file before the presentation, an appropriate alternative is to provide a Word document containing the same text and images with alt text included. Be sure to apply an appropriate heading level, likely level 2, to the slide titles throughout the document for navigation.
- If students are receiving a PowerPoint file or a slide preview file after the presentation, an appropriate alternative is to provide a recording of the presentation. This will only be sufficient, though, if you were careful to describe visual aspects of your presentation as you went. If you didn't, a supplemental text describing the visuals you forgot to cover may be necessary.
- If you choose not to provide any file ahead of time or after your presentation to your students, just be sure to be careful to describe visual aspects of your presentation as you go. Although certain students greatly benefit from having a file of some kind ahead of time, a good presentation that accounts for people of all abilities can successfully avoid disadvantaging anyone.