Creating accessible PowerPoint presentations

Lecturer in a seminar room using a PPT presentation to teach students

Presentation slides need to made as accessible as possible for your students, in terms of viewing them on a screen in class, when viewed on a computer and when printed.

By following the tips below you will be able to create presentations that can be accessed by everyone.

Slide Layout

When creating PowerPoint Presentations, you should strive to use the built in slide layouts. These layouts provide correctly structured headings, lists, and a proper reading order. If the slide layout is modified, the structure of the slide may not be presented accurately to users of assistive technology.

Avoid adding text to the ‘Blank Slide’ slide template, or adding extra text boxes.

Font & Colour

Black text on an off white, or cream background can help those who experience visual discomfort or visual stress. Where possible, avoid using light text on a dark background.

It’s best to avoid serif fonts (such as Times New Roman). Sans serif fonts, such as Arial, Calibri, Verdana, Trebuchet & TUOS Blake are usually clearer to read.

Avoid the overuse of italics, CAPITALS or underlining, as these can be inaccessible for people with a print disability. Bold text is preferred as a method of emphasising text.

Images

Overlaying text on top of images can reduce legibility. The use of relevant images should be encouraged, but using distracting backgrounds, patterns or irrelevant images can confuse learners.

Alt text should be added to images to help visually impaired learners make sense of the image. If an image, table or media has Alt text, screen reading software will read out this text to briefly describe the content. In Microsoft Powerpoint, Right click on the image, and choose ‘Edit Alt Text’ to add a description. In PowerPoint 2016, you can find the Edit Alt Text menu by right clicking on the image, and choosing 'Format Picture'.

Alt text must always describe the image in the context of the presentation. Access more guidance on creating Alt text for different image types.

Links Links in PowerPoint Presentations should use meaningful language. Avoid using phrases like ‘link’ or ‘click me’. View more information about creating and editing hyperlinks. Descriptive links are easier to understand for learners using assistive technology, such as screen readers.
Title Slides

Students with SpLD’s (Specific Learning Differences) find it really helpful to see what week number the lecture is in. It’s also useful to add staff contact preferences (such as email or office hours information), so students are clear about how the tutor likes to be contacted.

Providing a lecture overview and objectives can provide essential contextual information for students who need to prepare for lectures in advance, and can help students structure their notes.

Access the SpLD Awareness & Inclusion Training

Check the Outline View The Outline View in PowerPoint contains a text-only outline of the content that appears in the slides. Check the Outline View by clicking the View tab, and choosing Outline. The outline view allows you to check if content is logically sequenced, and if slide titles are unique and descriptive (images and diagrams will not appear in the outline view).
Accessibility Checker

Before distributing, or presenting a PowerPoint Presentation, you should use the built-in Accessibility Checker to ensure the presentation can be understood by all.

To access the Accessibility Checker in Microsoft PowerPoint, click the ‘Review’ Tab and choose ‘Check Accessibility’. If you don't see the 'Check Accessibility' button on the Review Tab, go to File > Info > Check for Issues > Check Accessibility.

Review the results of the Accessibility Check. Click on any issues to find out more information, and view step by step guidance to make your presentation more accessible.

More information about creating accessible PowerPoint Presentations is available from the Microsoft Website.