Why should I make my PowerPoints accessible?

Making your PowerPoint slideshows, presentations, and handouts accessible helps all users interact with and learn from the content you’ve created. Because PowerPoint has  a high visual component, it is important to provide alternative ways of accessing slide content for users who may have visual, auditory, motor, or cognitive disabilities.

Best practices

  • Choose a theme/template with good contrast and a simple background. Not all PowerPoint templates are created equal; some have low contrast and busy or patterned backgrounds. When you search for a template by selecting File > New, type “accessible” in the Search field to search for templates that are tagged as accessible by the creator. Microsoft has also tagged some templates as accessible (Accessible PowerPoint Template Sampler).
  • Stick to slide layouts. Take advantage of placeholder areas when adding titles, lists, images, and tables. Descriptive titles on each slide help screen readers navigate the presentation. By default, screen readers read the title first followed by other content defined in the slide layout. To view the reading order and rearrange items, go to Home > Arrange > Selection Pane (the reading order is bottom to top).
  • Provide alt text for images. To add alt text, right-click on an image and select Edit Alt text. For images that are decorative, leave the field blank and check Mark as decorative.
  • Identify row and column headers in tables. The Table Tools feature in PowerPoint allows you to specify a Header Row, a First Column, a Last Column, etc. While not all screen readers are able to identify table headings, this step will ensure that any headers are identified when saving to PDF.
  • Write descriptive link text. Raw URLs might not make sense to screen readers. Provide more descriptive link text so that users know where the link will take them.
  • Avoid too-small text. Text size can be an issue when using a projector, so make sure your text is large enough to read from a distance.
  • Keep transitions and animations simple. Complex or automated transitions can be distracting.
  • Provide alternate ways to access audio/video. For embedded videos, provide closed captioning; for audio, provide a transcript.  
  • Run the accessibility checker. PowerPoint provides a built-in accessibility checker that will identify common issues.   

Resources

Examples

Workshops & seminars

Faculty/instructors are invited to register for a workshop or seminar that is designed to help deliver quality learning experiences.

Register now

Alternative assessments

Faculty/instructors are encouraged to consider alternative assessments, such as projects and portfolios, without requiring proctored exams.

Learn more