Creating Accessible PowerPoints

Key principles

  • PowerPoint has several built-in templates and layouts that are designed in an accessibility-friendly way. Using these templates will ensure presentations have correctly-structured headings and lists. The use of professionally developed slide layouts is a significant factor for ensuring accessible PowerPoint content.
  • Decorative images that don't provide information to the page content do not need ALT text. However, images that support content must have alternative text (ALT text) sufficient to describe the image to a reader unable to see the image. This is particularly important when describing graphs or charts.
  • Use tables sparingly, if possible. In PowerPoint, rows and columns can be styled so they appear as data tables but it isn't possible to add the content in a way that will be identified by a screen reader. If your presentation contains more than the simplest tables, and if you have Adobe Acrobat, consider saving your presentation to PDF and adding the additional accessibility information in Acrobat Pro.
  • Use descriptive URL links.

Other PowerPoint presentation design considerations

  • Ensure that font size is large enough to be viewed easily. Presentations designed to be projected in a classroom may need to be even larger.
  • Provide sufficient contrast between foreground and background. White background with black lettering is always a good choice.
  • Avoid using color to convey content.
  • Avoid automatic slide transitions.
  • Use simple slide transitions when possible. Complex transitions can be distracting.
  • Use simple language.
  • Check the reading order of text boxes that are not part of the native slide layout. Text boxes are usually the last thing read by a screen reader.
  • Ensure that embedded video is captioned and that the player controls are accessible.
  • When using embedded audio, ensure a transcript is included.
  • Ensure that slide animations, if used, are brief and do not distract from page content.
  • Consider exporting your PowerPoint presentation to PDF. PDF is often the best format to display PowerPoint presentations on the web. The file size is relatively small, distracting slide transitions are removed, and PDF readers are free to download. In addition, heading structure and other accessibility information will remain intact when using the PDF export option. Presentations with tables that are exported to PDF can have additional accessibility information added in Adobe Acrobat Pro. For more information on this process, read the WebAIM article on Creating PDF files from Office documents.
Additional information on accessible PowerPoint creation is available in the WebAIM article PowerPoint Accessibility.