Creating Accessible Slide Presentations
(Microsoft Powerpoint)

PowerPoint Document Accessibility Guidelines

Text in PowerPoint

  • Avoid using any font size which may be difficult to see. A point size of 18 or larger is recommended.
  • If the Notes section is used as a long description for an image or data in an object such as a chart, Alt Text can be used to direct users to the Notes section.
    Note: The text in ‘Notes’ will not be available when exported to PDF.

Theme and Background

  • Choose a PowerPoint Theme or style that preserves contrast between objects and does not make text harder to see.
  • Avoid complex animated transitions, flashing or blinking content. If necessary, present a warning before users encounter the content.

Slide Title/Number

  • Ensure each slide has a programmatic title. It is recommended that you choose a slide layout that includes a title placeholder. Otherwise, manually insert a title.
  • If needed, titles can be visually hidden using color or off-slide placement.
  • To verify or add slide titles, go to the ‘Outline View’ and ensure a title is present for each slide.
  • Visible slide numbers are often useful and can be inserted automatically using the built-in tools.
    Note: Automatically inserted Slide numbers will not be available to users of screen reader technology upon PDF export.

Reading Order

  • Ensure all slide content is presented to all users in a logical and meaningful reading order.
  • Items in the Selection pane are listed in a sequentially ascending order. The first item to be read, which is typically the Title, should be placed at the bottom of the list, and the last item read should be at the top of the list. Drag and drop or select items and use the arrow keys to arrange them appropriately.
  • The Reading Order pane can also be used to order items in a logical sequence. The items in the ‘Reading Order’ pane are listed sequentially descending from top to bottom. The first item should appear at the top of the list. Drag and drop or select items and use the arrow keys to arrange them appropriately.
    Note: The tab key on your keyboard can also be used to test slide reading order.

Audio and Video

  • When adding audio and video content, consider an alternative for individuals that may not be able to see, hear or understand the information.
  • Provide captions, subtitles, or transcriptions appropriately. Captions or subtitles may be added to a video by including a .vtt file in association with a video file.
  • Audio descriptions or descriptive narrations must be provided for videos when important visual information is not otherwise communicated audibly.
  • Audio files require the STAMP add-in (Subtitling Text Add-in for Microsoft PowerPoint) which allows the ability to create add and modify captions.
  • There is an option to present with real-time captions that are automatically generated by Microsoft Speech Services. Options include a translated presentation of subtitles in a chosen language. System requirements are applicable.

Check Accessibility

  • Use the built-in Accessibility Checker.
    • Review the results.
    • Correct all issues found under Errors.
    • Inspect all Warnings.
    • Resolve any additional concerns.

Note: Additional preferences allow users to check accessibility while working.

Convert to PDF

Note: Consider your file type for distribution in PDF vs PowerPoint document. Also, consider that the optimum format for your content may be HTML or web-based

  • Do not use print options to save to a PDF format.
  • Begin by creating an accessible PowerPoint document.
  • Your PDF export process may depend on the version of PowerPoint that you are using. Choose ‘Save as’ or ‘Save a Copy,’ and choose PDF from the formatting options. Alternatively, if Adobe Acrobat Pro is installed, you may be able to choose ‘Create and Share Adobe PDF’ and use the Adobe cloud service to create a PDF.
  • If there are additional PDF save options available, select ‘Document structure tags for accessibility,’ or ‘Best for electronic distribution and accessibility.’
  • Enter a concise, meaningful filename that is free of spaces, special characters, and unfamiliar abbreviations.
  • Editing restrictions and Read-Only permissions are not recommended and may prevent access to document content for users of Assistive Technology. However, the document can be password-protected using additional Options.
  • Contents within the “Notes” sections of a PowerPoint document will not be available when converted to PDF. Do not provide information in these sections that is not found elsewhere within the document.
  • Open your PDF document in Adobe Acrobat Pro. Use the Accessibility tools to perform an Accessibility Check

Additional Resources




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