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Creating Accessible Powerpoint Documents

Using Microsoft PowerPoint is an easy and effective way to present information for a lecture in a class. However, there are steps that need to taken to ensure students with visual impairments and those who rely on assistive technology can access the material.

Following these steps will help create positive learning experiences for all of our students.

Use PowerPoint’s Built In Templates

PowerPoint has built in slide templates that allow the user to have slide titles which helps screen reader users navigate through a presentation. To make sure your slide has a proper template right click on the slide and select Layout. 

Avoid Insufficient Color Contrast

Having insufficient color contrast in a PowerPoint means that it contains text that may not be legible. This mainly includes have light colored text on a light-colored background or vice versa. Insufficient color contrast also applies to having a lot text that is green or red because color blindness is a fairly common visual disability.

For more on color contrast in documents visit Blackboard’s Text Contrast Page.

Use Alternative Text Descriptions

Alternative text, or “alt text” describes the content of images, graphs and charts for Screen readers and Braille devices. The descriptions should be 1 or 2 meaningful sentences that best describe the image to someone who cannot see it. Adding alt text to an image in Word is fast and easy.

  • How to add alt. text to a slide

    1.  Add the image to your powerpoint slide.
    2. Right click on the image
    3. Click Edit Alt Text and type your description in the box provided.
      If the image is for decorative purposes only and does not require an alt text, simply check the Mark as Decorative box.

Avoid Using Images of Text

While images of text might makeyour slides easier to create , especially when it comes to complex scientific or math equations, they are not readable for users who rely on assisitve technology.

Avoid using images of text in any capacity within your slides whenever possible. If an image of text must be added to your slide then be sure to add in alternative text to that image so all users can consume that information!

Make Accessible Tables

Tables are very useful to organize data in a document. However, not taking the proper steps to making a table accessible will make it very hard for screen reader and braille users to understand the data. Tables should only be used when absolutely necessary in organizing data and should avoid being used for decorative purposes.

  • How to make an accessible table

    1. Create your table and add data to each of the table cells.
    2. The top row of your table likely is your table's heading which includes a category label for all of the data cells  int he column below it.
    3. Highlight the top row to select all of your heading phrases and right click. A dialog pop-up box will appear.
    4. Select Table Properties.
    5. Select Row Tab. 
    6. Check the “Repeat as header row at the top of each page” box.

    Making the top row a header row will allow for screen readers to recognize data more efficiently.


Accessible Hyperlinks

Adding links in a document is a great way to provide sources of additional information. However, using an entire URL link is not an accessible method. Using the hyperlink in Microsoft Powerpoint is a much more accessible method.

  • How to make an accessible hyperlink

    1. Type out a phrase that you want to be clickable. This should be a phrase that is stand alone and is not a generic phrase like "Click Here".
    2. Highlight your link phrase.
    3. Right click your phrase. A popup dialog box will appear
    4. Paste the URL in the Address” box.