How to make your PowerPoint presentations accessible to disabled users.
Accessible PowerPoint documents will:
- make your presentations smaller and faster to upload/download
- ensure the audience engage more with the presentation and gain the most information
- make your presentations easier to convert into alternative formats and retain readability
- reduce the time required to convert existing presentations into specific accessible formats
If you need to create a PowerPoint (in Microsoft Office) as a PDF, then advise users to open the document in Adobe Reader, rather than in the browser, to ensure greater accessibility and compatibility with assistive technology.
- Zoomtext users need to open Zoomtext before they open the PDF.
- Read and Write users should save the PDF and use the PDF reader function.
The following are some standard accessible University PowerPoint templates that can be downloaded and used:
Ensure attendees are asked about any reasonable adjustments they may require prior to the session. This may include producing handouts in large print or printing them on coloured paper.
Handouts of your slides should be available to delegates at least 24 hours prior to your presentation.
When printing handouts, include no more than two slides per page.
Content of slides
When writing your presentation:
- Limit amount of information on each slide and avoid long sentences.
- Use plain English and avoid the use of abbreviations.
- Provide text descriptions for pictorial elements or graphs. To do this, right click on 'Image', select 'format picture', click the third icon along and select 'alt text' and then add in the title and description and click 'OK').
Style of slides
The way slides look is also very important to their accessibility:
- Use standard slide layouts and check order of information in outline view to ensure accessibility for those reading slides using screen readers.
- Ensure writing is in a dark font and that the background is light enough to provide clear contrast. A cream background is often more accessible than pure white. Avoid backgrounds which are overly 'fussy'.
- Use a sans serif typeface (Arial is best) of font size 24 or above (45 bold for titles).
- Bullet points assist in making slides easier to follow.
- Avoid adding text boxes.
- Do not use colour as the only indicator of meaning, such as priority items shown in red.
- Avoid animations and sounds if not crucial to content of presentation. Animations may cause screen readers to read the slide twice.
- When adding in information from Word, Excel and so on, embed the file name into the slide rather than cutting and pasting.
To do this:
- Open the PowerPoint presentation and the Word/Excel file you wish to embed into the slides.
- Select and copy the section from the Word/Excel file you wish to embed.
- Click on the section in the PowerPoint slide where you wish to embed the file.
- From the top menu bar select "Edit" then "Paste Special".
- Select the format you wish - Excel/Word etc.
- This should embed the item into the presentation. If you double click on the item you will be able to edit it in Word/Excel whilst it remains in the PowerPoint
The WebAIM orgnisation has a guide to creating accessible PowerPoint presentations.
It may also be useful to refer to our pages on creating accessible lectures/tutorials for general good practice tips during presentations.
Request an alternative format
To request this document in an alternative format, such as large print or on coloured paper, please contact Viki Galt, the Disability Information Officer.
BSL users can contact me via contactSCOTLAND-BSL, the on-line British Sign Language interpreting service. Find out more on the contactSCOTLAND website.