PowerPoint

Like any document, it is easiest to make a PowerPoint accessible when you plan to do so from the start.

These instructions are based on Microsoft Word 365 Pro Plus, used on a PC. A Mac PowerPoint tutorial is also available.

Use Pre-existing Slide Layouts
Hide Titles
Text Equivalents with Alt Text
Provide Contextual Hyperlinks
Creating Accessible Tables
Check Reading Order
Run an Accessibility Check
Converting PowerPoint Files
Additional Resources

Use Pre-existing Slide Layouts

Use preset slide layouts whenever possible, as this helps with reading order. The slides have pre-set font and paragraph styles, but these can be modified. Rather than changing a style for each slide, a default can be set for the entire presentation.

  • From the main ribbon, select View

  • Select Slide Master. From here, any change that is made within the master slide view will affect all slides that use that master.  

  • On the master slide, highlight the text you would like to modify the style for.

    • From the Home tab (or right-click the highlighted text to bring up the options menu), choosing Font allows you to change the font, font style, color and size of the text

    • From the Home tab (or right-click the highlighted text to bring up the options menu), choosing Paragraph allows you to change text alignment, line spacing before and after paragraphs and tabs

  • Select Close Master View when finished

Pro Tip

If you like the styles you have set and want to reuse them in each new document you create, you can save them as your default templates.

  • From the main ribbon, select File

  • Select Save As

  • Choose Browse

  • Navigate to:

    • Local Disk (C:)

    • Folder Users

    • Folder labeled with your username

    • Folder Documents

    • Folder Custom Office Templates

  • Type the name of your template in the File Name box. In the Save as type drop-down menu, select PowerPoint Template.

  • Select Save.

Formatting Tips

  • Use 24pt type or larger for paragraph or bulleted text (headings should be larger)

  • Don’t use more than one font.

  • Use a font designed for the screen like Georgia or Verdana, or a PowerPoint default font:

    • Trebuchet, Arial, Calibri, Gill Sans, TW Cen, Century Gothic, Garamond, Impact, Corbel, Century Schoolbook, Rockwell, Calisto MT

To Hide Titles

Each slide should have a slide title, as this helps assistive technology. However, you can choose to hide a title so it doesn’t show on the slide.

  • From the main ribbon, select the Home tab.

  • In the Arrange menu section, choose Selection pane. This displays all objects that are on a slide.

  • The eye icon next to the slide title will toggle visibility. Toggling off an unused title box allows assistive technology to detect a title for each slide, but keeps it hidden.

 

Text Equivalents with Alt Text

All images in a PowerPoint presentation should have alternative text assigned.

  • Select an image in your document.

  • Right select the image then choose “Edit Alt Text.”

  • Provide a full description in the description box. In the case of the SUNY Oswego logo, you would write “State University of New York at Oswego.” If the image is more complex, like a chart, provide a title for the chart in the “title” box and a full description of the chart in the “description” box.

    • If the image is purely decorative and adds no additional information to the slide, check the “Mark as decorative” box.

    • It is recommended against using the “Generate a description for me” button.

 

 

Provide Contextual Hyperlinks

Hyperlinks in an electronic document should be embedded within the text to aid in readability and accessibility. Imagine you have the sentence “I work at SUNY Oswego” in your document and you want the words SUNY Oswego to link directly to the college’s website.

  • Select the text you would like to convert to a hyperlink (in this example, SUNY Oswego).

  • Right select and select “Link” or choose “Link” from the Insert Menu.

  • You can link to external web pages or to a slide within the document.

    • To link to an external page, choose Existing File or Web Page, and include the full URL in the Address field (in this case, http://oswego.edu).

  • To link to another slide within the document, choose Place in this Document, and select the slide you want to link to.

  • Select “OK.”

Creating Accessible Tables

  • From the main menu, select the Insert tab

  • Select Table. A drop-down table and menu will appear.

    • Highlight the number of rows and columns you’d like in the table

    • OR choose Insert Table from the menu below and enter in the appropriate number of rows and columns

 For a data table, be sure headers are defined:

  • Place the cursor inside the table. From the main menu, under Table Tools section, choose Design.

    • The Header Row and First Column boxes should be checked

 For a layout table, headers are not utilized.

  • Place the cursor inside the table. From the main menu, under Table Tools section, choose Design.

    • Uncheck the boxes for Header Row and First Column

 Style formats can be used within tables

  • Highlight the cell or row you wish to style

  • From the main menu, select the Home tab

  • In the Font and Paragraph sections, choose the appropriate formats

 Run the Accessibility Checker

  • From the main ribbon, select the Review tab.

  • Choose Check Accessibility.

  • As another option, go to File menu, choose Info, and go to Check for Issues option, then Check Accessibility. This will show you errors, warnings, and tips to follow.

  • Address each issue one at a time throughout the document.

  • Select the Check Accessibility button from the Review tab again when you have completed each task to receive an updated report.

  • Continue to revise until all checks have passed.

Check Reading Order

If elements are added to a slide layout, the automatic Accessibility Checker will not know in what order they should be read. This needs to be checked manually if any warnings come up. In the example picture below, the outlined image and text box were both added to the original slide layout. This triggers a “Check reading order” warning when the accessibility checker is run.

To verify or change the order elements are “seen” on a page:

  • From the main ribbon, select the Home tab

  • In the Arrange menu section, choose Selection pane. This displays all objects that are on a slide.

  • Objects will be read back beginning with the bottom list item and ending with the top item.

  • Highlight an item name in the Selection panel to see which item in the slide it corresponds to. In this example, the added text box (textbox 12) is the first on the list to be read (because it’s at the bottom). This should be the last item to be read, so it needs to be moved to the top of the list.

  • To reorder items, use a mouse to drag them to the correct position within the list, or use the up and down arrows to reposition.

  • By using the up arrow and repositioning Textbox 12 to the top of the list, the reading order would be as follows:

    • Title 6 (“Check reading order!”)

    • Content placeholder 9 (Green logo)

    • Picture 11 (Black logo)

    • Textbox 12 (“An image and a text box…”)

Run an accessibility check

PowerPoint has a built-in accessibility checker.

  • From the main ribbon, select the Review tab.

  • Choose Check Accessibility.

  • A sidebar will open up that will identify errors and warnings.

  • Highlight each error for guidance on how to resolve each issue.

 

  • Address each issue one at a time throughout the document.

  • Select the Check Accessibility button from the Review tab again when you have completed each task to receive an updated report.

  • Continue to revise until all checks have passed.

Converting PowerPoint Files

When you convert a PowerPoint to another format, like a PDF, it is important to note that your document may not be fully accessible in the new format (even if the PowerPoint is). If you convert your document to a PDF, be sure to review and revise that document in Adobe Acrobat Pro with its built-in accessibility checker (See Acrobat Pro tutorial). 

Additional Resources