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Teaching Essentials

Accessible PowerPoint Presentations

PowerPoint has some advantages, including adding notes and annotations. PowerPoint  presentations can be made more accessible by following a few steps.

Templates

Use the slide layout templates provided by PowerPoint. They have been designed to be accessible.

Titles

  • Provide a title for each slide. This will make navigating through the presentation easier.
  • Do not use same titles for multiple slides. Duplicate titles will confuse people navigating through the presentation.

Text

  • Use titles to create structure in your slides
  • Sans serif fonts are easier to read. Arial is preferred by most people.
  • Avoid using serif fonts such as Times New Roman.
  • Use font size 30 point for the smallest type.
  • Use left aligned text without justification. It is easiest to read.
  • Use bulleted lists rather than full sentences

Design

  • Keep the design of your slides simple so the text can be read
  • Avoid using background images

The 6×7 Rule

  • Use no more than 6 lines per slide and 7 words per line
  • If you don’t talk about a point don’t include it on a slide’
  • Put longer text in notes
  • Annotate the text with voice over narration
A PowerPoint slide using the 6x7 Rule
Fig.1 A PowerPoint slide using the 6×7 Rule

Tables

  • Provide table headers to identify data in columns
  • Use tables rather than an image of a table. The data cannot be read by a screen reader.

Notes

Add notes to your PowerPoint slides to augment the content of the slides.

Annotations

Annotated presentations are, at a minimum, a set of slides augmented by voice-over narration. More advanced users can add animations, drawings, captions, and more. The annotations  emphasize or better explain the information being presented.

Who can benefit from annotations?

People with cognitive and learning disabilities who need to see and hear the content to better understand it.

High Colour Contrast

  • Use high colour contrast elements including text, images, graphs, and tables.
  • Use high colour contrast text. Black text on a white background is the easiest to read for most people. Yellow text on a black background is preferred by others.

The example below uses dark coloured elements (text, icons and template graphic) on a white background to create high contrast.

Example of a PowerPoint slide usin high contrast colours
Fig.2 A high contrast PowerPoint slide.

Link description

Using images

If you include images in your presentations, add alternative (or alt text) to the images that describes their content or their context.

Using audio and video

If you include audio or video in Dropbox or Quizzes, use transcripts and captions.

  • Video requires a text transcript and captions of the embedded audio content
  • Audio requires a text transcript of the embedded audio content

Use PowerPoint’s Accessibility Checker

Use the built in Accessibility Checker to check your presentation for any accessibility issues that need to be resolved.

This includes:

  • Images without Alt Text
  • Slides missing titles or with duplicate titles
  • Links without clear descriptions
  • Reading order
The Accessibility Checker displaying common errors.
Fig.3 – The Accessibility Checker displaying common errors.

Resources