Microsoft PowerPoint Accessibility
This page is designed as a companion for our Document Remediation Part 1 – Word and PowerPoint training. Check out our training calendar for our next session where we will cover these topics in detail.
Microsoft has a wonderful page dedicated to making your PowerPoint slides accessible. This site can be a great place to go after you take our training for a foundation.
Accessibility Basics Shared with Microsoft Word
All of the accessibility basics outlined on our Microsoft Word Accessibility page apply to PowerPoint as well. Since both applications are created by Microsoft the interface elements are also very similar. The following links will take you to that information.
PowerPoint Specific Accessibility Basics
PowerPoint 2016 and newer versions have a built-in tool for displaying on screen live subtitles during a presentation. These subtitles are a great option when no other form of live captions are available for your presentation. However, there are a few cons to using these subtitles that you need to be aware of.
- Subtitles should not be used for accommodation requests due to having unreliable accuracy. We have more information on captioning options on our Video and Audio resources pages.
- Subtitles only exist during the presentation and cannot be accessed afterwards
- They may conflict/overlap with other sources of captions
- Subtitles only pick up speech from the presenter while PowerPoint is open
Microsoft has a page with tips and instructions for using subtitles in PowerPoint slides.
Reading order is the order that screen readers will read out the slide contents. It is crucial to the understanding of slides for users of assistive technology. Use the default slide layout where possible. Best practice is to quickly check your reading order on all slides. It is especially important to check the slides with manually adjusted layouts.
WebAIM has an PowerPoint Accessibility page that discusses how to fix slide reading order.
Unique Slide Titles
Name all slides in PowerPoint with a unique name. This benefits users who will be navigating through the slides to look for a specific slide or piece of information. For slides with similar content add slight variations to title that are meaningful such as Part 1, Part 2, etc.
Slide Animations & Transitions
Use slide animations and transitions sparingly if at all. Complex or automatic animations and transitions can be distracting. They may also be hard for users of assistive technology to follow. When you do use them they should be kept simple such as words appearing on the screen.
Note: Do not layer content on top of each other while using animations/transitions to show/hide the content. This can break the reading order of the slide and make it difficult to understand by users of assistive technology.
Video & Other Media
All video embedded into PowerPoint must have captions at their source. Currently PowerPoint only supports YouTube and Vimeo for video embeds and both platforms have some form of captioning support. Any audio only content must have transcripts provided.
Not all themes in PowerPoint are accessible. Use your best judgment to choose themes that meet basic accessibility standards such as color contrast. Themes that are very busy with lots of graphics, animations, and unique layouts may be distracting for many users so keep your themes simple. Most themes can be edited for accessibility such as modifying the color contrast and reading order where necessary.