Microsoft PowerPoint Accessibility

Accessibility Presentation Checking

Performing Manual Checks

  1. Add alternative text to images and objects

    Alternative text (Alt Text) appears when you move your pointer over a picture or object, and helps people using screen readers understand the content of images in your presentation. Alt Text should be included for all objects in your presentation.
    • Right click the image or object, and then click Format.
    • Click Alt Text.
    • Enter a description (clear, but concise descriptions) of the image or object into the Title and Description text boxes.
    • Click Close.
  2. Specify column header information in tables

    In addition to adding alt text that describes the table, having clear column headings can help provide context and assist navigation of the table's contents. In PowerPoint, you can style rows and columns so they appear as data tables, but there is no way to add the content in a way that will be identified by a screen reader. If your presentation contains more than the simplest tables, and if you have Adobe Acrobat, consider saving your presentation to PDF and adding the additional accessibility information in Acrobat Pro.
    • Click anywhere in the table.
    • On the Table Tools Design tab, in the Table Style Options group, select the Header Row check box.
    • Add your header information.
  3. Ensure that all slides have unique titles

    Slide titles are used for navigation and selection by people who are not able to view the slide.
    • On the Home tab, in the Slides group, click Reset to restore slide placeholders for the selected slide.
    • Type a unique name in the Title text box.
    • To hide the visibility of the Title click the Arrange menu (On the Home tab, in the Drawing group), click Selection Pane, and then click the eye icon next to the text box to toggle its visibility.
  4. Use hyperlink text that is meaningful

    Hyperlink text should provide a clear description of the link destination, rather than only providing the URL.
    • Place your cursor where you want the hyperlink.
    • On the Insert tab, in the Links group, click Hyperlink to open the Hyperlink dialog box.
    • In the Text to display box, type in the name or phrase that will briefly describe the link destination.
    • In the Address box, type the link URL.
    • If desired, include ScreenTip text that appears when your cursor hovers over a hyperlink, by clicking ScreenTip and then type your text in the ScreenTip text box.
    • Click OK.
  5. Use simple table structure

    By not using nested tables, or merged or split cells inside of data tables, the data is predictable and easy to navigate with the keyboard. Using blank cells to format your table could confuse screen reader users. If possible, delete unnecessary blank cells, or if your table is used specifically to layout content within your presentation, you can clear all table styles.
    • Select the entire table.
    • On the Table Tools Design tab, in the Table Styles group, click the arrow next to the style gallery to expand the gallery of table styles.
    • On the menu below the gallery, click Clear.
  6. Include closed captions for any audio or video

    Whenever you use additional audio or video components in a presentation, ensure that the content is available in alternative formats for users with disabilities, such as closed captions and transcripts.
    • STAMP is an add-in for Microsoft PowerPoint, which lets you easily create closed captions for video and audio in your presentations.
    • Download and install STAMP
  7. Ensure that the reading order of each slide is logical

    People who cannot view the slide will hear slide text, shapes and content read back in a specific order. If you are using objects that are not part of the slide template, it is important to be sure that they will be read by a screen reader in the order that you intend them to be. PowerPoint contains two panels that can sometimes be used to enhance accessibility: the outline panel and the notes panel. The outline panel contains a text outline of the content that appears in your slides. Reviewing this panel can help ensure the content on the slides is logically sequenced, that slide titles are unique and meaningful and that reading order is appropriate. Alternative text for image and text boxes that are not part of the default layout will not be included in the outline view. The notes panel allows the speaker to add notes and information that will not appear on the slides. It can be used to add additional information to printed handouts as well. Placing image or chart descriptions in this area is not reliable and should be avoided. This information may not be accessed by a screen reader, especially if the presentation is saved to PDF or some other format.
    • On the Home tab, in the Drawing group, click Arrange and then choose Selection Pane.
    • The Selection Pane lists the objects on the slide. Objects will be read back beginning with the bottom list item and ending with the top list item. Correct any out of order items using the Re-order arrows on the bottom of the pane.
  8. Increase visibility for colour blind viewers

    Colour blindness affects a significant number of people, most often as an inability to distinguish between red and green, or seeing red and green differently. When creating presentations, it's important to choose elements that increase visual contrast so viewers who cannot rely on colour distinction can still understand what they are seeing. Use texture in graphs, instead of colour, to highlight points of interest. Circle or use animation to highlight information, rather than relying on laser pointers or colour. Keep the overall contrast in your presentation high.
    • On the View tab, in the Colour/Grayscale group, click Grayscale, to check the contrast.
    • On the Grayscale tab, click Grayscale to see what slides look like when flattened to just their level of contrast.
  9. Sample PowerPoint Template

    Accessible powerPoint Presentation Template (pptx)

Automated Accessibility Checking

The Accessibility Checker checks your file against a set of possible issues for people who have disabilities might experience in your file. Each issue is classified as:
  1. Error - An error is for content that makes a file very difficult or impossible for people with disabilities to understand.
  2. Warning - A warning is for content that in most, but not all, cases makes a file difficult for people with disabilities to understand.
  3. Tip - A tip is for content that people with disabilities can understand, but that might be better organized or presented in a way that would improve their experience.

Accessibility Checklist

  1. General Requirements for all Documents

    • Does the document file name not contain spaces and/or special characters?
    • Is the document file name concise, generally limited to 20-30 characters, and does it make the contents of the file clear?
    • Have the Document Properties for Title, Author, Subject (AKA Description), Keywords, Language, and Copyright Status been applied?
    • Does the document utilize recommended fonts (IE. Times New Roman, Verdana, Arial, Tahoma, Helvetica, or Calibri)?
    • Have track changes been accepted or rejected and turned off?
    • Have comments been removed and formatting marks been turned off?
    • Does the document refrain from using flashing/flickering text and/or animated text?
    • Is the document free of background images or watermarks?
    • Do all images, grouped images, and nontext elements that convey information have meaningful alternative-text descriptions?
    • Do complex images (IE. charts and graphs) have descriptive text near the image (perhaps as a caption)?
    • Do all URLs contain descriptive hyperlinks (IE. avoid generic phrases like Click Here and, instead, use phrases that let users know about the content of the linked page prior to selecting it)?
    • Are all URLs linked to correct Web destinations?
    • Are e-mail links accessible?
    • Has a separate accessible version of the document been provided when there is no other way to make the content accessible?
    • If there are tables, are blank cells avoided?
    • Is all of the text easy to read in comparison to the background of the document (IE. has a colour-contrast ratio of 4.5:1)?
    • Has the document been reviewed in Print Preview for a final visual check?
  2. Formatting Requirements

    • Can all slide text be viewed in the Outline View?
    • Do all of the slides avoid using flickering/flashing text and/or animated text?
    • Do all of the slides avoid using text boxes or graphics with text within them?
    • Is the list style being used as opposed to manually typed characters (IE. Hyphens, numbers, or graphics)?
    • If multimedia is present, did the multimedia pass the Multimedia Checklist?
    • Is the presentation free of SmartArt?
  3. Document Images Requirement

    • Are multiple associated images on the same page (IE. boxes in an organizational chart) grouped as one object?
    • Have all multilayered objects been flattened into one image and does that image use one alternative text description for the image?
    • Do images/graphics appear crisp and legible?
  4. Document Tables

    • If the document (or a section of the document) has a tabular appearance, is the tabular structure made using the table option (as opposed to manual Tabs and/or spaces)?
    • Do all tables have a logical reading order from left to right, top to bottom?
    • Do data tables have the entire first row designated as a Header Row in table properties?
    • Is the table free of merged cells?
    • Are all tables described and labeled (where appropriate)?
    • In table properties, is Allow row to break across pages unchecked?
  5. Secondary Sensory-Channel Requirements

    • If a video exists, does the video or animation contain synchronized captioning?
    • If an animation exists, does the animation have a text equivalent?
    • If a sound file exists, does the sound file have a matching transcript file?
  6. Functional Control Requirements

    • Does the file have the minimum required media controls of video resizing, volume control, play/stop buttons, and the ability to turn captions on and off?
    • Are all media controls keyboard accessible?
    • Is the media embedded in a way that allows the user to use keyboard controls to move in and out of the video in relation to surrounding content?