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How to Create and Confirm an Accessible PowerPoint

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How to Create and Confirm an Accessible PowerPoint - Accessible PowerPoint Tips

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Developing Accessible Slides

When developing your PowerPoint, please also consider reviewing guidelines provided on the AAA presenter’s guidelines page.


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Slide Titles

  1. Every slide needs a title for screen reader users.
    1. Why? Screen reader users utilize the titles of slides to help navigate and jump through the slides in the same way a sighted user might scroll through slides to get to a specific slide.
    2. Note: This title can be hidden! You can put it behind the image you might be centering, change the color of the font to match the background, or use PowerPoint’s selection pane feature, found on the Home tab under the “Select” menu, to hide the title.
      1. A visible title, however, can also be useful for sighted users who want to understand the purpose of a slide.
  2. Every slide’s title must be unique, even if it’s (continued) or (continued 2).
    1. Why? Imagine slide titles as the equivalent of a table of contents. Two slides entitled the same thing provide no guidance for the content of those slides.

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Slide Content


  1. Include an agenda or outline slide at the beginning of your presentation.
  2. Use five bullet points at most per slide.
  3. Keep each bullet point to one line as frequently as possible.
  4. Provide easy-to-follow bullet points, and avoid the use of prose for the content.
  5. Avoid overcomplicated tables.
  6. Provide context for each URL provided.
    1. Note: This can either be done via the “Text to display” feature or the “ScreenTip” feature when editing the hyperlink.

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  1. Use visuals to provide additional support or connection to the text on a slide, or independently as necessary.
    1. Make sure you can describe the visuals included on your slides and include that in your presentation time.
    2. Avoid the use of visuals just for the sake of decoration or to “fill” a slide. These can be distracting and unnecessarily overwhelming for some sighted viewers.
  2. All images and visual features must include alt text. Visual features can include inserted shapes such as arrows or boxes without words.
    1. How to add alt text will depend on the version of PowerPoint you are using. Generally, adding alt text is done by right clicking on an image, shape, or other visual, and editing the item’s properties. There will be an option to add “Alt Text” in the pop up or frame that appears on the screen.
    2. Depending on your version of PowerPoint, use the “Title” feature to give a quick explanation of the content, and the “Description” feature to provide a longer, more detailed image description.
      1. Note: The “Description” feature is what a PDF will pull from if converted to PDF format.
    3. Depending on your version of PowerPoint, you might be able to mark some images as “Decorative.”
  3. Review the alt text of all images and visual features for accuracy.
    1. Why? Sometimes images pulled from the internet include automated alt text which is essentially useless to a screen reader user. For example, a presenter shares a screenshot of a specific webpage because it relates to the content of the slides, but the automated text provides, “Screenshot of a cell phone. Image description automatically created.” This provides no context for a screen reader user to understand why the screenshot was shared.

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Slide Design

  1. If not using the AAA slide template, designed with accessibility in mind, use a template that is not too busy and bright to avoid overstimulation of viewers.
  2. Utilize the “Section” layout slides to differentiate sections from the overall title slide(s).
    1. Why? Differentiating title slide layouts can help sighted users with visual access needs more easily keep track of and follow the slides.
  3. Use 32-point font for the first bullet point level of the body’s text.
    1. The body’s text should be no smaller than 18-point font at the absolute minimum. Aim for 20-point font when possible.
  4. Use high contrast for all text-based content.
    1. How do I check contrast?
      1. Find out the RGB of your chosen color by clicking on the “More colors” option under text or fill color.
      2. Click on “Custom” and confirm the “Model:” is selected to “RGB."
      3. Copy down the Red, Green, and Blue values.
      4. Use this HTML Color Picker and insert the RGB into the appropriate fields.
      5. At the bottom of the color box is the HEX code. Copy that combination of 6 numbers and/or letters.
      6. Go to this fantastic Contrast Checker tool!
      7. Enter the HEX code as the foreground or background, depending on your selected colors.
        1. Hint: Black is hex # 000000 and white is hex # FFFFFF.
      8. If all 6 circles are green with a checkmark, then the colors you have selected are fully accessible! The “color difference” circle on the end is important especially for color blindness.

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Confirming PowerPoint Accessibility

Confirming your presentation’s accessibility in PowerPoint will also support the accessibility of the document when it is printed as a PDF. The PDF, however, will also need to undergo a separate accessibility review.

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How do I confirm my PowerPoint’s accessibility?

Following the completion of your slides, use the PowerPoint search tool and type “Accessibility.” Click on the “Accessibility Checker” to review…

  1. Contrast levels
  2. Slide reading order
    1. What is this? The reading order is the order that a digital device follows to read aloud the content of slides. Your slides’ reading order is most easily fixed following the completion of the Accessibility Check and using the instructions provided by your version of PowerPoint.
  3. Alt text
  4. Table readability
  5. Use of titles

The review will specific instructions for how to repair the inaccessible aspects of your presentation.

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What are common PowerPoint accessibility issues?

The most common issues following a review by the Accessibility Checker include:

  1. Missing alt text
  2. Incorrect slide reading orders
  3. Missing titles for the slides
  4. Low contrast levels
  5. Illegible tables
  6. Unlabeled hyperlinks
    1. What is this? Screen reader technology reads information to a screen reader user, and so hyperlinks end up being read oftentimes letter by letter. To avoid such lengthy and inconvenient reading, hyperlinks are recommended to be provided as linked text or for users to utilize the "ScreenTips" function provided in "Edit Hyperlink."

Some of the accessibility issues identified might be significant errors that must be corrected, whereas others might be warnings that should be reviewed and adjusted as necessary based on your presentation’s needs.

However, other issues may also be present after reviewing your PowerPoint for accessibility. If so, feel welcome to reach out to the AAA Accessibility & Meetings Coordinator, Nell (she/her/hers), using the AAA Contact Form, option "Accessibility."

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Providing Access Copies

Access copies are necessary for a variety of access needs and may be used by participants in preparation for the presentation, during the presentation, or reviewed following the presentation. Access copies should always be provided at least in a digital format and should also be provided physically when meeting in person.

Presentations should provide digital access copies in advance.

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Virtual Access Copy Check List

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