Create accessible PowerPoint presentations

Introduction

In this section we will cover how to create accessible presentations using Microsoft PowerPoint and different ways of sharing them online.

Important

Before you get started, please read the Accessibility Fundamentals page first. Following that, here are some additional key points specific to PowerPoint:

  1. Font sizes: using large fonts ensures text is readable for more people. It also prevents us from adding too much text to each slide. Having too much text on slides makes it difficult for your audience to follow, especially if your presentation is used to support you speaking. Minimum font sizes are influenced by a range of factors:
    1. Slide format (size): for the standard slide format, your main body text should aim to be 28pt or bigger. For your widescreen slides, aim for a minimum of 32 point.
    2. Screen size used by your audience: the fonts recommended above work well on mobile devices because they display as very large. If you are presenting in a physical space, the size of the screen will also influence how readable the font sizes are for your audience.
    3. Room depth / distance from the screen: fonts should all appear very large from the back of the room you are presenting in.
  2. Templates: use an accessible PowerPoint template to build your presentation. Doing so will automatically make your presentations more accessible for you, because the text boxes will have a set reading order. If you create your own text boxes, you will need to ensure each slide has a unique title and you will need to amend the reading order for each slide. This ensures a screen reader can read the content aloud in a logical order for someone with a visual impairment.
  3. Background colours: choose an off-white background colour for your slides. Some people experience glare when viewing presentations with a white background.
  4. Design for mobile: always design your slides for accessing on small screens. When we design for mobile, we design for all screen sizes. Doing so means your slides can be easily accessed and read on mobile devices.

Use the PowerPoint Accessibility Checker

The Accessibility Checker is available in both PowerPoint Online and on Desktop. To access all features, open your presentation on your desktop / or laptop computer. To ensure that your presentation can be read by a diverse range of people, you should run the Accessibility Checker. This inspects your presentation for elements that would potentially cause problems for accessibility tools such as a screen reader. Errors, warnings and tips are displayed in the inspection results, along with information as to why and how to fix the issue. Whilst the Accessibility Checker is a really useful tool, it does not currently check all accessibility issues that are covered by the WCAG 2.1 AA standards.

Depending on the version of Office you are using, the Accessibility Checkers can be accessed either from the Review tab or the File tab.

How to access and use the Accessibility Checker is covered in the next section.

PowerPoint accessibility tutorials

Learn how to create more accessible PowerPoint presentations with training videos and online tutorials created by Microsoft:

Sharing your PowerPoint presentations

PowerPoint presentations can be shared internally with staff and student audiences via:

  1. Office 365 (via web browsers, mobile and desktop apps)
  2. Minerva Portal & VLE

Providing your presentations in PowerPoint format enables your audiences to re-format and annotate the content and therefore ensures they can fully engage with it. For example, if someone with a visual impairment requires a different background colour, they can modify it to meet their own needs.

However, we cannot assume all of our external audiences have access to Microsoft PowerPoint. So it’s important to take that into account. You may also need to provide the content in more than one format, if you want to increase the accessibility of your material.

1. Office 365

Sharing your PowerPoint presentations from OneDrive provides your audiences with options:

  1. PowerPoint presentations open in the browser, so this means file downloads are not forced onto people’s devices.
  2. PowerPoint files can be downloaded in both PowerPoint and PDF formats.

2. Minerva Portal & VLE

If you are involved in student education, you can upload your PowerPoint presentations directly to Minerva modules and organisations, for your students to access. PowerPoint presentations uploaded to Minerva, open in the browser.

Learn more about Microsoft PowerPoint

The IT Training Unit offer:

Online courses are also available:

 


Written by Kirsten Thompson and Jane Hetherington | Last updated 08/02/21

Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0)