Accessibility Guide: Power Point

PowerPoint is commonly used software for presentations. However, projected slides are inaccessible to those who are blind or visually impaired. Some barriers can be overcome by providing the presentation in digital and or text format or in handout form; other barriers can be minimized by utilizing effective and corrective presentation strategies. Should your participants need a format other than those discussed here, please see Accessibility Guide Alternative Format page for more information.

Design:

Power Point makes creating presentations very easy to be accessible or inaccessible given the use of slide designs and layouts. When creating your PowerPoint, there are a few important considerations:

  • Slide design should be high contrast, ideally black on white with no background image
  • Fonts should be clear, crisp fonts
  • Avoid distracting backgrounds and multicolor fonts
  • See Accessibility Guide Documents page for more information on choosing fonts, colors, and backgrounds
  • Text should be in areas provided, not text boxes. Choose Outline View (versus Slides) to see what text is accessible to the screen reader. Text boxes, images and speaker notes do not show up in the outline view.

Handouts:

Though PowerPoint allows you multiple options for printing your presentation, Notes Pages are the best option. Distributing the Power Point on paper allows participants to take notes and retain information. Also, for people with vision or cognitive impairments, advance distribution in requested (alternate) format allows better participation.

  • Full Page; Print one slide per page with no notes.
  • Notes Pages; Print one slide per page, with slide at top of page and notes at the bottom. This is the best choice since it provides a large image accompanied by a written explanation of slide content and relevance
  • Outline View; Print your slides as an outline. However, notes are not shown and slides that have images appear blank. You are also unable to control the font style or size. If you want a text version of your PowerPower point see How to convert PPT to Text below.
  • Slides; Print each slide as full page
  • Handouts; Frequently seen at trainings, this allows you to print up to 9 slides per page. Drawback is that slides are quite small and may be hard to see or read and do not include the notes section

The same adaptive measures recommended for documents should be employed when preparing accessible handouts. See Accessibility Guide Documents page.

Preparing PowerPoint for electronic distribution:

An electronic version of your PowerPoint can provide better access to your material for people needing a large print version or using a screen reader. There are two ways to provide a PowerPoint presentation electronically: slide presentation and text only.

Slide presentation:

  • This is the same as the one you would use to show your participants (with speaker notes describing the content of each slide), but you need to be sure it is formatted correctly so a screen reader can read it
  • Be sure all text is not in text boxes, text must be available to screen reader which can be verified by viewing Outline view (see text boxes information above). Correct as necessary
  • All images, graphs and tables need alternative description
  • For directions on how to add ALT text to your presentation, go to Accessibility Guide Images and Graphs


Text-only version:

A text document of your PowerPoint presentation can be modified quickly and easily, can be read by a screen reader, modified for large print, or used to make a Braille version.

This will require four simple steps:

  1. Convert the Power Point to text only
    • Open the PowerPoint in the create and edit mode
    • Go to File > Save As
    • You will get a dialog box
    • At the bottom of this box, change the file type from Presentation (*.ppt) to Outline (*.rtf)
    • Once saved as rich text format, compare the converted document to your original slides to ensure all text was converted properly
  2. Include Image or Graph information
  3. Add Notes
    • Cut and past your notes into the text document
    • These notes should have explanations for your bullets and descriptions and explanations of your images, charts and graphs
  4. Resizing Fonts
  • The converted document will have vastly varied font sizes depending on the choices in your original PowerPoint Presentation
  • To make all text the same size select all the text by using Ctrl + A, then choose your desired font and size
  • See the Accessibility Guide Documents and Word page for information on font choices and how to use Styles and Formatting to improve readability of your document

Effective presentation:

Make use of the “speaker notes” feature in PowerPoint when preparing your presentation (located below the slide image box). A written explanation of each slide will enable people with visual impairment to access electronic copies or handouts of the presentation by adaptive technologies such as screen readers.

Your presentation and notes should clearly describe the content of each slide for the audience.

Remember, if your slide is too complex to describe, it is probably too complex visually for your audience.

Related Accessibility Guide Pages

Alternative Format

Documents

Images and Graphs

Presentation Notes

Word Documents

References / More Information

Accessible Spreadsheets and Presentational Documents Maine CITE


 

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