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Best Practices in Making a PowerPoint Document Accessible

Create Structure

Use the Title area of each slide to indicate the main idea of each slide.

ppt title  area

Font Selection

In terms of font accessibility, there are a number of principles to keep in mind:

  1. Use real text rather than text within graphics.
  2. Select basic, simple, easily-readable fonts.
  3. Use a limited number of fonts.
  4. Ensure sufficient contrast between the text and the background.
  5. Avoid small font sizes.
  6. Limit the use of font variations such as bold, italics, and ALL CAPITAL LETTERS.
  7. Don't rely only on the appearance of the font (color, shape, font variation, placement, etc.) to convey meaning.
  8. Avoid blinking or moving text. 

Color and Meaning

The use of color can enhance comprehension, but do not use color alone to convey information. That information may not be available to a person who is colorblind and will be unavailable to screen reader users.


map with  color

map without  color

Provide Alternative Text for Images

You will need to add alternative text for all of your images. To provide alternative text, Right-click on the image, then select Format Picture (in PPT 2003) and Size and Position (in PPT 2007). Type short description in Alternative Text box. Click Save.

size position  alt text boxes

Data Tables

Data displayed in tables can be problematic for screen readers.  We recommend that the data read from left to right as much as possible.

A Word of Caution

If you create complex slides, with embedded charts, tables, multimedia or other elements, the conversion process will probably not create a file that is completely accessible to screen readers. The embedded elements will likely be ignored by the screen reader because they are unreadable. In these instances, you should provide a text description of the elements within the context of the document itself.

BeachBoard Ready

Once you have included structure in your PPT and have made accommodations for font, color, images, videos, and tables, you can save your PPT and upload it to BeachBoard.

Additional Information

Most students with disabilities will probably be able to access the original PowerPoint, assuming they have the correct program or plug-in and if the steps above are followed. Those who are deaf will be able to access the slides without any problems, unless there is embedded multimedia. In such cases, captions and/or transcripts will be necessary. Those with motor disabilities will have no special difficulties. Even those who cannot use a mouse will be fine, since the slides are keyboard-accessible. Those with cognitive disabilities will not have any particular difficulties, at least not with an engaging, clear PowerPoint presentation. 

We recommend LecShare Pro software to assist with verifying that a PPT has the needed structure to make it accessible to students.  It is a free product which is available to all instructor and staff.  Contact ITSS for download instructions.

If you have any questions or would like assistance, please contact ITSS.

Information on this page provided with permission by WebAIM.

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