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Creating Accessible Presentations

Creating accessible PowerPoint presentations is about making the presentation available to as many people as possible. Presentations should easy to find, access and read.

Following these guidelines will help you to create PowerPoint presentations that are compatible with assistive tools, and are designed to improve readability for everyone. You can also follow a video guide to help create more accessible slides.

Language

A presentation should be easy to read and understand, therefore you should write using language that is as simple as the topic will allow. Avoid long sentences and paragraphs, providing explanations for technical terms (if appropriate), acronyms and abbreviations.

Text

The size, style and formatting of text can influence its readability. Consider the following when writing documents:

Hyperlinks

Hyperlinks can be used to navigate a document or direct users to information on websites. It is important to make hyperlinks clear and easy so that readers can easily distinguish links from text, understand the relevance of the link and be informed of its destination.

To make links easier to navigate and read:

  • Make them descriptive
  • Avoid using click here and read more
  • Use the same descriptive text for each link in the document with the same destination
  • Avoid entering web URLs wherever possible. If it is unavoidable consider creating a shorter cut to your site using the go.warwick service 
  • Consider changing the default colour of the link if it is not easy to read
  • Underline links

Use of Colour

Most of us at some stage have had trouble reading a document or viewing a presentation that has been created using a poor colour combination. In addition, around 12% of the general population experience some form of colour blindness.

Tips to improve readability:

  • Do not use colours to indicate status, use secondary indicators e.g. icons, underlining or patterns to differentiate items rather than, or in addition to colour.
  • Text overlaid on background images can be difficult to read, as there may be insufficient contract between the image and text. Reduce the background opacity to increase contrast
  • If necessary, add a text label to the colour

If an image is used, where the colour has some bearing, include text describing the colour in an unambiguous way, for example blue green not sea view blue

If you have to combine text using colours that cause problems with differentiation make one colour bold.

Wherever possible avoid using colour combinations that can cause reading difficulties. Colour combinations that are difficult to read include:

  • green/red
  • green/brown
  • blue/purple
  • green/blue
  • light green/yellow
  • blue/grey
  • green/grey
  • green/black

When creating Graphs and charts consider

  • using patterns to distinguish between items
  • Include data labels

Accessibility templates

You can use accessibility templates to help make your contents accessible to anyone by searching in PowerPoint or Office online. You can also access a accessible template as an example.

Tables

Tables should be simple in structure. Creating complex structured tables can cause problems for screen readers.

  • Avoid nesting tables and merging or splitting cells.
  • Format the header row and first column.
  • Add alt text to describe the key date/points highlighted in the table

Lists

Lists, like headings, provide structure to a document and make it easier for screen readers to understand how the content is organised. Screen readers can identify lists and headings.

 

ALT Text

When inserting images, charts and diagrams into a presentatoin, enter ALT text to describe the image to users who may have difficulty in seeing the image.

In newer versions of Microsoft Office 365, Microsoft have introduced AI to automatically populate the alt text. Although it works well, you should check the text for accuracy and where necessary mark redundant or irrelevant images as decorative so that screen readers will ignore them. If you are using an older version of Office, enter the word decorative in the alt text box to indicate irrelevant images. Learn how to add alt text to images using Microsoft PowerPoint

Avoid using the text-boxes as they are floating objects. Floating objects can cause reading order difficulties for those using assistive technologies.

Headers and Footers

Headers and footers cannot be read by some screen readers. Do not include any pertinent information in them. They should be used for decorative purposes only with the exception of page numbering.

Further Resources

If you are using PowerPoint, before you publish your document, check it using the Word Accessibility checker. The checker will help you to identify some errors, but you still need to inspect the document carefully as it is not capable of detecting all issues.

Microsoft have created a number of resources to help you make your content accessible to everyone. Guides are available for Windows, macOS, IOS and