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Digital accessibility guide

Explore how to create, design and structure your content to ensure that is is accessible to your students.

Reading order of slide contents

A screenreader will read out the content on your PowerPoint slides in the order they were added to the slide, and not necessarily in a logical order, the order you intended for, or even the order content appears in. This can happen if you have used a built-in template and made design adjustments but not in the Master Slide (microsoft.com), added more contents than the template was intended for, or began creating your slides from scratch. 

To check the reading order of slide contents: 

  1. In your presentation, select Review > Check Accessibility (More Accessibility Tools). 
  2. Select Reading Order Pane. This will open on the right side of your window. 
  3. All the slide contents in the slide you are on will be listed in ascending order. Drag and drop the elements until they are listed a logical order or the order you intend them to be read out in. You can also use the upward/downward pointing arrows on the right side of the pane. 
  4. Once finished, you can close the Reading Order Pane by selecting “x”. 

Note: You can also group content so they are always read together and not individually. Group content by selecting them in the Reading Order Pane, and then selecting Format > Group > Group.

Accessible slide designs

Using accessible slide designs available in PowerPoint is an easy way of ensuring that your content is accessible. The slide design, colours, contrast, and fonts have all been considered for accessibility, as well as how easy screen readers can read the slide content. 

To use an accessible slide design: 

  1. Select File > New. 
  2. In the search bar to the right of the Home icon, type “accessible templates” and select the magnifying glass icon. 
  3. Select your template from the search results and select Create. 

Unique titles and structure

Giving your slides unique titles throughout your presentation will help users with vision impairments navigate your content more effectively. Users can skim or use a screen reader to scan through the slide titles and go directly to the slide they need.  

If you do not wish to include slide titles in your visible content, you can position your titles off-slide so they not be visible in your presentation but will still be picked up by screen readers. 

To use unique slide titles: 

  1. Navigate to the slide you want to add a unique slide title. 
  2. Under the Home tab in the Slides group, select Reset. 
  3. On the slide, type a unique title in the Title placeholder. 

Note: if the Accessibility Checker picks up that you do not have a slide title, you can convert an existing text box in your slide to the Title placeholder. You can do this by selecting the text box of your choice and then selecting Set as Slide Title in the Accessibility Checker pane. 

To hide a title off-slide: 

  1. Under the View tab in the Zoom group, select Zoom and set the percentage to your preferred fit so the slide margins are visible. 
  2. Drag the Title placeholder to outside the slide boundary. 

Videos in PowerPoint

Videos, as one of the content types you can include in your PowerPoint, should be made accessible to users with vision, hearing, and cognitive impairments. Use videos files that contain subtitles, closed captions, and video description as much as feasible to help users understand dialogue, audio cues such as music or sound, and key visual elements. 

See also our Videos guidance page for more information about accessibility. 

References

Creating Accessible PowerPoints [online], 2021. [online]. Creating Accessible PowerPoints: SBCTC's Library of Accessibility Resources. Available from: https://sbctc.instructure.com/courses/1578604/pages/creating-accessible-powerpoints [Accessed 24 Sep 2021].

Creating Accessible Presentations in Microsoft PowerPoint [online], 2021. [online]. Accessible Technology. Available from: https://www.washington.edu/accessibility/documents/creating-accessible-presentations-in-microsoft-powerpoint/ [Accessed 24 Sep 2021].

Make your PowerPoint presentations accessible to people with disabilities [online], 2021. [online]. Microsoft Support. Available from: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/office/make-your-powerpoint-presentations-accessible-to-people-with-disabilities-6f7772b2-2f33-4bd2-8ca7-dae3b2b3ef25#bkmk_winvideo [Accessed 24 Sep 2021].

Myers, P., 2020. Produce accessible PowerPoint content [online]. LinkedIn. Available from: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/produce-accessible-powerpoint-content-peter-myers [Accessed 24 Sep 2021].