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Digital accessibility student guide

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

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. 

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. 

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 (, 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”. 
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.


ScreenTips are small containers of descriptive text that appear when you hover your cursor over an element – this can include buttons, commands, images, or hyperlinks. ScreenTips can give additional information about elements, which can help users scan content more easily and quickly. 

To add ScreenTips: 

  1. Use the cursor to highlight or select the element to which you want to add the ScreenTip, and then right-select. 
  2. Select Link or Edit Hyperlink. Select the ScreenTip button. 
  3. In the ScreenTip text box, type in your ScreenTip.  
  4. Apply the changes, select OK > OK. 


Equations must be added in the maths environment available in Microsoft Word and PowerPoint, to ensure that mathematical characters and symbols accessible to screen readers.

  • Do add an equation, by selecting the Insert tab and choosing the Equation tool (characterised with the pi symbol) under the Symbols section. The keyboard shortcut is "Alt"+ "=" on a Windows system and control + "=" on a Mac system.
  • Do not use the Insert Symbol characters or super or subscripts fonts which will not be read out accurately by a screen reader.
  • Do not insert images of equations as these will require accurate text descriptions.

equation options in the microsoft maths environment

There are three ways to add an equation:

  1. Choose from the editable Built-in equations.
  2. Insert New Equation.
  3. Convert handwritten equations to editable text using Ink to Math.

The Built-in, Insert new equation and Ink equation options from the Equation button on Word

Equations can be typed in using Unicode or LaTex (Word only) input and displayed in Professional 2-dimensional form or Linear 1-dimensional form.

Please refer to Microsoft’s guidance on writing equations or formulas and linear format equations using UnicodeMath and LaTeX in Word.

Multimedia learning

Mayer's multimedia principle

The multimedia principle proposed by Mayer (2001) suggests that users learn better through a mix of text (words) and media (pictures, illustrations), rather than text alone. This principle lends itself to how we prepare our presentations and what multimedia we choose to include. Such multimedia should be used with the aim to enhance or clarify the information you are imparting. 


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. 

Presenting tips

  • Check with speakers and participants if they have accessibility requirements.
  • Send slides in advance (24 hours if possible) to give time for disabled participants to access materials with assistive technologies. It will give ALL students the opportunity to prepare. Include a glossary of new terms or acronyms. It will support those with reading difficulties, non-native speakers and the accuracy of your captions for disabled participants.
  • Speak clearly, use plain English and give the audience time to process the information. Use a good quality microphone to improve the accuracy of captions and transcripts.
  • Describe all visuals and cover all text on display (it does not have to be verbatim) as listening to and reading the material can support retention
  • Avoid text-heavy slides. Use keywords and short phrases instead. Use the speaker notes for other whole sentences and paragraphs of what you want to say. This will also help to improve the accuracy of your captions and transcript.
  • Consider the accessibility of your activities and ensure that there are alternatives if the technology you are using is not fully accessible.

Presentation display settings

You can also change the way Microsoft PowerPoint displays your slides during a presentation. 

The default setting is "Presented by a speaker (full screen)", which displays your slides by taking up one entire screen. This can make presenting difficult if you will be sharing multiple windows,

Instead, you can change the setting to "Browsed by an individual (window)", which displays your slides within a movable and resizable window, allowing movement between different applications much easier.

Within Microsoft PowerPoint, navigate to the Slide Show ribbon at the top of your screen and select Set Up Slide Show.

A new pop-up window will appear. Change the show type so that "Browsed by an individual (window)" is now toggled, and select Ok to save.

When you next start your presentation, it will open as a moveable window.


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