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Creating an accessible PowerPoint for Mac

For Microsoft Office 2011

Table of contents

Applying formatted slide layouts

PowerPoint provides users with slides of various designs for presentations. Using the formatted templates that PowerPoint offers ensures that your presentation will have structured headings and lists. Including formatted slides within a presentation also provides the user with visual hints that the material being presented is in proper reading order.

How to apply formatted slide layouts

  1. Under the Home tab, select Layout.
  2. In the drop-down menu, select the most appropriate layout for the information being presented on that slide. For example, if you are presenting the title on the first slide, the Title slide is recommended.
  3. In the dashed boxes, you will notice suggestions for content to be added within each box. Once you click within the box, you can type the necessary content.

Using unique titles for slides

Unique slide titles help users identify what kind of content is being presented. Slide titles also allow users to navigate through the presentation.

Tips for creating unique titles for slides

  1. The title should address what the content is mainly about.
  2. The title should be kept short.
  3. Make sure subtitles and other words are not formatted so as to distract the user from the main title.

Arranging slides in logical order

For a PowerPoint presentation, a user will view and hear the content on a slide in a particular order. The order in which the content is delivered is especially important when using a screen reader. It is important to make sure that titles, tables, captions, and further content is read in order so that the user can make sense of the content.

How to arrange slides in logical oOrder

  1. In the Home tab, select the Arrange icon under Format.
  2. In the drop-down menu, select Reorder Objects.
  3. A screen with multiple slides will appear. On each of the slides, there will be a different piece of content. If you put the mouse over a slide, the slide will highlight with a number. This number indicates in what order the content will be read.

To move a slide, just hold and drag the slide to the place in which you want the slide to be read.

Adding alt text to images & objects

Alternative text (Alt Text) is text that you can add to describe images to be read by a screen reader. You can add Alt Text to charts, pictures, shapes, and tables

How to Add Alternative Text to an Image

  1. Right click on the image or object to which you would like to add Alt text.
  2. Select Format Picture. A Format Picture window should appear on your screen.
  3. Select Alt Text on the list on the left of the window.
  4. Under Alt Text, enter an explanation of the picture or object in the Description box.
  5. Optional. You may enter a title for the image if you are providing the user with a long explanation. By providing a title, a user can determine whether they would like to read the explanation.

Increasing visibility for colorblind readers

Color blindness, or color vision deficiency, is the inability or decreased ability to see color or perceive color differences, under normal lighting conditions. We can lessen the chances that a user will have difficulty discerning the material by increasing visual contrast.

Tips to increase visibility to colorblind readers

  1. Avoid using green, orange, and red colors in your design template and text.
  2. To focus on graphs, use texture-based details as opposed to color.
  3. Use shapes and animation to highlight certain points of your presentation as opposed to color and lasers.
  4. Make sure to have a great deal of contrast within your presentation.

Using meaningful hyperlinks

Instead of creating new documents about a topic, you may find appropriate pre-existing diagrams or web pages that explain the topic in a concise and clear way. You can add these by inserting hyperlinks instead of copying and pasting the direct URL. By creating a hyperlink, users can determine the subject of the content they are about to access.


By the end of the first trimester, a baby can open and close their fists.

When you click on the ‘first trimester’ hyperlink, you will be taken to a webpage that describes the development of a baby during the first trimester.

How to create a hyperlink

  1. Highlight the word to which you would like to add a hyperlink.
  2. Towards the top of the screen select Insert.
  3. In the drop-down menu, select Hyperlink.
  4. An Insert Hyperlink box will appear.
  5. In the Link to field, paste the link.
  6. In the Display field, enter the title, name, or phrase that will describe your link.
  7. Select OK.

Avoid using repeated blank characters

Most users are accustomed to indenting at the beginning of a paragraph using the ‘tab’ key, while others create this indentation by pressing the space bar repeatedly until they are satisfied with the look of the indentation. It is important to keep in mind that repeated spaces, tabs, and empty paragraphs are recognized as blanks by the screen reader. When a screen reader identifies constant blanks, the user may not think there is any further content in the document. To avoid this problem, you can set a formatted indentation and create formatted white space around a paragraph.

How to set formatted indentation

  1. In the document, click on the line where you want the indentation.
  2. Towards the top of the screen, select Format.
  3. In the drop-down menu, select Paragraph. A Format Text window will appear.
  4. Under Indentation, enter values in the Before Text field.
  5. Select whether you would like the indentation to apply to the first line or the whole paragraph by selecting either the First line option or Hanging option, respectively.
  6. Select OK.

How to create white space around a paragraph

  1. Highlight the paragraph around which you want to create space.
  2. Towards the top left-hand corner, select Format.
  3. In the drop-down menu, select Paragraph. A Format Text window will appear.
  4. Under Spacing, type values into the Before and After fields to create white space above and beneath the paragraph.
  5. Select OK.

Using simple table structure

Tables are used for organizing material, lists of data, and ideas in a collection or rows and columns. When creating an accessible table, there are important tips to keep in mind.

Quick Tip How It Helps
No nesting tables (tables within a table), merged, or split cells. User and screen reader can easily navigate through table and determine data.
Use appropriate headings when labeling. User can identify how information pertains to title. Making titles and headings bold can also help user determine the topics and sort the information table is presenting.
Avoid using blank cells for formatting. Blank cells may indicate to user and screen reader that there is no further content. To avoid this problem, delete blank cells.
Specify column header in table. Column headings can provide the user with context and help the user navigate through the table.

How to specify column header in table

  1. Click anywhere on the table to select it.
  2. Click on the Design tab.
  3. In the Table Style Options section, select the checkbox next to Header Row. A check mark should appear in the box.