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Creating an accessible PowerPoint for Windows

For Microsoft Office 2013

Table of contents

Using the accessibility checker

In PowerPoint 2013 for PC, there is a feature called the Accessibility Checker. The Accessibility Checker essentially reviews your document, highlights any part of the document that might be problematic for someone with disabilities, and explains why this section of material is problematic. The Accessibility Checker allows a user to review the presentation and make any changes before finalizing the presentation.

How to use the accessibility checker

  1. At the top left-hand corner, click on File.
  2. On the following screen, select Info.
  3. Towards the right of the menu, select Check for Issues.
  4. In the drop-down menu, select Check Accessibility.

  1. On the right side of the document, an Accessibility Checker pane will appear. Under Inspection results, you will see parts of your document that may not be accessible. If the document is accessible, no issues will be found.

Applying formatted slide layouts

PowerPoint provides users with various designed slides for presentations. Using the formatted templates that PowerPoint offers ensures that your presentation will have structured headings and lists. Keeping 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 layout

  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 suggested content to be added within each box. Once you click into the box, you can type in 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 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 order

  1. Click on the Home tab at the top left corner.
  2. In the Drawing section, click on Arrange.
  3. In the drop-down menu, select Selection Pane.
  4. The Selection pane will appear on the right side of your screen. For a particular slide, it will list all the objects listed in a particular order. The order listed (from top to bottom) is the order in which the object will be read by a screen reader. To rearrange the order, just click on an object and use the arrows to change the order

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 the right side of your word document.
  3. Select the Layout and Properties icon .
  4. Select Alt Text. 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 for 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 preexisting 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 web page 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 the Insert tab.
  3. In the Insert tab, select Hyperlink.
  4. An Insert Hyperlink box will appear.
  5. In the Address field, paste the link.
  6. In the Text to 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, highlight the paragraph to which you would like to add an indentation.
  2. Right click on the highlighted material.
  3. In the drop-down menu, select Paragraph. A Paragraph window will appear.
  4. Under Indentation, select First line under the Special field.
  5. Under the By field, select the spacing for indentation.
  6. Then select OK.

How to create white space around a paragraph

  1. Highlight the paragraph around which you want to create space.
  2. Right click on the highlighted paragraph.
  3. In the drop-down menu, select Paragraph. A Paragraph window will appear.
  4. Under Indentation, type in values in the Before text field to create space on the left side of the paragraph.
  5. Under Spacing, enter values in the Before and After fields to create space above and beneath the paragraph.
  6. Then 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.