PowerPoint Accessibility

Microsoft PowerPoint is a great tool to create slide show presentations. Presentations can be made more accessible and inclusive for all users when these basic tips are followed:

Accessibility Checker

Microsoft PowerPoint provides a built-in accessibility checker that reviews your presentation for accessibility issues. To use this checker, click on the Review tab (in the top ribbon), and select Accessibility Checker.

Accessibility feature nested under "Review" then "Check Accessibility".

A sidebar will pull up with the results. You can click on any of the recommended fixes for instructions on how to fix the problem.

PowerPoint accessibility inspection results.

Alternative Text

All images in the presentation should have alternative text. To add alternative text, right-click the image and choose Edit Alt Text. You can then enter in alternative text or choose to mark the image as decorative.

Slide Layout

Microsoft PowerPoint offers a variety of slide layouts. These layouts typically include a Title and one or more areas for content. When possible, it is best to use these pre-made slide layouts. This will ensure that slides have the correct heading structure and reading order.

Reading Order

When not using a layout, it is important to pay attention to the reading order. Screen readers are a tool that users, typically with low visibility, use to read the content on the screen. When screen readers are reading a slide, they do so in the order that the elements are added. For example, if you were to add a photo and text box before you added your Title, then your Title wouldn’t be read until after the information.

To check and/or change the reading order, navigate to Home, Arrange, and then Selection Pane.

PowerPoint arange tool. Click "Selection Pane..." to change reading order.

A Selection Pane sidebar will pull up with the items in their reading order. An important thing to remember is that the reading order is from bottom to top, so the bottom item will be read first. You can reorder these items by clicking and dragging.

Color Contrast

A slide’s text and background should have a strong enough contrast. Dark colored text should be on a light background, and vice versa (e.g. black text on white background).

Additional Resources and Tips

If you would like to learn more about document accessibility, consider participating in our free Document Accessibility Online course