Accessibility: How to Make a PowerPoint Presentation Accessible


This article explains how to make a PowerPoint that conforms to Section 508 standards to be more accessible to those with disabilities.



How to Make a PowerPoint Presentation Accessible?


When designing accessible PowerPoint presentations, it is important to consider the following best practices:

Give Structure to a Presentation Slide

Structure is the logical reading order of the slide content, and it facilitates the interaction of assistive technology with the slide content. 

Slide Layouts

When creating a new slide, use a predefined PowerPoint slide layout rather than creating a custom slide layout for proper reading order. Otherwise, the screen reader will read the elements of a slide in the order that they were added to the slide, which might be very different from the order things appear in.

  1. Select Home then New Slide.
  2. Choose the desired layout from the Layout option. 

Slide Titles

People who are blind, have low vision, or have a reading disability rely on slide titles to navigate. By skimming or using a screen reader, they can  scan through a list of slide titles and go right to the slide they want. For example, the title of the slide below is “Structure: Creating slides with logical reading order."

Outline Panel

The Outline panel, found under View then Outline View, displays slides’ text as an outline made up of the titles and main text from each slide. Text included on slides should be included in the outline.

Reading Order

Test the reading order by using the tab key to cycle through the presentation. If the reading order is not logical, rearrange the slide objects in the Selection Pane.

  1. On the Home tab in the Editing group, click the Select drop-down menu.
  2. Click the Selection Pane. The Selection Pane appears on the right side with a list of all objects on the slide.

Write Alternative Text for Non-Text Content

Alternative text (also called alt text) provides a textual alternative to non-text content. They are used to describe an image. Every non-text element must have a text alternative or be marked as decorative. Note that videos and other media have other methods of providing text alternatives. 

  1. Right-click an image and click Edit Alt Text from the pop-up menu.
  2. From the Alt Text Pane, write the alt text for the image.

Give an Identity to a Presentation

Identity is given to a presentation by identifying the file properties and file format. File properties are details about a file that describe or identify it. They include details such as title, author name, subject, and keywords that identify the file’s topic or contents. File properties help you search and sort files in File Explorer. An accessible PowerPoint file format's extension is “.pptx”. 

To add properties:

  1. Select File, then Info.
  2. Click Properties
  3. Click Advanced properties. Fill in as many properties fields as possible.
  4. When you're done, click OK to save your changes.

Conduct a Final Accessibility Test

Use PowerPoint's Accessibility Checker to find potential problems for people with disabilities. 

  1. Select File then Info.
  2. Select the Check for Issues button and choose Check Accessibility.

Check Accessibility

The Accessibility Checker task pane will show accessibility errors and tips on how to repair the errors. Select specific issues to see additional information at the bottom of the task pane.

Additional Resources

Helpful resouces from Microsoft and WebAIM:



Article ID: 104660
Tue 4/7/20 3:18 PM
Tue 5/21/24 2:56 PM