How to make accessible presentations for people with disabilities


Accessible presentations

The gov.uk website states that, “Accessibility means that people can do what they need to do in a similar amount of time and effort as someone that does not have a disability.” For PowerPoint presentations this means unlocking the content for everyone, including those with visual and hearing impairments.

PowerPoint presentations tend to be highly visual, and people who are blind or have poor vision can understand them more easily if you build your slides with accessibility in mind. For those with hearing difficulties this can be as simple as adding subtitles, but for visual impairments there is a longer checklist.

Real-time subtitle translation

Real-time subtitle translation comes with the most recent version of PowerPoint with Office 365. Go to the Slide Show ribbon to access Subtitle Settings. We can ensure that videos have closed captions set up. This is quick if the closed captions are ready to go, but takes much longer if we have to add the captions ourselves.

Screen readers

We can set PowerPoint presentations up so that they are optimised for screen readers. This means:

  • adding accurate alt-text on images;
  • putting content in the correct order* on the slides; and
  • using screen tips for hyperlinks.

*It’s worth looking at this point a little more closely. Text will be read out in the order in which it has been added to the slide, from the bottom to the top. To change the order, open the Selection Pane and drag the objects up and down in the list (this shouldn’t change how the slide looks unless you have overlapping objects):

Object order on a PowerPoint slide

Object order on a PowerPoint slide

Colour blindness

This is a little bit trickier, but there are online tools to check how presentations look to people with different types of colour blindness. The main thing is to ensure that there is sufficient contrast between the colours we use and that we are not relying on colours alone to tell the story.

Accessibility Checker

PowerPoint has its own built-in Accessibility Checker in the Review ribbon. If you have this running whilst you work you can review how accessible your presentation is as you go.

For a more detailed look at how to make accessible presentations follow this link.