Create Accessible PowerPoint Presentations

These are steps to use the Microsoft Accessibility Checker to create accessible documents. The Accessibility Checker will be on by default for Microsoft Office users starting May 11, 2021, and will take several weeks to be implemented for all users.

The Accessibility Checker is available in Word, PowerPoint, and Excel. It is turned on by default for Harvard clients and keeps track of accessibility issues in real time. It is displayed at the bottom of the Microsoft program in the status bar. You can view issues found by selecting the Accessibility icon button in the status bar.

1. OPEN THE ACCESSIBILITY CHECKER

playful robot icon.

HOW TO OPEN

  • From Microsoft ribbon, select Review > Check Accessibility
  • A sidebar will open up that will identify accessibility errors and warnings as you add content to your document.

WHAT IT DOES

As an automated tool, it will not catch all errors, so some items will need to be checked manually.

WILL CATCH

  • Missing Alt Text
  • Color Contrast Errors in Word
  • Duplicate Slide Titles in PowerPoint

WILL NOT CATCH

  • Accuracy or Meaningfulness of that Alt Text
  • Missing or Out of Order Headings
  • Errors in Link Text
  • Missing Metadata
  • Color Contrast Errors in PowerPoint

2. APPLY ACCESSIBILITY PRINCIPLES

Pencil drafting text and images.

METADATA

  • Title and Author: Add the title and author to a file’s metadata or document properties.
  • Language: Identify the language of the document.

TEXT

  • Align: Use horizontal and left aligned text to allow users to easily identify new lines.
  • Spacing: Set to 1.5 line spacing or more.
  • Font: Use a sans serif font, select size 11pt or greater for documents and size 18 or greater for slides

SLIDE TITLES

  • Unique: Each slide should have a unique title. For slides that may be on the same topic, try something like Goals 1 of 3, Goals 2 of 3, Goals 3 of 3
  • Why: Slide titles provide an outline and improve navigation making your document more accessible

LINKS

  • Descriptive: Write link text so that it is unique, descriptive, and clear about where the link goes.
  • Sharing Docs for Printing:  Consider including both a descriptive link and the full link text.
  • For example: Harvard College Admissions (college.harvard.edu/admissions)
  • Guidance: How to Write Helpful Links

COLOR CONTRAST

  • Color: Choose font color that has a high degree of contrast against the background color.
  • Standard: For web content, the standard is 4.5:1 for most text.
  • Avoid: Light text on light backgrounds and dark text on dark backgrounds

ALT TEXT for IMAGES

  • Why: add alternative text for all non-decorative images to convey the equivalent information of the visual.
  • How: Right-click on images to bring up the menu to "Edit Image" or "Add Alt Text"
  • Meaningful: It should convey the “why” of the image as it relates to document content.
  • Short: Keep it short and descriptive, like a tweet. Don’t include “image of” or “photo of”.
  • Guidance: See Alt Text Examples

3. MANUALLY REVIEW YOUR DOCUMENT

Magnifying Glass.

LISTS

  • Read: Browse your document to see if any paragraphs would be easier to read as a list.
  • Apply: Use the Pargraph Panel to select a bullet or numbered list
  • Why: Lists make content easier to read by providing visual structure and highlighting key points.

COLOR FOR MEANING

  • Avoid: using color alone to convey meaning.
  • Why: Your message may be missed or misunderstood by individuals who can't see color.
  • Instead:  Use color along with a secondary element, (such as shape or text differences) to ensure the meaning can be understood without the use of color.

REVIEW

  • Review: any remaining accessibility issues identified by the accessibility checker.
  • Check: Tab or click each through your document to double-check that content is still being read in a logical reading order.
  • Metadata: Verify that Metadata (Title, Author, Language) have been added.

OFFICE HOURS

Want to check your accessible document with DAS? Stop by one of our upcoming Office Hours! We hold open office hours in a Zoom meeting room on the 2nd and 4th Fridays of each month from 10am-12pm. Upcoming DAS Office Hours ➜