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Making presentations more accessible

Presentations are a useful tool to convey key information while talking to an audiance either in person or at a distance (say a Zoom webinar or Teams meeting). Creating presentations with accessibility in mind helps all your audiance to engage with the content. This article details good practice to make presentations accessible.

Use built-in Accessibility Checker
Use accessible templates
Use easily readable text
Include alternative text for images
Ensure colour is not the only means of conveying information
Add meaningful hyperlinks
Use sufficient colour contrast
Give every slide a unique title
Create simple table structre for data only
Check reading order
Save your presentation in a different format
Delivering your presentation

Use built-in Accessibility Checker

Go to Review > Check Accessibiltiy to run the accessibiltiy checker. This will highlight accessibility issues that the program was able to identify with recommended actions to resolve the issues.

If you do not have Check Accessibility under the Review tab, you can use File > Info > Check for Issues > Check Accessibility.

PowerPoint Check Accessibility

Use accessible templates

Download the University of Reading presentation template (login required).

You will notice that the background is not white. This is to help people with Irlen syndrome and other visual perceptual processing difficulties. This condition affects about half of the neuro-diverse population and about 15% of neuro-typical population. However, this may not help all people with disabilities and for some who are using coloured overlays on screens it could even interfere with thier preferred settings when viewing on computer screen. It is important to understand that there could be instances where you may have to engage with the person to discuss and provide a suitable solution. 

Use easily readable text

Use a large enough font size (18pt or larger), sans serif fonts (such as Arial) and sufficient white space.

Use sentence case and not all capitals. There is more shape variation in using sentence case and this makes sentence case easier to read.

Left alined text is easier to read. Whereever this is appropriate, use left alined text.

Include alternative text for images

Alternative text helps people who are unable to see the screen to understand the content delivered by the image via the use of assistive technologies. If an image is used only for aesthetic perposes, the image should be marked as "decorative" so that the assistive technologies can ommit them.

Right click on the image and select "View Alt Text...". This will open the Alt Text pane where you can provide a short description about the image if it is an image conveying meaning. For example, if it is a graph you could mention what variables are in the axes and trends visible. If the image is for easthetic purposes, tick the checkbox "Mark as decorative".

Common mistakes

Don't use images of text unless they are a logo or similar. Remember to add alternative text for logos too. For example, for the University of Reading logo add "University of Reading" as the Alt text.

University of Reading

Accessible images guide

Ensure colour is not the only means of conveying information

People with colour vision deficiency have difficulty distinguishing between shades of red, yellow and green. The most common color vision deficiency affects about 1 in 12 men and 1 in 200 women. Therefore, if you differentiate information only by colour, your audiance may not be able to understand the content. Coblis colour blindness simulator can give you a feeling of how it is to have a colour vision deficiency.

Example

This slide asks the question "What is the speed limit in a residential area?" with four possible answers.Correct answer is in green while distractors are in red. 

Coblis Colour blindness simulator normal vision

This is how the same slide will be seen by a person with monochromacy colour vision deficiency. A person who is unable to distinguish the difference in colour will not be able to identify the correct answer. 

 

Coblis Colour Blindness simulator monochrome vision

 

Accessible colour guide

Avoid using link text such as "click here" or "See here", which does not give information about where the link will direct the reader. For example, if it is a link directing the user to the campus map, instead of "click here" as the link text use "campus map". 

Accessible links guide

Use sufficient colour contrast

Good colour contrast between the background and foreground makes it easier to read content for people with vision impairements. In high or low lighting conditions, having sufficient colour contrast makes it easier for everyone. 

Common mistakes

Make sure if images are used as background, there is sufficient contrast between background and foreground to be able to read any text. If there isn't sufficiet contrast, consider using "Shape fill" for the text area.

Example

Demonstrating contast issue with background and foreground  vs  Demonstrating how to fix a contast issue with background and foreground

Accessible colour contrast 

Give every slide a unique title

Slide titles help people who are blind or have low vision, or a reading disability to navigate. Having a uniqe slide title can also help the reader to navigate to a specific slide they want if they want to revisit the content.

Common mistakes

Some people delete the slide title to get a blank slide when they want to fit in a lot of content or an image on to a slide. Instead, you can position the title off the slide. This way, the slide has a title (so accessible) and you have sufficient space for your content. For further information refer to the "Put a title on a slide, but make the title invisible" section of the Title a slide page.

Create simple table structre for data only

Use Insert > Table to create a table and then populate the data. Do not split or merge cells in a table or created nested tables as these present difficulties for assistive technologies.

Accessible tables guide

Common mistakes

Do not screenshot tables from other sources and include in slides. The content of the screenshots cannot be read by assistive technologies and creates a barrier for accessibility.

Check reading order

If you have added extra items into a slide such as images or shapes the reading order of the slide may have been changed from the original settings. Reading order shows how assistive technology will read the content to thier user. 

Review > Check Accessibility (open dropdown) > Reading Order Pane

Order the content so that a user who may not be able to view the slide can make sense of the content.

Save your presentation in a different format

If you are sharing a presenation, it is always more accessible to share it in the original format. Consider this before saving it in a different format to share.

Before saving a presentation into another format, run the Accessibility Checker and fix all reported issues. 

Select File > Save As and under the file type dropdown select PDF(*.pdf). Then select Options. In the Options dialog tick the checkbox for "Document structure tags for accessibility" and select OK.

Common mistakes

If you select Print and then select the PDF option this will not be an accessible PDF. 

Delivering your presentation

When delivering your presentation, you can use the Microsoft Office Online to provide automatic captioning. 

Set up captions and subtitles

Follow the guidence provided by Microsoft Support  on setting up captions and subtitles