Checklist for Electronically Distributed Accessible Presentation Files 

  • Download your Google Slides presentation to Microsoft PowerPoint format and address all warnings and issues identified by the Microsoft Accessibility checker.
    Rationale: While Google Slides does not have an accessibility checker, it shares many features in common with Microsoft PowerPoint and best practices regarding accessible design hold common across both platforms. The Microsoft accessibility checker addresses a number of accessibility issues. The Accessibility checker is available in Microsoft Office for Windows 2010, 2013 and 2016, and has more recently been made available for the Mac version of the Office suite.
  • Utilize slide layout templates provided by the program when creating the presentation.
    Rationale: Slide layout templates have been tested to work with screen readers. Templates assist with readability and reading order for screen readers, as well as populating content to the Outline View when downloaded to PowerPoint, which is a useful feature for finding the important content. Avoid drawing or creating text boxes or unlabeled shapes on your slides, as these will be read as images by the screen reader. Create new master slides as needed to adapt the template to your needs.
  • Include a blank slide before the title slide to explain accessibility measures in the file.
    Rationale: Blind users benefit from an explanation of where in the file they should go to find all of the necessary information. E.g.: “This Google Slides presentation utilizes both the notes sections of slides and alternative text tags on images to provide information, in addition to text on the slides themselves.” Then, simply treat Slide 2 as your first slide of the presentation and begin from there.
  • Use text in addition to the color to convey information (e.g. "Important items are red and marked with an *.")
    Rationale: Color blind users may not discern different colors (“required items are in red”), and need a textual marker (such as an * or word “required” next to the required item). This also applies to any graphical or image content that is important to the viewer. Use the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 to provide guidance on proper color contrast ratios.
  • Deactivate self-advancing or timed features.
    Rationale: Slides that advance on a timer may restrict individuals from accessing all information on the slides. Individuals work through information at different paces, so preserve all slides as self-pacing to ensure better retention of information on slides.
  • All major slide information is depicted in Outline View when downloaded to PowerPoint.
    Rationale: Because Google Slides does not have a feature equivalent to Outline View, you should go to File→ Download As→ PowerPoint to open your presentation in PowerPoint. From there, go to View→ Outline View to find the textual content on each slide, as populated by the content areas in your slide layouts. Screen reader software can read text information off the Outline View without having to navigate through each clickable area on each slide, which provides a more efficient user experience for screen reader users. Other sources of information, such as content in the notes space on each slide and alternative tags on images, should be noted at the beginning of the presentation so that a screen reader user knows to look for them.
  • “Tab” through clickable areas on each slide, or once in PowerPoint, verify that information in Outline View is in same order as in the intended presentation mode.
    Rationale: Reading order is essential to ensure information is comprehensible and understood as intended. Click within a slide and press the “tab” key to watch the order in which the focus advances; this will be the order that the screen reader announces content. If downloaded as a PowerPoint, review the Outline View and makes changes to ensure that text information is presented in same reading order as presented on the slide.
  • Include accurate alternate text for non-text items (e.g., pictures, tables, graphs, charts) embedded in the slide content or in the notes section of the slide.
    Rationale: Any essential information for an image must be relayed via text description to ensure equitable access to the important content.
  • Include captions or an embedded transcript for any video or audio components.
    Rationale: Captions (for videos) or transcripts (for audio files) are essential components of multimedia access for individuals with hearing loss or auditory processing issues.
  • Allow users to modify font (size and family) and colors (backgrounds and text color).
    Rationale: Clear, clean, and simple text is the best way to effectively relay information. Anything that impedes the readability of a slide impacts the efficacy of the message. Use of elements like word art and fancy fonts can impact readability by individuals or screen readers.

Checklist for Oral Presentation

  • Use minimally-patterned slide backgrounds and remove excessive animation or rapidly flashing elements.
    Rationale: Extraneous visual gimmicks, like flashing text or excessive transitions, may disrupt the information presented and pull focus away from the content. Animation can cause migraines or seizures.
  • Describe any information available only in visual format (e.g., images like pictures, tables, graphs) or auditory format (e.g., audio clips, music) during the presentation.
    Rationale: Any information presented visually on the PowerPoint should be referenced in detail during presentation. Essential information should be verbalized. Presenters should draw attention to auditory information being portrayed (e.g. audio clips) so an individual with hearing loss is aware, as an individual who is focusing on speaker can miss other auditory information being shared if not alerted.
  • Indicate slide transition with a sound or vocal announcement (e.g., “next slide”)
    Rationale: Indicating when a new slide is being presented helps users follow with notes, handouts, or personal electronic copies.

Additional Usability Considerations for In-Person Presentations (suggested but not required)

  • Use simple sans serif fonts at no less than 24 points.
    Rationale: Serif fonts can make letters difficult to distinguish on screen, especially if the font has a stylized effect of handwriting, script, and so on; smaller fonts are often unreadable from the back of the room.
  • Select a high contrast background with limited decoration.
    Rationale: High contrast colors will help ensure text is readable even in poorly lit rooms. Busy slides with lots of decorative backgrounds can be distracting and difficult to read.
  • Share presentation files with individuals electronically before the live presentation so individuals who utilize screen readers or enhancers will be able to access the file before, during, or after the event.
    Rationale: Sharing an accessible electronic copy before the event is essential to allow each person to access the file however necessary for their needs. The presenter has only to create the accessible version and share it; individuals are responsible for the end result (e.g., enlarged printouts for visual impairments, screen reader for blindness or low vision, printouts with notes areas for people with learning challenges).

Sources and Additional Resources

The following resources are available to assist with creating accessible presentations, and were used as the basis for the creation of this document:

To help determine contrast ratios, it is recommended that you use a tool such as: