Following the guidelines in this checklist will allow you to create and remediate presentations created in Microsoft PowerPoint so they are accessible. You can also download a copy of the Universal Design Measures for Microsoft Powerpoint checklist.

Checklist for Electronically Distributed Accessible Presentation Files

  • Address all warnings and issues identified by the Microsoft Accessibility checker (for Windows only, not Mac).
    Rationale: The accessibility checker addresses a number of accessibility issues. The Accessibility checker is available in Microsoft Office for Windows 2010, 2013 and 2016. This feature is not in the Mac version.
  • 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. Avoid drawing or creating text boxes or content areas on layouts as these will be treated like 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 PowerPoint utilizes both the notes spaces and alt tags on images to provide information in addition to text on the slides.”
  • 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).
  • Deactivate self-advancing or timed features.
    Rationale: Slides that advance on a timer restrict individuals from accessing all information on slide. Individuals work through information at different paces, all self-pacing to ensure better retention of information on slide.
  • All major slide Information is depicted in outline view.
    Rationale: Screen reader software reads text information off the outline view, not the actual slide. Thus any information in the outline view will be accessible to someone using a screen reader, and other sources of information, such as the notes space on each slide and alt tags on images should be noted at the beginning of the presentation so that a blind user knows to look for them.
  • Verify that information in outline view is in same order as in presentation mode.
    Rationale: Reading order is essential to ensure information is comprehensible and understood as intended. Review outlines and makes changes to ensure that text information is presented in same reading order as presented on slide.
  • Include detailed alternate text for non-text items (e.g. pictures, tables, graphs, charts, etc.) 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 access as screen readers cannot interpret image files.
  • Include captions or an embedded transcript for any video or audio components.
    Rationale: Captions (videos) or transcripts (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 things 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, etc.) during 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 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; smaller fonts are often unreadable from the back of the room.
  • Select a high contrast with 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.
  • Share presentation files 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 visually impairments, screen reader for blindness, printouts with notes areas for Attention Deficits, etc.).

Sources and Additional Resources

The following resources are available to assist with creating accessible PPTs, 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: