Welcome to our February issue of the Accessibility Minute Newsletter! This newsletter is produced by the CU Boulder Digital Accessibility Office and covers one accessibility skill or topic per month. Please visit the DAO website to access past newsletters. As always, thank you for taking a minute (or two!) to read.

Slide Deck Accessibility

Slide presentations are a common mode of communication, whether you are teaching or leading a webinar or meeting. In this month’s newsletter, we will explore some key practices to increase the accessibility of your slide decks.

Slide Deck Accessibility Considerations

Like all digital content, you should ensure you have implemented fundamental accessibility practices into your work. For additional guidance, visit the Digital Accessibility Office content accessibility fundamentals resource page and PowerPoint Accessibility. Additionally, we have provided specific guidance below to further enhance the accessibility of your slides.

Slide Headings

One simple step towards enhancing the accessibility of your slide deck is to have a unique, descriptive title on each slide. As all content should include appropriate headings, slide title elements are read to screen reader users as headings, which can be applied using slide layout options within your content creation platform. If you feel a visible slide title negatively impacts the aesthetic of a slide (one with only an image, the slide is a continuation of a previous slide, etc.), you can hide it from view. For instructions, visit Microsoft’s "Title a Slide" article.

Additional Slide Title Guidance

  • Avoid using text boxes to mimic headings using visual style, such as increased text size, bolding, etc. Screen readers will not recognize these visual styles as headings.
  • If you have multiple slides with the same title/heading, include numbers, such as “2” or words like “continued,” to let users know when a new slide is present and continuing the same topic.

Slide Reading Order

Reading order determines the order in which assistive technology will read the content on each slide. Setting the reading order allows assistive technology, especially screen reading software, to read information sequentially, typically left to right, top to bottom.

To test the reading order on either PowerPoint or Google Slides, place your cursor on your slide (outside of any elements on the slide), then press the Tab key. The order in which the elements are selected is the order in which they appear to a screen reader.

Microsoft PowerPoint Reading Order

The most important thing to note regarding reading order in PowerPoint is that each content element should be organized from bottom to top for assistive technology to read it in its logical reading order. The item at the bottom of the reading order list will be the first one read by assistive technology, which should typically be the slide title. The item at the top of the list is the last item read, which should typically be the text or graphic elements. To do this work, use the selection pane.

Google Slides Reading Order

Elements in each slide will be read beginning with the one that is furthest back on the page, and ending with the one that is furthest forward. For written instructions on editing Google Slides reading order, visit Wake Forest University’s Google Slides reading order resource, and for a video tutorial, visit Michigan State University’s Google Slides Reading Order Tutorial (video).

Additional Considerations

Ensure all text on each slide is in a font size large enough to read easily. Use a simple, standard, and readable font (avoiding ambiguous, nonstandard font types) in at least 18-point font. This is particularly important in live presentations where not all audience members may be seated close to the projector.

We also recommend providing enough white space to improve your audience’s experience. Avoid cramming too much information onto one slide, as seeing less content at once can decrease the cognitive load for your audience and enhance comprehension.

Considerations for Google Suite Applications

While all the previously mentioned practices are essential for creating accessible slides, the platform you use to create your slide deck should also be considered. Because Google Slides functions differently than PowerPoint, we wanted to draw attention to some additional items you should consider if using Google Slides as your medium. The considerations are as follows:

  • Be prepared for alternate format requests from users. To effectively use Google Suite products with some assistive technology (AT), users may have to edit their AT and the system's settings and relearn the ecosystem to access the material.
  • If you need to convert to another file type, converting or downloading as a PDF won't make it accessible. There may be some fixes to enhance accessibility if you download it as a PowerPoint file.
  • And most importantly, be sure to ask the requestor's file type preference before converting.

Slides are Powerful Tools; Make Sure your Audience Can Access Them

Prioritizing accessibility in your slide decks is essential for ensuring inclusivity and reaching a broader audience. By incorporating these accessibility practices and considerations, you can create presentations that are accessible to all users.

February Challenge

Take some time to review a past slide deck you have created or accessed. Take some of the tips provided in this newsletter to enhance the accessibility of that slide deck.

DAO News

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Your Thoughts

We want to hear from you! If you have any questions or comments, please send us your thoughts on this month’s topic.

If you have questions, comments, or would like support with accessibility, please contact us at DigitalAccessibility@Colorado.edu.

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