Create accessible presentations using PowerPoint

Microsoft PowerPoint documents are widely used for presentations. Thankfully, the text within PowerPoint presentations can be read by assistive technologies.

To provide an accessible experience in Microsoft PowerPoint, authors should follow the core guidelines outlined in the General guidelines for accessible documents. Authors should also implement as many of the accessibility principles below as possible.

These guidelines and screenshots apply to Microsoft PowerPoint 2013 on Windows. There may be differences when applying the techniques with other versions of Microsoft PowerPoint.

For downloadable cheat-sheets and information about other versions of PowerPoint, please visit the National Center on Disability and Access to Education’s section on PowerPoint.

Provide unique and descriptive titles for all slides

Each slide should feature a unique and descriptive title to help orient users. These titles help users of assistive technology understand the general content of a slide and navigate them more effectively.

Follow this rule for all slides, even slides that have a similar topic or information as a previous slide. In those cases, adding “(cont)” or “(continued)” is enough to make the title unique.

For example:

  • Accessibility Best Practices for PowerPoint
  • Accessibility Best Practices for PowerPoint (Continued)

View projected content to strive to provide the best possible readability

Most PowerPoint presentations are created to be projected onto a screen for an audience. Therefore, it is important to strive for the content to be as readable as possible when projected.

Font size should be a minimum of 24 points so audience members at most distances can read the text.

If presenting in a large auditorium, the font size may need to be increased beyond this minimum.

Additionally, the color contrast of all text should be verified for high contrast levels. The higher the color contrast, the easier it will be to read the screen from farther away.

If possible, presentations should be rehearsed in the presentation space beforehand. Since the projector and lighting may negatively affect the readability, a rehearsal will expose problems with time to fix them.

Avoid the use of distracting content features

PowerPoint provides transition and animation features not found in most other document types. While these features can make a presentation more engaging, they can also be distracting.

If slide transitions or animations are used, they should be simple and brief to minimize any distraction.

Avoid using automatic slide transitions. This way, users have time to consume the content at their own pace.

An alternative option to making PowerPoint presentations more accessible would be to provide two versions of the PowerPoint, one with and one without the transitions and animations. These extra features should not distract from the important content or main ideas on slides.

Next pages about PowerPoint

Structure guidelines     Accessibility tools