University of Illinois System

PowerPoint Accessibility Process

Accessibility Process for Microsoft PowerPoint

System Office employees must do the following to comply with accessibility standards before sharing a PowerPoint with audiences via SharePoint or a website. Although following these steps may not necessarily guarantee a completely accessible PowerPoint, following these steps should minimize accessibility issues and make your content more accessible. Visit our website for more information on System Accessibility.

To make your PowerPoint more accessible:

  1. Use Built-in Slides Templates
  2. Check Reading Order
  3. Use Lists
  4. Add Alternate Text
  5. Use Meaningful Links
  6. Run Accessibility Checker

Use Built-in Slide Templates

Built-in slide templates are designed so assistive technologies read out each element in a logical and understandable order. Inserting your own textbox or rearranging built-in textboxes can cause elements to be read out of order. Be careful with the amount of information and elements on the slide for it may be overwhelming for users with cognitive disabilities. 

  1. Select the Home tab on the ribbon.
  2. Select New Slide in the Slides section.
  3. Select a layout most suitable to your slide content.

Check Reading Order

To manually ensure that the elements on the slide are read out in the order you intended, you can check and reorder the Reading Order as needed.  

  1. Select the Review tab on the ribbon.
  2. Select Check Accessibility in the Accessibility section.
  3. Select Reading Order Pane in the drop-down menu.
  4. Drag and drop each element in the correct order. 

Use Lists

Using PowerPoint’s formatting tools to create ordered and unordered lists can allow for assistive technology to detect and inform users of the presence of a list, how many items are in the list, and the structure for easy navigation.

  1. Highlight the text that you want numbered or bulleted.
  2. Select the Home tab on the ribbon.
  3. Select Numbered List or Bulleted List in the Paragraph section.

Add Alternate Text

Alternate (Alt) text can be read by screen readers and helps users identify what images and other objects are in the document. You can add alt text to objects, such as pictures, clip art, charts, tables, shapes, SmartArt, embedded objects, and audio or video objects.

  1. To open the Alt Text pane, do one of the following:
    1. Right-click the object and select Edit Alt Text.... or
    2. Select the object. Then select the Picture Format tab on the ribbon and select Alt Text.
  2. Type a detailed description of the image in the field.
    1. NOTE: The description should explain why the image is important. Since assistive technology does not read words within images, if there’s text within your image, include that text in the alt text description.
      1. It is helpful to write a description as though you are describing this image to someone on the phone and explaining its purpose.
  3. If your image does not contribute to the learning or deliver an important message, then check the Mark as decorative box.
    1. NOTE: The screen reader will not read this image out loud.

Use Meaningful Links

Meaningful links help users quickly navigate the documents using assistive technology; therefore, it is important for the link text to be concise but descriptive enough to inform users the purpose and destination of the link. 

  1. Paste the destination URL link.
    1. NOTE: Having a long destination URL link causes challenges for someone using a screen reader because each character will be read aloud at a time, which is difficult to understand.
  2. Highlight the whole destination URL, including the "http" at the beginning and the domain at the end.
  3. Right-click on the highlighted destination URL.
  4. Select Edit Hyperlink.
  5. In the Text to display field, type in a descriptive text (a word or phrase) unique to that link.
    1. NOTE: This descriptive text should be a concise label that informs the reader where the link is sending them.
    2. Avoid using generic link text and phrases like “Click here” or “Learn more.” 
  6. Click OK.

Run Accessibility Checker

The Accessibility Checker feature finds accessibility problems and provides suggestions on how to fix them. Following these steps should result in an adequately accessible document, but more changes may be needed based on a user’s needs, or more work may be needed to make it fully accessible. Automatic checkers are imperfect and cannot catch everything but can help guide you in creating more equitable content.

  1. Select the Review tab on the ribbon.
  2. Select Check Accessibility.
  3. Review your results.
    1. NOTE: You will see a list of errors, warnings, and tips with how-to-fix recommendations for each.