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PowerPoint is an easy to use software designed to create electronic presentations slides consisting of graphics and text. The core principles of making sure that your PowerPoint Presentation is accessibly formatted are very similar to the ones for Microsoft Word. Check for the following elements:

file name

Try to keep it concise (limited to 20-30 characters) and descriptive of the document. Avoid spaces and/or special characters including & , . ( ) % # $ ¢ / \ – { } [ ] < > : ; @.

Good Example: Chapter3_Presentation.pptx
Bad Example: Ch.3 – Presentation.pptx


Use San Serif fonts (e.g. Arial, Helvetica, Verdana, Franklin Gothic, etc.) for universally better readability. If the document is expected to be printed, use font-size no smaller than 12pt.

Showing the difference between san serif and serif fonts


Generally Keep it as simple as possible. Unless there is a clear purpose, refrain from use of non-white background and extensive use of imagery. Avoid themes with a dark background. Don’t rely solely on colors to emphasize the importance of text. If you need to use color-coding, make style changes (bold, italicize, or underline) to the text in addition to the color differentiation. If you are using non-black colors for text, make sure the contrast is high enough for legibility.

Examples of good and bad color uses as described above.


All images and non-text elements that convey information must have meaningful alternative-text descriptions. This is a critical step to make sure that students using a screen-reader device can also understand the content.

Screenshot of ATL text navigation on Microsoft PowerPoint 2013

For a shapes, pictures, and charts in your document, you can add ALT-text by: Right-click on the object, and click Format Picture, and then click the Alt Text pane (For a table, right-click the table, click Table Properties, and then click the Alt Text tab). In the Description box, enter an explanation of the content. This box should always be filled in. The Title box should only be filled in if you are entering a detailed or long explanation in the Description box. Avoid SmartArt graphics.

audio-video captioning

Whenever you use additional audio or video components in a presentation, ensure that the content is available in alternative formats for users with disabilities, such as closed captions, transcripts or alt text. If you’re using PowerPoint 2010 or newer version of PowerPoint, you can download and install the Sub-titling text add-in for Microsoft PowerPoint (STAMP), which lets you easily create closed captions for video and audio in your presentations.

If you need assistance using STAMP, contact KCeL.


Give a title to every slide. Make sure the title is entered into the designated area on the top (Displayed as “Click to add title” on each slide ), as this will help generate a table of contents for screen reader users. If you do not see the title, do the following: On the Home tab, in the Slides group, click Reset to restore slide placeholders for the selected slide.

PowerPoint screenshot of Title box

Reading order

Check the reading order on each slide page. To check the order in which your slide content will be read back, do the following: On the Home tab, in the Drawing group, click Arrange and then choose Selection Pane. The Selection Pane lists the objects on the slide. Objects will be read back beginning with the bottom list item and ending with the top list item. Correct any out of order items using the Re-order arrows on the bottom of the pane.

Screenshot of PowerPoint Reading Order


Hyperlink text should provide a clear description of the link destination, rather than only providing the URL. To add a hyperlink to your document, do the following:

Place your cursor where you want the hyperlink. On the Insert tab, in the Links group, click Hyperlink to open the Hyperlink dialog box. In the Text to display box, type in the name or phrase that will briefly describe the link destination. In the Address box, type the link URL. In the Address box, type the link URL, and click OK.

Things to avoid..
  • long URLs (use hyperlinks instead)
  • Underlines (reserve the use of underlines for hyperlinks)
  • Extended spacing using space bar or tabs (create separate text boxes if you want to separate texts)
  • Abbreviations (e.g. Prof., Mon, Tue, Wed..). Spell out the complete words for screen reading software.


Accessibility Checker

Finally, check the accessibility of your document using the Accessibility Checker (currently available only on Windows):

  1. Click on the File tab and select Info.
  2. Click the Check for Issues button and select Check Accessibility from the menu.
  3. The Accessibility Checker will open within the document and include Inspection Results and Additional Information. Click on a specific issue to see Additional Information and the steps to change the content.

*For more information about the Accessibility Checker, visit this page on Microsoft website dedicated to the feature.

If you would like us to double-check the formatting of your document, email your file to kcel@kbcc.cuny.edu.


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