Creating Accessible PowerPoint Presentations for Students with Visual Impairments and Blindness

PowerPoint_logo.

Want to make your PowerPoint presentations (PPT) accessible for students with low vision and students who are blind? Here's how!  General Education teachers: Make all your materials accessible - you never know when you will have a student with visual impairments or a student with print disabilities in your class.  Accessibility should be a habit!  Teachers of Students with Visual Impairments (TVIs), please share this information with your general education teachers.   PPTs with low vision accessibility are user friendly for everyone.

PowerPoint presentations for students with low vision

APH provides information on how to create accessible PowerPoint presentations (PPT) for people with low vision.  When creating a PPT, carefully consider the following things: 

  • Font
  • Text size (headings, subheadings, text)
  • Formatting
  • Background color
  • Contrast
  • Color and Color combinations
  • Simple background
  • Avoid shadowed text
  • Acceptable animation features
  • Amount and type of information on a slide
  • Avoid greyscale
  • Acceptable colors for students with color blindness

See the PowerPoint Presentations document for a quick list of PowerPoint accessibility best practices.

The attached PowerPoint presentation provides practical, detailed information, good and bad examples along with explanations of why one method is preferred and another method is detrimental to students with low vision.  For additional APH guidelines, go to Accessible Media Guidelines page.

Students with low vision can view the PPT on his/her personal device using a screen sharing app such as Join.me  (The teacher starts the screen sharing app, shares the unique code with the student then the student can view what is being displayed on the board.  The student can zoom the PPT presentation on his/her device and can take screenshots to review the information at a later date.)  For more information about screen sharing apps, view the Join.me Post.

PowerPoint presentations for students using screen readers

Share the PPT presentation with students who use screen readers.  Educators should have an established method of sharing digital materials using Google Drive, Dropbox or on a website.  Conference presenters will typically share the PPT through the conference website or on a flash drive.  PPT presentations typically including pictures, charts and graphs.  These images should and can be made accessible by adding alternative text descriptions (Alt Text).  Follow these steps to add an Alt Text:

  1. Select the image.
  2. Open the context menu using one of the following methods:
    1. Right-click (Windows) or Control-click (Mac) on image.
    2. Press the Context Key (Windows) while the image is selected.
    3. Press Shift +F10 (Windows) while the image is selected.
  3. Choose "Format Picture. . ." from menu.
  4. Choose "Alt Text" from dialog box, and describe the image.

Alt Text descriptions should describe the meaning of the image rather than its appearance.  Descriptions should be as short as possible.  Do not say "photo of" or "image of".

Read WebAim's article for details about creating appropriate text for Alt Text descriptions.

Captions can also be used to convey visual information to all users. Images can also be described in the text of the PPT or document.

Note: Whenever you save an image (photo), be sure to rename the image with a simple description so that the screen reader will read that simple description and not a long series of numbers that are randomly generated to name an image.  Example: Save the the PowerPoint logo image as:  PowerPoint_Logo.  The screen reader when then read it as "PowerPoint Logo.image" instead of the random number ("600137402.Image").

The 7 Steps to Creating an Accessible PowerPoint Slideshow post was originally written for college professors; the post includes suggestions for incorporating PowerPoint accessibility into the high school student's transition plan.