Creating a more inclusive PowerPoint presentation
Creating a well-structured, inclusive PowerPoint presentation assists everybody. By utilising some of the easy to apply tools available in PowerPoint you will not only assist your audience in accessing and interpreting your content, you are effectively future proofing your document, making it easier to update and transform your content into different formats that can be read and interpreted on a wide range of devices.
PowerPoint presentations should not be used to convey complex/detailed information. An alternative should be considered that best represents the readability, usability and navigability of the content for the user that considers the widest possible audience.
Below is a quick list of inclusive considerations that need to be considered when developing your presentation.
While the lists are not an exhaustive list of inclusive considerations, it does cover the major barriers that can be introduced by content creators and provides information to improve standards and good practice.
What makes a PowerPoint document more inclusive?
The following steps will make your PowerPoint document more accessible.
Alternative (Alt) text
Use Alt text to describe images and graphics. This means content can be conveyed without the image and the description is retained if converting the document to HTML.
Arial (minimum 20-24 point)
Use Arial or an appropriate sans-serif* font. Sans fonts are easily readable on screen and in print, are common to most computer systems, and generally do not need to be embedded or installed by the user.
* Serif and sans-serif fonts are the most common fonts available. Serif fonts have strokes on the tips of letters and can also have thick and thin strokes. Times New Roman and Georgia are examples of serif fonts. Sans-serif fonts however are plain fonts with block strokes. Arial, Tahoma and Verdana are examples of sans fonts. For further information visit the WebAIM site (https://webaim.org/techniques/fonts/) on fonts.
Ensure there is enough white space within a document (i.e. do not cram content on to one slide). This assists visually when navigating a document, improves readability, and creates visual groupings of content that appear more organised and less cluttered.
High Contrast and Colour Selection
Use high contrast between the text colour and the background colour (i.e. white on black). This assists visually for users when navigating a slide and improves readability.
Use the default slide layouts within PowerPoint. This means content can be read by assistive technologies and automatically creates correctly sized and aligned page holders for content. For further information slide laytouts visit the WebAIM site (https://webaim.org/techniques/powerpoint/) on slide layouts.
Consistent font size
Ensure consistent font sizes are used on all slides. This improves the readability of the content, and appears professional and organised.
Use the built-in accessibility checker
PowerPoint has a built in accessibility checker that is a good way to check is there are potential issues with your presentation. From the file main menu select File > Info then select Check for Issues and select Check Accessibility.
What makes a PowerPoint document less inclusive?
Avoid the following:
Avoid using text boxes (or floating text). This means content can only be read visually, sits separately to the rest of the document, and is not easily identified when using assistive technologies. When adding text boxes the navigation order is also affected meaning your content may not be navigated by screen readers in the order you intended.
Colour to convey meaning
Do not use colour by itself to convey meaning and information. It loses meaning when printed in black & white, relies on the ability of the user to see colour, and is difficult to communicate non-visually.
Avoid the use of decorative, cursive or non-standard fonts. This text is difficult to read, may be confusing and look unorganised, and may need to be installed by a user.
Do not use justified text. This places uneven spacing between words and decreases readability.
Avoid cluttering slides with content. This can affect the readability of the content, does not allow for enough white space, and appears unorganised.
Animations and effects
Avoid using animations and effects. This can only be seen visually, can affect users with print and learning difficulties, and does not convert to HTML.
Document File type
Avoid saving documents in the .pptx format. These file types can only be opened by users with Office 2007 or 2010 or by users that have installed the Microsoft Office file converter. It is preferable to save your documents as .ppt files to ensure they can be accessed by more users.