PowerPoint Presentation Accessibility Guidelines
No matter what you are using slides for, whether it’s at an AGM or to showcase motions at a Class Rep meeting – it's pivitol to think about accessibility from the start. While designing presentations there’s a lot of simple changes and checks you can make in order to make the content accessible to all students.
CAST, is an American company who promote accessible teaching and learning. They have developed an acronym, SLIDE, designed as a checklist for accessibility considerations on PowerPoint. The SLIDE acronym stands for: Styles, Links, Images (and Alt. Text), Design and Evaluate.
For more on CAST and their mission to bust the barriers to learning that millions of people experience every day, please follow this link to the CAST website.
Include a Table of Contents at the beginning of your slide deck. This is helpful for people to be able to know what to expect from your presentation and, when revising, to be able to navigate to the most important parts for themselves. People with anxiety, ADHD, dyslexia, dyspraxia are some of those who benefit most from having a Table of Contents at the beginning of presentations.
It is important in presentations to follow an orderly sequence, follow the same order in your slides as you have indicated in your table of contents. It is helpful to use bullet points or numbered lists as appropriate. Try to minimise the amount of text on your slides, ideally stick to less than 8 lines of text per slide.
Avoid jargon. If it is necessary to use acronyms or abbreviations explain all used at first occurrence. Consider, if you have many specialist words including a glossary, or sending a glossary of essential terms out before your presentation.
At the end of all of your presentations you should detail how someone can contact you. When possible, include your official email along with the name of the person who answers or responds to that email. If you have one, also include contact details for the Accessibility Contact (AC) or Equality Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Officer (or your organisation’s equivalent). Some people with accessibility concerns may not be comfortable asking for further information or reasonable accommodations from a general email as they do not know who will see it. Having a trusted, dedicated person to ensure the equality and diversity of the organisation is fostered in how it is run makes more people, especially marginalised people, likely to engage.
Every Slide in your deck should have a meaningful title. Slide Titles should be a minimum of size 36. The rest of the text should be a minimum font size of 24.
All Headings should be placed in clear levels. The main headings getting the largest font, the next level getting smaller font and so on. Headings that are the same level should have the same style. IE if you use Verdana, navy, size 36 text for your main heading on slide 2, when you get to your next point, on slide 5, say, you should use Verdana, navy, size 36 text (identical text format) for the main heading of that slide too.
Links should always be descriptive. Avoid generic link text such as: “click here” or “learn more” in favour of something more specific like: “Click here to read our more detailed FAQs”. Links need to describe the action that will take place when followed.
Naked URLs should be avoided as they are hard for screen readers to read. An example of a naked URL is: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZEqdumsqT0uHtyswaMUcpwl_iq_9O3bOoSxe1
If you're not sure how to add a link to text, you first write the text you want to hyperlink for example “Click here to read our more detailed FAQs”. Then you will highlight the text and right click, select link and add your URL to the box that appears then click OK.
Images should be displayed large, taking up at least half the area of the slide.
Give Context for Images
Below the images in your document, you should give a title to the image. The image title or label tells the reader the key information of the image, for example if it is a photo of a painting, you might put the painting title and painter beneath the photo. If it is a graph, you would put the function or the data being recorded.
Alt text ensures people using screen readers, such as blind people, will be able to access the visual information in your document without having to view the image. Alt text is also helpful for people with autism to provide extra context, for people with English as a foreign language and people with learning difficulties can also benefit from them. To add alternative text in PowerPoint, click on your picture then click picture format on the top right bar of options and you should see a box labelled alt text. I have included a short guide to writing alt text below. For more detailed advice on alt text please see: “How to Write Helpful Alt. Text”
Images that set the context of the document or otherwise are there to add information to the document, must be given alt. Text. Start your alt text by describing the type of image it is, (ie, photo, poster, illustrated picture, painting . . .), then describe what the purpose of the image is. An Example of this might include: “photo of a recreated cránnog. The cránnog is a conical, wooden hut on a small, artificially created, island. You can see the hut is basic, it has an opening, thatched walls and is accessed by crossing a simple, wooden walkway.”
Informative or Technical Images (Tables, Diagrams, Graphs and Charts)
Informative images, such as graphs, tables and charts, should always include a brief synopsis of the point they are illustrating in alternative text. Consider the image’s purpose and context, write a concise description starting with the general idea before focusing on key details and relevant relationships.
Decorative images should be marked up to allow screen readers to skip them. A decorative image is anything you've added that doesn't communicate information and is purely there to add visual interest.
High Colour Contrast
All of your posters should be legible and clear, as well as having alternative text. Your presentation should use accessible colours – with contrast ratio of 7 or more. This can be checked for free by online colour contrast checkers such as: Coolors Contrast Checker, WebAIM Colour Contrast Checker or Colour and font Contrast Checker) and text of minimum size 12.
Text Formatting and Layout
The text should be a minimum font size of 22 so that people with visual impairments can read the slides.
Use easily legible fonts throughout your document. Choose a font such as Calibri or Verdana. These fonts are sans-serif, which means they lack the embellishments on letters that you would find on Times New Roman for example. (If using stylistic fonts, make them larger and remember that function is more vital than artistic flare.)
Avoid italics and underlining – use bold for emphasis. Reading italic or underlined text is more difficult for people with visual impairments, dyslexia and other learning differences.
Avoid all capital letters, SUCH AS THIS, it can be challenging to read. Use bold for emphasis.
Left align the content – do not use justification.
Go to “review” to detect any accessibility issues in your slides you may have missed.