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One of the most effective ways to make PowerPoints accessible is to use the default layouts to create new slides. This ensures the content is in the correct reading order and has proper titles. Do not create new text boxes on slides.
If you'd like a different layout for an existing slide, do not create a new text box. Instead, change the layout:
If you must add additional content to a slide, you will need to check the reading order of the objects.
Missing slide titles are one of the biggest accessibility barriers with PowerPoint presentations.
All images must have an ALT tag. In addition, images that convey meaningful information must have alternative text that describes them. Alternative text may be added in a caption, within the slide text, or in the image's ALT tag.
To add alternative text to the ALT tag of an image:
Decorative images are those used for visual effect only (eye candy). Decorative images and images described elsewhere (for instance, in a caption or in the content of the slide) should have an empty ALT tag. PowerPoint will sometimes incorrectly fill in the image's ALT tag with the image's file name, so you will need to check this. Follow the instructions above. However, instead of adding alternative text to the Description field, add a single empty space.
For more on which images need alternative text and how to write effective ALT text, see "Images: Alt Text."
We recommend always creating charts in PowerPoint to take advantage of an important accessibility feature. Like images, most charts are not accessible to screen readers; however, charts built within PowerPoint have corresponding data tables that are accessible and can be added to the slide.
To create a new chart in PowerPoint:
Because charts are images, you must an ALT text to it. For charts that have a corresponding data table, add an empty ALT tag by following the instructions in #3 above. If you haven't supplied alternative text elsewhere on the slide, add alternative text describing the chart to the ALT tag, as explained in #3 above.
To add a new data table to a slide, always use Insert Table. Don't use Draw Table and don't use tables for layout.
At ASU, all videos must be captioned. Unfortunately, only QuickTime and Flash can embed captions for video in PowerPoint. For other video file types, you will need to embed the captions directly into the video, which is often not possible.
To make videos accessible in PowerPoint, post a link to a version of the video with captions (for instance, to a copy of the video on YouTube). For short videos, you can add a brief transcript in the speaker Notes pane.
For animations and videos that visually demonstrate instructions or information without vocally describing what is being demonstrated, the action should be described in the speaker Notes pane so it is available to people with low or no vision.
PowerPoint has a built-in Accessibility Checker that is very useful for finding accessibility problems with PowerPoint slides. We highly recommend running the checker over your slides before publishing them. If issues are found, step-by-step instructions are provided for fixing them.
To run PowerPoint's built-in accessibility checker:
Because PowerPoint presentations embedded in a webpage often have accessibility issues, it's best to also make a copy available for download. Screen reader users can download and read the file locally using their own PowerPoint software.
Because not everyone has PowerPoint, you may want to also distribute the slides as a PDF file. To convert a PowerPoint file to an accessible PDF file, you must use the Adobe PDFmaker. Do not use "Print to PDF" or "Save As" PDF. Please see the instructions in steps 1-2 of "PDFs."
Finally, do not use Save As HTML because it generates non-standard markup that is not accessible.