Step 1. Slide Layout

Use preset slice layouts. Don’t add text boxes (which are not always read in the correct order with a screen reader). Go to the home tab and select New Slide. Add the most appropriate slide layout to match your content.

If the preformatted slide layouts don’t work you can modify a slide layout.

  1. Click on the View tab and in the Master Layout group, click on Slide Master
  2. Click on the layout you want to adjust
  3. In the Master Layout group, click on Insert Placeholder
  4. Choose the type of content placeholder you need
  5. Choose a location on the slide to place the new Placeholder
  6. In the Edit Master Group, Rename the layout so you can reuse it
  7. In the Slide Master tab, click on Close Master View

Now when you go to the Home tab and select New Slide you will see your newly renamed slide format as an option.

Step 2. Color

Text need to have contrast for people who are color-blind or have low vision or other print disabilities. Don’t use color in the document to convey information.

This is dark blue and black and has good contrast. This is light blue and does not have good contrast.

Make sure the theme you have selected has good color contrast.

Step 3. Fonts

Use a San Serif font such as Calibri or Ariel. Make sure font size isn’t too small. If you are projecting the PowerPoint use at least 24 size fonts. Don’t use color, underline, or bold to convey information. Use words such as *Important*.

Don’t use - Times New Roman - Serif Font

Do use - Calibri, Arial - San Serif Font

Step 4. Transitions

Avoid using transition slides. They don’t always interact properly with screen readers.

Step 5. Alternative Text for Images

Alternative text describes the content of the images for screen readers. If images are purely decorative and don’t add information to the content they don’t need an alternative text tag. Right click on an image and select “Edit Alt Text.”

Step 6. Links

Make sure the link describes what it is linking to.

Example of a good link text is: Access a Video on the Week 1 lecture.

A bad link is: Click here to see week 1 lecture video.

Step 7. Slide Titles

Make sure each slide has a title. You can make the title hidden when you verify the slide reading order.

Step 8. Slide Reading Order

Check the slide reading order.

  • Go to the home tab
  • Select Arrange in the Drawing group
  • Click on Selection Pane
  • A new area will appear to the right of your presentation.
  • Start by clicking on your first slide.
  • The Selection Pane will allow you to change the default reading order by sliding an item into a different order. Arrange items on each slide in the order you want a screen reader to read them.
  • You can hide an item on the screen by clicking on the eye icon. It will still be read by the screen reader to help navigate the presentation.
  • Check each slide for reading order.

Step 9. Lists

Use lists to order content. Lists can be unordered using bullet points or ordered using numbers. Use the list feature to make sure a screen reader can read the information. The list tool is located in the paragraph area on the home tab.

Step 10. Tables

Tables can be a quick way to show relationships between data. Make sure you add a table description and column and row headers in your document.

This is an example table description and table.

Favorite Colors of Different People
Person Favorite Color


Jessica Orange

Step 11. Captioning

Make sure that videos are either captioned or have a text file attached.

Make sure that audio files have a text file attached.

Step 12. Run the Accessibility Checker

The accessibility check can be found in two places. Click on the Review tab and then select the Check Accessibility button. If the button is not visible, go to File tab then Inspect Document, then Check Accessibility.

Step 13. Convert to PDF

You will still have to verify that the final PDF is accessible. To increase the accessibility of a PDF document, make sure the PowerPoint is as accessible as possible. When you save the PowerPoint to PDF, most of the accessibility can be retained.

  1. Go to the File tab in PowerPoint and select Save As.
  2. Select PDF as the file type and select More Options right below the file type.
  3. A new window will appear with an Options button. Click the button.
  4. Make sure both selections in the Include non-printing information are selected. This will save the accessibility of the PowerPoint slide in the PDF file.
  5. Click OK and then save your new PDF document.