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How to Make Accessible PowerPoint Presentations [Checklist Approach]

Just last week, I had the pleasure of meeting with the VP of Marketing at a renowned healthcare company. As a presentation design agency, we often get inquiries about creating accessible slide decks. The VP was no exception. During our virtual chat, she expressed her concerns about an upcoming investor presentation.

"We want to make sure our slides are accessible to everyone, including those with disabilities," she said. "But I'm not entirely sure what that entails or how to go about it."

Her questions were valid and something many professionals grapple with. As we delved deeper into the conversation, I realized that a comprehensive checklist could be immensely helpful. So, we consolidated the inquiries and crafted this blog as a guide to making accessible PowerPoint presentations.

The Presentation Accessibility Checklist: A Step-by-Step Approach

1. Use Consistent and Legible Fonts

Choosing the right font is crucial for accessibility. Opt for sans-serif fonts like Arial, Calibri, or Verdana, as they are easier to read on screens. Avoid decorative or overly stylized fonts, as they can be challenging for people with visual impairments or cognitive disabilities.

2. Mind the Font Size

While there's no one-size-fits-all rule, a font size of 24 points or larger is generally recommended for body text. For headings and titles, go even bigger (e.g., 30-40 points). This ensures that the content is easily readable, even from a distance or for those with visual impairments.

3. Embrace High-Contrast Color Combinations

Contrast is key for people with vision problems or color blindness. Use a high-contrast color combination for text and background, such as black text on a white background or vice versa. Avoid low-contrast color schemes, as they can make text difficult to read.

4. Include Alternative Text (Alt Text) for Images and Objects

People who are blind or have low vision rely on screen readers to access visual content. By providing descriptive alternative text (alt text) for images, charts, and other objects, you ensure that this audience can understand the visual elements on your slides.

5. Use Built-in Slide Layouts and Styles

PowerPoint offers built-in slide layouts and styles that are designed to be accessible. Utilizing these features ensures that your content follows a logical structure, making it easier for screen readers and other assistive technologies to navigate and comprehend.

6. Check Reading Order and Tab Order

When using screen readers or keyboard navigation, the order in which elements are presented can impact comprehension. Review the reading order and tab order of your slides to ensure that content is presented logically and coherently.

7. Provide Transcripts or Closed Captions for Audio/Video

If your presentation includes audio or video content, make sure to provide transcripts or closed captions. This accommodation allows individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to access the auditory information effectively.

8. Use Simple and Clear Language

Avoid jargon, complex sentence structures, or overly technical terminology unless absolutely necessary. Keep your language simple, clear, and concise. This approach benefits not only those with cognitive disabilities but also ensures that your message is easily understood by a broader audience.

9. Offer Printable Handouts or Notes

While digital presentations are convenient, some individuals may prefer or require printed materials. Provide printable handouts or notes that mirror the content of your slides, ensuring that the information is accessible in multiple formats.

10. Test Your Presentation for Accessibility

Before finalizing your presentation, test it for accessibility. Use screen readers, keyboard navigation, and other assistive technologies to identify and resolve any potential issues. Additionally, consider inviting individuals with various disabilities to review your presentation and provide feedback.

By following this checklist, you'll not only create more inclusive and accessible presentations but also demonstrate your commitment to diversity and inclusion.


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