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How do I make my PowerPoint Accessible?

section 508 powerpoint presentation

Section 508 compliance is essential to ensure that PowerPoint presentations are accessible to individuals with disabilities. By adhering to Section 508 standards, you make your PowerPoint files more inclusive and user-friendly for all audiences. Here are some critical elements to consider when creating a Section 508-compliant PowerPoint presentation:

Overview of PowerPoint Accessibility

Using a theme ensures that your presentation has a consistent visual design, which is crucial for accessibility. By using a built-in theme, you can automatically apply accessible colors, fonts, and layouts to your slides. This uniformity makes it easier for visually impaired users to navigate and comprehend the content.

In addition to using a theme, it’s crucial to ensure that all text content is viewable in the outline view . By doing so, screen readers can easily access and interpret the text. To achieve this, avoid adding text boxes and instead use the default placeholders provided in the slide layouts. This will make your content more accessible to individuals who rely on assistive technologies .

Images must contain alternate text or be marked as decorative to ensure screen reader users understand their purpose. Providing descriptive alternate text allows visually impaired users to comprehend the image’s content and context. If an image is purely decorative and doesn’t convey any essential information, mark it as such to prevent screen readers from announcing it.

Each slide should have a unique title , which provides a clear and concise overview of the slide’s content. Unique titles help users navigate the presentation more effectively and allow screen readers to announce slide titles when transitioning between slides.

When creating lists, ensure that list elements are properly identified in the structure. This will enable screen readers to recognize and announce list items correctly, making the content more accessible to users with disabilities.

Hyperlinks must be properly formatted, with descriptive anchor text that accurately reflects the linked content. This helps users understand the purpose of the hyperlink without having to rely on the URL itself.

Tables should use table headings and avoid merged cells to ensure the content is accessible to screen reader users. Properly formatted tables with headings allow users to understand the relationship between data points, making the information more comprehensible.

Finally, it’s important to set the reading order for each slide so that screen readers announce the content in a logical sequence. This helps users follow the flow of information and better understand the presentation.

For bar charts and pie graphs , ensure that they are accessible within PowerPoint by providing descriptive text or captions explaining the data. Additionally, consider using patterns or textures in conjunction with colors to differentiate chart segments, making them more accessible to individuals with color vision deficiencies.

When using multimedia elements such as audio or video, it is essential to provide captions or transcripts for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing. This ensures that they can access and understand the content presented in your PowerPoint presentation. For videos, consider embedding captions directly into the video file or providing a separate caption file that can be accessed by users.

Another critical aspect of Section 508 compliance is ensuring that your PowerPoint presentation is keyboard accessible. Users with mobility impairments may rely on keyboard navigation rather than a mouse. To accommodate these users, make sure that all interactive elements, such as hyperlinks and embedded objects, can be accessed and activated using keyboard shortcuts.

Color contrast is another crucial factor in creating accessible PowerPoint presentations. Ensure that your text and background colors have sufficient contrast to make the content easily readable for users with low vision or color vision deficiencies. You can use online color contrast tools to check the contrast ratio and make adjustments as needed.

Animations and transitions should be used judiciously, as excessive use of these elements can be distracting and potentially trigger seizures in individuals with photosensitive epilepsy. If animations and transitions are necessary, opt for simple, non-distracting options and avoid rapid flashing or strobing effects.

It’s also crucial to test your PowerPoint presentation using various assistive technologies, such as screen readers and magnification tools. By doing so, you can identify and address any potential accessibility issues and ensure that your presentation is fully compliant with Section 508 standards.

In summary, creating a Section 508-compliant PowerPoint presentation requires careful consideration of various accessibility factors, such as using themes, ensuring proper content structure, providing alternate text for images, and creating accessible charts and graphs. Additionally, accommodating users with disabilities by providing captions or transcripts for multimedia content, ensuring keyboard accessibility, and using appropriate color contrast are essential steps in creating an inclusive and accessible presentation. By adhering to these guidelines and testing your presentation with assistive technologies, you can create PowerPoint files that are accessible to a diverse audience, in compliance with Section 508 standards.

Order 508 documents

Summary: What exactly is required for PowerPoint Accessibility?

This guide will follow Section 508 accessibility guidelines for document accessibility. In order for a PowerPoint file to be 508 accessible, it must contain the following elements:

  • Use a theme
  • Ensure all text content is viewable in outline view (avoid added textboxes)
  • Images contain alternate text or are marked decorative
  • Slides have unique titles
  • List elements are properly identified in the structure
  • Hyperlinks are properly formatted
  • Tables use table headings and avoid merged cells
  • The reading order is set
  • Bar charts and Pie graph accessibility within PowerPoint

Bonus material

  • Content passes the accessibility checker (Links to YouTube)
  • Practice making a PowerPoint file Accessible

How to hide a slide title in PowerPoint

  • How to show / hide footer information in PowerPoint
  • Additional Step by Step Guide for PowerPoint Accessibility

section 508 powerpoint presentation

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section 508 powerpoint presentation

Make your PowerPoint presentations accessible to people with disabilities

This topic gives you step-by-step instructions and best practices for making your PowerPoint presentations accessible and unlock your content to everyone, including people with disabilities.

PowerPoint has many features built-in that help people with different abilities to read and author presentations. In this topic, you learn, for example, how to work with the Accessibility Checker to tackle accessibility issues while you're creating your presentation. You'll also learn how to add alt texts to images so that people using screen readers are able to listen to what the image is all about. You can also read about how to use slide design, fonts, colors, and styles to maximize the inclusiveness of your slides before you share or present them to your audience.

In this topic

Best practices for making powerpoint presentations accessible.

Check accessibility while you work

Create accessible slides

Avoid using tables

Add alt text to visuals

Create accessible hyperlink text and add screentips, use accessible font format and color, use captions, subtitles, and alternative audio tracks in videos, save your presentation in a different format, test accessibility with a screen reader.

The following table includes key best practices for creating PowerPoint presentations that are accessible to people with disabilities.

Top of Page  

The Accessibility Checker is a tool that reviews your content and flags accessibility issues it comes across. It explains why each issue might be a potential problem for someone with a disability. The Accessibility Checker also suggests how you can resolve the issues that appear.

In PowerPoint, the Accessibility Checker runs automatically in the background when you're creating a presentation. If the Accessibility Checker detects accessibility issues, you will get a reminder in the status bar.

To manually launch the Accessibility Checker, select  Review  >  Check Accessibility . The  Accessibility  pane opens, and you can now review and fix accessibility issues. For more info, go to  Improve accessibility with the Accessibility Checker .

Top of Page

The following procedures describe how to make the slides in your PowerPoint presentations accessible. For more info, go to Video: Create slides with an accessible reading order and Video: Design slides for people with dyslexia .

Use an accessible presentation template

Use one of the accessible PowerPoint templates to make sure that your slide design, colors, contrast, and fonts are accessible for all audiences. They are also designed so that screen readers can more easily read the slide content.

To find an accessible template, select File > New .

In the Search for Online templates and themes text field, type accessible templates and press Enter.

In the search results, select a suitable template.

In the template preview, select Create .

Give every slide a title

One simple step towards inclusivity is having a unique, descriptive title on each slide, even if it isn't visible. A person with a visual disability that uses a screen reader relies on the slide titles to know which slide is which.

Use the Accessibility ribbon to make sure every slide has a title. For instructions, go to  Title a slide  and expand the "Use the Accessibility ribbon to title a slide" section.

Hide a slide title

You can position a title off the slide. That way, the slide has a title for accessibility, but you save space on the slide for other content. For instructions, go to  Title a slide  and expand the "Put a title on a slide, but make the title invisible" section.

If you want all or many of your slide titles to be hidden, you can modify the slide master. For instructions, go to  Title a slide  and expand the "Systematically hide slide titles" section.

Restore a slide design

If you've moved or edited a placeholder on a slide, you can reset the slide to its original design. All formatting (for example, fonts, colors, effects) go back to what has been assigned in the template. Restoring the design might also help you find title placeholders which need a unique title.

To restore all placeholders for the selected slide, on the Home tab, in the Slides group, select Reset .

Set the reading order of slide contents

Some people with visual disabilities use a screen reader to read the information on the slide. When you create slides, putting the objects in a logical reading order is crucial for screen reader users to understand the slide. 

Use the Accessibility Checker and the Reading Order pane to set the order in which the screen readers read the slide contents. When the screen reader reads the slide, it reads the objects in the order they are listed in the Reading Order pane. 

For the step-by-step instructions how to set the reading order, go to  Make slides easier to read by using the Reading Order pane .

Use built-in slide designs for inclusive reading order, colors, and more

PowerPoint has built-in, predesigned slide designs that contain placeholders for text, videos, pictures, and more. They also contain all the formatting, such as theme colors, fonts, and effects. To make sure that your slides are accessible, the built-in layouts are designed so that the reading order is the same for people who use assistive technologies such as screen readers and people who see. For more info, go to Video: Use accessible colors and styles in slides .

On the View tab, select  Normal .

On the Design tab, do one or both of the following:

Expand the Themes gallery and select the slide layout that you want. PowerPoint automatically applies this layout to the presentation.

Select Design Ideas  and select one of the predesigned designs.

In general, avoid tables if possible and present the data another way, like paragraphs with headings. Tables with fixed width might prove difficult to read for people who use Magnifier, because such tables force the content to a specific size. This makes the font very small, which forces Magnifier users to scroll horizontally, especially on mobile devices.

If you have to use tables, use the following guidelines to make sure your table is as accessible as possible:

Avoid fixed width tables.

Make sure the tables render properly on all devices, including phones and tablets.

If you have hyperlinks in your table, edit the link texts, so they make sense and don't break mid-sentence.

Make sure the slide content is easily read with Magnifier. View it on a mobile device to make sure people won’t need to horizontally scroll the slide on a phone, for example.

Use table headers.

Test accessibility with Immersive Reader.

Use table headers

Screen readers keep track of their location in a table by counting table cells. If a table is nested within another table or if a cell is merged or split, the screen reader loses count and can’t provide helpful information about the table after that point. Blank cells in a table could also mislead someone using a screen reader into thinking that there is nothing more in the table. Use a simple table structure for data only and specify column header information. Screen readers also use header information to identify rows and columns.

To ensure that tables don't contain split cells, merged cells, or nested tables, use the  Accessibility Checker .

Place the cursor anywhere in a table.

On the  Table Design  tab, in the  Table Styles Options group, select the  Header Row  checkbox.

Type your column headings.

Alt text helps people who use screen readers to understand what’s important in the visuals in your slides. Visual content includes pictures, SmartArt graphics, shapes, groups, charts, embedded objects, ink, and videos.

In alt text, briefly describe the image, its intent, and what is important about the image. Screen readers read the description to users who can’t see the content.

Tip:  To write a good alt text, make sure to convey the content and the purpose of the image in a concise and unambiguous manner. The alt text shouldn’t be longer than a short sentence or two—most of the time a few thoughtfully selected words will do. Do not repeat the surrounding textual content as alt text or use phrases referring to images, such as, "a graphic of" or "an image of." For more info on how to write alt text, go to  Everything you need to know to write effective alt text .

Avoid using text in images as the sole method of conveying important information. If you use images with text in them, repeat the text in the slide. In alt text of such images, mention the existence of the text and its intent. 

PowerPoint for PC in Microsoft 365 automatically generates alt texts for photos, stock images, and the PowerPoint icons by using intelligent services in the cloud. Always check the autogenerated alt texts to make sure they convey the right message. If necessary, edit the text. For charts, SmartArt, screenshots, or shapes, you need to add the alt texts manually.

For the step-by-step instructions on how to add or edit alt text, go to  Add alternative text to a shape, picture, chart, SmartArt graphic, or other object  and Video: Improve image accessibility in PowerPoint .

In the Alt Text pane, spelling errors are marked with a red squiggly line under the word. To correct the spelling, right-click the word and select from the suggested alternatives.

In the Alt Text pane, you can also select Generate a description for me to have Microsoft cloud-powered intelligent services create a description for you. You see the result in the alt text field. Remember to delete any comments PowerPoint added there, for example, "Description automatically generated."

To find missing alternative text, use the Accessibility Checker.

Note:  For audio and video content, in addition to alt text, include closed captioning for people who are deaf or have limited hearing.

People who use screen readers sometimes scan a list of links. Links should convey clear and accurate information about the destination. For example, avoid using link texts such as "Click here," "See this page," "Go here," or "Learn more." Instead include the full title of the destination page. You can also add ScreenTips that appear when your cursor hovers over text or images that include a hyperlink.

Tip:   If the title on the hyperlink's destination page gives an accurate summary of what’s on the page, use it for the hyperlink text. For example, this hyperlink text matches the title on the destination page:  Create more with Microsoft templates .

For the step-by-step instructions on how to create hyperlinks and ScreenTips, go to Add a hyperlink to a slide .

An accessible font doesn't exclude or slow down the reading speed of anyone reading a slide, including people with low vision or reading disability or people who are blind. The right font improves the legibility and readability of the text in the presentation.

For the step-by-step instructions on how to change fonts in PowerPoint go to Change the fonts in a presentation or  Change the default font in PowerPoint .

Use accessible font format

To reduce the reading load, select familiar sans serif fonts such as Arial or Calibri. Avoid using all capital letters and excessive italics or underlines.

A person with a vision disability might miss out on the meaning conveyed by particular colors. For example, add an underline to color-coded hyperlink text so that people who are colorblind know that the text is linked even if they can’t see the color. For headings, consider adding bold or using a larger font.

Use accessible font color

Here are some ideas to consider:

The text in your presentation should be readable in a high contrast mode. For example, use bright colors or high-contrast color schemes on opposite ends of the color spectrum. White and black schemes make it easier for people who are colorblind to distinguish text and shapes.

Use the predesigned Office Themes to make sure that your slide design is accessible. For instructions, go to  Use an accessible presentation template  or  Use built-in slide designs for inclusive reading order, colors, and more .

Use the Accessibility Checker to analyze the presentation and find insufficient color contrast. It finds insufficient color contrast in text with or without highlights or hyperlinks in shapes, tables, or SmartArt with solid opaque colors. It does not find insufficient color contrast in other cases such as text in a transparent text box or placeholder on top of the slide background, or color contrast issues in non-textual content.

PowerPoint supports the playback of video with multiple audio tracks. It also supports closed captions and subtitles that are embedded in video files.

Currently, only PowerPoint for Windows supports insertion and playback of closed captions or subtitles that are stored in files separate from the video. For all other editions of PowerPoint (such as PowerPoint for macOS or the mobile editions), closed captions or subtitles must be encoded into the video before they are inserted into PowerPoint.

Supported video formats for captions and subtitles vary depending on the operating system that you're using. Each operating system has settings to adjust how the closed captions or subtitles are displayed. For more information, go to Closed Caption file types supported by PowerPoint .

Closed captions, subtitles, and alternative audio tracks are not preserved when you use the Compress Media or Optimize Media Compatibility features. Also, when turning your presentation into a video , closed captions, subtitles, or alternative audio tracks in the embedded videos are not included in the video that is saved.

When you use the Save Media as command on a selected video, closed captions, subtitles, and multiple audio tracks embedded in the video are preserved in the video file that is saved.

To make your PowerPoint presentations with videos accessible, ensure the following:

Videos include an audio track with video descriptions, if needed, for users who are blind or have low vision.

Videos that include dialogue also include closed captions, in-band closed captions, open captions, or subtitles in a supported format for users that are deaf or hard-of-hearing.

For more information, refer to  Add closed captions or subtitles to media in PowerPoint . 

You can save your presentation in a format that can be easily read by a screen reader or be ported to a Braille reader. For instructions, go to  Video: Save a presentation in a different format or  Create accessible PDFs . Before converting a presentation into another format, make sure you run the Accessibility Checker and fix all reported issues.

When your presentation is ready and you've run the Accessibility Checker to make sure it is inclusive, you can try navigating the slides using a screen reader, for example, Narrator. Narrator comes with Windows, so there's no need to install anything. This is one additional way to spot issues in the navigation order, for example.

Start the screen reader. For example, to start Narrator, press Ctrl+Windows logo key+Enter.

Press F6 until the focus, the blue rectangle, is on the slide content area.

Press the Tab key to navigate the elements within the slide and fix the navigation order if needed. To move the focus away from the slide content, press Esc or F6.

Exit the screen reader. For example, to exit Narrator, press Ctrl+Windows logo key+Enter.

Rules for the Accessibility Checker

Everything you need to know to write effective alt text

Use a screen reader to attend a PowerPoint Live session in Microsoft Teams  

Make your Word documents accessible to people with disabilities

Make your Excel documents accessible to people with disabilities

Make your Outlook email accessible to people with disabilities

Closed Caption file types supported by PowerPoint

Use built-in slide designs for inclusive reading order, colors, and more

Use accessible hyperlink texts and screentips.

Use accessible text alignment and spacing

Create accessible lists

Test the accessibility of your slides with a screen reader.

The Accessibility Checker is a tool that reviews your content and flags accessibility issues it comes across. It explains why each issue might be a potential problem for someone with a disability. The Accessibility Checker also suggests how you can resolve the issues that appear.

PowerPoint has built-in slide designs that contain placeholders for text, videos, pictures, and more. They also contain all the formatting, such as theme colors, fonts, and effects. To make sure that your slides are accessible, the built-in layouts are designed so that the reading order is the same for people who see and people who use technology such as screen readers.

Tip:  For more info on what to consider when you're creating slides for people with dyslexia, go to  Design slides for people with dyslexia .

The themes gallery for selecting an accessible layout in PowerPoint for Mac.

To find an accessible template, select File > New from Template .

In the Search  text field, type accessible templates , and then press Return.

Off-white backgrounds are better for people with perceptual disabilities, like dyslexia.

Select templates and themes with sans serif fonts that are 18 points or larger.

Look for solid backgrounds with contrasting text color.

Use the  Accessibility  ribbon to make sure every slide has a title. For the step-by-step instructions, go to  Title a slide  and expand the "Use the Accessibility ribbon to title a slide" section.

Tip:  If you've moved or edited a placeholder on a slide, you can reset the slide to its original design. All formatting (for example, fonts, colors, effects) go back to what has been assigned in the template. Restoring the original design might also help you find title placeholders which need a unique title. To restore all placeholders for the selected slide, on the Home tab, select Reset .

You can position a title off the slide. That way, the slide has a title for accessibility, but you save space on the slide for other content. For the step-by-step instructions, go to  Title a slide  and expand the "Put a title on a slide, but make the title invisible" section.

If you want all or many of your slide titles to be hidden, you can modify the slide master. For the step-by-step instructions, go to  Title a slide  and expand the "Systematically hide slide titles" section.

When someone who can see reads a slide, they usually read things, such as text or a picture, in the order the elements appear on the slide. In contrast, a screen reader reads the elements on a slide in the order they were added to the slide, which might be very different from the order in which things appear.

Use the Selection Pane to set the order in which screen readers read the slide contents. Screen readers read the objects in the reverse of the order they are listed in the Selection Pane .

To find slides with a problematic reading order, use the Accessibility Checker .

On the Home tab, select Arrange .

In the Arrange menu, select Selection Pane .

In the Selection Pane , to change the reading order, drag and drop items to the new location.

Avoid using tables 

In general, avoid tables if possible and present the data another way, like paragraphs with headings. Tables with fixed width might prove difficult to read for people who use magnifying features or apps, because such tables force the content to a specific size. This makes the font very small, which forces magnifier users to scroll horizontally, especially on mobile devices.

Make sure the slide content is easily read with magnifying features, such as Zoom . View it on a mobile device to make sure people won’t need to horizontally scroll the slide on a phone, for example.

Use table headers .

Test the accessibility of your slides with a screen reader .

If you do need to use tables, add headers to your table to help screen readers keep track of the columns and rows. If a table is nested within another table or if a cell is merged or split, the screen reader loses count and can’t provide helpful information about the table after that point. Blank cells in a table could also mislead someone using a screen reader into thinking that there is nothing more in the table. Screen readers also use header information to identify rows and columns. 

Header Row checkbox selected on the Table Design tab in PowerPoint for Mac.

Type the column headers.

Avoid using text in images as the sole method of conveying important information. If you use images with text in them, repeat the text in the slide. In alt text of such images, mention the existence of the text and its intent.

For the step-by-step instructions on how to add or edit alt text, go to  Add alternative text to a shape, picture, chart, SmartArt graphic, or other object .

For audio and video content, in addition to alt text, include closed captioning for people who are deaf or have limited hearing.

In the  Alt Text  pane, spelling errors are marked with a red squiggly line under the word. To correct the spelling, select and right-click the word, and then select an option from the suggested alternatives.

In the  Alt Text  pane, you can also select  Generate a description for me  to have Microsoft cloud-powered intelligent services create a description for you. You'll see the result in the alt text field. Remember to delete any comments PowerPoint added there, for example, "Description automatically generated."

To find missing alternative text, use the  Accessibility Checker .

People who use screen readers sometimes scan a list of links. Links should convey clear and accurate information about the destination. For example, avoid using link texts such as "Click here," "See this page," "Go here," or "Learn more." Instead include the full title of the destination page. You can also add ScreenTips that appear when your cursor hovers over text or images that include a hyperlink. 

Tip:  If the title on the hyperlink's destination page gives an accurate summary of what’s on the page, use it for the hyperlink text. For example, this hyperlink text matches the title on the destination page: Create more with Microsoft templates .

For the step-by-step instructions on how to create hyperlinks, go to  Add a hyperlink to a slide . 

Use accessible font format and color

For the step-by-step instructions on how to change fonts in PowerPoint, go to  Change the fonts in a presentation . 

Use the predesigned themes to make sure that your slide design is accessible. For instructions, go to  Use an accessible presentation template  or  Use built-in slide designs for inclusive reading order, colors, and more .

Use the Accessibility Checker to analyze the presentation and find insufficient color contrast. It finds insufficient color contrast in text with or without highlights or hyperlinks in shapes, tables, or SmartArt with solid opaque colors. It does not find insufficient color contrast in other cases such as text in a transparent text box or placeholder on top of the slide background, or color contrast issues in non-textual content.

Use accessible text alignment and spacing 

People with dyslexia perceive text in a way that can make it difficult to distinguish letters and words. For example, they might perceive a line of text compressing into the line below, or adjacent letters seeming to merge. Also, having multiple blank lines or consecutive spaces can make keyboard navigation slow and screen reader usage more cumbersome.

Align your paragraph to the left to avoid uneven gaps between words, and increase or decrease the white space between lines to improve readability. Include sufficient white space between lines and paragraphs but avoid more than two spaces between words and two blank lines between paragraphs.

Select the piece of text you want to modify.

The Align Left button on the ribbon in PowerPoint for Mac.

To make it easier for screen readers to read your slides, organize the information into small chunks such as bulleted or numbered lists.

Design lists so that you do not need to add a plain paragraph without a bullet or number to the middle of a list. If your list is broken up by a plain paragraph, some screen readers might announce the number of list items wrong. Also, the user might hear in the middle of the list that they are leaving the list.

Place the cursor where you want to create a list.

The Bullets button on the ribbon in PowerPoint for Mac.

Type the text you want for each bullet or numbered item in the list.

Closed captions or subtitles must be encoded into the video before it is inserted into PowerPoint. PowerPoint does not support closed captions or subtitles that are stored in a separate file from the video file.

Supported video formats for captions and subtitles vary depending on the operating system that you're using. Each operating system has settings to adjust how the closed captions or subtitles are displayed. For more information, go to  Closed Caption file types supported by PowerPoint.

Closed captions, subtitles, and alternative audio tracks are not preserved when you use the Compress Media or Optimize Media Compatibility features. To learn more about optimizing media for compatibility, go to the section "Optimize media in your presentation for compatibility" in  Are you having video or audio playback issues?  Also, when turning your presentation into a video , closed captions, subtitles, or alternative audio tracks in the embedded videos are not included in the video that is saved.

When you use the Save Media as command on a selected video, closed captions, subtitles, and multiple audio tracks embedded in the video are preserved in the video file that is saved. For more info, go to  Save embedded media from a presentation (audio or video) .

Videos include an audio track with video descriptions, if needed, for users that are blind or have low vision.

Videos that include dialogue also include closed captions, in-band closed captions, open captions, or subtitles in a supported format for users that are deaf or hard-of-hearing.

When your presentation is ready and you've run the Accessibility Checker to make sure it is inclusive, you can try navigating the slides using a screen reader, for example, VoiceOver. VoiceOver comes with macOS, so there's no need to install anything. This is one additional way to spot issues in the navigation order, for example.

Start the screen reader. For example, to start VoiceOver, press Command+F5.

Press F6 until the focus, the black rectangle, is on the slide content area.

Exit the screen reader. For example, to exit VoiceOver, press Command+F5.

Best practices for making PowerPoint presentations accessible

Use accessible hyperlink texts

Use accessible text format and color

Test the accessibility of your slides

PowerPoint has built-in, predesigned slide designs that contain placeholders for text, videos, pictures, and more. They also contain all the formatting, such as theme colors, fonts, and effects. To make sure that your slides are accessible, the built-in layouts are designed so that the reading order is the same for people who use assistive technologies such as screen readers and people who see.

section 508 powerpoint presentation

Select  Home > Design .

Select  Themes , and then select the theme you want.

Themes menu in PowerPoint for iOS.

One simple step towards inclusivity is having a unique, descriptive title on each slide, even if it isn't visible. A person with a visual disability that uses a screen reader relies on the slide titles to know which slide is which. With descriptive titles on each slide, everyone can quickly scan through a list of slide titles and go right to the slide they want.

On a slide, select the title placeholder, and then type the title.

Go through each slide in your presentation to make sure they all have titles.

Hide a slide title 

You can position a title off the slide. That way, the slide has a title for accessibility, but you save space on the slide for other content.

On a slide, tap and hold the title element.

Drag the title element outside the slide boundary and then lift your finger off the screen to drop the element off the slide.

An example of a title placeholder placed outside slide border in PowerPoint for iOS.

Test the accessibility of your slides .

Screen readers keep track of their location in a table by counting table cells. If a table is nested within another table or if a cell is merged or split, the screen reader loses count and can’t provide helpful information about the table after that point. Blank cells in a table could also mislead someone using a screen reader into thinking that there is nothing more in the table. Use a simple table structure for data only and specify column header information. Screen readers also use header information to identify rows and columns. 

Select  Style Options and then select Header Row .

In your table, type the column headings.

Table header menu in PowerPoint for iOS.

Select the visual, for example, an image.

Select  Alt Text , and then type a description for the visual.

The Alt Text dialog box in PowerPoint for iOS.

Mark visuals as decorative

If your visuals are purely decorative and add visual interest but aren't informative, you can mark them as such without needing to write any alt text. Examples of objects that should be marked as decorative are stylistic borders. People using screen readers will hear that these objects are decorative, so they know they aren’t missing any important information. 

Select the visual, for example, a picture or chart.

Select Alt Text .

Turn on the Mark as decorative switch, and then select Done .

The Mark as decorative option selected in the Alt Text dialog box in PowerPoint for iOS.

Use accessible hyperlink texts 

People who use screen readers sometimes scan a list of links. Links should convey clear and accurate information about the destination. For example, avoid using link texts such as "Click here," "See this page," "Go here," or "Learn more." Instead include the full title of the destination page.

Tip:  If the title on the hyperlink's destination page gives an accurate summary of what’s on the page, use it for the hyperlink text. For example, this hyperlink text matches the title on the destination page:  Create more with Microsoft templates .

Select the piece of text you want to turn into a hyperlink. The context menu opens.

In the context menu, select Link . The Insert Hyperlink dialog box opens.

Type or paste the hyperlink URL to the ADDRESS text field.

If you want to change the hyperlink text, modify the text in the DISPLAY text field.

Use accessible text format and color

An accessible font doesn't exclude or slow down the reading speed of anyone reading a slide, including people with low vision or reading disability or people who are blind. The right font improves the legibility and readability of the text in the presentation. 

Use accessible text format 

Select the piece of text you want to format.

On the Home tab, select the current font type to open the font menu, and then select the font type you want or adjust the font size to your liking.

Use accessible text color

Use the predesigned Themes  to make sure that your slide design is accessible. For instructions, go to  Use built-in slide designs for inclusive reading order, colors, and more .

On the Home tab, select Font Color , and then pick the font color you want.

Select the text you want to modify.

The Align left button in PowerPoint for iOS.

Create accessible lists 

Design lists so that you do not need to add a plain paragraph without a bullet or number to the middle of a list. If your list is broken up by a plain paragraph, some screen readers might announce the number of list items wrong. Also, the user might hear in the middle of the list that they are leaving the list. 

On a slide, place the cursor where you want to create a list.

On the Home tab, select Bullets or Numbering , and then select the bullet or numbering style you want.

Type the first bulleted or numbered item in the list, and then select return on the on-screen keyboard. A new list item is added. Repeat this step for each list item you want to add.

When your slides are ready, you can try a few things to make sure they are accessible:

Switch to the full desktop or web version of PowerPoint, and then run the Accessibility Checker. The Accessibility Checker is a tool that reviews your content and flags accessibility issues it comes across. It explains why each issue might be a potential problem for someone with a disability. The Accessibility Checker also suggests how you can resolve the issues that appear. For instructions, go to  Improve accessibility with the Accessibility Checker .

In the PowerPoint for iOS app, you can try navigating the slides using the built-in screen reader, VoiceOver. VoiceOver comes with iOS, so there's no need to install anything. This is one additional way to spot issues in the navigation order, for example.

To turn on VoiceOver, do one of the following:

In your device settings, select  Accessibility  >  VoiceOver , and then turn on the  VoiceOver  switch.

Press the power button of your device three times.

To navigate the content in the slide, swipe left or right. Modify the reading order of the elements on the slides if necessary.

Tip:  To select an item in focus when VoiceOver is on, double-tap the screen.

To turn off VoiceOver, do one of the following:

In your device settings, select  Accessibility  >  VoiceOver , and then turn off the  VoiceOver  switch.

Make your OneNote notebooks accessible to people with disabilities

PowerPoint has built-in, predesigned slide designs that contain placeholders for text, videos, pictures, and more. They also contain all the formatting, such as theme colors, fonts, and effects. To make sure that your slides are accessible, the built-in layouts are designed so that the reading order is the same for people who use assistive technologies such as screen readers and people who see. 

The Themes menu in PowerPoint for Android.

Give every slide a title 

One simple step towards inclusivity is having a unique, descriptive title on each slide, even if it isn't visible. A person with a visual disability that uses a screen reader relies on the slide titles to know which slide is which. With descriptive titles on each slide, everyone can quickly scan through a list of slide titles and go right to the slide they want. 

An example of a title placeholder positioned outside the slide borders in PowerPoint for Android.

Select  Style Options , and then select Header Row .

In the table, type the column headings.

The Header Row checkbox selected in the Style Options menu in PowerPoint for Android.

On a slide, select a visual.

The Alt Text dialog box in PowerPoint for Android.

Select the visual.

Select  Alt Text .

Select the Mark as decorative checkbox.

The Alt Text dialog box showing the Mark as decorative checkbox selected in PowerPoint for Android.

Select the piece of text you want to turn into a hyperlink.

Select Home > Insert > Link .

Do one of the following:

To insert a hyperlink to a web page, select Insert Link . Type or paste the hyperlink URL to the  Address text field. If you want to change the hyperlink text, modify the text in the  Text to display text field.

To insert a link to a recent document, browse the Recent Items list until you find the one you want, and then select it.

On the  Home  tab, you can do, for example, the following:

To change the font type, select the current font type to open the Font menu, and then select the font type you want.

To adjust the font size, select the current font size, and then select the new font size.

Font menu in PowerPoint for Android.

Use the predesigned  Themes  to make sure that your slide design is accessible. For the step-by-step instructions, go to  Use built-in slide designs for inclusive reading order, colors, and more .

On the  Home  tab, expand the  Font Color menu, and then pick the color you want.

The Align left button in PowerPoint for Android.

On the  Home  tab, select  Bullets  or  Numbering , and then select the bullet or numbering style you want.

The Enter button on the Android on-screen keyboard.

Test the accessibility of your slides 

In the PowerPoint for Android app, you can try navigating the slides using the built-in screen reader, TalkBack. TalkBack comes with Android, so there's no need to install anything. This is one additional way to spot issues in the navigation order, for example.

To turn on TalkBack, do one of the following:

In your device settings, select  Accessibility  >  TalkBack , and then turn on the  Use service  switch.

Press and hold the volume keys of your device until the device vibrates.

Tip:  To select an item in focus when TalkBack is on, double-tap the screen.

To turn off TalkBack, do one of the following:

In your device settings, select  Accessibility  >  TalkBack , and then turn off the  Use service  switch.

Best practices for making PowerPoint for the web presentations accessible

Add alt text to visuals and tables.

The following table includes key best practices for creating PowerPoint for the web presentations that are accessible to people with disabilities.

Check accessibility while you work 

To manually launch the Accessibility Checker, select  Review  >  Check Accessibility . The  Accessibility  pane opens, and you can now review and fix accessibility issues. For more info, go to  Improve accessibility with the Accessibility Checker .

PowerPoint for the web has built-in slide designs that contain placeholders for text, videos, pictures, and more. They also contain all the formatting, such as theme colors, fonts, and effects. To make sure that your slides are accessible, the built-in layouts are designed so that the reading order is the same for people who see and people who use technology such as screen readers.

Tip:   For more info on what to consider when you're creating slides for people with dyslexia, go to  Design slides for people with dyslexia .

The Themes menu expanded in PowerPoint for the web.

In your browser, go to Accessible PowerPoint template sampler .

On the Accessible PowerPoint template sampler  page, select Download . The template sampler is downloaded to your device.

Open the sampler in the full desktop version of PowerPoint, select a suitable slide design, and save it.

Open PowerPoint for the web in your browser, open the selected design, and create your presentation.

Use the  Accessibility  ribbon to make sure every slide has a title. For the step-by-step instructions, go to the section "Use the Accessibility ribbon to title a slide" in  Title a slide .

You can position a title off the slide. That way, the slide has a title for accessibility, but you save space on the slide for other content. For the step-by-step instructions, go to the section "Put a title on a slide, but make the title invisible" in  Title a slide .

Use an accessible reading order for the slide contents

Use the  Selection Pane  to set the order in which screen readers read the slide contents. Screen readers read the objects in the reverse of the order they are listed in the  Selection Pane .

To find slides with a problematic reading order, use the  Accessibility Checker .

On the Home tab, select Arrange > Selection Pane .

The Selection Pane for arranging objects in a slide in PowerPoint for the web.

If you do need to use tables, add headers to your table to help screen readers keep track of the columns and rows. If a table is nested within another table or if a cell is merged or split, the screen reader loses count and can’t provide helpful information about the table after that point. Blank cells in a table could also mislead someone using a screen reader into thinking that there is nothing more in the table. Screen readers also use header information to identify rows and columns.

Select Table Design .

The Header Row button selected in PowerPoint for the web.

In the alt text description field, spelling errors are marked with a red squiggly line under the word.

In the visual's Alt Text  pane, you can also select  Generate a description for me  to have Microsoft cloud-powered intelligent services create a description for you. You'll see the result in the alt text field. Remember to delete any comments PowerPoint added there, for example, "Description automatically generated."

To add alt text to visuals and tables, do one of the following:

To add alt text to an image, do one of the following:

Right-click an image. Select Alt Text... .

Select an image. Select Picture  > Alt Text .

To add alt text to a SmartArt graphic, select a SmartArt graphic, and then select SmartArt  > Alt Text .

To add alt text to a shape or embedded video, select a shape or video, and then select Shape > Alt Text .

To add alt text to a table, place the cursor in any cell, and then select  Table Layout > Alt Text .

For images, type a description. For SmartArt graphics, shapes, videos, and tables, type a title and description.

The Picture Alt Text pane in PowerPoint for the web.

Tip:  If the title on the hyperlink's destination page gives an accurate summary of what’s on the page, use it for the hyperlink text. For example, this hyperlink text matches the title on the destination page:  Create more with Microsoft templates .​​​​​​​

For the step-by-step instructions on how to create hyperlinks, go to  Add a hyperlink to a slide .

To change the font format or color, select the piece of text you want to modify

Select the Home tab.

In the Font group, select your formatting options, for example, a different font type or color.

Options in the Font menu on the ribbon in PowerPoint for the web.

Type the text you want for each bulleted or numbered item in the list.

PowerPoint supports the playback of video with multiple audio tracks. It also supports closed captions and subtitles that are embedded in video files.

Closed captions or subtitles must be encoded into the video before it is inserted into PowerPoint. PowerPoint does not support closed captions or subtitles that are stored in a separate file from the video file.

Closed captions, subtitles, and alternative audio tracks are not preserved when you use the  Compress Media  or Optimize Media Compatibility features. To learn more about optimizing media for compatibility, go to the section "Optimize media in your presentation for compatibility" in  Are you having video or audio playback issues?  Also, when turning your presentation into a video, closed captions, subtitles, or alternative audio tracks in the embedded videos are not included in the video that is saved.

When you use the  Save Media as  command on a selected video, closed captions, subtitles, and multiple audio tracks embedded in the video are preserved in the video file that is saved. For more info, go to  Save embedded media from a presentation (audio or video) .

To make your PowerPoint presentations with videos accessible, ensure the following:

Improve accessibility with the Accessibility Checker

Make your Outlook email accessible to people with disabilities ​​​​​​​

Technical support for customers with disabilities

Microsoft wants to provide the best possible experience for all our customers. If you have a disability or questions related to accessibility, please contact the Microsoft Disability Answer Desk for technical assistance. The Disability Answer Desk support team is trained in using many popular assistive technologies and can offer assistance in English, Spanish, French, and American Sign Language. Please go to the Microsoft Disability Answer Desk site to find out the contact details for your region.

If you are a government, commercial, or enterprise user, please contact the enterprise Disability Answer Desk .

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Registration Is Now Open for the Next Healthy People 2030 Webinar, “Planning for Individual and Community Health”

The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (ODPHP) is pleased to announce its next Healthy People 2030 webinar:  Planning for Individual and Community Health . This webinar will take place on Tuesday, March 19 from 2:00 to 3:00 pm ET. To register, please visit the  Healthy People 2030 Webinar Series Registration page . Continuing Education Credits* (CEs) are available.

During this one-hour event, ODPHP will present on the webinar’s four featured objectives related to public health infrastructure and planning. The webinar will also feature a presentation by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics to share the latest data on the four featured objectives and a presentation by Healthy People 2030 Champion, the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, on their efforts to address public health infrastructure at the state and local levels.

The four  Healthy People 2030  objectives to be featured during the webinar are:

  • AHS-01: Increase the proportion of people with health insurance (Leading Health Indicator)  
  • PHI-04: Increase the proportion of state and territorial jurisdictions that have a health improvement plan  
  • PHI-05: Increase the proportion of local jurisdictions that have a health improvement plan  
  • PHI-08: Increase the proportion of tribal communities that have a health improvement plan

To register, please visit the  Healthy People 2030 Webinar Series Registration page .

About the Series: Throughout the decade, the Healthy People 2030 Webinar Series will feature the latest data on the Leading Health Indicators, Overall Health and Well-Being Measures, and Healthy People 2030 objectives.

* Following the webinar, participants will receive instructions on how to obtain CE credit and certificate.

Nursing Accreditation Statement This nursing continuing professional development activity was approved by the American Public Health Association’s Public Health Nursing Section Approver Unit, an accredited approver by the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Commission on Accreditation. Medicine (CME) Accreditation Statement This activity has been planned and implemented in accordance with the Essential Areas and Policies of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education through the joint sponsorship of the American Public Health Association (APHA) and the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (ODPHP). The APHA is accredited by the ACCME to provide continuing medical education for physicians. Designation Statement: The APHA designates this educational activity for a maximum of 1.0 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit (s)™ per webinar. Health Education (CHES) Statement Sponsored by the American Public Health Association (APHA), a designated approver of continuing education contact hours (CECH) in health education by the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing, Inc. This program is designated for Certified Health Education Specialists (CHES®) to receive up to 1.0 total Category I contact education contact hours per webinar.

Related Healthy People 2030 topics:

  • Social and Community Context

Related Healthy People 2030 objectives:

  • Increase the proportion of people with health insurance — AHS‑01
  • Increase the proportion of state and territorial jurisdictions that have a health improvement plan — PHI‑04
  • Increase the proportion of local jurisdictions that have a health improvement plan — PHI‑05
  • Increase the proportion of tribal communities that have a health improvement plan — PHI‑08

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  • Module 5: Formatting Lists Properly

From: How to Author and Test Microsoft PowerPoint Presentations for Accessibility

Discover how to use lists to organize and structure content so that assistive technology can identify that information is contained in a group, and convey the relationship between each item within the list.

Related Presentation Video Series Modules

  • Module 0: Introduction & Background
  • Module 1: Creating the Presentation’s Layout Design and Establishing the Logical Reading Order
  • Module 2: Ensuring the Contrast Ratio Between Text and Background is Sufficient
  • Module 3: Ensuring Color and Other Visual Characteristics that Convey Information are Also Described in Text
  • Module 4: Formatting Columns Correctly
  • Module 6: Using Built-In Features to Create Data Tables
  • Module 7: Adding Alternative Text to Images and Other Objects
  • Module 8: Creating Links with Unique and Descriptive Names
  • Module 9: Making Vital Background Information Accessible
  • Module 10: Formatting Text for the Intended Language
  • Module 11: Ensuring Descriptions of Embedded Audio, Video and Multimedia Files are Accurate
  • Module 12: Excluding Flashing Objects
  • Module 13: Saving in the .pptx Format with a Descriptive Filename

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Updated : July 2023

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