Microsoft® PowerPoint® presentation graphics program and similar programs are frequently used for creating course content in all levels of education. If those PowerPoint slide decks are placed online as part of an online course, it is important for those decks to be accessible to student using assistive technology.
Using PowerPoint Slides in Online Courses
Note: From an accessibility perspective, the same content provided in an HTML page or a series of pages would usually be more accessible than a slide deck. Whenever possible, provide online course content as a web page. If that is not possible, then providing a slide deck that is created in an accessible manner is one alternative to consider.
There is a complicating factor when designing a slide deck for students using a screen reader. There are different views that the student can use when using assistive technology to view a PowerPoint file. It is important that you, as a content creator, use a cross-section assistive technologies to view your content using all available views.
If you're designing slides for accessibility, you'll need to make the file available to students so that they can use the file with their screen reading platform. If you put the slides online, there is a good chance that many of the accessibility features will be lost. Make the file available for download for those who need to use a screen reader.
Categories of items found by Accessibility Checker
Errors: Content that makes the document impossible or very difficult to read and understand for people using assistive technology. Common errors in PowerPoint® documents include:
- Slides without titles
- Missing alt text for non-text objects
- Proper table header formatting
Warnings: Content that will likely (but not always) make the document difficult to understand for people using assistive technology. Common warnings include:
- Table structure (split or merged cells, nested tables, or completely blank rows or columns)
- Hyperlink text that is not meaningful or descriptive
Tips: Content that should be understood with assistive technology, but could be better organized to improve the experience. Common tips include:
- If there is a video, it will alert you to check for closed captions
- Slide titles should be unique (not repeated)
- The reading order of various slide components is in logical order
f you're designing slides for accessibility, you'll need to make the file available to students so that they can use the file with their screen reading platform. If you put the slides online, there is a good chance that many of the accessibility features will be lost. Make the file available for download for those who need to use a screen reader.
In the next post, we’ll conclude this series with six more tips to improve the accessibility of your online course content.
For more information, refer to the Microsoft support article Make your PowerPoint presentations accessible to people with disabilities.