Accessible Presentations

On this page

  • Presenting Tips
  • Create Accessible Slides

Presenting Tips

Video and Audio

If you are showing a video or playing audio clips, is there a way for all users to hear and/or see the same experience?  Ensure videos have audio descriptions and closed captions.  Have you displayed equivalent text for an audio clip?

Provide time to interpret data sets and images on your slides

Give people time to read your slides, especially if there are data sets or images. Don't forget to describe those data sets and images to people in the room who may not be able to see them (whether they forgot their glasses or have a visual disability).  

Utilize the Microphone

Sure, you have a voice that carries, but microphones are often connected to mixers that can pass information to someone with hearing aides. Using the mic also helps for online attendees - so you should not only use the Mic, but ensure a Mic is passed around the room when attendees have questions. Then everyone, online or in person, has an equal experience.  

Don't forget to ask about accommodations

Send out an accommodation form prior to your event. Find out if you need to provide accessible seating, live captions, and more.  

More Presenting Tips

Read Allison Ravenhall's "Inclusive Design for Accessible Presentations" for more great presenting tips.  

Make Your Slides Accessible

General PowerPoint Tips

  • Use sufficient contrast for text and background colors.
  • Give every slide a unique title, and check the reading order of slide contents.
  • Use a simple table structure, and specify column header information.
  • Use a larger font size (24pt or larger).

Transitions and Animations

If you are using transitions and animations as part of your presentation, you should create a copy of the presentation for distribution that does not contain transitions and animations. These features break the accessibility of a PowerPoint for all screen reader users. Always keep in mind that these transitions or animations could distract or annoy attendees with cognitive disabilities, and, worse, the animated twirly slide transition could trigger a seizure or migraine, so pick your transition and/or animation carefully.  


Gifs can be funny, but they can also be dangerous. If anyone in your audience has flash induced seizures or migraines, you could be at risk of triggering a seizure or migraine. Stick with static cartoons. They are just as amusing.  

Document Properties

It's important to enter in a document title within the Document Properties for assistive technology devices. It's also important to enter this information for search engines as leaving this field blank can impact how the document pulls up through search results. 

  1. Select the File menu.
  2. Select Properties.  
  3. Ensure the Title field reflects a friendly document title (don't put dashes, underscores, or such). For example, "UMass Word Accessibility Checklist" would be a clean, concise document name.  
  4. You can enter in other relevant information (which will improve searchability of the document on websites and via Google), such as the Author name and Keywords.

Hyperlinks and Screen Tips

  1. Select the text to which you want to add the hyperlink, and then right-click. Remember: Hyperlink text should describe where the person is being sent. For example, instead of click or here, it should say the name of the site, page, or document, such as the "World Wide Web Consortium."  
  2. Select Hyperlink. The text you selected displays in the Text to display box. This is the hyperlink text.
  3. If necessary, change the hyperlink text.
  4. In the Address box, enter the description address for the hyperlink.
  5. Select the Screen Tip button and, in the Screen Tip text box, type a Screen Tip.

Alt Text

Images, Shapes or SmartArt

  1. Right-click an image or SmartArt.
  2. Select Size and Position.
  3. In the right pane, select Alt Text.
  4. Enter the Alternate Text in the Description field, not the Title field. 


  1. Right-click a chart.
  2. Select Format Chart Area.
  3. In the right pane, select Alt Text.
  4. Enter the Alternate Text in the Description field, not the Title field. 


  1. Right-click a table.
  2. Select Format Shape.
  3. In the right pane, select Size & Properties.
  4. Select the Alt Text tab.
  5. Enter the Alternate Text in the Description field, not the Title field. 

Table Headers

  1. Position the cursor anywhere in a table.
  2. On the Table Tools Design tab, in the Table Style Options group, select the Header Row check box.
  3. Type column headings.

Slide Reading Order

If you use the built in layouts for creating slides, your reading order should be fine. However, if you add new text boxes and images, you will need to review the reading order.

  1. On the Home tab, select the Arrange menu item. 
  2. Select the Selection Pane sub-menu item. The Selection Pane will open to the right.
  3. Drag and drop content on the page to rearrange it. Important: The reading orders goes from bottom to top on the Select Pane. So what you drag to the bottom of the Selection Pane will be read first and what is at the top will be read last.  

Last Updated

Kelly Weeks
July 28, 2019