Course Accessability

Accessibility of PowerPoints

There are a few things that document creators can do within PowerPoint to help ensure accessibility. Keep in mind that the content covered in the previous tabs in this Guide should be considered when designing a PowerPoint presentation. This page outlines a few basic tools in PowerPoint that will allow users to create accessible presentations.

Presentation Design Themes

Microsoft provides users with a variety of presentation Themes. These Themes are designed to allow users to create attractive presentations without having to spend hours choosing slide backgrounds, font colors, etc.

For the most part, these Themes also take accessibility into consideration. It is highly recommended that users select one of the preset themes for their presentation and not try to create your own. Additional Themes can be downloaded from Microsoft’s website.

Slide Layouts

For each Theme, Microsoft also provides a set of slide layouts. When building a presentation and adding new slides, it is recommended users select from the preset layouts. These layouts are designed to ensure that the content on the slides can be identified by a screenreader. It is suggested that users avoid the Title Only and the Blank slide options. It is too tempting to want to add additional text boxes on these slides and doing so would negate the accessibility of those slides.

Note: Unfortunately, data tables added to PowerPoint slides are not accessible.

Outline and Notes

Outline Panel

Clicking on the Outline tab in the Slide panel will reveal a text outline of the slides. If the preset slide layouts are used, any text within the slides will appear within the outline. Images and SmartArt will not appear in the outline but can be made accessible by adding Alt descriptions.

Notes Panel

PowerPoint provides a Notes panel allowing users to enter presentation notes designed to guide the presenter. These notes are not typically read by screenreaders, so adding important content for student use is not recommended. It is possible, however, to save the slide notes out in PDF format to distribute to students. A screenreader should be able to read the text from the PDF.


  • PowerPoint Accessibility This webpage outlines the tools available within Microsoft PowerPoint that when used ensure the document is accessible.