Skip to Main Content

University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Creating Accessible Documents in Word Processing and Presentation Software

Learn how to make your documents and presenations accessible to a wider audience.

General Presentation Tips

Because presentations combine both text and images, many of the accessibility principles we have already discussed in the previous two sections hold true. However, we do have some tips in this section specifically for slides and presenting.

General Presentation Tips:

  • Give verbal descriptions of any images you use.
  • If possible, use a microphone.
  • Always face the audience when you speak; you may not know if someone needs to read your lips!
  • Avoid jargon and use plain language whenever possible.

Microsoft PowerPoint

Good visual design is critical to making sure your content is accessible to people with vision disabilities and reading disabilities. Here are some key points to consider:

  • Use templates when possible
    • Templates are often designed for accessibility and can make it easier to keep your content uniform.
    • Built-in themes start off with proper reading order -- this means that a screen reader will announce everything in a logical order (title first, then body text boxes, etc.). 
    • If you don't use a built-in theme, you will just need to double check that the reading order is correct.
  • Check your reading order
    • Navigate to the Tool Banner > Review > Check Accessibility > Selection Pane
    • You can also click anywhere on your slide and go from Arrange to the Selection Pane
    • NOTE: the Selection Pane shows everything in reverse. You will want your first text book to be at the bottom of the list and your last box to be at the top to ensure proper reading order.
  • Pay attention to font color, size, and contrast
    • Choose easy-to-read fonts.
    • Keep your font 24-point and above.
  • Use images appropriately
    • Fewer images is better.
    • Make sure they are relevant to the text.
    • Always include alt-text.
    • Avoid using background images behind text (this can make the text difficult to read).

Google Slides

Many of the same accessibility considerations from Microsoft PowerPoint hold true for Google Slides. One extra feature that Google Slides has is their live captioning, which can be turned on while presenting.

How to use live captions on Google Slides:

  • Live captioning should work with the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Edge, and Safari; however, it seems to work best in Chrome.
  • Your computer microphone/an external microphone needs to be turned on.
  • While presenting your Google Slides, navigate to More Options > Captions preferences > Toggle Captions.  
    • Keyboard shortcuts to turn on captions:
      • Windows: Ctrl + Shift + c
      • Mac: ⌘ + Shift + Enter  
  •     Change size/on-screen location by clicking the caption dropdown menu. 
    • Note: captions do not include punctuation; they are also not stored after the presentation. 


Screenshot of a Google Slides presentation with the captions settings open.Google Slides presentation with live captions that read "Captions will look like this."

Tutorials for Accessible Presentations