3 Ways to Get Started Creating Accessible Presentations

The following content was submitted to the Teaching Tips Consortium of the POD Network by
Kevin S. Wilson, Instructional Design Consultant
Center for Teaching and Learning, Boise State University

Use the templates packaged with the slideshow software.
Templates offer a number of benefits. They establish a logical, hierarchical organizational structure, conveyed visually through titles, headings, and subheadings. Templates also use typefaces pre-selected for legibility. The layout of text in a template—along with sufficient white space—helps people with dyslexia or low vision to navigate the slide. The layout also provides visual signals about the content, including priority, importance, specificity, and subordination.

Make text and visuals big enough to be legible from the back of the room. Whenever possible, test drive your presentation in the room in which you will be presenting. Ideally, have a colleague view your slides from the back of the room to see if all the content is discernible. Limit the amount of text on a single slide; large amounts of text will appear crowded and small. Keep bulleted or enumerated lists to three to five items. Use a common sans-serif font (such as Arial, Calibri, or Helvetica.)

Use color carefully.
Use color with care—which often means NOT using color. For instance, you should avoid using color alone to emphasize text or to identify information as important. People with color blindness may not be able to see the color, so they will miss whatever emphasis or importance you’ve attached to the text. Also, avoid combining colors with insufficient contrast (e.g., yellow text on a white background). Using the templates in your slideshow software is one way to ensure sufficient color contrast, because each template has been designed by professionals for maximum clarity

Want to learn more?
For tips on making PowerPoint presentations accessible to people with low vision or people using screen readers, see Make Your PowerPoint Presentations Accessible. Additionally, in How to Make Presentations Accessible to All, the Web Accessibility Initiative provides advice on planning, designing, and delivering accessible presentations.

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