Accessibility in PowerPoint 2016

PowerPoint 2016 includes accessibility features that make it easy for users with limited dexterity, low vision, or other disabilities to work with files. This means you can use keyboard shortcuts, a screen reader, or a speech recognition tool to work with PowerPoint 2016.


  • To learn how to set accessibility preferences and navigate Office 2016 applications, refer to Accessibility features in Office 2016.

  • This topic assumes that JAWS users have the Virtual Ribbon Menu feature turned off.

In this topic

Explore the PowerPoint 2016 user interface

When you open a PowerPoint 2016 presentation or create a new one, the name of your presentation is centered at the top of the screen. Because you are in Normal view, app controls such as Minimize and Close are in the upper-right corner. By default, the Quick Access toolbar resides at the upper-left side of the screen. This toolbar can be customized and contains commonly used commands, such as Save, Undo, Redo, and Start From Beginning.

Below the toolbar is a set of ribbon tabs, such as Home, Insert, Design, Transitions, Animations, Slide Show, and View. The ribbon sits below this row of tabs (JAWS calls it the "lower ribbon"). When you select a tab, a tab-specific ribbon appears. Each ribbon includes commands organized in groups. For example, if you select the Insert tab, a ribbon appears. From that ribbon, you can pick different items, such as tables, pictures, shapes, or equations, to insert into your presentation.

Three panes appear below the ribbon. The Slides pane is on the left. It includes thumbnails of the slides or the text on your presentation slides. On the right is the active slide, and underneath that is the Notes pane. The lower-right corner of the screen contains View buttons and Zoom controls.

These toolbars, panes, and controls remain until you switch to a different view.


The order of content and availability of commands change when you switch views. On the View tab, five views in the Presentation View group appear in this order: Normal, Outline View, Slide Sorter, Notes Page, and Reading View. Also on the View tab, the Master Views group has three options: Slide Master, Handout Master, and Notes Master.

To learn more about views and which to use, refer to Choose the right view for the task in PowerPoint

Use a screen reader and keyboard shortcuts

  • To navigate in PowerPoint 2016 and to cycle through screen elements, press the Tab key (forward) or Shift+Tab (backward).

  • To select an item, press Enter.

  • To browse within menus or lists, press the Up Arrow or Down Arrow key, and then, to make a selection, press Enter.

  • To exit a menu or mode, press Esc.

For more details, see Use keyboard shortcuts to create your presentation.

PowerPoint 2016 includes accessible names that can be read by screen readers as you work in the application. You can use Narrator, the built-in screen reader in Windows, or a third-party screen reader, such as JAWS. For information on using PowerPoint 2016 with a screen reader, refer to Get started using a screen reader with a PowerPoint presentation.

Do common tasks

For steps to accomplish common tasks in PowerPoint 2016, refer to the following articles:

Use Tell Me

When you don’t know the keyboard shortcut or when you want to know about more options, use the Tell me what you want to do box.

  1. Optional. Select the text, cell, or other Office object you want to work with.

  2. Press Alt+Q. You hear “Tell me what you want to do.”

  3. Type a keyword or phrase, and then, to browse the search results, press the Down Arrow key. For example, for options related to fonts, such as italics and font size, type font. Some results may be submenus with more choices.

  4. To choose a result, press Enter.

Technical support for customers with disabilities

Microsoft wants to provide the best possible experience for all our customers. If you have a disability or have questions related to accessibility, please contact the Microsoft Disability Answer Desk for technical assistance. The Disability Answer Desk support team is trained in using many popular assistive technologies and can offer assistance in English, Spanish, French, and American Sign Language. Please go to the Microsoft Disability Answer Desk site to find out the contact details for your region.

If you are a government, commercial, or enterprise user, please contact the enterprise Disability Answer Desk.

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