Create more accessible PowerPoint presentations

Create more accessible slides

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Put your PowerPoint slide content in proper reading order so screen readers read it correctly for users with a vision or reading disability.

Create slides with proper reading order

  1. Open PowerPoint.
    If PowerPoint is already open, go to File > New.

  2. Select and create any pre-existing slide template except Blank Presentation.

  3. Add your slide content, being careful not to delete or rearrange the default slide elements.

Set reading order

  1. Select Home > Arrange > Selection Pane.
    Objects in the slide are listed in reverse order. A screen reader starts reading from the bottom of a list.

    PowerPoint user interface showing items in Selection Pane and Bring Forward/Send Backward buttons.
  2. To change the reading order, rearrange objects in the list. Drag an object to a new location, or select an object and then select Bring Forward Bring forward or Send Backward Send backward .

  3. To check the reading order, select a slide and press Tab. Each time you press Tab the focus moves to the next object that a screen reader will read.

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To a sighted user, the order of items on a PowerPoint slide might seem obvious: start at the top, and work your way down.

But screen reading programs don’t always read slide elements in the order you’d expect, which can be confusing for users with a vision or reading disability.

That’s why PowerPoint includes tools that help screen readers interpret your slides in the way you intended.

The simplest way to ensure proper reading order on a slide is to use one of PowerPoint’s pre-existing slide layouts.

Under the Home tab, select New Slide. You’ll get a menu with several different layout options. Aside from the Blank option, all of these layouts are built to maintain the right reading order for a screen-reading program.

Pick a layout, then add your text, images, and other content to the slide.

Try not to delete or rearrange the default slide elements – that could change the reading order.

But what if you really need a custom slide, or you’ve already modified a slide, and you need to fix its reading order?

You can set the reading order manually with the Selection Pane.

To open the Selection Pane, on the Home tab…

Choose “Arrange”…

…And in the drop-down menu, choose Selection Pane.

The Selection Pane will open to the right of your slide.

When you select an item in the Selection Pane…

…PowerPoint selects that item in your slide.

The Selection Pane shows your items in the reverse order of how a screen reader will read them. Items are read bottom to top:

To change the order, all I have to do is drag the item I want to move to its new spot

Then I’ll close the Selection pane, and test my work

Once I’m done with a slide, I can test the reading order.

I’ll select my slide, and press Tab. Every time I press Tab, focus jumps to the next element in the slide.

Looks like this slide is ready to go.

For more on accessibility, go to aka.ms/OfficeAccessibility

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