Creating a slideshow presentation so that it is accessible to all students regardless of physical, mental, or cognitive abilities helps to ensure that all students have equal opportunities to be engaged with the presentation.
Use the templates packaged with your slideshow software. Templates 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 can help 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. For example, a Level-1 heading is usually larger and more prominent than a Level-2 heading, signaling that the Level-1 content is more general or more important than the Level-2 content.
Make text and visuals big enough to be legible and clear from the back of the room. Whenever possible, have a colleague view your slides from the back of the room in which you will be presenting, 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 to three to five items. Use a common sans-serif font (such as Arial or Helvetica). San-serif fonts are easier to read on-screen than serif fonts.
Use color with care–which often means NOT using color. 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. 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.
For more information on making your course materials, activities, and assessments accessible, visit “Accessibility and Universal Design for Learning at Boise State.”
Many organizers of academic conferences provide guidelines for creating accessible presentations and for delivering presentations in an accessible manner. Here is one example of such guidelines.
In “How to Make Presentations Accessible to All,” the Web Accessibility Initiative provides advice on planning, designing, and delivering accessible presentations
For tips on making PowerPoint presentations accessible to people with low vision or people using screen readers, see “Make Your PowerPoint Presentations Accessible.”
For more on text contrast, read “Why Contrast Matters” by Mark Root-Wiley.
Kevin S. Wilson
Instructional Design Consultant
Instructional Design and Academic Assessment (IDEA Shop)
Boise State University