MS Office Accessibility - PowerPoint and Word

Techniques for Word and PowerPoint:

  • Add alternate text (alt text) to images and objects, this includes SmartArt graphics
  • Hyperlink text should be easy to understand
    • Edit the hyperlink so that it contains a title for the link along with the link's location.
    • Consider including the link for those who are viewing a printed version of the document
  • Follow the textbook example when including charts/graphs: describe the concept/reason for the image along with displaying the image
  • Microsoft Office 2010 and later include an “Accessibility Checker” under the File Menu -> “Check for Issues” button, choose “Check Accessibility”


Microsoft PowerPoint is used by many individuals to highlight key points during a class lecture or a presentation. Since slides are often posted on a website or linked from other documents to be used as handouts, it is essential to make PowerPoint slides accessible. 

Watch a 5 minute video describing how to create an accessible Power Point presentation.

Quick tips:

  • Use of the PowerPoint slide layout templates is the most significant thing you can do to ensure your content is accessible
    • Don’t use Textboxes: Presentation designers often use “Insert Textbox” to create a unique slide layout.  This process makes the content contained in the textbox inaccessible to many users.
  • Title all slides with a unique name
  • If a specific slide layout is desired, use the Slide Master Tool to edit slide layout. 
  • Videos: Open caption any videos you insert into your slides (DRC is available for assistance;
  • Handouts:  Think about extracting the text and creating an outline of your presentation rather than printing the slides (it saves paper!)

A note about PowerPoint for Mac:  All versions of PowerPoint for Mac through 2008 have serious accessibility limitations. For example, you cannot give images appropriate alternative text or export the presentation as an accessible PDF file.

Additional Resources: 

WebAIM: PowerPoint Accessibility

WebAIM: Word Accessibility

Microsoft Office: Creating accessible PowerPoint Presentations

Microsoft Office 2010 and later includes an Accessibility Checker

Authoring Techniques for Accessible Office Documents