Microsoft PowerPoint has become a standard format for creating and presenting visuals (e.g., slideshows) for presentations, including those used in educational contexts such as distance learning courses. A variety of approaches are used for delivering PowerPoint content online, each of which has strengths and weaknesses concerning accessibility.
The most basic approach is to provide the original PowerPoint files for students to download. Access to these files requires that users have either the PowerPoint application or the PowerPoint browser plug-in, which shows PowerPoint pages directly in the browser. If all slides contain simple, standard content such as headings and bulleted lists, these are readily accessible to PowerPoint users with disabilities, including those using assistive technologies such as screen readers. However, as content increases in complexity (e.g., graphics, animations, tables and charts), accessibility may decrease without a few extra steps by content creators.
Two very helpful resources are available directly from Microsoft:
- Make Your PowerPoint Presentations Accessible - the official documentation from Office Support
- Create More Accessible Slides - a video series in five parts, covering topics such as improving image accessibility, using more accessible colors, designing slides for people with dyslexia, and saving a presentation in a different format.
Also, WebAIM has developed a tutorial covering various alternative methods for delivering PowerPoint content online. In their document PowerPoint Accessibility, they describe and discuss various methods and provide examples of each.