It is estimated that up to 4% of the population relies on some sort of
Assistive Technology to access electronic documents and Web pages.
Assistive Technology includes; Screen Reading software, Refreshable
Braille displays, and Screen Magnifiers. In the United States alone that
equals 12.5 million people. If electronic documents are not created with
accessibility issues in mind, they become very difficult if not impossible to
read or navigate for this large number of people.
Accessibility to electronic documents is a right that is protected by both
Federal and State law. Creating accessible electronic documents is
important to ensure access to persons with disabilities and the company or
agency is protected against legal action. Additionally, it is just good
business, when a very large segment of the population can equally
participate and take advantage of the products or services that the
company or agency provides.
Accessible PowerPoint Slideshows
The steps outlined in this paper will show how to make PowerPoint
presentations more accessible if they are to be distributed electronically. It
is often recommended, however, that a more accessible way of distributing
PowerPoint slideshows is by exporting them into either Portable Document
Format (PDF) or HyperText Markup Language (HTML). Both of these
other formats can be made to be more accessible for persons using
assistive technologies, and they are smaller file sizes for downloading.
Instructions on how to export to these file formats is provided later in this
Usability of PowerPoint
PowerPoint can be an effective tool to use during live demonstrations,
presentations or webinars, but is not the best file format to use when taking
into consideration both accessibility and usability issues. When preparing a
presentation, first consider developing a lengthier and more complete Word
file to most effectively convey the information. Then from that document
develop a PowerPoint slideshow highlighting ‘bullet’ points and an outline
of the ideas in the live presentation.