PowerPoint presentations can be problematic for many students, particularly if too much information is presented on each slide.
- Visually impaired students may not be able to read the slide, so you should read the content aloud.
- Deaf students will not be able to read the slide and at the same time lip-read or watch their interpreter, so time should be allowed for reading.
- Students with specific learning difficulties may not be able to take in the information from a slide if it is only displayed for a short time and if the tutor continues to talk without referring to the slide.
One benefit of a PowerPoint presentation is that it can easily be made available to students in electronic format so that they can continue to study its content outside the lecture. The following guidelines should help you to make your overhead projection transparencies and PowerPoint presentations more accessible to all your students. Note that different accessibility issues arise depending on whether the PowerPoint is viewed as a displayed presentation or as an electronic file on a computer.
- Consider giving the complete PowerPoint slide show to the student rather than using online access, so that it can be used in edit mode.
- Consider the font size and layout to use and do not put too much information on each slide - a maximum of 25 words per OHP or slide, with up to six bullet points has been suggested as good practice - the adage, ‘never put more on an OHP than you would put on a T shirt’ provides a useful guideline.
- Do not use colour alone to convey information, and use good contrast between text and background: a dark font on a light background is best for light rooms and a light or white font on a dark background for dark rooms.
- Mouse-over screen tips, graphs, tables, forms and other Microsoft Office interactions can only be accessed by some screen readers, so alternatives should be on offer.
- PowerPoint presentations should be developed using the templates offered, with clear fonts that allow for magnification.
- Speaker notes can be read by all screen readers and some can cope with presentation mode.
- Sound needs to be heard automatically as the slide appears.
- An appropriate narrative is essential to guide the user when videos are used, and all other graphical information must be appropriately described within the setting.
- Only certain screen readers can cope with PowerPoint navigational buttons or hyperlinks.
See the Skills for Access website for more information and guidance on using PowerPoint.