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Creating Accessible Learning: Adding Slide Content

Why It Matters

To ensure slide content is universally available to all users, slide authors need to purposefully add content to slides in specific ways that enable accessibility (1.3.1, A; 1.3.2, A).

Here, we’ll explore how to properly add text, graphics and media, tables, lists, and columns.

General Rules of Thumb

The goal is for all individual pieces of content to always have the appropriate item tag. This ensures your slides will properly interact with assistive technology. You can view item tags in PowerPoint by opening the Selection Pane. To learn more about the Selection Pane and slide item tags, visit Slide Layouts: The Selection Pane and Slide Item Tags.

General rules for accessibly adding slide content:

  1. Use a slide template equipped with content boxes for the type of content you want to add.
  2. If it’s not on the slide template, use the PowerPoint toolbar to add in or reformat content using the appropriate tool.
  3. After you’ve added content to a slide, check and adjust the Slide Reading Order.

Adding Text

There are several types of text you may want to add, including:

  • Title
  • General text
  • Informational text boxes (such as header/footer, date/time stamps, or slide numbers)

Note: WordArt is not tagged as text, but instead tagged as a “Rectangle” and recognized by screen readers as a graphic. It’s better to avoid using it for text that conveys information, but it may be used decoratively and, when appropriate, with alt-text added.

Title boxes are slide headers and require the “Title” tag. The only way to get the Title tag is to use a template slide that includes a Title box.

Tip: It's best practice to include a Title box on every slide to help users differentiate slides and understand their purpose.

To add or use a Title text box, you may:

  • Use a slide template equipped with a Title box.
  • Copy and paste a Title box from another slide or a blank slide template.

Text boxes can have a variety of different types of tags, but all will translate to “Paragraph” (or, <P>) when exported. Potential tags may include: “Text Placeholder,” “TextBox,” or “Content Placeholder.” Informational text includes extra information you may want to add to a slide, such as a header/footer, date/time stamps, or slide numbers.

To add or use a text box, you may:

  • Use a slide template equipped with a text box. You may also copy/paste your desired text box from another slide or from a blank slide template.
  • Go to the “Insert” tab on the toolbar and click the corresponding text box option for “Text Box,” “Header & Footer,” “Date & Time,” or “Slide Number.”

The Insert tab of the PowerPoint toolbar is shown. On the right side of the toolbar and within the Text section, the following tools are highlighted with a purple box and purple arrows pointing to them: Text Box, Header & Footer, Date & Tim, and Slide Number.

Adding Graphics, Media, and Tables

Graphics and media encompass a variety of items. Graphics could include images, decorative items, shapes, etc.; media could include video files, sound files, etc.

Tables allow you to organize text into a table with rows and columns.

To add or use graphics, media, or tables, you may:

  • Use a slide template equipped with a content box that allows you to click and insert “Table,” “Pictures,” or “Video.” You may also copy/paste this type of content box from another slide or a blank slide template.

A sample PowerPoint template slide is shown. It has a title box at the top that reads, "Click to add title," and a content box below that with bulleted text that reads, "Click to add text." At the center of the content box, there are several options. The following three are highlighted with purple arrows: Insert Table, Insert Pictures, and Insert Video.

  • Go to the “Insert” tab on the toolbar and click the corresponding option for “Table,” “Pictures,” “Shapes,” “Video,” or “Audio.”

The Insert tab of the PowerPoint toolbar is shown. Five tools are highlighted with a purple box and purple arrows pointing to them: Table, Pictures, Shapes, Video, and Audio.

When embedding a video or audio file onto a slide, you must also include closed captions with a video or a transcript with an audio clip to ensure the content can be accessed by everyone.

Video

With videos, ensure the closed captions are:

  • Accurate
  • In sync with the video

Audio Clip

An audio transcript is a word-for-word accounting of everything in the audio clip. You can include the transcript as a linked PDF or Word Doc, or you can include the full transcript in the corresponding slide’s Slide Notes section. With each option, ensure that the transcript:

  • Is accurate
  • Is formatted in a way that makes sense to the reader
  • (If applicable) Notes who is speaking
  • (If applicable) Notes extra sounds relevant to the content of the audio (e.g., music or background noises that convey information)

Adding Lists and Columns

Lists and columns are methods for organizing text in a way that makes sense. Lists can be formatted with either bullets or numbers. You can also format text to be displayed in 2 columns or more.

To add or use lists, you may:

  • Use a slide template equipped with a list-formatted text box. You may also copy and paste a list-formatted text box from another slide or a blank slide template.
  • Select text, or click-select the outline of the text box where you wish to add a list. Click either the “Bullets” or “Numbering” option on the “Home” tab of the toolbar.

A section of the Home tab of the PowerPoint toolbar is shown. Two tools are highlighted with a purple box and purple arrows pointing to them: Bullets and Numbering.

To add columns, you may:

  • Use a slide template equipped with a column-formatted text box. You may also copy and paste a list-formatted text box from another slide or a blank slide template.
  • Select the text, or click-select the outline of the text box where you wish to add columns. Click the “Add or Remove Columns” option on the “Home” tab of the toolbar.

A section of the Home tab of the PowerPoint toolbar is shown. The "Add or Remove Columns" tool is highlighted with a purple box and purple arrows pointing to it. The Columns tool drop down is extended and displays various column options.

Note: Avoid using two or more adjacent text boxes to give the appearance of columns. You may do this if the content in each text box is unrelated or noncontinuous, but always use the column option for continuous text.