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Thursday, May 09, 2013

Guidelines for Making PowerPoint Presentations Accessible to People with Low Vision

PowerPoint presentations are a staple of the business world, and are also popular in college and university classrooms. Have you ever viewed a PowerPoint presentation and thought, "I can barely read that text..."? For the millions of Americans with low vision, this occurs often. There are some simple, easy steps you can take to make your next PowerPoint presentation accessible to everyone in your audience. 

These guidelines were compiled by Elaine Kitchel, Low Vision Project Leader at APH. This material may not be duplicated or distributed without express written consent of APH.

In PowerPoint Presentations:
  1. Sans Serif fonts should always be used for text and for headings of more than one line. Good choices are APHont, Verdana, Tahoma, and Helvetica. Bold typefaces are preferred. (Note: If you create PowerPoint files using APHont, then transfer the files to another computer or media player which does not have APHont installed on it, APHont will not be visible on the slide show of the second computer.)
  2. Headings should be 32 pt. or larger.
  3. Sub headings should be 30 pt. or larger
  4. Text should be 28 pt. or larger if possible. Bold is better than standard text.
  5. Backgrounds should be simple, not graphical, and should usually be one color, preferably light pastel or white if black print is used. Two-color gradients are acceptable where one of the colors is white. Two color gradients are also acceptable where one is not white, if the colors are adjacent on the color wheel (e.g., yellow gradient with green). Gray should be avoided in either text or background on Power Point presentations.
  6. Text and background should be of high contrast. If the background is dark, the text should be very light in color. If the background is light, the text should be very dark in color. Some good color combinations for text and backgrounds are black and white, yellow and violet, yellow and dark blue, dark red and white, dark green and white, dark blue and white, black and yellow, and violet and white.
  7. Certain colors should not be used together: Red and green, red and black, dark green and black, or blue and black should not be used together as background and text, or as graphical features.
  8. Shades of gray should not be used together, either as graphical features, background, or text.
  9. Acceptable animation features include fly in from left, peek from left, typewriter, wipe right, and appear. Except for appear, animation features should always present text beginning on the left, as in normal reading style. Flying characters, spiraling design elements, or elements entering from bottom or right should be avoided unless they are used to denote directionality of movement of an element.
  10. Slides should be simple with no more than three different blocks of information on each or no more than seven individual lines of information total (this does not include the heading or title).
  11. Avoid putting information in columns if possible. Lines of text of 28-39 characters are preferred. Bulleted lists are an exception.
  12. Where bulleted lists occur side-by-side, text of one list should be a different color or on a different colored background than the other to prevent confusion.
  13. Avoid divided words at the ends of lines.
  14. Graphics used in a PowerPoint presentation should be of high-contrast and have good clarity. Black and white line drawings are preferred over gray scale graphics. Graphics that contain mainly bold areas of bright color are preferred over black and white. Patterned areas should be limited, if possible.
  15. Where maps or charts are included, color is preferred over gray scale. Text on maps or charts should adhere to large print guidelines.
  16. Avoid italics, if possible. Underscoring, enclosing in quotation marks or bolding is preferred.
  17. When making handouts from Power Point, two or fewer slides per page is preferred. Participants can be encouraged to make notes in margins if notes are needed.
Remember, what you do to make your presentation accessible for the low vision audience member will ultimately make it more readable for everyone.

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