Google Slides & Presentations

One important aspect of presentation is ensuring that your presentation is accessible by a broad range of people. Accessibility is the practice of making sure that individuals with disabilities can access your presentation.

Here are a couple of tips to help you maximize the accessibility of your Slides and your presentation. Accessibility in Slides is essential to ensure you are reaching the widest possible audience, and that you are being inclusive of faculty, staff, students, and members of the public with disabilities.

Accessibility of Slides

Tip #1: Use Templates where possible

Templates in Google Slides have pre-created layouts which are designed to be read in an appropriate order, which means that anyone is more likely to be able to use your content. To adjust the template for individual slides, you may right click slides in the left-side panel and then select “Apply Layout” from the context menu. You may also do this by selecting a slide and then using the top menu to select “Slide” then “Apply Layout” to open your Layout options.

Tip #2: You can adjust the order of elements

Some users may navigate your presentation with a keyboard alone or with a keyboard and a screen reading technology. It is important to ensure that your elements are in an appropriate order (“Reading Order”). If you are not using Template Slides, you may need to change the Reading Order. To change the Reading Order you can use the “Arrange” menu option in the top menu. Items which are read first are towards the front. For example, if you select “Bring to Front” for an element, that element will be the first element in the Reading Order. Using Bring Forward will advance an element one forward in the Reading Order.  You can test Reading Order by selecting the first Element on the page and using the Tab key to move forward one at a time through elements.

Tip #3: All non-decorative images should have Alt text

All non-decorative images, including charts and graphs, should have Alternative text (also known as “Alt text”. Alternative text is an equivalent substitute for the graphic that folks can use to identify the purpose of the graphic in the context where it appears. To add Alt text to a graphic, select the element in your Slides presentation, then either Right click and select “Alt text” or use Ctrl, Alt, and Y keyboard shortcut to open Alt text. In general, you should add your alternative text to the “Description” field and not the “Title” field. To write good alt text, consider how you might describe a graphic over the phone. Aim to write brief, but substantive alt text.

  • For charts and graphs, consider adding the Title of the chart/graph, the axis labels, and then describing the general trend and any notable changes in brief.
  • For a comic, consider describing the setting/title of the panel, the text that appears in the panel in the appropriate order.
  • For a picture, you may not need alternative text.

Decorative images are images that do not make a visual argument, or images that are purely used for aesthetic purposes. If you are not sure if your image is decorative, you may wish to add Alt text in, just in case.

Tip #4: Use accessible color combinations

In general, use dark text on a light background or light text on a dark background. This resource from the University’s Communications office recommends some color practices that may be helpful: Colors - Brand and Visual Identity. There are tools you can use to check your color contrast.

Accessibility of Presentation

When you present, you should try to:

  • Describe visuals (e.g., charts, graphs) and visual arguments. Instead of saying “As you can see from this chart, the ROI is going up.” “This bar chart measures price against year. The price has trended up from 2000-2017, with a significant dip in price in 2008 that the author concludes coincided with the 2008 Recession.”
    • Describing visual arguments helps presentations flow more smoothly, and ensures that individuals who are participating via phone or who may have visual disabilities can participate.