Accessible Posters and Slides

The Library Assessment Conference is committed to providing access to its web content to people with disabilities.

To help us meet our commitment, please follow these guidelines when creating PowerPoint slides and posters to be shown at the conference and subsequently posted to the website.

Accessible Slides in PowerPoint

*Note: PowerPoint is the recommended tool, as Google Slides do not have accessibility features.

Slide Masters

The most important thing you can do to make slides accessible is use a slide master. Use PowerPoint’s built-in styles, or create your own. Slide masters are custom templates that show up in the “layout” drop down menu on the home tab.

To view and create master slides, click the “View” tab and “Slide Master” from the ribbon or “view” menu.

Adding custom layouts through the slide master is critical for screen reader accessibility because only text fields added in a slide master are read out in a screen reader. Manually inserting text fields may be skipped by a screen reader. Slide masters also allow for consistent formatting between slides.

Click the place in the thumbnail pane where you want to add your slide. Right click and select “Insert Layout.” Customize the layout by deleting fields and inserting placeholders. Create a new layout for each unique slide layout you wish to use in your presentation. Note: for most content, use the “content” placeholder. Screen readers will read and understand all items placed in this holder.  It’s okay to have more placeholders than you need; you can simply delete what you don’t need (and it’s easier than adding an additional one).

To insert a picture or logo on the slide master, select Insert > Picture and select the file from your computer. Remember to add alt text to one of the images before closing the slide master view.

Other Considerations:
  • Avoid text boxes. Screen readers will not read this text. Always use a built-in placeholder, such as “content placeholder.”
  • Avoid adding extra spaces between words and at the end of sentences. Instead of hard returns, use the “space before” and “space after” styles. You can add these manually from the home tab by selecting the spacing icon on the ribbon, or by modifying a style (select Format > Paragraph from the menu).
  • Use unique slide titles. For content that requires more than one slide, consider adding a number or the word “continued” to the title (i.e., “Professional Development (1 of 3),” or “Professional Development, continued”).

Font, Size, and Color

  • Use 24 point or larger font.
  • Use recommended fonts: Palatino, Georgia, Verdana, Tahoma, Arial, and Helvetica.
  • Avoid using only color for emphasis. If color is used, consider using bold as well. Use patterns or textures in addition to color in charts.
  • Avoid flickering, flashing, and animation.

Alternate Text

Graphics that convey information should have alternate text associated with them. Right-click the graphic, click “Format object,” click the “Alt Text” pane and enter a brief description.


URLs should display the fully qualified URLs (e.g., not Active links should resolve to the correct destinations.


Fill in the document properties (Author, Title, Subject, Keywords, and Language) under the “Summary” and “Custom” tabs. (On a Mac, see File > Properties; on a PC, see File > Info.)

Accessible Poster Files in PDF

The most important thing you can do to create accessible PDF files is to use styles in your authoring tool (Word, PowerPoint, InDesign, etc.). When saved as a PDF, styles will convert to tags and will have a logical order (Heading 1, Heading 2, etc.).

Characteristics of an accessible PDF are:

  1. Searchable text (i.e., the text is not an image)
  2. Language, title, and metadata (under File > Properties)
  3. Tags and logical reading order
  4. Appropriate metadata
  5. Working, meaningful links
  6. Alternate text descriptions for images and tables

The tag tree is the dominant feature that screen readers use. Try to make the reading order match the tag tree, but if this is impossible, remember that the tag order is the most critical.

Create tags from a document without them by selecting the menu at the top of the tags tab:

  • Select “create tags root” to manually create tags
  • Select “add tags to document” to automatically create tags

An easy way to create tags is to use the “TouchUp Reading Order” (TURO) tool under Tools > Accessibility. Note that for certain headings and lists, you will need to mark them as “text” and change the tag in the tags tree.

Check that tags appear in the correct order and display the appropriate function (i.e., headers should display as H1 (for the title), then, H2, H3, etc., and body text should be “paragraph” tags). Links, bulleted or numbered lists, and figures should all be marked as such in the tag tree. Drag tags that are out of order to their appropriate place in the structure.

Appropriate Metadata

To ensure the appropriate metadata, navigate to File > Properties.

In the description panel:

List the title, author(s), and keywords (separated by semicolon—anything someone might search for related to that document).

In the “Subject” section, provide a short description of what the document is. This is the text Google will pull to include in its results. Limit this to about 200 characters (about the length of a tweet), because it gets cut off.

In the Security panel:

Security method should be set to “No Security” whenever possible.

In the Initial View panel:

Under “Window Options,” select “Document Title” in the Show: dropdown menu

In the Advanced panel:

Select the language in the last dropdown menu.

Alternate Text

Check that all images contain alternate text by hovering the mouse over the image, looking in the tags tree, or via the TouchUp Reading Order Tool.

  • From the tags tree: right click the tag and select “Properties”
  • From the TouchUp Reading Order tool: a black box will appear next to images. If no alt text is present, it will read “No alternate text exists.”

Alt Text Best Practices

When creating or editing content, either in a source document or PDF, remember to include descriptive alternate text (alt text) to images. Add alternate text to describe:

  • Images that convey meaning
  • Images of words
  • Functional images (i.e., an image with a link or a “print” icon)
  • Complex images (i.e., charts)
  • Groups of images

Usually, there is no need to include words like “image” or “picture.” A screen reader will announce the presence of an image. It may be useful to include specific distinctions, such as “painting” or “photograph,” if it adds to the context.

It is good practice to use strong punctuation (full stop, colon, etc.) in alt text, so screen readers will pause for a short time before moving on to the next piece of content. Alt text can go on any tag (in a PDF); screen readers will read the alt text instead of the content.

Note: In Microsoft Office products, enter alt text only in the description field, leaving the title field blank. This will provide the best experience with most major screen readers.