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Creating Accessible Content with Adobe Presenter

Alistair Lee, Adobe Systems

September 2007

Expertise Level: Intermediate

0 Votes


Creating presentations that are accessible to everyone is an important issue for content developers. Because Adobe Presenter presentations are authored in Microsoft PowerPoint, it is necessary that the PowerPoint presentation itself be accessible. In this way, accessibility should be considered at the very start of working on a presentation.

You might wonder why it's necessary to make your PowerPoint presentations accessible? First off, its the right thing to do. A wider audience can be reached when your PowerPoint presentations are made accessible. In some cases, if you work in government or education, your presentations are required by law to be accessible. Its not really all that hard to build effective and accessible PowerPoints. This demonstration will show you the four easy steps needed to create accessible PowerPoint presentations with Adobe Presenter.

Presentation flip chart

Steps to create accessible PowerPoint presentations

Because PowerPoint presentations often contain graphics and animation, it is important to create a document that makes all visual elements available and accessible to disabled users. For example, when a visually impaired user employs a screen reader to access the contents of an online presentation, it is necessary to give all graphics and animations the proper text equivalents to describe their function. Here are a few key steps that will help you to begin creating accessible PowerPoint presentation: Add text equivalents to all images Limit use of animations and transitions Ensure that any animations that are used remain accessible Using the Notes panel, add text transcripts of audio tracks

Add Text Equivalents to Images

The Alternative Text dialog box For images or objects (e.g., charts) used in your presentation, add text equivalents (alt text) using the steps below.

For PowerPoint 2003 and earlier:

  • Right-click on your image or object, or select the image or object and press Shift+F10.
  • Select Format Picture or Format Object
  • Select the Web tab in the dialog box.
  • Enter the alt text in the text area box provided. Be sure this text adequately represents the purpose of the image it describes. This text need not be a detailed description of the image but should convey the images function on the page.
  • For PowerPoint 2007:

  • Right-click the image, or select the image and press Shift+F10
  • Select Size and Position
  • Select the Alt Text tab in the dialog box
  • Enter the alt text in the provided text box
  • Limit Animations and Transitions

    Accessible presentations should limit transitions whenever possible. When a PowerPoint presentation is converted into a Presenter presentation, transitions force the user to press the Play button to advance through each transition. This can result in a time-consuming and tedious experience for screen reader users. Consider the example of a slide containing bullet points which fly in from the right: as each bullet transitions onto the screen, a screen reader will return to the top of the page and recommence reading the pages contents from the beginning. To advance to the next bullet, the user will need to press the Play button. This can create a frustrating experience for the screen reader user. While it may be acceptable to occasionally use transitions, they should not be used on every slide. Limiting the use of transitions and animation to one per slide will help to improve the usability of your presentation for screen reader users.

    The Adobe Accessibility Resource Center

    Create Accessible Animations

    Flash animations can be a very effect way to illustrate ideas, concepts and practical applications. However, animations used in your PowerPoint presentations must be made accessible. The best way to do this is to follow the recommendations for Adobe Flash authoring at the Adobe Accessibility Resource Center. In addition, you should carefully consider your use of decorative animations. Constant motion on the screen may cause a screen reader to refresh frequently, thus making the presentation more difficult to use. Keeping animations to a minimum or eliminating them altogether will increase the accessibility of your content.

    Add Text Transcripts for Audio

    For presentations with narrative audio recorded and delivered in Presenter, it is important to provide a text transcript of this information for users with hearing impairments. Simply placing a transcript of the audio in the Notes panel within Microsoft PowerPoint will make the content available within notes pane in the final, published Adobe Presenter Presentation. Notes transition automatically to Connect

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