Accessible Presentations – Illustrations/Images

Accessible doesn’t mean not having any images! Some images are very useful for greater understanding! You’ll want to add alt text for all meaningful items added by Illustrations. Remember that presentations are, by their nature, visual!


The best way to add Images and Illustrations is to use the Insert ribbon:


Or, you can also use the insert feature embedded in the slide layout:

Screenshot of PPT 2013 insert options in slide

The option to insert Images/Illustrations (as well as Tables and Online Videos) is available in several layouts: Title and Content, Two Content, Comparison, Content with Caption, and Picture with Caption. (However, Picture with Caption only allows insertion of a picture which you have saved on your computer.)

Sceenshot of PPT 2013 slide layout options

If you decide to just copy and paste an image/illustration, it may not show up in the slide order properly or not at all. This creates a bit more re-positioning work later if you edit the document, and you’ll need to double check the reading order once you’ve converted your document to PDF.

Adding alt text

  1. When you click on an image, the Picture Tools Format ribbon will appear in PPT 2013.


2. Expanding Picture Styles or Size will give you access to the Format Picture pane. (Or, you can right click on your image and choose Format Picture.)

3. Click on the Size & Properties icon.

4. Expand Alt Text.

5. Add your alt text in the Description field. (Do not use the Title field.)

Screenshot of PPT 2013 Format Picture pane with Alt Text Description area

Be sure to write meaningful, concise alt text (content and function). Avoid writing “image of”- the screen reader will already announce that it’s a graphic.

If an image does not have alt text, a screen reader will typically announce “blank” or something about the physical size of the graphic. This is very confusing because the person will not know if there is any important information being conveyed or not.

We’ll continue talking about visuals next week as we cover Charts & Graphs. Also, remember to check out the VC Online series starting next week. Visuals will be covered the last two weeks of October.


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