Accessible Presentations – Illustrations & Images continued

This week, we continue with Charts & Graphs, as well as what to do with purely decorative images. Remember that in live presentations, you can describe/discuss your charts and graphs, but in electronically delivered presentations, you’ll need to include the description in the PPT.

Charts & Graphs

Contents of charts and graphs should be clear and labeled.

Go to Insert > Chart > Choose the type of chart/graph that best represents the data.

Screenshot of PPT 2013 Insert Chart dialog box

Once you’ve added a Chart, you’ll be able to see the Chart Tools tabs for Design and Format. (These are contextual ribbon tabs which are only visible when you click on an inserted Chart.)

Screenshot of PPT 2013 Chart Tools Design ribbon tab

Once you’ve added your data, add Data Labels. There are several ways to add Data Labels. The Add Chart Element option is available in the Chart Tools Design ribbon tab.

Screenshot of PPT 2013 Add Chart Element options with Data Labels highlighted

Or, if you click on your chart, several icons will appear. The Chart Area icon (looks like a plus sign) appears.

Screenshot of PPT 2013 Add Chart Element options with Data Labels highlighted

Click on the Chart Area icon to add data labels. If you go to More Options, you’ll access the Format Data Labels pane.

Screenshot of PPT 2013 Format Data Labels pane

(Alternately, right click on any data in the chart > Format Data Labels > Make your adjustments using the Format Data Labels pane.)


Once the data labels have been added, you can adjust the size if needed the way you would adjust the size of fonts in text. Depending on the type of data your chart illustrates, you may want additional label options. For example, it may be useful to show the Category Name, Value and Percentage. It just depends on the nature of your data and the purpose of your chart.

You may also provide the data in a tabular format (i.e. use the table that you used to create the chart). This benefits everyone because if you need to edit or copy the data later, tabular data is easier to edit.

To add alt text to the chart/graph, click on the chart. (Be sure to click outside of the data area – on the outside border. Otherwise, you will not have selected the entire chart). This should give you access to the Format Chart Area pane. Click on the Size & Properties icon in the Charts Options and add a meaningful description.

Screenshot of PPT 2013 Format Chart Area pane with Alt Text highlighted

(Alternately, right click on the chart > Format Chart Area > Alt Text > Description.)

Screenshot of PPT 2013 right click options for charts with Format Chart Area highlighted

There may be too much information to convey in the alt text. If this is the case, be sure to repeat the information described visually in your presentation.

Decorative Images

You want to use meaningful images in presentations. However, sometimes you’ll have images (such as backgrounds or frames) that are merely decorative and have no meaningful content. When you convert to PDF, be sure to mark these as artifacts so that the screen reader will just skip the decorative images entirely.

In next week’s blog, we’ll cover hyperlinks in PPT. But, for more information on visuals, check out the VC Online series starting this week. Visuals will be covered the last two weeks of October.


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