Sharing accessible presentations

By Glenna Shaw, Microsoft MVP and owner of the PowerPoint Magician web site.

Applies to
Microsoft Office PowerPoint® 2003
Microsoft PowerPoint® 2000 and 2002

Increase your presentation’s accessibility by making it available in multiple formats. This allows the reader to choose the format that is most comfortable for him or her. Always include a link to download the viewers for the posted formats.

The Formats


Save your file as PPT or PPS. Do not password protect the file. Screen Readers cannot access password-protected files. Include a link on the same page to either the PowerPoint 2003 Viewer or the PowerPoint 97 Viewer for PowerPoint 97, 2000, and 2002.


Use PPT2HTML, available from RDP to create a text-only HTML page. PPT2HTML allows you greater flexibility in creating your web pages. Or using PowerPoint, save the PowerPoint presentation as a TXT file. This will create the outline only. You’ll need to modify the text file to include alternative text, etc.


Use Adobe Acrobat to create a PDF file. Do not password protect the file. Screen Readers cannot access password-protected files. Include a link on the same page to the Adobe Reader. Some alternative software for creating PDF files are listed on the How Do I Make A PDF? page of The PowerPoint FAQ site.

If you choose alternative software for creating PDF files, make sure it will convert your slide titles to bookmarks and your alt-text to accessible tags. If the software doesn’t do these things for you, you need to “retrofit” the PDF file.


Save the Adobe PDF file as a Rich Text Format (RTF).


Use the PowerPoint Web Wizard to create XML web pages. Go to The PowerPoint FAQ site. This Search Page lists a lot of information about PowerPoint’s “Save As Web Page” feature. Be sure to check out the Optimize PowerPoint's HTML for Netscape Navigator page. This page tells you how to create the most accessible version. It also lists the shortcomings.

WAI Compliant HTML

HiSoftware Desktop Office Add-Ins will create WAI Fully Compliant Web pages from a PowerPoint presentation. Some knowledge of HTML code is required.

Captioned Multimedia

For the truest representation of your presentation, consider one of the following:

  • Camtasia
  • Impatica

Remember to close caption multimedia files and post viewers to match the media format. For example, post links to Real Player, Windows Media Player, QuickTime, and so on for viewing the different multimedia files.

Microsoft Agents (Talking Characters)

And for a fun twist, consider using VoxProxy. With VoxProxy, you easily program walking, talking, dancing, prancing characters to give your presentations for you.

The Delivery Methods


Posting files to the web is the easiest method of widely distributing your presentation in multiple formats. On your web page, enter the name of your presentation and clearly identify the links to the different formats. Don’t forget to include links to all the appropriate viewers.


CDs present more of a challenge for multiple formats. One method is to create an autorun CD and include the additional formats on the CD as well. You can also create a menu in HTML with links to all the formats. This would be the most accessible method.


When sharing files through e-mail, it’s best if you know your recipient’s preferences. Send only the format that works best for your recipient. Or you can be even kinder and e-mail the file links instead of the files themselves.

About the author: Glenna Shaw is a Certified Project Management Professional with the federal government and an active member of the PowerPoint Community. She is Microsoft Certified in PowerPoint and Word and holds a Certificate in Accessible Information Technology.

Applies to:
PowerPoint 2003