Google Slides

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Summary: Google Slides is a collaboration tool used to create slides for presentations. Applying the six core skills to your Slides file will make it more accessible to people with disabilities and easier for all of your audience to follow along with your talk.

How to create an accessible Google Slide deck

Use these techniques to prepare your slide files whenever you make the electronic file available to your audience.

Use predefined slide layouts

Slide layouts are comprised of content containers that govern how content is displayed on the page. You should use predefined layouts instead of manually created text boxes, because the layouts are specially coded to work well with adaptive technologies like screen readers.

They also make your content look more uniform and professional.

Here is the menu of layouts that is available in Google slides by default:

Default slide layouts available in Google Slides include title slide, section header, title and body, title and two columns, title only, one-column text, main point, section title and description, caption, big number and blank.

Ensure the tab reading order is the actual reading order

Make sure the objects on your slide are presented in logical reading order. To test the reading order, put your cursor on the top, left-most object on your slide. Now press the Tab key as it selects each additional object. This is the order that screen readers will read the content of your slides. The default order of objects is first governed by the slide layout (see above) and second by the order in which you added objects to the slide. To adjust the order:  

  1. Select the element that you want to change.
  2. Select the Arrange menu > Order.
    "Send backward" raises the object higher in the reading order. "Bring forward" makes the object lower in the reading order. 
  3. Test reading order with the Tab key again.

You may need to experiment with object grouping in order to create a logical order.

Add alt text to images and text boxes

Adaptive technologies can only access image content if alternative text ("alt text") is manually added to the image. To add alt text, select the image. Then in the Format menu, select Alt text. Enter short or "overview" alt text in the Title field. If you are describing a complex image, place additional information in the Description field.

The Description field is the best place to include extended descriptions for charts and graphs.

Though it's counterintuitive, you also need to add alt text for any text boxes that you manually place on the slide. (You DON'T need to add alt text when you used a text content container in a predefined slide layout, see above.)

Consider presentation best practices when adding content to your slides

People can't read a slide and listen to the speaker at the same time. Rather than cramming as much text as you can onto your slides (making them essentially function as speaker notes), include only the most essential points.

Additionally, when presenting, don't assume that everyone in your audience is able to see or make sense of your slide design. Get in the habit of describing the slide, especially when you are showing images, charts and graphics.

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