Google Slides

Sample template and guidelines for creating accessible documents.

Google Slides Template

Use the following sample document as a starting point for creating accessible presentations in Google Slides. It is important to note that you must follow the guidelines below to ensure you take accessibility steps with the content you add to the template. Please refer to the guidelines that follow for more instructions.

Access and copy a basic accessible Google Slides Template

Google Slides Guidelines

Google Slides can be somewhat less intuitive to check for accessibility than Microsoft PowerPoint. Use the following tips to create a document that is accessible to readers with a variety of disabilities.

Use predefined slide layouts

Use layouts such as ‘Title and Body’ or ‘Title in Two Columns’ to maintain structure. These predefined layouts help keep the content organized and accessible and make it easier for screen readers to navigate through the presentation. It will also ensure each slide has a title. People that use a screen reader rely on the slide titles to know which slide is which. Give every slide a unique title and do not use the same title more than once. If needed, you can add a number such as “Insert your title: 1 of 2”.

  • To see predefined layout options, in Google Slides select Slide > Apply Layout

Use a logical reading order

Ensure slide objects are in a logical reading order. This is crucial for screen reader users to understand the slide. If you are using a predetermined layout, the order will already be logical. If you add items to the slide, you should verify the order.

  • Check the reading order within Google Slides by selecting the slide thumbnail and pressing the tab key on your keyboard. Items will highlight in the order they will be read. Move items back or forward to adjust the order.
  • To change the reading order of an object you have added, right-click on the object you’ve added to your slide and choose from the option: “Bring to Front,” “Bring Forward,” “Send Backward,” and “Send to Back.”

Check text size and alignment

To make your presentation easy to read, consider font type, size, spacing and alignment. Fonts that are too small or too decorative may not be readable by some users.

  • Use left-aligned text when possible. Justified text is more difficult to read because of the extra space between words.
  • Use “sans serif” fonts with sufficient spacing between letters (e.g. Arial, Calibri, Verdana, Helvetica, Century Gothic).
  • Use fonts 11-14 points in size for body text.
  • Avoid using italics as it can make text harder to read.
  • Avoid or limit the use of capital letters for whole words and headings. Dyslexic readers may find lowercase letters easier to read, and excessive use of capital letters can cause crowding and make the text appear to run together.
  • Only use underline for hyperlink text to help users be certain when text is a link.
  • Increasing line spacing slightly helps avoid crowding the text, making it easier for dyslexic individuals to track lines.

Write Descriptions for Links

Hyperlinks to websites or online resources need to include a full description of the destination. Using the complete URL address as the hyperlink text is confusing when read by a screen reader, especially if it is lengthy. A common error is to use phrases like “Click here” as the display texts for hyperlinks, which does not include a description of where the link goes or its function.

Add alternative text for images

Alternative text (also referred to as alt text) allows you to add textual descriptions to images so people using assistive technologies such as screen readers can hear an audio description of what is in the image.

Create Charts and Diagrams in another program

Charts created in Google Slides are difficult for users with visual impairments to understand. Create charts in another program and add them as images with detailed alternative text. This allows for more customization and makes the charts more accessible.

  • Ensure the chart style you choose includes text labels, does not depend on only colour to comprehend, and that the colour contrast is sufficient.
  • Select the chart image, right click, and choose Alt Text to add or edit a text description that will help screen reader users understand the content of the chart.
  • Access the following link to learn how to use Microsoft Excel to create accessible charts: How to Create more accessible charts in Excel

Use tables for data, not layout, and use a simple table structure

Avoid tables if possible and present the data another way, like paragraphs or lists with headings. Google Slides struggles with table accessibility, which can make complex data difficult to understand for users with disabilities. Keep tables simple with basic rows and columns.

  • There is no feature for table headers in Google Slides. Screen readers will read the table left to right and top to bottom. The first row should contain descriptive titles for each column.
  • Do not merge cells, split cells, leave cells blank, or nest tables.
  • Right click on the table and choose Alt Text to provide a description that can help screen reader users better understand the table.
  • How to add and edit tables in Google slides

Add captions to audio and video

Make your presentation more inclusive to people who are deaf or hard of hearing by adding captions and subtitles in videos and audio.

Enable captions when delivering a presentation

Google slides will use the microphone to listen to you speak and use an AI-powered service to convert the speech into captions displayed on the screen as you present. See the following link to learn how to enable this feature:

  • When you present, try to describe visuals. Avoid phrases like “As you can see from this chart”, instead, fully describe the content of the chart. This approach ensures that individuals who are participating via phone or who may have visual disabilities can participate.
  • How to present slides with captions

Choose Colours and Contrast Carefully

Check for high color contrast and use simple backgrounds. Increasing color contrast makes viewing easier for those with vision impairments.

  • Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 recommend a minimum ratio of 4.5:1 for large text and 7:1 for other text and images. For example, avoid light gray text on a white background, or text over top of a multicoloured photographic background.
  • See Best Practices: Choose Colours and Contrast Carefully for more details.
  • To check contrast, use the following tool: WebAIM contrast checker: This is a website that allows you to enter values to get a pass/fail rating based on WCAG compliance.

Converting to PDF

Do not export your accessible Google Slides presentation as a PDF. At the time of writing, exporting to PDF from Google Slides strips out all the tags, resulting in a PDF that is not accessible. Instead, do one of the following:

  • Export as a Word document and then export it as a PDF from Word.
  • Use the paid version of Grackle Docs to export accessible PDFs directly from Google Slides.
  • Open your PDF document in Adobe Acrobat Pro DC, choose Tools > Accessibility and select Run Setup Assistant.
  • Note: making accessible PDFs is difficult. If your information can be shared as a web page instead, that is a better option. Web content is inherently more accessible.