Category Archives: Accessibility

Turning on Subtitles in PowerPoint

Table of Contents

  • Introduction to PowerPoint subtitles
  • Web
  • Windows
  • Mac
  • Best Practices
  • Questions

Introduction to PowerPoint Subtitles

PowerPoint can create automatic speech recognition (ASR) subtitles during a presentation in a variety of languages. This feature is available on the web, Windows, and Mac versions of PowerPoint.


  1. Click Slide Show.
  2. Click Always Use Subtitles.  Clicking Always Use Subtitles will enable subtitles in your presentations until you choose to turn off the feature by clicking this button again.
  3. Open the subtitle menu by clicking the down arrow or “v” next to Always Use Subtitles.

Subtitle Settings in PowerPoint Online.

  1. Click Spoken Language to select the language the presenter will be speaking in. Be mindful that PowerPoint will only pick up the speech of the person who is using the computer on which the presentation is running (or a microphone connected to that computer.)
  2. Click Subtitle Language to select the language you want the subtitles to appear in. The spoken language and subtitle language selections do not need to be the same language. (If you choose a subtitle language different than the spoken language, PowerPoint will provide a computer generated translation into your chosen subtitle language.)
  3. Select where you would like the subtitles to appear in your presentation by clicking either Below Slide or Above Slide. (It is a best practice to avoid using the options Bottom (Overlaid) and Top (Overlaid) since both of these options might overlap with your presentation slide text making both your slides and captions difficult to read.)
  4. Optional: You can click Audio Settings to choose which microphone you would like to use to pick up the speech that will be subtitled. This option is automatically set to your computer’s default microphone. To choose your microphone:
    1. Click Audio Settings.
    2. Click the drop down menu under Microphone.
    3. Click on the microphone option you want to use.
    4. Click on your presentation to exit the Audio Settings menu.
    5. Click anywhere on your presentation to exit the Always Use Subtitles menu.

When you start your presentation, subtitles will begin to appear. Usually, the subtitles are delayed for a few seconds when you first start speaking.

If you would like to turn off subtitles in the middle of presenting, you can:

  • Toggle subtitles on and off by pressing the J key.
  • Click the Use Subtitles button on the toolbar below the main slide while presenting.


Always Use Subtitles checkbox in Slide Show tab

  1. Click on Slide Show.
  2. Mark the checkbox next to Always Use Subtitle.
  3. Continue at Step 4 of the Web version instructions above.


Settings for Captions and Subtitles are on the Slide Show tab in PowerPoint.

  1. Click on Slide Show.
  2. Mark the checkbox next to Always Use Subtitle Settings.
  3. Click Subtitle Settings to open the menu.
  4. Continue at Step 4 of the Web version instructions above.

Best Practices

To ensure the best quality subtitles:

  • Speak clearly and deliberately.
  • Eliminate background noise.
  • Ensure a good internet connection.


If you have any additional questions or problems, don’t hesitate to reach out to the Help Desk!

Phone: 610-526-7440
Location: Canaday Library 1st Floor

Create Accessible Slides in PowerPoint

Microsoft PowerPoint creates slide show presentations that convey information with a combination of text, images, charts, and tables. Although slide shows are designed to be highly visual, following these accessibility guidelines will ensure that everyone, including those who use use assistive technologies such as screen readers and text-to-Braille devices, can experience and understand the content of your slides.

  1. Choose an Accessible Theme
  2. Use Built-in Slide Layouts
  3. Use Unique Slide Titles
  4. Use Meaningful Hyperlink Text
  5. Use Tables Wisely
  6. Add Alt Text for Images and Charts
  7. Use the Accessibility Checker

For more in-depth information, see Microsoft’s documentation on making PowerPoint presentations accessible.

Note: If you create a PDF copy of your slides to share, use File > Save as Adobe PDF (instead of printing to PDF) to ensure accessibility features are included. Mac users need Office 2016 or 2019 and must select the radio button Best for electronic distribution and accessibility when saving. If you have an older Mac version of Office, open the document in PowerPoint online (part of Office 365) to save it as a PDF.

1. Choose an Accessible Theme

Themes and templates can add visual interest to a presentation. Microsoft’s accessible templates use accessible color settings, contrast, and fonts and have been designed so that screen readers can more easily read the slide content

  1. Click File, then New.
  2.  In the Search for online templates and themes box, type the word “accessible” and press Enter.
  3. Select your template from the results.

2. Use Built-in Slide Layouts

The content placeholders in these built-in layouts contain invisible “tags” or labels such as “Title 1”, “Subtitle 2,” etc. that assistive technologies can use to contextualize content for readers. 

  • Click New Slide and choose a the most appropriate slide layout from the drop-down menu (e.g., Title Slide, Title and Content, etc.). Then add the appropriate content to each placeholder container.  

3. Use Unique Slide Titles

  • Use a unique, descriptive title for each slide. Individuals who use assistive technologies use slide titles to identify and locate slides.
  • If information is spread across multiple slides, add sequence markers to keep titles unique — e.g,, Agenda (1 of 2), Agenda (2 of 2).

4. Use Meaningful Hyperlink Text

Make sure any URLs you add to the document are working hyperlinks with unique “display text” labels that describe the link’s destination.

  • Assistive technologies typically read or present this display text when a link is selected, so it needs to be meaningful without the surrounding text. For example, if all of the hyperlinks in your document use “click here” as the display text, an assistive technology user won’t be able to distinguish between them.
  • Before using a URL as display text, consider a reader’s experience when hearing it read aloud. A short, meaningful URL like might be acceptable as display text, but URLs that are long or contain non-human-readable text — such as or — are not.

To insert hyperlinks:

  1. Type the text you want to make a link.
  2. Select that text, then right-click (or control-click) on your selection and choose Link.
  3. The text you selected will be in the Text to Display box; this will appear (and be read) as the link to click on.
  4. Enter the URL that the link should point to in the Address box.
  5. If it is difficult to succinctly describe a link’s destination, you can optionally click ScreenTip and to add information that will pop-up or be read when the cursor hovers over a link.
  6. Click OK.

4. Use Tables Wisely

Some information may be easier for viewers to scan or understand if it is organized in rows and columns. To ensure your tables are accessible for individuals using assistive technologies:

  • Tag the first row of each column as column headers, by positioning you cursor inside the table, clicking Table Design and checking Header Row under Table Style Options. If you don’t like the way the header row is formatted, adjust the formatting settings manually.
  • Keep tables simple. Assistive technologies use headers and cell numbers to identify tabular text and have difficulty representing complex tables with merged or split cells.
  • Avoid blank cells. Use the appropriate null value (0, n/a, etc.) instead.
DON’T use tables for layout — that is, to align and group slide elements. Use Powerpoint’s tools for aligning and arranging objects instead.

6. Add Alt Text to Images and Charts

Alt text (alternative text) describes important images and visual elements on a slide for readers who cannot see them.

  1. Open the Alt Text panel:
    • Select an image, chart or other visual element and choose Alt Text on from its Format ribbon (e.g., Picture Format, Chart Format, etc.) OR 
    • Right-click (control-click) on the visual element and choose Edit Alt Text … from the contextual menu.
  2. Add a short description or check the Mark as decorative if a screen reader or other assistive technology can ignore the image.
  3. Select another image or close the pane.


  • Only describe images or visual elements that convey important information. If you can remove the image without changing the viewer’s understanding of the slide content, then it is “decorative” from an accessibility standpoint.
  • Don’t repeat information about the image that is already presented in the surrounding text. Alt text is only necessary if the surrounding text doesn’t describe an image sufficiently; if it does, you can mark the image as decorative.
  • Be concise.

7. Use the Accessibility Checker

  1. Click Review in the top menu bar and choose Check Accessibility. Microsoft will display the results in the Accessibility pane on the right side of the screen.
  2. Click on each Error, Warning or Tip to see:
    • A list of all objects with this issue in your document.
    • More information about the issue and how to fix it.
  3. Click one of the objects in the list; Powerpoint will jump to the slide where it appears and highlight it.
  4. The text beneath the list explains how to fix the issue; in many cases, you can click the down arrow at the end item label in the list for shortcuts to the Recommended Actions.

Make PDFs Accessible with Adobe Acrobat

Adobe Acrobat has simplified the process of making PDFs accessible, with a “Make Accessible” action wizard that walks you through the steps needed to make a PDF accessible, and an Accessibility Checker that scans for accessibility issues and provides guidance on fixing them.

Before you start, you will need access to the following:

Important: Do NOT use PRINT to PDF to save a file as a PDF unless it is your only option. Printing to PDF does not preserve the tags and other accessibility features needed for reading electronically.

Table of Contents

Set Up Adobe Acrobat

Adding the tools you need to make files accessible to the Tool sidebar makes them easier to access in the future.

  1. Open Adobe Acrobat DC and click Tools in the top menu bar.
  2. Scroll down to Protect & Standarize > Accessibility and click Add to place it in the Tools sidebar on the right side.
  3. Under Customize > Action Wizard and click Add to place it in Tools sidebar.

From now on these tools will appear at the bottom of the Tools pane on the right.

Run the Make Accessible Wizard

  1. Open your PDF file.
  2. Click the Action Wizard icon, then click Make Accessible.

  1. The Make Accessible steps appear in the right sidebar: click Start to begin.

Tips for using the wizard
    • Acrobat highlights each step as it is performed, and places a check beside it once it is completed.
    • Not all steps require user input; only those that do are described here.
    • If you need to temporarily exit the wizard, click Stop at the top of the sidebar, then Resume to restart it where you left off.
    • You can double-click completed steps to re-run them.
  1. For the Add Document Description step, uncheck the Leave As Is box under Title and enter the document’s title, then click OK.

Note: The Subject, Author and Keywords fields aren’t required for accessibility, but can make it easier for readers to find the document.)
  1. For the Recognize Text step, Acrobat will prompt you to edit or approve the settings it uses when using OCR to identify text in the document. Ensure that Document Language is correctly set, then click OK to begin the OCR process.

Note: If your document’s language is not listed or it contains long passages in multiple languages, use ABBYY Fine Reader to OCR the text instead. (See Multiple or Unusual Languages, below.)
  1. Toward the end of the OCR process, a dialog window will pop up asking if the PDF is “intended to be used as a fillable form.”
    • If the document IS a form, click Yes, Detect Form Fields. Acrobat will attempt to auto-detect the form fields and insert the field tags that enable a reader to enter data. This step is required in order for the form to be accessible.
    • If the document IS NOT a form, click No, Skip this Step.
  2. For the Set Reading Language step, again check the document language is correct and click OK..
  3. During the Set Alternate Text step, provide alternate text (alt text) for the images Acrobat auto-detected as needed.

How to write alt text
  • Acrobat places a grey box over the image on the PDF page to identify which one you are describing. (If you can’t see that box, close the Set Alternate Text window, use the page zoom controls ( and ) to resize the page, then double-click Set Alternate Text in the right sidebar to re-open the window.)
  • Enter a short description of the image IF a) this description would help a reader understand the document AND b) the image is NOT already described or explained in a caption or accompanying text.
  • Check Decorative figure instead if the image does contribute to a reader’s understanding or is already explained or described.
  • Click the right arrow to move to the next image; when you have finished adding alternate text for all images, click Save & Close.
  • For advice on what to include alt text see: Writing good Alt Text or the Poet Alt Text training tool
  • Readers will need more than a brief alt-text description to understand complex images such as charts and graphs. Ideally, complex images should be described and explained in the accompanying text for the benefit of all readers. Digital publishers are still working out standards for adding longer descriptions when this is not the case. See also Effective Practices for Describing Science Content within Digital Talking Books .
  1. For the final, Run Accessibility Full Check step, an Accessibility Checker Options window may appear. If so, keep the default settings and click Start Checking.

Once the accessibility check is complete, you’re done with the Action Wizard and Close the sidebar.

View Accessibility Checker Results

Accessibility Checker results display in the left sidebar panel. If you close it, click the Accessibility Checker icon (the person in a circle with a check over it) to reopen it.

Screen shot of Accessibility Checker results

Running the Make Accessible wizard fixes most issues, so most tests should be listed as Passed.

A few issues will always be listed as Needs manual check:

  • Logical Reading Order — A human needs to verify that the document is “tagged” in such a way that assistive technologies read elements in a logical order. See the next section, Manually Check for Logical Reading Order.
  • Color contrast — A human needs to verify that there is enough contrast between text and background for the text to be legible. For black text on a white background, the answer is always yes. For other color combinations, you can set text and background colors in WebAIM’s Contrast Checker to check.
  • Navigation links — A human needs to check that hyperlinks and URLs work and open the correct webpages.

If there any items are marked Failed:

  • Right-click or (Ctrl-click on a Mac) on the item, and click Fix if available.
  • If Fix is not an option: complete the Manually Check for Logical Reading Order steps the next section, then reopen the Accessibility Checker results, right-click (or Ctrl-click) on the Failed item, and choose Check again. In most cases, those steps will have fixed the problem.

See Adobe’s Fix Accessibility Issues documentation for more in-depth help.

Manually Check for Logical Reading Order

An accessible PDF has “tags” or invisible bits of code that identify document elements (e.g., heading, image, paragraph, etc.) and the order in which assistive technologies should “read” them. Adobe Acrobat “auto-tags” documents as part of the Make Accessible process, but human review is needed to catch and fix mistakes. More complex documents – for example, with multiple columns of text or footnotes – are more likely to have mistakes. This section covers the most commonly needed checks and fixes; for more in-depth information, see Adobe’s Reading Order Tool for PDFs.

Note: A large or second monitor is extremely helpful. If you have only a laptop screen, consider using one of the College’s library or computers with a large monitor.

Open the Reading Order Pane

  1. Click the Accessibility tool in the right sidebar.
  2. Click Reading Order.

While the Reading Order pane is open, Acrobat puts boxes around structural elements on a page, as shown in the image below. You may need to move the pane and/or resize your page to see all page elements.

The boxes are labeled according to the Show page content groups setting in the Reading Order pane:

  • If Page content order is selected, they are numbered in the order a screen reader will read them (as pictured below). For most checks will want this option selected.
  • If Structure types is selected, the type of tag is indicated (e.g., P for Text/Paragraph, H1 for Heading 1, etc.)

  • To select an entire box, click its number or type label. (The cursor will change to a hand when you are over the correct area.)
  • To select part of the text inside of a box or across multiple boxes, click on the page and drag a box around the text you want to include. Acrobat will put a purple box around the selected text as shown below.

Tag Any “Artifacts”

Select any box or area of text that text-to-speech readers and assistive technologies should ignore, then click the Background/Artifact button in the Reading Order Pane.

Things that should be tagged as artifacts include:

  • Marks on a page misidentified as text
  • Images that are purely decorative
  • Text or marks that are part of an image (for example, labels or lines in a chart). (Any important information about the image should be conveyed more coherently in the surrounding text, a caption, or alternative text for the image.)
  • Headers and footers
Note: Although headers and footers help sighted readers navigate multi-page documents, in non-visual formats they lose referential value and become disruptive — as, for example, when read in the middle of a sentence or paragraph. If the headers or footers contain essential text that is not repeated in the body of the document, leave the first or last instance (whichever would be least disruptive when read aloud) marked as Text/Paragraph and tag the rest as Background/Artifact.

Fix Page Grouping if Needed

Once you’ve removed any artifacts, check that the remaining text is grouped correctly. Each group will be enclosed in a box; assistive technologies will “read” the text in that box line by line (according to language order), then move to the next box.

Note: You can’t “undo” these changes, so save your document before any major step in case you need to revert to the saved version.
Pay particular attention to documents with complex layouts, including:
  • Documents scanned “two-up” (i.e., with two facing book pages visible on each document page): If text from both pages is grouped together, a text-to-speech reader will read across both pages. Separate them by clicking and dragging a box around the right-hand page, then clicking Text/Paragraph to make it a separate group. (If this doesn’t work, create a file with one book page per document page.)
  • Multi-column documents: Make sure each column is in a separate group; if not, click and drag a box around the right-most column and click Text/Paragraph in the Reading Order pane to separate it. Repeat for each additional column.
  • Documents containing “non-body” text (e.g., captions, footnotes, or sidebars): If these elements repeat information stated in the main body of the text (e.g., pull quotes), mark them as artifacts. Otherwise, select the text and click Text/Paragraph to tag it as a separate group, to be read separately. You may need to adjust the reading order so they are read at an appropriate point. (See Footnotes, Endnotes, and References below for more discussion.)

Fix Reading Order if Needed

Once the elements are grouped correctly, reorder any page elements that are in the wrong order:

  1. Click the Show Order Panel button in the Reading Order pane.
  2. The Order panel opens in the left sidebar and lists each “box” on page, with its number and a snippet of the first line for identification, as shown below.
  3. To re-0rder, click-and-drag an item to its correct place in the list and release when an insertion line appears.

Tag Headings and Fix Nesting if Needed

Tagged headings can help all readers navigate within long documents and become especially important when visual cues such as headers or page numbers lose relevance. Headings should be tagged in hierarchical, outline order — in other words, the first heading should be tagged as a Heading 1 (H1), its sub-headings are Heading 2 (H2), their sub-headings are Heading 3 (H3), and so on. The Accessibility Checker may report a “Nesting” failure if it detects headings that are out of order — for example, a H3 that is preceded by an H1 instead of an H2.

  1. In the Reading Order pane, change the Show page content groups setting to Structure Types.
  2. Uncheck Display like elements in a single block. Each line of text should now show up in a separate box as shown below.
  3. Check that each box that contains a heading is tagged with the appropriate heading style.
  4. If a heading has the wrong level or is marked as ordinary text (P), select it and click the correct Heading button on the Reading Order pane to retag it.

Things that Require Special Attention

Multiple or Uncommon Languages

Adobe’s can recognize text in several commonly used languages (including some with non-Latin alphabets), but only in one language at a time.

You can often correct individual words and short phrases in a second language within Acrobat:

  1. Click Tools and choose Scan & OCR.
  2. Click Recognize Text and choose Correct Recognized Text.
  3. By default, Acrobat shows you only “suspect” words: the Image box contains the thing it “suspects” is text and the recognized as box the text that Acrobat inferred is there. The corresponding spot will be highlighted within the page in light red. Click inside the recognized as box to correct the text if needed, then click Accept to move to the next suspect.

  1. If the second-language words were not among the suspects, uncheck the Review recognized text box to see all of the text that Acrobat recognized super-imposed over the page image. Double-click on any incorrect words within the page itself, then type the correct text in the recognized as box and click Accept.

For documents containing long passages in multiple languages or languages that Adobe Acrobat does not support, use ABBYY Fine Reader, which recognizes text in 201 languages and lets you set the OCR language at the passage level, or have a human transcribe the document.

Decorative Fonts, Unusual Characters and Complex Layouts

Acrobat’s Make Accessible wizard and Accessibility Checker works best with documents printed in common fonts and using simple page layouts. For more atypical documents, ABBYY Fine Reader, which librarians and archivists use digitizing large and historical collections, may help. It has built-in support for recognizing typewritten text and text printed in Gothic fonts used in 19th and early 20th century. If you have a large corpus of documents with other kinds of unusual elements, you can use ABBYY’s pattern training and page templating features to “teach” the software to better recognize and process them. However, if you have only a few documents with these unusual elements, it is typically easier and faster to have a human transcribe them.

Mathematical and Scientific Notation

OCR software can usually recognize the text surrounding mathematical and scientific formulas, equations, or special characters, as long as the ratio of surrounding text to these elements is high enough to determine context. However, you will need to tag the formulas, equations and special characters in Adobe Acrobat and/or provide alt text so that they will be correctly “read” by assistive technologies.

Footnotes, Endnotes, and References

Citations can present a challenge: This APA blog post explains the “non-body text” problem in more detail as relates to citations.)

Accessibility File Scan in Moodle

The Moodle Accessibility FileScan tool checks and reports on the accessibility of PDF files added to a Moodle course. (Student Assignment submissions and PDFs provided as Feedback to individual students are excluded from the scan.)

Table of Contents


File Scan Summary Block

The File Scan Summary block on the course page summarizes the results.

Screen shot of FileScan summary block

Accessible — how many PDFs passed all accessibility tests.

Inaccessible – how many files lack searchable, text-to-speech readable text.

Partially accessible – how many files have searchable text, but lack one or more of the other key accessibility features.

File error — how many files the tool could not scan (e.g., due to password-protection or corruption).

Click View File Details for a list of PDF files found in the course and information about what accessibility issues are reported.


Fixing Inaccessible and Partially Accessible PDFs

Files that are inaccessible or partially accessible need to be fixed and replaced.

  1. Click View File Details to find out which files are inaccessible or partially accessible.
  2. You can fix most PDFs using Adobe Acrobat’s Make Accessible wizard.  Adobe Acrobat is part of Adobe Creative Cloud and available on all college-owned computers. Faculty and staff can also install copies on personal devices.
  3. However:
    • If the PDF is a copy of a file you created in another program (e.g., Microsoft Word), it is usually faster to make that original document accessible, and then re-save as a PDF. See Create Accessible Documents in Microsoft Word and Create Accessible Slides in PowerPoint, for info on making files accessible in these programs.
    • If the PDF is an old scan or download of a print journal article, check whether a newer, accessible version is available in repositories like JSTOR or ProQuest. Most have been working to improve the accessibility of their holdings over the past few years.
  4. Once you have an accessible version, delete the files in Moodle and replace them with the fixed copies.

Time-saving tips:

  • Also replace any copies you store outside Moodle with the accessible versions as well, so you have them to use in future courses.
  • Consider adding an abbreviation to the filenames (such as “_av”, “access”, “_rev” etc.) of PDFs you’ve fixed so you can easily identify them.
  • Bibliographic tools can make it easier to organize and manage PDF libraries. Some, like Zotero, enable people to group libraries, which can be an easy way for departments or disciplinary colleagues to share accessible PDFs of commonly taught texts.
  • Adobe Acrobat’s Make Accessible wizard will apply OCR to file that lack text, but it will have difficulty with scans that are highly skewed, made from poor photocopies, blurry, shadowed, obscured, underlined or annotated. Finding and rescanning a clean, unmarked original is usually much faster than trying to fix the OCR errors in a bad scan.


File Details Explained

The detail report indicates when each file was scanned and which accessibility tests it passed or failed using the following icons:

(green check mark) — passed

(red X) – failed

(blue question mark) — file has not yet been scanned or an error is preventing it from being scanned (e.g., it could be corrupted or password-protected).


This column indicates the document’s overall accessibility. Files with a (green check mark) passed all accessibility tests, files with a (orange exclamation mark) or (red X) did not and need to be fixed.


A PDF will fail this test if it lacks text. Documents that fail are typically scans of print documents. Scanners only create an image of a page; OCR (optical character recognition) software must convert the pixels within that image into text that can be searched, highlighted, and read by screen readers, text-to-speech software, and other assistive technologies. Because text is fundamental for accessibility, documents without text are flagged as completely inaccessible.


A PDF will fail this test if the title field is blank or missing from the descriptive metadata — or data about the file — that is stored with it. The title of the document is different from the file name and is used by screen readers to identify documents and windows. A clear and accurate title helps screen-reader users identify which document they are reading and navigate between windows.

  • Adobe Acrobat’s Make Accessible wizard will prompt you to add a title to the metadata.
  • You can also edit the Title on the Description tab of the Document Properties window (click File, Properties …, then Description).


A PDF will fail this test if the language field is blank or missing from the descriptive metadata for the file. Screen reader software and other assistive technologies need language metadata to ensure proper text-to-speech recognition and pronunciation.

  • Adobe Acrobat’s Make Accessible wizard will prompt you to specify the language of your document
  • You can also edit the language on Advanced tab Document Properties window (click File, Properties …, then Advanced).


A PDF will fail this test if the document has not been “tagged” with structural information about headings and sections. These tags ensure screen readers read text in the proper order and helps all readers navigate within a document.

  • If you created your document in a program like Word, and used built-in heading styles to add information about the structure of the document, these will be converted to the appropriate tags when you save as a PDF. See Create Accessible Documents in Microsoft Word.
  • If the PDF does not already have tags, Adobe Acrobat’s Make Accessible wizard will attempt to “autotag” it. You will need to check this auto-tagging as the final step and fix any errors.

Accessibility Features in Microsoft Teams

Table of Contents:

Visit the Microsoft website for a comprehensive list of the the accessibility features available in Teams.

Use Live Captions

Live captions make Teams meetings more inclusive for participants who are deaf or hard-of-hearing, have differing levels of language proficiency, or are in places with loud background noise by providing an additional way for them to follow along.

Turn captions on and off on a desktop or laptop device
  1. In meeting controls, click More options
  2. Click Turn on live captions or Turn off live captions accordingly

Screenshot of More options menu with Turn on live captions option from a desktop.

Note: Live captions are only available in English (US).  For best caption results, speak clearly, slowly, and directly into the microphone, and avoid having multiple people speak at the same time.

Turn captions on and off on a mobile device
  1. In meeting controls, click More options
  2. Click Turn on live captions or Turn off live captions accordingly.

Screenshot of More options menu with Turn on live captions option from a mobile device.

Note: Live captions are only available in English (US).  For best caption results, speak clearly, slowly, and directly into the microphone, and avoid having multiple people speak at the same time.

Visit the Microsoft website for more information about using live captions in Teams.


Reduce Background Noise

Teams offers four levels of noise suppression to limit background noise in meetings:

  • Auto (default): Teams automatically decides the best level of noise suppression
  • High: suppresses all background noise that isn’t speech
  • Low: suppresses persistent background noise, such as a fan. Use this level for playing music
  • Off: no noise suppression. Use this level for high-fidelity microphones in low noise environments.
Set the noise suppression level from the main Teams menu
  1. Click More options in the top right of the Teams window
  2. Click Settings from the menu
  3. Click Devices from the menu at the left
  4. Under Noise Suppression click the dropdown menu and click the desired noise suppression level.

Once the noise suppression level has been changed from the main Teams menu, it carries over to subsequent meetings.

Screenshot of Devices menu in Settings with Noise suppression seection highlighted.

Change the noise suppression level from the main Teams menu for Mac devices using an M1 ARM processor

Note: Mac devices using an M1 ARM processor include: Macbook Air, Macbook Pro, Mac mini, and iMac.

  1. Click Settings and more in the top right of the Teams window
  2. Click  Settings from the menu
  3. Click Devices from the menu at the left
  4. Click the toggle button next to Noise Suppression; when the dot is on the right, noise suppression is on.

Once the noise suppression level has been changed from the main Teams menu, it carries over to subsequent meetings.

Screenshot of Noise suppression section and toggle from Devices menu in Settings.

Set the noise suppression level from a meeting window
  1. Click More options in the meeting controls
  2. Click Device settings
  3. Under Noise Suppression click the dropdown menu and click the desired noise suppression level.

Screenshot of Device settings from the meeting controls menu with Noise suppression section highlighted.

Visit the Microsoft website for more information about using noise suppression in Teams.


Use the Immersive Reader

The Immersive Reader reads posts, chat messages, and assignments out loud.

Launch Immersive Reader

Launch Immersive Reader from a message
  1. Hover over a chat message with the cursor, or tap it on a touch screen device
  2. Click More options
  3. Click Immersive Reader, which launches Immersive Reader in full-screen view

Screenshot of More options menu for a chat message in Teams.

Launch Immersive Reader from an assignment as a student
  1. Open an assignment
  2. Click Immersive Reader, which launches Immersive Reader in full-screen view
Launch Immersive Reader from an assignment as an educator
  1. Open an assignment
  2. Click Student View
  3. Click Immersive Reader, which launches Immersive Reader in full-screen view

Use Immersive Reader

Listen to a document read aloud
  • Click Play to hear a document read aloud and see the text highlighted at the same time from the top of the page
  • Click a specific word in the document to choose where the narration begins in the document
  • Click Voice Options at the top right of the document to change the narration settings

Screenshot of Voice Options menu.

Change the appearance of a document
  • Click Text Options menu iconText options
  • Set text size, spacing, font, and theme color
  • Click Show Source Formatting to keep formatting from the original text, such as bolding or underlining

Screenshot of Text Options menu.

Change how parts of speech appear in a document
  • Click Grammar Options menu icon Grammar Options
  • Click the toggle next to the different parts of speech options to highlight and break down the document’s text. When the toggle dot is on the right, the toggle is turned on.

Screenshot of Grammar Options menu

Use the Reading Preference menu

Click Reading Preference menu icon Reading Preference to enable line focus, the picture dictionary, and translating.

Screenshot of Reading Preference menu

Visit the Microsoft website for more information about using the Immersive Reader.

Use Keyboard Shortucts

Keyboard shortcuts can be easier than using a touchscreen or mouse for users with mobility or vision issues.

Note: These shortcuts are for US keyboard layouts.

Visit the Microsoft website for a complete list of keyboard shortcuts for Mac and Windows computers, on the desktop app or the web.

Translate Messages

Translate a message on a desktop or laptop device
  1. Hover over a message with the cursor
  2. Click More options
  3. Click Translate. This will show the message in the language you’ve set in Teams

Note: Language settings can be changed in the General settings, but this will change the language settings for the entire Teams application. You can also translate messages using Teams’s Immersive Reader.

        Screenshot of More options menu on a desktop with Translate highlighted

Translate a message on a mobile device
  1. Press and hold a message
  2. Tap Translate. This will show the message in the language selected in the Translation settings
  3. To see the message in the original language, press and hold a message and tap See original (language).

Note: Change the selected translation language in the Translation settings. This will not change the language settings for the entire Teams app.

        Screenshot of message options menu on a mobile device

Visit the Microsoft page for more information about translating messages in Teams.

Use Default, Dark, and High Contrast Themes

Use Default, Dark, and High Contrast Themes on a desktop or laptop device
  1. Click Settings and more in the top right of the Teams window
  2. Click Settings
  3. Click General from the menu at the left
  4. In the Theme section choose the desired theme

Screenshot of General settings menu with Theme section on a desktop.

Use Default, Dark, and High Contrast Themes on a mobile device
  1. Tap the profile picture icon in the top left
  2. Tap Settings
  3. Tap Appearance under General
  4. Tap the desired theme

Note: Changing this setting means the app must close and restart.

    Screenshot of Settings menu on a mobile device.

Create Accessible Documents in Microsoft Word

Microsoft Word is a commonly used application among individuals with a variety of disabilities and is reasonably accessible. The text within Word documents can be read by assistive technologies such as screen readers and Braille devices. Below are the basic steps for implementing important accessibility features.

Table of Contents:

Use Headings

Use headings to help people with impaired vision understand how the document is structured. Screen reader and Braille users can jump between headings, which makes navigation much more efficient than if there are no headings.

Convert text into a heading on a Mac
  1. In the Format menu, click Style…
  2. Scroll through the Styles list and click one of the built-in Heading styles like “Heading 1” or “Heading 2”.

Screenshot of Style dialogue box on Mac

Organize headings to create an outline; use the “Heading 1” style for the main heading, and “Heading 2” for sub-headings. For additional headings within sections under “Heading 2” sub-headings, use “Heading 3”, “Heading 4”, etc.

Visit the Microsoft website for more information about creating Headers in Word.

Convert text into a heading on a PC
  1. In the Home tab, click Styles.
  2. Scroll through the Styles list and click one of the built-in Heading styles like “Heading 1” and “Heading 2”.

Screenshot of heading styles list on PC

Organize headings to create an outline; use the “Heading 1” style for the main heading, and “Heading 2” for sub-headings. For additional headings within sections under “Heading 2” sub-headings, use “Heading 3”, “Heading 4”, etc.

Visit the Microsoft website for more information about creating Headers in Word.

Use Lists

Create lists using Microsoft Word’s built-in tools for ordered (numbered) and unordered (bulleted) lists. Without these tools, the content is not actually a list, and screen reader users will have more difficulty understanding it.

Create a new ordered or unordered list

  • Select the content of your list or click where the list will begin.
  • In the Home tab, click the  down-pointing caret to the right of the ordered or unordered list icons.
  • Click a bullet or numbering style.

Screenshot of style options for an unordered (bulleted) list.

Use Purposeful Hyperlinks

  1. Use language in your document that provides relevant information about the destination of the link.
  2. Highlight that text, right click it, and then click Hyperlink.
  3. Add the URL in the Address field and click OK.

Screenshot of the Hyperlink dialogue box on a MacScreenshot of the Hyperlink dialogue box on a PC


Visit the Microsoft website for more information about creating accessible links.

Add Alternate Text for Images

Alternative text (or alt text) provides a description of an image for screen reader users. The alt text will also appear in place of an image when the image cannot be rendered properly.

Add alternate text for images on a Mac
  1. Right click an image and click Edit Alt Text…
  2. 2. Type information in the Description field

Screenshot of Alt Text menu on a Mac

Add alternate text for images on a PC
  1. Right click an image and click Format Picture.
  2. In the Format Picture menu, click Alt Text and type information in the Description field.

Identify Document Language

Define the document’s default language

  1. Click the Tools menu and then click Language.
  2. Click the language from the list and then click OK

Define a different language for part of the document

  1. Select the text in the different language.
  2. Click the Tools menu and then click Language
  3. Click the language from the list and then click OK
  4. Repeat for each different language in the document.

Screenshot of Language menu on a Mac

Note: Currently language settings only effect accessibility of the Word document itself. They do not survive when exported to PDF. If PDF is the final format in which you intend to distribute your document, you will need to define language in the PDF directly using Adobe Acrobat Pro.

Use Tables Wisely

Word has limitations when it comes to making tables accessible. Tables can be very difficult for screen reader users to understand unless they include markup that explicitly defines the relationships between all the parts (e.g., headers and data cells). Simple table with one row of column headers and no nested rows or columns, are easily accessible in Word. However, more complex tables (such as those with split or merged cells) can only be made accessible within HTML or Adobe PDF (accessible table markup can be added to the PDF using Adobe Acrobat Pro).

  • Break up complex tables in the document and make them into multiple simple tables and give each one a heading.

For simple tables, identify which row contains the column headers.

  1. Click on one of the cells in the row containing the column headers.
  2. Click the Table menu, then click Select, then click Row
  3. Right click the row that contains the column headers and click Table Properties
  4. In the Table Properties dialogue box, click the Row tab, and check the checkbox next to “Repeat as header row at the top of each page”
Define your table’s header row on a Mac
  1. Click on one of the cells in the table, making the Table Design tab appear.
  2. Click Table Design and check the box next to Header Row to define the table’s header row

Screenshot of Table Design tab with checked box next to Header Row on a Mac

Visit Microsoft website for more information about creating Accessible Tables.

Define your table’s header row on a PC
  1. Click the Design tab, which reveals the Table Styles Option group
  2. Check the box next to Header Row to define the table’s header row.

Screenshot of Table Design tab with checked box next to Header Row on a PC

Visit Microsoft website for more information about creating Accessible Tables.

Use the Accessibility Checker

Microsoft Office has a built-in accessibility checker which can help test the overall accessibility of the document. The checker provides Inspection Results, feedback about the importance of each item, and tips on how to repair issues.

  • Click the Tools menu and then click Check Accessibility

Screenshot of the Accessibility Checker dialogue box

Making Accessible Scans

The Canon copiers at Bryn Mawr College automatically apply English-language Optical Character Recognition (OCR) to new scans and other campus tools can successful OCR documents in other languages. However, OCR only works if the scans are of decent quality. This article explains how to create scans that can be successfully converted by OCR software.

What is Optical Character Recognition (OCR)?

A scan is simply a photograph of a page. The textual elements visible in that photograph are not editable, searchable text — they are simply patterns of light and dark pixels. In order for readers to read a scan using text-to-speech or Braille software, highlighting and annotation tools, and other assistive technologies, these patterns need to be converted to actual text — that is, to a string of characters that can be highlighted and searched — through a process called optical character recognition (OCR). The OCR software looks at the patterns of lights and darks and uses algorithms to determine which patterns are most likely to be characters and which characters they are most likely to be.

 example of a picture of text getting reconized as text

The output of an OCR conversion is only as good as the input. If the OCR process can’t correctly identify and interpret characters, the text it generates will be nonsense and the PDF will not be accessible.

Making Scans that OCR Correctly

  • Start with a clean original: Highlighting, underlining, and page damage are primary culprits in preventing the OCR process from properly recognizing text.
  • Avoid marginalia: Marginalia can also confuse OCR software, producing extraneous characters and interfering with its ability to correctly predict and interpret neighboring words. For best results, erase marginalia or find a clean copy.
  • Keep the page straight: Scan with all pages oriented in the same direction and as close to horizontal or vertical as possible. Most OCR tools process can correct for slight skewing, but text on pages that are highly tilted will not be interpreted correctly.
  • Don’t block the text: Avoid cutting off text or blocking it with your hands, bookmarks, etc. OCR software uses natural language processing to analyze text. Not only is the missing text not recognized or read, but its absence prevent OCR software from recognizing the missing text, but but also interferes with the OCR software’s ability to accurately infer and interpret the surrounding text.
  • Scan only one page at a time:
    • Most OCR software can recognize that documents scanned “two-up” — that is, with two facing pages in a book or journal scanned the same time — have two columns of text. However, two-up scanning often creates shadows and distortions that can prevent parts of the text from being correctly interpreted.
    • If each page of your original has multiple columns of text, you must scan one page at a time.

Complete the Process in Adobe Acrobat

If you scan the document with the Canon multifunction printer/scanners it will OCR the text automatically. However, you need to open the document in Adobe Acrobat (available on all college-owned computers) and use the Make Accessible wizard to check the OCR and finish making it accessible.

Make Web Reading Easier with Beeline Reader

BeeLine Reader supports reading long blocks of text by adding an eye-guiding color gradient. It can help reduce eye-fatigue, aid with distance learning, and increase reading speed. BeeLine Reader is available as an extension for your browser, for use on your phone, or on other programs like e-readers.

BeeLine Reader is available to all Bryn Mawr students, faculty, and staff. To use BeeLine Reader:

  1. Install the plugin for Chrome or Firefox
  2. Click this registration link to register your browser.
  3. To begin reading PDFs using BeeLine Reader, install the PDF Chrome extension.

Click here to view the website for more information along with a reading sample.


Captioning in Panopto

Panopto is the College’s primary lecture capture and streaming audio/video hosting platform. There are several ways to add captions to recordings hosted in Panopto, and you can add multiple files in different languages to provide translated subtitles as well as same-language captions. Once captions are added, viewers will be able to turn them on during playback in Panopto’s viewer window or any other media player that supports captions.



Viewing Captions

Prefer video? See the Viewing Video Captions tutorial.

  • Click (Closed captions) at the bottom of the video player window to toggle closed captions on and off.

  • Click (More) to customize how the closed captions display.
  • If you prefer to view captions in the transcription format shown below, click the Captions link in the left sidebar.

Note: If you are viewing the recording in a media player that is embedded in a web page, it may have more limited captioning options. Log into Panopto to view the recording if you need additional features.


Creating ADA-Compliant Captions

College policies require that recordings published on a college website or used in academic courses have ADA-compliant captions. You can produce ADA-compliant captions for recordings stored in Panopto by correcting the ASR captions that Panopto generates or by hiring a third-party captioning service to produce and upload them.

Who is responsible for captioning?
  • Recordings used in an academic course by student(s) with documented disabilities — contact Deb Alder in Access Services.
  • Tri-Co library collections (DVDs or streamed video) — email
  • Everything else — the individual or department publishing or adopting the recordings.


ASR Captioning in Panopto

By default, when you create a recording in Panopto or upload an uncaptioned recording, Panopto will automatically add ASR captions. You can either edit these to make them ADA-compliant or contract with a third-party service to provide ADA-compliant captions instead.

More on ASR Captions in Panopto
  • Panopto automatically creates ASR transcripts to enable viewers to search the audio content of recordings. (Similarly, they apply optical character recognition (OCR) to video content and slides to make text displayed on screen searchable).
  • Automatic ASR captioning is currently only available in English; however, Panopto supports captioning in multiple languages (subtitling).
  • If you upload a captioned video, Panopto will NOT overwrite the captions. ASR captions are only generated for recordings that lack a caption file.
  • When Panopto imports Zoom recordings, it will ingest the Zoom caption file, if one was created. If no caption file exists, Panopto will apply ASR.
  • The ASR process starts after the upload/recording is complete and typically takes less time than the recording itself, although it can take up to 24 hours in periods of heavy demand. (If it takes longer than that, email and we can investigate.)
  • Panopto saves captions in a separate file that is formatted for display during playback (closed captioning). They are NOT embedded in the video itself (open captioning).


Edit Captions in the Video Editor

Note: Only video Creators can edit captions. To give another person Creator permissions, go the folder containing the recording, click Share, choose Can create under Invite people, search for their name, select them and click Save (or Save and Send if you notify them by email.)

Prefer video? See the How to Manually Caption Your Videos video tutorial.

  1. Log into Panopto.
  2. Find your recording and click Edit to open it in the editor window.
  3. Click Captions to show the captions panel.
  4. If the recording does not already have ASR captions, you can add them by clicking Import Captions and choosing Import Automatic Captions.
  5. Click (Play) or press Shift+Space bar to begin playing the recording.
  6. Click (Pause) or press Shift+Space bar to pause playback when you need to fix something:
    • To edit a caption, double-click on it in the captions pane (not the video player).

    • To delete a caption, hover over it, click (More), and choose Delete.
    • To add a new caption, pause at the point in the video timeline where it should appear, then type the text into the Enter a caption box at the bottom of the captions pane and press Enter to save.
  1. Click the Apply button at the top of the video editor periodically to save your changes.

Continue playing, editing and applying changes until you have corrected the entire video, then close the editor window.


Edit Files Outside of Panopto

A caption file is simply a text file formatted in to tell media players when to display lines of text. If captions need extensive editing or you want to translate them to create subtitles, it may be easier to export the caption file, edit it outside of Panopto, and then re-upload it to apply your changes.

Exporting Caption Files
  1. Log into Panopto and find your recording.
  2. Click Settings.
  3. Click Captions.
  4. Under Available Captions, click the drop-down arrow next to the language of the caption file you wish to download.

  1. Click Download file.
The Download unedited caption file option includes sections of the video that have been cut or moved in the video editor. You rarely want this.
Editing the Downloaded File
  1. Open it in a text editor like NotePad (PC) or TextEdit (Mac).
Do NOT use a word processor like Word or Google Docs; they will add invisible code to your file.
  1. Notice how the document is formatted, and preserve this as you edit.
    • Each caption consists of three lines:
      • Line 1: Caption number (does not appear on screen),
      • Line 2: Caption display period; e.g., 00:00:01,000 –> 00:00:03,500 means the caption appears 1 second into the video timeline and disappears at 3.5 seconds.
      • Line 3: The caption text
    • There should be a blank line between captions.
  2. When you are finished editing, save the file with an .srt file extension.
Importing Caption Files
  1. Log into Panopto and find the recording.
  2. Click Settings.
  3. Click Captions.
  4. If you want to replace an existing caption file, click the drop-down arrow next to it, and click Delete.
  5. Under Upload Captions, click the drop-down arrow and choose the language of your caption file.
  6. Click Choose file, and browse for the file on your computer.
  7. If your captions are based on the edited (e.g., trimmed) version of the recording, check Captions are based on the edited session.
  8. Click Upload Captions
  9. You can upload multiple caption files in different languages to provide subtitle translation. See How to Add Translated Captions for details.

Captioning Best Practices

When creating captions it is important to note that captions are created with the assumption that viewers cannot hear, as compared to subtitles which are created with the assumptions viewers can hear but cannot understand the language. For this reason, captions require all meaningful sounds to be conveyed.

According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) guidelines, captions must be:

  1. “Accurate: Captions must match the spoken words in the dialogue and convey background noises and other sounds to the fullest extent possible.
  2. Synchronous: Captions must coincide with their corresponding spoken words and sounds to the greatest extent possible and must be displayed on the screen at a speed that can be read by viewers.
  3. Complete: Captions must run from the beginning to the end of the program to the fullest extent possible.
  4. Properly placed: Captions should not block other important visual content on the screen, overlap one another or run off the edge of the video screen.”

Please refer to this Captioning Tip Sheet to access specific rules for captioning correctly.

Outsourcing Captioning

Panopto also supports outsourcing to third-party captioning services with integrations that enable you to request captions for a recording within Panopto and thereby enable the service to view it and upload finished captions to it. College departments typically use, which is an approved vendor in eMarket, and turnaround time is usually 24 hours.

Note: Contact Deb Alder in Access Services if you need academic course recording captions for students with documented disabilities. If you need DVDs or streamed video in Tri-Co library collections captioned, please email

If you would like LITS to set up a integration for you or your department:

  1. Follow’s instructions for creating an account and generating an API User Key and API Access Token.
  2. Email this information to and ask us to set a Panopto integration for this account.
  3. We will ask you how you would like to handle caption requests:
    • We can give the people you specify account-level permission to request captions; once this is enabled, they will be able to place requests for any recording by clicking on Settings > Captions and choosing your account from the Request captions menu.
    • We set up a folder for you so that captions are requested when anyone places a recording in it. You can then give others Creator access to this folder to enable them to request captions.

Captioning in Zoom

Zoom supports both CART captioning (in which a trained professional attends the meeting and types captions in real time) and ASR (computer-generated) captioning.

Turn On CART Captioning

Prefer video? See Zoom’s video tutorial.

Prerequisites:  These instructions assume you have booked a CART captioning service for the meeting or webinar in advance.

Shortly before the event start time, the meeting or webinar host should:

  1. Start the meeting.
  2. Wait for the captioner to join.
  3. Click on Live Transcript in the meeting controls bar.

Caption/Live Transcript menu in Zoom

Not seeing Live Transcript? It may be hidden: expand the Zoom window until you see it or click … More and choose Live Transcript from the pop-up menu.


  1. According to the instructions the captioning service provided in advance, EITHER:
    • Click Assign a participant to type and choose the captioner from the Participant list (which enables them to type directly into Zoom) OR
    • Click Copy the API token and share it with the captioning service using your pre-arranged method. A Subtitles available notice will pop up when the caption feed to Zoom begins; click it and choose Show subtitles to display them to participants.


Warning: Do not end the meeting after copying and sharing the API token! A new, unique token is created each time you start a meeting, even if you used the same meeting link.

Turn on Live Transcript (ASR Captioning) — NEW!

ASR captions are called “Live Transcript” in Zoom. Currently only the Host can turn them on and they are visible to all participants, but Zoom is developing a feature that will enable participants to toggle Live Transcript on/off  themselves.

Before you can turn Live Transcipt on a meetings or webinars you host, it needs to be enabled in your account settings:

  1. Go to and Log in with SSO.
  2. Click Settings in the left sidebar.
  3. Click the Meeting tab (at the top of the screen), then In Meeting (Advanced) to jump to those settings.
  4. Toggle Closed Captioning on.
  5. Check Enable live transcription service to show transcript on the side panel in-meeting when it appears.

Once Live Transcript is enabled in your settings, you can turn it on during any meeting or webinar you host:

  1. Click on the Live Transcript in the meeting controls bar.
  2. Click Enable Auto-Transcription.

Caption/Live Transcript menu in Zoom

Not seeing Live Transcript? It may be hidden: expand the window until you see it or click … More and choose Live Transcript from the pop-up menu.