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©Liddy Nevile




The problems

The success of PowerPoint is probably due to the ease with which users can create what look like 'professional' presentations. PowerPoint allows users to mix and match, to drag and drop, and all sorts of objects can end up on a PowerPoint slide with no external information about how they came together, what relationship they have, and so on. Such slides may have no more than a simple set of text outline statements that can be accessed by someone with vision impairments. It may be worse - there can be nothing that is accessible.

Converting PowerPoint slides to web pages results in more mess: the screen presentation of the PowerPoint display is converted into a single graphic image and is connected by links from one screen to another. All information is lost.

What was gained when lecturers learned to use PowerPoint, and 'at last had good clear font to work with', was gained at a cost to those with special needs or different devices. Two possible alternatives are suggested below: one involves a system that is designed to make sharing of slides easier, including sharing of them exclusively with a particular person, and the other works by making it easy for slide authors to create single web pages, using a good WYSIWYG editor, and then convert their single page into a set of consecutive web pages.

W3C's Slidemaker or if you have someone who uses CVS (most programmers do - it is a tool for managing collaboratively edited spaces)

To use the Slidemaker, you use an HTML editor to create a resource and then the Slidemaker to break it up into slides. It does this producig plain text and using CSS to handle layout, so the slides are accessible.

WimpyPoint: The Basic Idea

Arsdigita at have an open source alternative to PowerPoint.

From the website

"WimpyPoint is a replacement for desktop bloatware such as Microsoft PowerPoint. You can build a slide presentation in WimpyPoint from any Web browser anywhere in the world. WimpyPoint will hold onto your presentation in a professionally maintained and backed-up relational database management system (Oracle 8). You can forget your laptop. You can drop your laptop. You will still be able to give your presentation anywhere in the world that you can find a Web browser.

More interestingly, WimpyPoint lets you work with colleagues. From your desk at MIT, you can authorize a friend at Stanford to edit your presentation, the two of you can work together until you're satisfied, and then you can both go into a conference room at Hewlett-Packard Laboratories and give your talk from our server."

Accessibility of Wimpypoint

from Philip Greenspun, author of WimpyPoint:

You can visit and see the ancient version or to see the modern. One way in which WimpyPoint is accessible is that the old version uses very simple HTML. The new version uses the same simple stuff but also a cascading style sheet. So any dressing up won't affect people who've told their browsers to ignore publisher style sheets.

I don't think setting up a full ACS installation from would be too tough for most organizations. It doesn't take longer than one morning, including Postgres install.

Last updated: 8 March 2002