Screenshot of a keynote slide template with parrot and

Tech lesson week #1: Presentations (PowerPoint, Google Slides, Keynote)

Improve your student's tech skills during school closures.

This is a perfect time for students with visual impairments to learn and master new tech skills; having strong tech skills will have a significant, lasting impact on a student’s education. Week #1 will discuss various tech skills that your student needs to know, such as how to create a presentation (PowerPoint, Google Slides or Keynote); Week #2 will discuss how to create and use a spread sheet. It does not matter which Presentation application or device that the school uses or that the student has access too. A few steps might vary, but generally, the applications and devices have similar steps and commands. 

Feedback from many parents and educators indicates that while students at home do need to activities to keep their minds busy and to support learning, for most students, home instruction does not and should not mirror a rigorous classroom schedule.This tech activity is designed to improve a student’s tech skills while completing additional educational tasks. Ideally, the first lesson is a virtual 1:1 lesson with the student’s TVI or someone who is knowledgeable about tech and the unique needs of a student who is visually impaired and who may rely on a screen reader. The virtual 1:1 lesson may be through a virtual classroom (such as Zoom or Google Meet), Facetime, or even via a phone call. Note: A phone call is often not the best option, but it is certainly doable in a pinch! After the 1:1 instruction, the teacher can then assign related tasks that the student does independently the rest of the week.

Presentations goals by grade level

In years past, ‘Presentations’ (generic term for PowerPoint, Google Slides, or Keynote) were typically introduced in middle school or high school. However, with the classroom tech revolution, many school district tech standards include basic Presentations-related tech goals in first grade. As always, students who rely on a screen reader should be pre-taught the required tech skills before the general education students are introduced to apply tech skills to new applications. This pre-teaching is typically done by the TVI or CATIS certified educator, if available. In some cases, the TVI may team with the computer teacher or other tech savvy team member – basically the educator who is most tech savvy can take the lead!

While tech goals may vary from school district to school district, the expectation of tech savvy districts include Presentations in first grade and certainly by second grade. Below are typical tech goals by grade level related to Presentations. Note: Most districts will list the specific application (PowerPoint, Google Drive or Keynote) used by that district. In this post, we’ll use the generic term ‘Presentations’.

General education presentations tech goals: First grade


General education presentations tech goals: Second grade


Digital Cameras:


General education presentations tech goals: Third grade


Digital Cameras:

(Tech goals also include creating photo stories.)

General education presentations tech goals: Fourth grade


Digital Cameras:

(Tech goals also include editing movies, adding background music, etc.)

General education presentations tech goals: Fifth grade


Digital Cameras:

(Tech goals include creating/editing audio and creating/editing movies for Presentations.)

Note: There is a generation of ‘older’ students with VIB who did not learn either the required tech skills or how to apply these tech skills to the task of creating/using Presentations. If you are working with an older student, carefully evaluate to find and address the gaps in the student’s tech skills when creating a Presentation. Students who are tech savvy will easily transition from a tablet (often used in elementary school) to a computer (typically used in middle school); although, some students may need direct instruction on Presentations when making this transition.

Virtual lesson (Day 1)

During the virtual lesson, the teacher can either introduce how to create a Presentation or evaluate the student’s tech skills as he creates and uses a Presentation.

Early elementary student activities (K and 1st grade) 

Depending on the age of the student, the student might be learning the very basics about Presentations. The goal of the virtual 1:1 lesson for this student is to introduce the student to very simple Presentations. Before the lesson, start by creating a simple Presentation on a topic of interest to the student. Example: The Presentation might be a slide deck about teachers/staff at the student’s school. Be sure to include image descriptions! If possible, record each teacher. (With social distancing currently in place, you can make a recording of the teacher saying a sentence over the phone! If necessary, ask the teacher to send a picture taken in the school setting or to take a selfie and email it to you so that you can add the audio or image to your Presentation.)

For a young student, you might create the entire Presentation and share it with the student before the virtual lesson. (The parent may need to assist the student in locating and opening the Presentation before or at the beginning of the virtual lesson. For this introduction to Presentations, the virtual lesson might begin with teaching the student how to navigate through the short Presentation. 

Resources for creating presentations with a screen reader

Note: You – the teacher – should be comfortable and familiar with using the Presentation app with a screen reader on the same type of device that your student is using – BEFORE doing the virtual lesson. 


Below is an example of a simple age-appropriate Presentation for an early elementary student who is being introduced to Presentation. Keep in mind your student’s attention span and keep the Presentation short and sweet. If possible, adding fun auditory clips will keep your student engaged! Be sure to include image descriptions – understanding that image descriptions contain important information is a tech skill and your student may love knowing a visual detail about his/her teachers!

Variation: You can have all the pictures ready in the slide deck and ask the student to provide the sentence about each person. During the 1:1 instruction, you can type in the sentences. If your student has the attention span, you can create the first slide or two, then have the pictures ready and ask the student to choose which teacher is added next, and you walk through each step with the student as you input the picture, image description and sentence. You can also share the Presentation (or partial Presentation) with the student and provide instruction as the student adds the next picture, image description and sentence.

Homework assignments (Day 2 and beyond)

Early elementary students may need assistance, as they may not be able to spell and type. For these students, dictation might be an option. (Note: When the VoiceOver focus is in the textbook, double tap to edit, then use a two-finger double tap to start and stop dictation. Trouble shooting: Dictation must be turned on in Settings: Settings > General > Keyboards > Enable Dication.) Students may choose a simple activity such as the alphabet slide show which requires very little typing. With this Presentation, each slide has an image of an item that starts with that letter and type the letter itself. Young students who are totally blind may need assistance in finding images or taking pictures of items that start with a particular letter for the alphabet slide deck. This activity can be modified by only choosing the letters that spell out the student’s first name. For young students, assign a new letter each day or one per week. Or, assign a simple Presentation topic each week (see topic ideas in the link below or create your own topics). Another option is to break up the tasks (gather pictures of the items to be added for Day 1, create simple audio clips associated with each slide Day 2, etc.) Remember, be flexible! It might be that the student only has assistance one day and the family chooses to do the activity all in one lesson. Ideally, the student is able to do these activities independently!


For additional ideas of simple, age-appropriate Presentations:

 Elementary student activities (3rd grade +)

For students who are doing internet searches, the Amazing Animals Presentation combines research, writing and creating a presentation. The students should choose an animal with unique qualities that they would like to know more about. Animal Fact Guide is a great website for researching animal facts. (Hint: On this website, select Animal Facts then navigate through the site using Headings. If using an Apple device, when you select the desired animal, use the Reader feature to eliminate additional information on the page.)

The Amazing Animals Presentation activity is geared for students in third grade and above. Be sure to add image descriptions of the picture!

For details about this Presentation activity, read the post Technology Lesson Plans: Excel and PowerPoint.

Mother’s Day Activity: Presentation Tech Activity with Self-Advocacy Skills

Another activity is to use Presentation for Journaling (writing); each slide is a day in a journal. You can provide writing prompts and ask the student to write each day or to write once a week.

For details, read the Accessible Digital Writing Journals: Google Slides post.

Additional resources

Resources on how to create an accessible presentations

These resources are geared for educators; although, students need to be aware of the accessibility features of Presentations and how to make their instructional materials accessible. High school students need to create accessible Presentations and be able to explain how to make accessible Presentations to others (K12 teachers, university professors, and peers). Is your older student familiar with all the accessibility features available in Presentations?

Finally, does your low vision student know how to access Presentations used in the classroom from his desk?

Once your students create an accessible Presentation, please share it with us! Paths to Technology can make these Presentations available to other students, especially Presentations that include facts that the student has researched!

By Diane Brauner

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