Accessibility Tip of the Week

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  • Summary: Adjust your presentation approach to engage people with disabilities.
  • Who it helps: Individuals with vision, hearing and cognitive disabilities.
  • Additional benefits: Members of your audience who are multitasking or are listening with audio only.

Whether at a seminar, employee gathering, church service or community event, most of us will speak in public from time to time. We’re often accompanied with some sort of slides or presentation materials when we speak. To make sure that your message is understandable by all in the audience, use the following tips.

What can I do to prepare?

Take the extra time in preparing to do the following:

  • Create accessible slides. PowerPoint includes an accessibility check for slides that will help you find problems with color contrast, alternative text for images, and reading order. Take the time to make sure your slides are accessible.
  • Provide materials ahead of time. When possible, offer to send slides out ahead of time to allow your audience to pre-read the material. This allows them to process the content at their own pace and in their own way. Include the background notes and talking points if your slides are sparse. If you do not send materials ahead of time, consider sending them afterwards.
  • Coordinate with interpreters ahead of time. Ask if there is ability to have a sign language interpreter or captioner. If so, provide them with your materials and a list of acronyms and key terminology ahead of time so they can interpret it accurately. Ask the interpreters if there is a place they want to sit or have you stand to make their jobs easier.

What can I do?

While speaking, focus on the following:

  • Describe yourself. How do you present yourself when you introduce yourself to others? At events where attendees may not be able to see you, consider providing a short visual description as part of your introduction. This description should only be about one sentence long. You can often use this description for the text alternative for any headshots as well.
  • Read the slides. Presenters often learn not to read their slides word-for-word. Referring to content on slides without reading it can confuse audience members who can’t see the content. The best strategy is to use the slides to repeat key parts of what you are saying and enhance your message.
  • Describe images and videos. Similar to images in a text document, people with vision impairment will need a description of any images, graphs or videos in your slides. This description only needs to be a sentence or two. Focus your description on the reason for the image, as this will also draw attention to the message you are conveying. If your presentation is being recorded, describing all visual content also reduces the work needed to make the video accessible.

This work is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0    .

If you are promoting accessibility within your organization or community, sending out easy-to-understand tips can be a helpful addition to your strategy. You are welcome to share the tips here under the mentioned Creative Commons license, as long as you cite Accessible Community as your source.