Accessibility Tip of the Week

Let's discuss the way you look.

  • Summary: Provide a short, 1-2 sentence visual description when introducing yourself at an event or presentation.
  • Who it helps: Individuals with vision impairments or are listening in an audio-only format.
  • Additional benefits: The process of deciding how to describe yourself can help crystallize how you fit into your branding.

How do you present yourself when you introduce yourself to others? You likely take time to think about how you dress or look when you go out. You should put the same effort into how you describe yourself.

In situations where attendees may have a disability that prevents them from seeing you, events increasingly request you provide a short visual description as part of your introduction. This is also true for situations where your audience might only be able to hear you, like an audio podcast. You can use this same description for headshots on your websites or communications.

A couple of examples of visual descriptions are are:

  • “I’m an adult European woman with long wavy brown hair and brown eyes.”
  • “A young, dark haired, blue-eyed man with glasses, in a grey sweater and blue jeans.”

What can I do?

The way you describe yourself is a personal decision. There is no right or wrong description but take time to decide before you are asked. Your ideal description compliments, and ideally describes, your professional headshot.

Take time to consider how you want to describe yourself. Think about if you would you like to include:

  • gender,
  • age,
  • race,
  • skin, eye or hair color,
  • disability,
  • body type,
  • clothing or style, or
  • other important features about your look or personality.

In certain moments of a presentation or discussion, you might add a description of your facial expression or the precise emotion you are conveying. Taking your time to create a description beforehand can help emphasize the moment and your meaning.

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.