Creating and Facilitating an Accessible Presentation
When designing a slide, please assume that someone who is blind, has low vision, is hard of hearing, is deaf, and/or has low mobility will be attending your presentation.
- Describe and read everything on your slide. This will help people who are blind or have limited vision understand what is on the slide.
- Minimize the amount of text on slides.
- When you advance a slide, pause to allow everyone — including those who are deaf or hard of hearing — to read the slide before you start talking.
Live Automatic Captioning
- Using PowerPoint or Google Slides, you can turn on live transcriptions to create captioning of your spoken word.
- Live transcriptions of your words help accommodate individuals in the audience who may be deaf or hard of hearing.
- Make sure to use the microphone provided so your words will be picked up by your laptop.
- PowerPoint Live Captioning
- Google Slides Live Captioning
- Use gender-inclusive language (e.g., instead of phrases like “ladies and gentlemen,” and “hi, guys,” consider “folks,” “everyone,” “attendees,” or “participants”).
- Be aware that people might prefer either person-first or identity-first language. The video Person First or Identity First Language explains these terms.
- Avoid generalizations and stereotypes.
- Avoid using jargon and acronyms. If you do use them, explain what they mean in plain language.
- Words Matter: Guidelines for Inclusive Language [PDF]
- Speak at a normal level: you do not need to shout or whisper. The microphone is meant to amplify your normal speaking voice.
- Cough away from the microphone.
- Each day will begin with a welcome from an Indigenous Elder.
- Guide to Acknowledging First Peoples and Traditional Territory
Content and Trigger Warnings
- Offer verbal or written notices to the event organizers before sharing potentially sensitive content. These notices allow participants to prepare themselves to engage or disengage for their own well-being.
- Trigger Warnings (Centre for Teaching Excellence at the University of Waterloo)
- An Introduction to Content Warnings and Trigger Warnings (College of Literature, Science, and the Arts at the University of Michigan)
- When planning activities that require movement, reflect on the accommodations required for those who have limited mobility, are blind, vision impaired, deaf, or hard of hearing. If these participants cannot be accommodated, consider changing the activity.
- Put your slide title in the heading placeholder on your slide, not in a textbox or a general text placeholder.
- Every slide in your presentation should have a unique title that describes what is on the slide.
- This helps people find content quickly and individuals using screen readers navigate through a presentation easily.
- For more, view 7:00 to 8:00 in this webinar on inclusive presentations.
- Slide layouts use placeholders for different content types (headings, images, and text). This supports people using screen readers and ensures slide content is read in the correct order.
- Avoid using text boxes, as they are not accessible for people using screen readers.
- If in PowerPoint, use the Slide Master to customize the slide layout.
- For more, view 5:00 to 7:00 in this webinar on inclusive presentations.
- Use large (at least 24 point), simple, sans serif fonts (e.g., Arial, Verdana, Helvetica), which can be easily read by most individuals from the back of a large room.
- Use high-contrast colours that have a contrast ratio of at least 4.5:1.
- Use a contrast checker to see if the colours meet the minimum contrast ratio.
- Information should not be conveyed by colour alone. For example, avoid saying “the red bar shows sales have increased.” Instead, refer to where the information is located: “the far left bar shows sales have increased.”
- Excerpt from the BCcampus Accessibility Toolkit: Colour Contrast
- Alt text is descriptive text that conveys the meaning and context of a visual item, such as an image, a graph, or a chart.
- A screen reader will read alt text it encounters aloud, allowing people to better understand what is on the screen if they cannot see it.
- Alt text should be short, concise, less than two sentences, and objectively reflect what is important about the image, such as symbolic or metaphorical importance.
- Video: Adding Alt Text to Images in PowerPoint
- Everything you need to know to write effective alt text
- Beginner’s Guide to Alt Text
- Avoid unnecessary animations and flashy slide transitions.
- Animations or effects should be slow enough that you can describe what is happening to participants.
- 10 Simple PowerPoint Animation Tips and Tricks
- Ensure all links have text that describes the topic or purpose of the link.
- Avoid using “click here” or “read more,” as these phrases do not make the purpose of the link clear.
- Chapter on Links in the BCcampus Accessibility Toolkit
Sharing Your Presentation
- Upload your presentation to EventMobi one week before your presentation.
- If possible, upload multiple formats of your presentation (PowerPoint, an HTML file with speaking notes, or a PDF).
- You can share your Google Slides presentation in HTML view using the shortcut Ctrl + Alt + Shift + P (Windows or Chrome OS) or ⌘ + Option + Shift + P (Mac). This is helpful for people using screen readers.
Virtual Presenting Tips
- Avoid sitting with your back to a major source of light. Your light source should be in front of you, but not directly in your face. Consider all your sources of light, and test your lighting ahead of time.
- Make an effort to present an appropriate background with as few items as possible, so as not to distract your audience.
- Remove all unwanted logos from the background or sitting on a desk during the presentation.
- Wear a shirt that is a different colour from your background.
- You can add a custom background, although live backgrounds are preferred.
- Add plants or books to your presentation space for aesthetic appeal.
- We suggest that you instill a “closed-door” policy for your presentation to minimize interruptions from family members and pets. A closed door also allows ambient noise to be kept to a minimum.
- When presenting, choose a position that is most natural for you, whether that be standing or sitting.
- Ensure that the camera or webcam is positioned with a clear view of your face.
- Clean your lens.
- Look into the lens.
- Prepare for hiccups, sound failure, power outages, etc. Use a hard-wired microphone and headphones, rather than ones that rely on Bluetooth.
- Use props.
- Tell a story.
- Be yourself: if you’re funny, be funny.
- Put the same effort into your presentation that you would on stage.
- Write a script or go freestyle — do what you’re good at.
- Try not to read from your notes: just because you’re virtual, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t read straight from your script.
- Visualize and checklist your session. Are all your pieces in place?
- Consider: do you normally stand or sit when presenting? Standing will give you more movement and energy. Just make sure that the camera is set correctly.
- Look into the camera, not at yourself.
- If (when) tech fails, use humour, as hiccups are inevitable.
- Practice, practice, practice.
Device and Connectivity
- Hard-wire your devices, if possible.
- Close all unnecessary windows and tabs that may take up precious bandwidth and processing power.
- If your computer is overheating, shut it down and let it cool off before starting it up again.
- Unplug extraneous smart devices, such as Google Home, Amazon Alexa, smartwatches, etc.
- Video games that require internet access should be turned off or played offline.
- If you have a security system that requires a lot of internet bandwidth, you might want to consider upgrading your internet plan or getting a separate connection.
More resources to help create an accessible and inclusive presentation
- BCcampus Accessibility Toolkit
- Inclusive Design Guide
- Webinar: Inclusive Design
- Webinar: Inaccessibility
- Interacting with People with Disabilities
If you have any further questions or would like support creating an accessible presentation, please email email@example.com.