Planning ahead for accessibility is important for any presentation, whether or not you know that people with disabilities will be in attendance. Assume that your audience includes people with diverse access needs. Another reason to plan ahead is that many of the practices outlined below, including providing digital materials and checking sound quality, improve the experience for all attendees.
Presentations and events are an area where the digital and physical realm overlap and accessibility best practices in both areas should be considered.
Please consult the related guide about Accessible Events for more details about physical spaces, event promotion, and accessibility.
Presentation materials should follow accessibility best practices, and it is best to make the materials available to the attendees in both paper and digital formats. This includes PowerPoints, handouts, worksheets, surveys, and any other content that you are showing or using. You may be required to give an audience member access to an accessible digital version of your presentation as an accommodation for a disability.
To make your slideshow accessible, please read the Understanding PowerPoint Accessibility article.
To share your digital materials, you can create a memorable short link using bit.ly or a similar service and provide that link both visually and audibly to attendees when you begin your presentation. One good practice is to add this link to your title slide so that attendees have time to access or record the presentation link before you start speaking. Additionally, you should read the link out loud at the beginning and/or end of the presentation for attendees who cannot access the visual content of your slideshow
Always verbalize important visual information contained in your presentation for the benefit of people who are blind, low vision, have other reading disabilities, or simply cannot see your slides from where they are sitting. Your description should include the titles and content of your slides. You do not have to read the slide content verbatim; however, you should ensure that you are giving at least as much detail verbally as is provided visually. For more details on how to do this well, consult our guidance on Providing Spoken Descriptions of Visual Content.
If your presentation includes interactive content, describe what is happening for the benefit of people who cannot see or who are not physically in the room. If you poll audience members, e.g. with a raise of hands, or asking audience members to participate in an online poll, verbalize the results as they come in.
When a microphone is provided, please echo any comments or questions from the audience into the mic. This ensures that anyone using an assistive listening system in the room can hear the question. Additionally, if the presentation is being recorded or live-streamed, repeating everything into the mic ensures that all attendees can benefit from the conversation. If there is no mic, it is still a helpful practice to repeat what was said if audience members do not speak loudly enough for everyone to hear. Finally, ensure that your face is always visible to audience members to benefit individuals who are lip-reading.
Want Additional Support?
If you would like to consult with someone from the Digital Accessibility Office on creating an accessible presentation, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.