Accessible presentations benefit all participants, not just those with disabilities. For example, captioning a video presentation benefits not only people who are deaf or hard of hearing, but also people who are not fluent in the language being spoken, or people who are in a noisy environment. Taking accessibility into account when organizing presentations, events, and conferences is essential to ensuring that all participants have equal access to the information and resources being presented. It is important to prioritise accessibility at every stage of the event planning process, from selecting the venue to creating the presentation materials, and to seek feedback from participants to continually improve the accessibility of future events.
- Speak clearly
Avoid speaking too fast, so participants and interpreters can better understand you and keep up and do it in a clear way.
- Use simple language
Avoid or explain jargon, acronyms, and idioms. For example, expressions such as “raising the bar” can be interpreted literally by some people with cognitive disabilities and can be confusing.
- Make sure the content of your presentation is accessible
Follow the guidelines for creating accessible digital slides in this toolkit.
- Provide the materials ahead of time
- Provide the slides, handouts, and other materials to participants, interpreters, and captioners as needed. Make them accessible.
- Live screen sharing: Note that content in screen sharing is often not accessible. You usually need to provide the materials so that participants can access them directly, not only by perceiving the screen sharing.
- Work with interpreters and captioners
Give them the materials in advance. Explain the acronyms, terms, names, etc. that you will use. Be available to answer questions.
Caption audio, or make it available in a different way
Ideally, any audio you use is also available in text, for example, videos are captioned. However, if captioning is provided for the entire presentation, participants who have issues processing the audio can use the captions to access the information instead.
- Consider the suitability of your planned activities for participants
Remember potential accessibility issues with participant activities. For example, it may be difficult or impossible for some people to use an online polling feature, arrange sticky notes on a virtual or physical board, or respond quickly to questions.
- Describe all relevant visual information
- Mention all of the information that is on each slide, including text and graphics. (This does not mean that you have to read the slide exactly as it is. It just means that you cover non-textual information.)
- Describe visual information in the environment. For example, a speaker asks people to raise their hands if they make their websites fully accessible. The speaker should then describe the visual response: “About half of you raised your hands”.
- Give people time to process information
Pause between topics. When you ask if anyone has questions, some people with cognitive disabilities may need extra time to verbalise their thoughts.
Use a good quality microphone
- Ensure the microphone is positioned so it picks up your voice well. Note that if you ask “Can everyone hear me OK?” some people might be uncomfortable saying they cannot.
- In-person: Some people might need access to the audio electronically, even in a small room. This includes remote captioners and people using Assistive Listening Devices (ALDs).
- Ensure that all relevant sound is audible through the sound system
For example, if someone asks a question in remote chat or someone in-person doesn’t have a microphone, repeat their questions and comments into your microphone before replying.
- Limit distractions
For example, ask participants to turn off mobile phone notifications, and presenters to turn off system notifications. Discourage side conversations during meetings and presentations.