Presentations and Accessibility

I’ve posted a lot of book reviews lately and I have more for upcoming releases still to come.  So for this week, a shift back to other topics.

Refreshable Braille Display and Keyboard

Refreshable Braille Display and Keyboard. From a Flickr Creative Commons image search. Photos taken by

It’s been busy the last month or so and part of the reason is preparation for a regional conference.  I work at a library that specializes in accessible materials for those with visual, physical, and reading disabilities that cannot use standard printed materials.  Thus we offer braille, audio, and large print books and magazines; descriptive DVDS (which add extra narration to describe what is occurring on-screen between dialogue); print/braille games; and a variety of programming for all ages.  Because many of the offerings, especially programming, have been new in the last few years three colleagues and I will be presenting about these changes and other services at an accessible technologies conference.  Since those who attend the conference range from those with the aforementioned disabilities to those who care for them, we had extra things to keep in mind when planning the presentation.

With this in mind, here are some tips for presenting with accessibility for all in mind (whether you are using PowerPoint, Prezi, or another presentation software):

  • Use large, bold, easy-to-read fonts.  I’d strive for using at least a 32 pt. or higher font and bold it.  Also, AP Hont is the easiest for those with visual disabilities to read.*
  • When multiple people are speaking within the presentation, start with reminding the audience who you are each time you go to speak.  This helps those who strongly rely on voice recognition or if an audio version is being recorded.
  • If you create handouts, use at least a 16 pt. font.  Also, have the digital versions on hand to send or allow people to copy upon request.  This allows those who need a screen reader software or refreshable braille display to read the files.
  • Describe images used on the screen.  This helps those with low vision to understand what they are seeing.  It will also provide imagery for those who once had vision to better visualize what they are hearing about.
  • Often, if someone has hearing loss they might ask a presenter to wear a special microphone (known as an Assistive Listening Device) that transmits sounds directly to a hearing aid.  Thus, don’t be surprised if you are ever asked to do this.
  • Speak clearly and loudly so all can hear!  This should be a no-brainer anytime one presents!  And if you tend to speak fast, slow down.

Keep in mind, these changes benefit all, not just those with disabilities.  For example, the person sitting in back of the room or the one too short to see over others will also thank you for implementing these changes.

Do you have any other suggestions for presenting with accessibility in mind?  Or have you presented to those with specialized needs in the past, and if so, what were your experiences?

*The American Printing House for the Blind designed this font with low vision in mind.  The above link will explain more and provide for downloading the font.


4 thoughts on “Presentations and Accessibility

  1. – If you are going to write or draw make sure that you don’t continue to talk/describe what you are doing while facing away from the audience – Deaf/HOH
    – Strive for good contrast with your colours – Blind/low-vision
    – Hoping the space allows for it, make sure you can be seen from all lines of sight in the room -little/seated people, Deaf/HOH
    – If you have arranged for a sign language interpreter, share your talking points and slides with them well before the presentation so they don’t have to play catch-up – Deaf/HOH

      • You’re welcome Amy. 🙂
        Yes, I have worked with and am friends with people whom have various disabilities. I also have a minor in Disabilities Studies and focused a lot of my papers and projects during MLIS on disability, accessibility, and working with disabled patrons.

        • Hi Tris. It’s great that you have all that experience helping those with disabilities! I’m sure the knowledge pays off when they come to you for help and that assisting them is rewarding. Again, thanks for sharing!

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