Disabilities are not always obvious, and it is best practice to assume that disabilities may be present in your audience and prepare a presentation which is as accessible as possible. Accessible presentations also benefit all audience members, not just those with a disability.
With this in mind, we have prepared a checklist to help you prepare and deliver your presentation accessibly.
- Does my presentation begin with an acknowledgement of traditional custodianship?
The ACEx written acknowledgement of traditional custodianship is:
The ARC Centre of Excellence in Exciton Science acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the lands and waters on which we work. We acknowledge the scientific achievements of Traditional Custodians. We pay our respects to their Elders, past, present, and emerging.
It is a sign of respect to research, specifically name and celebrate the Aboriginal nation on whose lands the presentation is taking place if it is in-person, or on whose lands the presenter is located if it is an online presentation.
- Am I using large font and image size?
Typically, this involves at least 24pt neutral sans-serif font such as Arial, Calibri.
- Am I using colour-blind friendly design?
Colourblind attendees may not be able to distinguish red and green colours. Other colours should be used where possible, and graphs should make use of patterns, labels and shading instead of colours. Use this colour blindness simulator tool to see how your images appear to colourblind people (free for non-commercial use). Also see the Exciton Science Colour Blind Friendly Communications: checklist, guidelines and resources (coming soon).
- Do I have sufficient contrast between text and background colours?
Using sufficient contrast and avoiding bright colours like yellow will make it easier for the audience to understand the presentation. Use this contrast checker tool to check image contrast.
- Am I am speaking loudly and clearly, with a microphone if possible?
Be aware that some audience members may find it hard to hear you. If there is a microphone on offer you should use it, even if it is a small space, since some spaces have audio induction loops connected to their AV system. Make sure to speak clearly and slowly. This is also relevant to digital presentations.
- Is there only a limited amount of text on my slides?
Too much text places cognitive strain on your audience. Keep it simple so the message is conveyed. If you need more text, put it in the speaker’s notes.
- Are there sufficient pauses for digestion?
Allowing pauses between slides helps to give viewers time to process the information being presented.
- Am I verbally describing all images and charts?
The major features of each graph presented should be verbally described and clarified.
- Have I used alternative text function to describe key images?
Use alternative text descriptions to briefly describe the message for key images in your presentation. This way, if a visually impaired person is viewing your presentation using a screen reader, alternative text can be read out to describe the meaning of the image that they can’t see. Find out how to use alternative text function for MS PowerPoint.
- Have I avoided flashing and ‘busy’ animations?
These can cause problems for people with epilepsy, seizures, migraines and vertigo. It’s best if you can substitute bright flashing images for a less ‘busy’ animation, which is less likely to trigger these effects.
- Am I avoiding culture-jargon?
Avoid using slang or phrases that may only make sense to audience members of a particular cultural or organisational background.
- Are my videos captioned?
If you are presenting video clips, use captions so that audience members can also read what is being said.
- Am I using accessible conversion (if converting from powerpoint to PDF)?
MS PowerPoint has an inbuilt tool to help you convert your files accessibly, such as checking for missing alternative text and including document tags when saving. Find out more on this this accessible conversion page.
If you are doing a video presentation, you should also consider:
- Is my lighting sufficient?
Make sure to use good lighting so that you can be seen. Avoid bright backgrounds and make sure your whole face is visible.
- Have I eliminated background noise?
Minimise or eliminate background noise to the best of your ability so that the audience can hear you clearly.
- Accessible presentations - W3C (Web Accessibility Initiative)
- Inclusive design for accessible presentations - Smashing Magazine
- Disability Wisdom website
Thanks to Arielle Silverman of Disability Wisdom for preparing a list of tips which inspired the creation of this checklist.