Tips to Make Presentations Accessible

Plan for accessibility from the very start.

Tips to Make Your Presentation Accessible During the Presentation

The Presenter:

  • Have their camera on.  This enables people who are lip readers to follow along
  • Should ensure that their lighting is adequate.  Be visible and in good light when you talk, so participants can see your face. This helps some people hear and understand better. Be careful not to face away from the audience to read projected material, particularly if you don’t have a microphone.  People who read lips need to be able to see people’s lips
  • Should make sure that they are wearing contrasting colors. We suggest that speakers wear dissimilar colors to their skin tone so the contrast will be high. Otherwise, the lighting can wash out people’s faces.
  • Consider giving a verbal description of yourself during the introduction for the benefit of attendees that cannot see

Presenter environment:

  • Backgrounds should be solid and non-moving.
  • Avoid using virtual backgrounds that can be distracting. When people use pictures as a virtual background, it can wash away their faces.
  • Use a quiet room where they won’t be disturbed whenever possible.

During the presentation:

  • Speak clearly. Avoid speaking too fast, so participants and interpreters can better understand you and keep up.
  • Use a headset to allow for higher quality audio
  • Read the slide title every time you advance to a new slide. 
  • Say all of the information that is on each slide. This does not mean that you have to read the slide exactly as it is. It just means that you cover the visual information in what you say.
  • Describe all images and videos for blind/visually impaired individuals, as well as for those joining by phone. Describe them to the extent needed to understand the presentation. 
  • If you’re sharing pre-recorded video, be sure to describe what’s happening in the video
  • Give people time to process information. Pause between topics.

The presentation itself:

  • Keep text brief and graphics simple.  Use simple language.  Avoid or explain jargon, acronyms, and idioms.
  • Use a high contrast color scheme
  • Ensure that fonts are easy to read and text is large and has good color contrast.  Presentation font size should be at minimum 24pt font.
  • Use more than color coding to communicate information. Avoid flashing or strobing animations in presentation or other materials

Accessibility in PowerPoint, Word & PDF

To make your PowerPoint, Word, and PDF documents accessible, read the information listed at the links below and follow them to the best of your ability.  Information on how to convert your Word and PowerPoint documents into accessible PDFs is located in those sections.

Making audio and Video media Accessible

Audio Content and Video Content:
Make audio and video content accessible. Avoid accessibility barriers when planning, scripting, storyboarding, and recording your media.

Create high-quality audio:

  • Use high-quality microphone(s) and recording software.
  • When feasible, record in a room that is isolated from all external sounds.
  • Avoid rooms with hard surfaces, such as tile or wood floors.
  • Use low background audio so people with hearing or cognitive disabilities can easily distinguish the speaking from the background.
  • Speak clearly and slowly as this will enable listeners to understand better, and make the timing better for captions and sign language.
  • Give people time to process information by pausing between topics or section(s).
  • Use clear language. Avoid or explain jargon, acronyms, and idioms as much as possible.

Create high-quality video:

  • Use as best as possible high-quality video recording software.
  • Use colors thoughtfully and with good contrast:  Ensure information is not conveyed with colors alone and when colors are used they are sufficiently-distinguishable. Apply this principle to any content that conveys information, like text or charts.
    • Examples:
      • When including links do not rely on color alone to distinguish them, underline them as well.
      • For those with color blindness red and green are the most common colors that cannot be seen.  You may avoid these colors altogether OR guarantee that you avoid red on green or green on red combinations. 
  • Use text that is easy to read:  When displaying text on screen, ensure the font size is large enough and text is on the screen for long enough to read.  For any text, consider the contrast between the text and background.
    • Font style: Simple and unadorned fonts are recommended for accessibility such as Times New Roman, Calibri, Verdana, Arial, Tahoma, and Helvetica.  While other fonts are acceptable outside of these, you should avoid fonts which are overly stylized or decorative.
  • Flashing content in videos should be avoided or if included due diligence should be taken to ensure it meets the three-flashes-or-below threshold. Do not create videos that have more than three flashes within a period of 1 second, as this can provoke seizures in some users with seizure disorders.
  • Consider speaker visibility as some people use mouth movement to help understand spoken language. When feasible, ensure that the speaker’s face is visible and in good light.
  • Plan for audio description of visual information: audio description provides content to people who are blind and others who cannot see the video adequately. It describes the visual information needed to understand the content, including text displayed in the video.
    • For presentation and instructional videos, the best way to handle audio description is not to need it at all by integrating all the visual information that users need to understand the content into the main audio. When planned in advance, this is fairly simple. For example: instead of the speaker saying “as you can see on this chart, x increased significantly ….”, the speaker can say “this chart shows that x increased significantly from y to z….” Or “whip the mixture until it looks like this”, instead “whip the mixture until the oil, vinegar, and spices are well combined.”

Choose an appropriate video format: Apart from a video’s content, the format of the video file can have a big impact on its accessibility. Before creating a video, determine if the format the file will be delivered in is able to load and play seamlessly on the designated platform and can support captions, transcripts and audio descriptions (if needed).

Captions/Subtitles: Captions are text alternatives of the audio content, synchronized with the video that are provided with videos so that people who are Deaf and hard-of-hearing get a text version of the speech and non-speech audio information needed to understand the content.  Most caption files are plain text files with time codes indicating the start and stop times.

According to WebAIM (Web Accessibility In Mind), “captions should be:

  • Synchronized – the text content should appear at approximately the same time that audio would be available
  • Equivalent – content provided in captions should be equivalent to that of the spoken word
  • Accessible – caption content should be readily accessible and available to those who need it.”

Many video creation or hosting platforms offer captioning as part of the video creation. If your video platform does not, you will need to create a caption file. Once you have a caption file, the final step is to add this file to your video. How you do this, and the type of caption file supported, depends on where your video is hosted. For specific instructions, select one of the following options:

Transcripts: A transcript is a text version of the media content – very similar to captions. A transcript should capture all the spoken audio, plus on-screen text and descriptions of key visual information that wouldn’t otherwise be accessible without seeing the video. Transcripts make video content accessible to everyone, including people who are unable to view the video due to accessibility problems or technical limitations. They are also helpful for people who want to quickly scan or search a video’s content but do not have the time to watch the entire video.

Usually, a fully accessible video should include both captions and a transcript.

Media Players:
Use a media player that supports accessibility.

  • Ensure the video player supports captions, transcripts, and audio descriptions.
  • Ensure all controls, like volume, play, and pause, can be operated with a keyboard and have accessible labels for assistive technology such as screen readers.
  • Ensure videos do not play automatically when the webpage loads. This can be confusing for many users, and the sound can interfere with assistive technology such as screen readers.
  1. Does the media player support closed captions?
  2. Does the media player support audio description in a way that enables users to toggle the narration on and off?
  3. Can the media player’s buttons and controls be operated without a mouse?
  4. Are the media player’s buttons and controls properly labeled so they can be operated by a blind person using a screen reader?
  5. Is the media player fully functional, including all of its accessibility features, across platforms and in all major browsers?

RECAP: An accessible video usually includes captions; a transcript; and careful use of color, text, and flashes or animation. A video should also be delivered in an accessible format with an accessible media player, and may include additional audio description when the default audio track isn’t sufficient.

Resources

Checklist for Creating Accessible Videos

  • From Bureau of Internet Accessibility
Creating Accessible Videos
  • From University of Washington
How to make videos accessible to people with disabilities
  • From Center for Civic Design
Making Audio and Video Media Accessible
  • WeC Web Accessibility Initiative(WAI)
  • “Standards to make Web accessible to people with disabilities

This document was assembled by the 2020 and 2021 Joint Committee DEIA Subcommittees.