Creating Accessible Presentations
This page offers guidance on how to create and deliver presentations in ways that expand access for disabled audiences. Please review the resources and information below to ensure that all attendees can engage with your session’s content.
Looking for general information on conference accessibility? Check out the ASHE Conference Accessibility Webpage.
Plan Ahead to Upload Your Presentation
Over the past two years, ASHE has strongly encouraged presenters to upload their presentations before their session. For 2023: it is required that all presenters upload presentations in advance.
Uploading presentations allows attendees to preview the presentation materials ahead of time for better engagement with the session; allows the ASHE Staff to review the presentations to ensure they are most accessible; and allows the captionist/interpreter to preview the presentation to ensure accurate translation of materials.
- Presentations should be uploaded in PowerPoint format, rather than converting to a PDF. This allows the accessibility aspects of the presentation to remain in place. Presenters may want to protect their presentations from being edited before upload. There are numerous resources available online with instructions on how to do this.
- Presentations will only be accessible through the ASHE Conference App. Attendees are responsible to the ASHE Events Code of Conduct and Ethics Policies. As such, presentations remain the intellectual property of presenters and may not be copied or disseminated without the express written permission of the presenters. This statement will be included in the ASHE Conference App and presenters may include this (and any other language) on a cover page of their presentation.
- Any violation of the ASHE Code of Conduct or Ethics Policies can be reported to ASHE Executive Director/Ethics Officer Dr. Jason P. Guilbeau at email@example.com.
- The link to upload your presentation is ASHE Presentation Upload Form.
Due Dates for Uploading Your Presentation
- October 15, 2023: All presenters in sessions where there is an accessibility request for the presentation ahead of time are required to upload their presentation. We will notify presenters of these requests no later than October 1.
- October 26, 2023: PowerPoint Presentations must be uploaded for the Virtual Conference Day.
- November 7, 2023: PowerPoint Presentations must be uploaded for the In-Person Conference and Pre-Conferences.
Making an Accessible Presentation
- We strongly recommend using PowerPoint to design your presentation (rather than Prezi, Canva, or Google Slides). PowerPoint is typically the easiest to navigate as well as provides the most support for designing an accessible presentation.
- Google Slides and Prezi Design have accessibility features for virtual audiences, but these can be lost when downloading slides.
- Numbering slides ensures the reading order is clear when slides are printed.
Suggestions for Making Accessible Materials
There are also lots of resources online about how to create accessible presentation materials. ASHE has synthesized some key information: these guidelines are available in a visual-based format (Canva PDF) and a text-based format (Word Document).
In addition, many colleges and universities have developed internal resources with suggestions that you might want to explore as you get started.
Suggestions For Presenting in an Accessible Way
- Being able to fully engage with a presentation is different for each attendee, so providing clear and accessible content is important.
- Always use a working microphone so that audience members and communication access providers (interpreter/captionist) can hear you.
- Speaking quickly is a natural response to exciting or stressful situations. When possible, aim to speak at a slower pace and work to enunciate spoken language.
- Doing so helps to clarify your content for everyone but especially the captionist/interpreter and attendees who lip-read.
- Consider adding reflective pauses during your presentation so the information shared can be processed by attendees who may have different processing speeds/needs.
- Provide a brief image description of yourself when presenting (e.g., I am a white woman with brown hair, glasses, and today I am wearing a black shirt and pants).
- Please make sure to describe any images you use and how they relate to the content during your presentation.
- Instead of saying "as you can see" or "looking at this chart," which assumes everyone can see, discuss the specifics of the image, chart, or graphic.
- During question and discussion portions of your session, make sure that all audience members can hear the questions. Anyone speaking must use a microphone or repeat the question once it has been asked.
- Familiarize yourself with additional ways to make the session more accessible. Helpful accessibility resources include:
The information is also available in a visual-based format (Canva PDF) and a text-based format (Word Document).
In an effort to foster an inclusive presentation environment, we strongly recommend using PowerPoint to design your presentation as PowerPoint is typically the easiest to navigate and provides the most support for accessibility. Below are recommended tips in a text-based layout created by the 2023 Conference Accessibility Committee.
Font Style and Size
- Use Sans serif fonts such as Helvetica, Arial, Verdana, Calibri, and Antique Olive.
- Use bold, underlining, and quotation marks for words and phrases needing emphasis rather than italics, which are less visually accessible.
- Do not use shadows on text.
- Font and background colors should have high contrast, meaning light font on a dark background or dark font on a light background. Never use gray as it is the least accessible color for attendees with visual impairments due to its lack of contrast with every color, including white. When creating graphs or visual displays please remember that some people cannot distinguish between specific colors (e.g., red/green).
- Use 32 point or larger font size for slide text. This is larger than PowerPoint’s default, but it ensures that text is viewable at any distance and that a slide does not overload the viewer with information. If your text is overflowing the box or slide, consider splitting it up into multiple slides.
- For Charts and Tables, use 24 point or larger font size. Charts should have alternative text descriptions, tables should have a clear header row or the first row describing the content that is in the columns below it.
Images and Alternate Text
- Non-decorative images related to presentations should have alternative text provided. Alternative text is a brief description of the image that can be attached in PowerPoint.
- Avoid the use of loud music or ﬂashing images, video, and/or lights during your presentation, but if necessary, let attendees know before the beginning of the presentation so attendees with sensory issues can plan accordingly.
- Avoid GIFS, animations, and moving transitions as these can cause migraines or nausea in some people.
- If including a video, make sure captions are included.