Tips for Presenters

Presenters must be aware of the needs of their audience. General tips are provided in this section, or explore more detailed information in Accessibility Guidelines for Presenters External link to PDF by June Kailes.

Tips for Preparing Your Presentation and Content:

  • Work closely with the event planners to learn more about your potential audience, and be prepared to modify your material or presentation style as requested.
  • Deliver your materials at the requested deadline since it can take two to three weeks to prepare materials to meet the needs of attendees.
  • Review the guidelines about style, fonts, video, and other elements of presentation offered in this guide.

Tips for Preparing a PowerPoint Presentation:

  • Use a sans serif font that is at least 22 point.
  • Use a light colored background with dark text.
  • Use a plain background without any watermark, photo, or design behind the text.
  • Use a PowerPoint as an outline for your presentation, with only short sentences and/or bulleted phrases (about 4 lines of text/40 words per slide).
  • Keep it short - as a rule, one slide for every two minutes of speaking time.
  • Photographs, images, clip art, graphics, maps, and charts cannot be read by screen readers; embed "Alt Text"External link descriptions with images and other graphic elements.

Tips for Presenting:

  • If there is a sign language interpreter, please wait for him/her to be in place before beginning your presentation.
  • Always face the audience; this is especially helpful for audience members who are speech readers (lip readers).
  • Speak at a normal rate, neither too slowly nor too quickly; this is especially helpful for the sign language interpreters.
  • All the information on your slides should be part of your spoken presentation; you don’t need to simply read the text to the audience, but be certain that all information is addressed.
  • Describe all meaningful graphics in your presentation (such as photos, images, charts, and illustrations).
  • Use felt tip markers free of scents and solvents and replace the cap when not in use.
  • Use lasers to point only; resist the urge to wiggle the light around the screen (this can be problematic for people with a variety of conditions, including vision disabilities), and turn it off when not in use.
  • If you are a panelist and are not introduced immediately prior to speaking, introduce yourself. This is helpful for audience members who are blind or have low vision.
  • Always use the microphone; individuals may have hearing aids or may be using an assistive listening system that cannot pick up your words if you do not use the microphone. This has nothing to do with how loud you speak or how well you project.
  • If you are asked a question by someone not using a microphone, be sure to repeat the question into the microphone.
  • Attendees with electrical sensitivities may not be able to use or tolerate wireless microphones; you may need to repeat their questions into the microphone.
  • Ensure that only one audience member speaks at a time.
  • If you ask the entire audience a question, offer several ways to respond, including raising hands, calling out, standing, nodding; this will facilitate participation for those who may not be able to raise hands, speak, or stand.
  • Following the response to an audience question, let the audience know the count or estimate, such as “about half responded yes.”
  • To ensure access for attendees with electrical sensitivities, turn off non-essential computers, projectors, microphones, and other electronic equipment when not in use.

Tips for Attendees

While there are standards to help ensure that meetings, events, and conferences are accessible to participants with a wide range of needs, the hard truth is that all systems are human.

Event planners who mean well may need to be educated about what will make the best experience for participants who have disabilities. Self-­advocacy remains the best way to ensure that an event will meet your needs.

  • Communicate early and often with the event hosts; complete registration forms with as much detail as possible, and reach out to the hosts a few weeks before the event to ask if they have secured the accommodations requested.
  • When the event includes an overnight stay, include explicit requests in your reservation. Contact the hotel management by phone a day or so in advance to follow up.
  • Be patient but firm in your request; only through your continued push on the market will it consistently meet your needs.
  • When faced with event or hotel staff who fail to understand your requests or their responsibilities, use this guide to help explain their legal obligations.