Guidelines for an Accessible Presentation

Embodied capacities for vision, hearing, and sustained interaction in large crowds vary between people, and wax and wane for each of us from hour to hour and over the course of our lives. Maximizing the accessibility of our presentations furthers our professional work. It helps your work reach a wide academic audience, which furthers the core goals of scholarly exchange.

Your talk:
Come prepared with a list of Proper Nouns, including names of people and places, and specialized terms in your talk. If there is an ASL interpreter present, s/he will need to review this document before your talk begins in order to familiarize himself/herself with words and names that do not have a standard ASL sign.

Come prepared with 2-3 printed text copies of your talk. Making printed versions available helps people who may have difficulty hearing or processing auditory information to follow your talk. Choose size 17 font or larger and feel free to add a disclaimer: “Please do not distribute without the expressed permission of the author” with your name and contact information. Alternatively, you put the text on a website that people can easily access from their devices. This can use a unique and private link, and has the added benefit that readers can chose their own text size. You can take down the link after the conference, and you can ask people to return your print copies at the end of your talk.

Note that providing an alternative presentation model is appreciated by people for many reasons, including language fluency, learning style, and personal preference.

Announce that printed “access copies” are available at the start of the talk. It is best practice to then offer them to those who respond to that request, without asking anyone why they are requesting the copy.

Is your powerpoint accessible?
Use a high contrast powerpoint (white text on black background, and bold text or a substantially wide font work well). Try to use a sans-serif font, such as Arial, and maintain a large font size (17 size font or higher).

Avoid using too much text on a single slide.

Is there visual information on your slide? Describe all images - do not assume that your audience can see ANY of the images. Include information about:

  • Content
  • Aesthetics and style
  • Connection to talk

Session Microphones:
SfAA will provide microphones and speakers only if a meeting room is large enough to necessitate. Most meeting rooms do not require this equipment. Presenters may bring their own external speakers if desired.

If there is an ASL interpreter present:
ASL interpreters sign in American Sign Language, which has its own grammatical structure and nuances. It may take more or less time to express an idea in ASL than in spoken English. When interpreting academic English, interpreters often spell out proper nouns or jargon terms letter-by-letter, which takes longer than speaking. As such, when you are presenting a text that is being interpreted into ASL, it is best practice to pause slightly to allow the interpreter to catch up after names, place names, or jargon terms.