Kyle Rector
University of Iowa
March 7, 2019

An important aspect of academic research and many other careers is to present your ideas and work to an audience. There may be people in the audience who are blind or have difficulty seeing. Some people in the audience may have a color vision impairment, may be lip reading as you talk, or may have difficulty reading words on the slides. You may have an interpreter translating your talk into sign language for audience members who are Deaf. In this video on accessible presentations, Kyle Rector provides nine guidelines for preparing a conference presentation that will communicate your message to every audience member. For more information, please check Richard Ladner’s paper, “Making Your Conference Talk Accessible”.

Video on accessible presentations:


  1. Choose a good color scheme
    • Use high contrast – Should work in dim and bright rooms
    • Make sure slides are discernable for color blind users
  2. Use more than color to communicate information
    • Color coding cannot be understood by people who are blind or colorblind
    • In addition to verbal emphasis, one could use bold, italic, underline, *astrices*, etc. to convey emphasis
  3. Keep text brief
    • Speak every word on slide, read long excerpts aloud, use large sans serif fonts
    • However, if the speaker prone to speaking quickly, and the audience has a hard time listening, it may be helpful to have more words on the slides (or in speaker notes).
  4. Make graphics simple
    • Provide a text equivalent for graphics, but not for graphics that are only meant for decoration
  5. Verbally describe images
    • Avoid using a pointer
  6. Avoid using animations
    • Unless with a detailed audio description
  7. Audio describe and caption videos
  8. Speak clearly
    • Speak at a proper cadence Do not speak too fast, useful for interpreters
    • Face the audience: People can hear you and be engaged; People who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing may be able to lip read
    • Use understandable terms: Avoid slang, colloquialisms. Understand your audience
  9. Make your slides available before your presentation
    • The previous day, or even better, 1 week before your presentation

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This work could not have been done without the help of Catie Baker, Shrirang Sahasrabudhe, and Richard Ladner.