Wales Council of the Blind

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Accessible Presentations - advice to presenters

WCB hosts conferences at which one or more people with sight loss will be present. This sight loss ranges from total blindness to a variety of eye conditions that inhibit access to the material being presented to the audience, including hand-outs.

There are many things that presenters can do to communicate effectively with blind and partially-sighted people:

Read and describe: Don’t assume the on-screen text is being read by the audience – some may not see it at all and some with difficulty. Read the bullet points as part of your talk. Describe any diagrams or charts: a bar chart may seem obvious to many but some individuals may not be able to see it. If the figures are important, read them out in a structured way.

Keep the presentations visually clean and simple. Avoid fussy layout and too many bullet points per slide. Ideally, make the text large, static and in black on a white, or very light, background. Try not to lay text over a background image. Avoid animated text effects (other than simple ‘appearing text’ techniques).

Videos in presentations present obvious challenges to blind and partially-sighted people. These challenges are increased by the fact that the presenter has no control over the pace and flow of the narrative. There is not the normal opportunity to interrupt the narrative to ask a question or seek explanation. Bear this in mind when using fixed media.

Avoid the use of visual cues and gestures: For example, don’t point to items on the screen and assume that the audience knows what you’re referring to. Try not to talk with your hands.

Ask people to identify themselves during Q&A sessions. This helps blind and partially-sighted people to understand the context of the question and discussion.

Avoid using hand-outs unless they are truly necessary.

If hand-outs are required, please make them available in a range of formats: large print (18pt and 22pt black on white unless specified otherwise); audio CD, Braille. These formats can be produced by Wales Council for the Blind and would generally need to be ordered at least a week in advance.

It is often helpful to make your presentation available after the conference. If this is possible, let the conference organisers know that you will make a copy available.

In general: Try to find out if any of the audience has particular requirements with regard to access to your presentation. Do this by asking the conference organisers either before or on the day. This information will help you to tailor your presentation to the specific needs of your audience.

Further information:

For more on accessible information, contact Richard Bowers at Wales Council of the Blind.