Accessible presentations and public speaking

Use this guide to learn what to do before, during, and after your presentation to optimize inclusion and access for all participants.

Why should I consider accessibility?

The time, effort, and commitment to create accessible, usable presentations and materials is even more vital today than ever before. (Learn more U.S. Disability Statistics at https://go.wisc.edu/z445uy.)

Before your presentation

At a high-level, consider whether your presentation and digital materials:

  • Are well-structured to enable screen reader access
  • Are high contrast, which helps users with low vision, color blindness, and/or are in low contrast settings
  • Ensure all visual content has a text equivalent that incorporates both explicit and implicit meaning
  • Use plain language so that participants can understand complex ideas instead of deciphering specialized terminology

Learn more about how to structure the following document types for accessibility: 

Anticipate and advocate for the needs of your audience 

Some users may be non-native English speakers or English Language Learners (ELL), and some users may have a hearing impairment such as deafness or hard of hearing. Advocate for accessibility and usability as a right of all participants and ensure that the facilitators of the event are aware that, as a condition of participation, accessibility be considered to ensure a barrier-free experience for participants. Some services that may be helpful for campus events include:

During your presentation

While you are presenting:

  • Use a microphone even if the space seems small, amplification is helpful for many participants

  • Speak at a slightly slower pace than you may use in natural conversation, during your presentation, to allow all users to follow the flow of the presentation and content

  • Describe information on each slide and include both text and visual content. You don’t have to read the slide exactly as it is; just make sure that you cover the visual information in what you say.

  • Describe other visual information in the room, such as the number of participants that raise their hands in answer to a speaker prompt

  • For accessible Q&A

    • Remind the audience to use a microphone when they speak

    • Remind participants to state their name when they speak so others track who is speaking

    • Repeat the questions participants ask again and make sure your audience understands the question before answering it

After your presentation

Follow these easy tips for increasing the value of your content and being an available resource for your participants.

  • Increase the impact of and accessibility of your presentation materials and content by including contextual information via speaker notes, for example, so that users understand the context of the material, whether or not they attended the event.
  • Make your content available:
    • Have a shared resource space where participants can return to your updated content for more information and find your contact information to follow-up.

    • Give users a way to provide feedback or request assistance with accessibility. 

Other resources

For questions or assistance with accessibility or usability, contact the UW–Madison Center for Digital Accessibility & User Experience or check out these additional resources.




Keywords:accessibility, usability, presentation, public speaking, speech, conference, event, event planning   Doc ID:93926
Owner:Sandi A.Group:Accessibility
Created:2019-08-16 14:05 CSTUpdated:2019-10-18 09:04 CST
Sites:Accessibility, Accessibility Shared Resources
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