Spreading the Word – making presentations accessible

In September, I was invited to speak at the Access All Areas conference organised by the Oxford University Museums Partnership in association with the Jodi Mattes Trust.

It was a great opportunity to spread the word about the Sensing Culture project but to also learn about the work that’s being carried out across the museum sector to make our venues more accessible to all visitors.

One thing that occurred to me as I was preparing my presentation, which I would not have thought about before this project, was – how do I make sure I make the presentation as accessible as possible?

The presentation was going to be interpreted by a BSL signer, but I wanted to make sure that any blind or partially sighted members of the audience were catered for.

access all areas

It’s easy to slip into the same old routine of Powerpoints with lots of text and images.  The traditional way of engaging people through presentations relies quite a lot on visuals, images, videos and animations etc.,  but I had come to realise that this may not be appropriate for many members of the audience.

So I did some research and found that carrying out a few simple changes, I could make sure my presentation was more accessible.

The key things that I took on board were to:

  • Limit the amount of text that was on the slide
  • Read out any text that was included
  • Choose a sans serif font
  • Make sure it is at least 18  point
  • Make sure there was high contrast between the text and the background
  • Describe any images that are included

These were very simple, but effective principles which I hoped made the presentation more accessible.

A lot of the principles are the same as that for accessible design, but it was the practice of describing any images that were included that I think made a big difference.  It was a really good opportunity for me to be able to put some of the audio description skills I had learnt when dealing with the museum setting in practise in a different context.

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