Devin Boyle is a consultant for PEAT supporting efforts to ensure new technologies, such as autonomous vehicles and X-Reality, are born accessible. She has more than 10 years of experience in policy analysis and development, stakeholder engagement, strategic communication, advocacy and partnership building.
7 Steps to Make Your Virtual Presentations Accessible
With the rapid rise of telework, the PEAT team recognizes it’s more important than ever to make sure virtual presentations are accessible. These efforts allow all participants, particularly people with disabilities, to effectively engage with presented content. Below, you’ll find seven essential steps and related resources to help you create accessible presentations.
Step 1: Research
Before hosting a virtual presentation, identify all accessibility features of the online platform you intend to use. The following websites discuss accessibility features for several commonly used platforms for webinars, virtual conferences, and other collaborative activities:
- Adobe Connect Google G Suite
- Microsoft Teams
- Slack (keyboard accessibility, screen reader accessibility)
- Workplace by Facebook
Step 2: Need Sensing
When sending invitations to join your virtual presentation, encourage participants to share their requirements and accommodation needs to engage effectively in your event. For example, you could craft a request like this:
“We strive to host an inclusive and accessible presentation. Accessible materials will be distributed to participants in advance, and live captioning will be provided during the event. If you have questions about the accessibility of our presentation, or want to request accommodations, please reach out to [add name] at [add email].”
Step 3: Put Systems in Place
Before your live event starts, check off these critical to-do items first:
- Adjust your platform settings to record your presentation. Though this may not be specifically requested, it’s helpful for everyone to access content after the live event concludes.
- Arrange captioning for your presentation in advance (such as through the Federal Relay Service for government employees or another service provider).
- Secure sign language interpreters—if requested.
Step 4: Create Accessible Materials
In advance of your presentation, create and share accessible slide decks and other presentation materials with the audience. Sending your materials ahead of time ensures that participants have access to electronic versions in case they encounter accessibility issues during the live event. Consider these resources for creating accessible presentations and documents in Word (or another software application for word processing):
- How to Make Presentations Accessible to All
- PowerPoint Accessibility
- Best Practices for Making Word Documents Accessible
Step 5: Prepare Speaker(s)
For a presentation to be fully accessible, speakers must understand how to use key features of the online platform and convey content in a manner that promotes accessibility. Participants with certain disabilities can absorb information better and more effectively engage in presentations when the speaker(s) follows recommendations for accessible communication. We also suggest conducting a preparatory or dry-run session with the presenters in advance to verify their familiarity and comfort with the run of show and platform controls (e.g., screen sharing, muting/unmuting audio, etc.).
Step 6: Share Materials
After the event concludes, disseminate a recording of your presentation and the transcript to participants. This best practice enhances the accessibility of the information you shared and affords people with and without disabilities more opportunities to review and better understand the content you presented.
Step 7: Ask for Feedback
When sharing materials from your presentation, ask participants for feedback on the content of the presentation, its utility, and their experiences with the accessibility of your virtual event.
- Learn more about how to foster accessibility for all your digital materials (e.g., emails, PDFs, social media posts, etc.) by reviewing PEAT’s digital accessibility basics
- Watch a recording and access PowerPoint slides from this recent presentation: “Creating and Hosting an Accessible Online Presentation”
- Utilize additional tips for virtual meetings and presentations: “Accessibility Tips for a Better Zoom/Virtual Meeting Experience”
- Use PEAT’s Buy IT tool when evaluating a meeting platform for purchase
Note: GovLoop.com originally published a version of this article on April 1; it is reprinted with permission.