Accessibility Guidelines

Preparing Accessible Presentations 

The following guidelines are borrowed from our colleagues at the ACH. Their full guidelines can be found here: https://ach2019.ach.org/presentation-guidelines/ We have also borrowed from the Special Interest Group on Accessible Computing or SIGACCESS. Their full guidelines can be found here: http://www.sigaccess.org/accessible-virtual-conferences

It’s important that this conference is accessible to all our colleagues. We’ve included some suggestions to help ensure that we can all engage with your work. These can be generally categorized as formatting guidelines for handouts, for slides, for transcripts, for presentation style, and for moderators. We’re grateful for your attention to these things! Ultimately, the guidelines tend toward simplification.

We are using an optional social platform called Discord as our social ecosystem during the conference. Presenters can also host their files there. You will receive this link the day before the conference begins. Discord can be used in your web browser, or you can download it onto your computer. If you don’t choose to use Discord, that’s okay! You’ll still be able to have a full conference experience.

We know transcripts can be a sensitive subject for academic conferences where intellectual property is a concern. The Discord will be private and will be deleted after the conference, but if you don’t feel comfortable posting your transcript there, the choice lies with you. Any file posted in Discord remains the property of the person who posted it. Please do not distribute it without permission.

Handouts

  • If you use handouts, we encourage you to make them available on Discord ahead of time so that participants can access them with screen-readers.
  • For accessible hand-outs, consider using a Word document. While PDFs can be made accessible, it is complicated and time-consuming to make them fully accessible. 
  • Please include translations of foreign languages.
  • Render non-Romanized ancient scripts in Unicode or consider providing transliteration (especially for shorter examples).
  • Please use 18-point or larger, non-serif fonts such as Arial, Verdana, or Helvetica to enable easier reading. 

Slides

To ensure visual accessibility of slides, we recommend the following guidelines:

  • Be attentive to color contrast for those who are color-blind or have visual impairments. You can help by using background and text colors that provide sufficient color contrast. 
    • Stark white text on black background is best avoided because some people experience fuzzing and halation. Instead, use black text on a white background, light gray text (not white) on a black background, dark blue text on a light blue background, etc.
    • If you are unsure whether your colors are accessible, you can check them here.
  • Use different shapes as well as different colors to bring attention to features. For instance, a screen reader can more easily communicate that text is underlined or asterisked instead of that it is highlighted in yellow. We recommend using a color-blindness simulator to ensure that your color scheme is accessible to all viewers. 
  • It’s best to avoid flashing content, strobing lights, or excessive animation that can induce a seizure, migraine, or other type of illness. 
  • Reduce the use of small, complex images and keep words on the slides brief and scannable. 
  • Limit the number of words per slide, breaking up quotes as necessary.
  • Provide and show captions for videos.

More information can be found here: http://www.sigaccess.org/welcome-to-sigaccess/resources/accessible-presentation-guide/

Transcripts

One way to greatly enhance the accessibility of your presentation is to make your slides or a transcript of your talk available to the audience. Guidelines for formatting transcripts are similar to handouts:

  • For accessibility, consider sharing your transcript as a Word document. While PDFs can be made accessible, it can be complicated and time-consuming to make them fully accessible. 
    • If you share as a PDF or any other format that does not allow the easy manipulation of font size, please increase the font size to at least 18pt and use a sans serif font (Arial, Verdana, Helvetica).
  • Please translate foreign languages, though inclusion of original ancient texts is encouraged.
  • Render non-Romanized ancient scripts in Unicode or consider providing transliteration (especially for shorter examples).
  • If you used slides in your presentation, we recommend you share them with your transcript. Please use the “alt text” feature on any images in your slideshow. 
  • If providing presentation documents for download, the most accessible option is to keep these in the native applications (such as PowerPoint), particularly if they used the application options to create the document (as in selecting the “Bullets” option to create bullets rather than simply styling text to look like bullets). 

See more in the article “Creating Accessible Documents” here: https://www.washington.edu/accessibility/documents/

 Presenting

  • Speak at a reasonable, steady pace being mindful that captioners and interpreters are translating what is said in real-time through Zoom’s captioning service.
  • Consider sharing your transcript beforehand in the Discord.
  • Avoid saying “as you can see” or “as this shows.” Instead, simply provide audio descriptions for pictures and videos–that is, a verbal description of important images or imagery shown for participants who are blind and low-vision. You might ask yourself: “What is the important information that this image displays, and how can I communicate that verbally?” It can be very simple, like: “This picture shows a bowl with the Greek letters X and Y inked in black on red terra cotta.”
  • Similarly, you could use a cue like, “Is the volume okay?” instead of “Can you hear me?” to confirm that audience members are interacting with you.
  • Remember to verbally describe any images or graphs on your slides. 

Moderating

  • If you ask a question or a comment, please identify yourself verbally by first and last name and your pronouns when you begin to speak. This helps with accessibility and collegiality! 
  • Good timekeeping helps those of us with physical pain, bodily needs, and / or commitments at home – which is to say, everyone.