Whether in-person or virtual, presentations should be accessible to participants with diverse abilities and learning styles. Event organizers and presenters should take a proactive approach to ensuring that event facilities, content, activities, and supporting materials are accessible to people with disabilities who may have difficulty:

  • seeing
  • hearing
  • moving
  • speaking
  • understanding

Additionally, event announcements and promotional materials should contain an invitation for attendees to request accommodations. For example,

"If you require accommodations, please contact (contact person) at (contact email) by (date, typically 1-2 weeks before the event)."

Event organizers are responsible for the overall accessibility of the venue (for in-person events) and the remote meeting platform (for virtual events). They are also responsible for making arrangements for people with disabilities who may require accommodations. 

Organizer Checklist

  • Ensure that the venue is accessible to speakers and participants, including building entrance, meeting/event room, stage, and restrooms. Visit Accessibility Checklist for Existing Facilities (ADA Title III Compliance Materials) for more information about accessibility of physical facilities.
  • Ensure that the remote meeting platform is accessible to both presenters and participants. For example, Zoom meets the following:
    • User interface is WCAG Level A and AA compliant,.
    • Multiple meeting connection methods are available (Internet and telephone-based).
    • Live captions are supported.
    • Sign language interpreter window can be pinned by participants.
  • Arrange for sign language interpreters, professional captioning, or assistive listening devices as needed.
  • Include an invitation to request accommodations on all event announcements and promotional materials.
  • Ensure that there is an adequate sound system with good quality microphones for speakers and for participants if there will be a Q&A.
  • For large events with multiple presentations, allow adequate time between sessions for people to move between locations.
  • Work with speakers to get copies of presentation materials in advance for interpreters, captioners, and individuals with accessibility needs.

Presenters should consider the following:

  • Be prepared to provide copies of your presentation materials in advance for use by interpreters, captioners, and individuals with accommodation needs.
  • If needed, prepare a list of acronyms, technical terms, names, etc. for captioners and interpreters.
  • Provide multiple ways for participants to interact with you during the session, for example giving the option to use a chat window instead of an online polling feature which may not be fully accessible.
  • Speak clearly and use a good quality microphone.
  • Limit background noise during virtual presentations by using the built-in noise filtering capabilities of your virtual platform.
  • Verbally describe all information communicated visually, including information that is presented textually and graphically.
  • Describe visual cues, for example if asking for a show of hands it is important to describe the visual response for those who may not be able to see it.
  • Ensure that participants have microphones available, and if not, be sure to repeat questions and comments before responding.

There are a number of guidelines and best practices that will ensure that your PowerPoint slides are accessible to people with disabilities or who may be using assistive technologies like screen readers or screen magnifiers.

Best Practices

  • Use good color contrast. The accessibility guidelines call for a minimum of 3:1 contrast for large text but best practice for PowerPoint is 5:1 or greater.
  • Use large (minimum 18pt or larger), sans serif fonts.
  • Ensure that every slide has a meaningful title.
  • Ensure that all content is in a designated content container.
  • Include alternative text for all meaningful images and all charts/graphs.
  • Mark images that do not communicate information as decorative.
  • Set the reading order of slide contents.
  • Use meaningful links, preferable using the name of the site that you are linking to.
  • Create tables/charts in PowerPoint rather than inserting a screen shot.
  • Use the accessibility checker to identify possible issues.
  • If exporting to PDF, be sure to use "Save as PDF", never "Print to PDF".

For detailed instructions, visit Microsoft Office: Make Your PowerPoint Presentations Accessible to People with Disabilities or visit the Tufts Learning Center to register for an instructor-led Digital Accessibility: PowerPoint session.