Before Your Presentation

Creating accessible presentation slides

Accessible presentation slides have, among other things:

  • clear text
  • good color contrast
  • alt-text for images
  • captioned videos

They follow the same guidelines laid out in the Basic Principles of Accessibility.

As you design your slides, realize that your slides will exist by themselves, so anyone reading them should be able to follow a clear narrative through the presentation. 

Additionally, if you present your slides over Zoom or another videoconferencing method, or you record a screencast of your slides, you're going to want to decide how to handle captions. 

Recording Your Presentation

For a really accessible presentation, you want to make your material available to people ahead of time. Ideally, this means sharing both your slides themselves, and a screencast of the whole presentation.

During Your Presentation

When attendees arrive:

1. Establish norms for the space.

  • How should the chat space be used? What kind of language is acceptable? 
  • How can attendees ask you questions -- should they interrupt, or will you have someone monitoring the chat?
  • Is it okay to ask questions throughout the presentation, or do you want to create specific, well sign-posted times for asking questions?
  • Set an explicit norm that in your presentation space, all questions are valid. All questions are worth asking. 

2. Survey your attendees as to what they want to learn or do in that moment.

Be flexible! Plan more content than will fit in the time allotted, and ask your attendees what they want to focus on.

Mid-way through, have a check-in.

Set a timer or grab a (willing) partner to help you remember to pause at least once during your presentation, to check in on attendees. This is a great chance to make changes to the content of the presentation in real-time, based on what attendees need out of the time together. 

For instance, you could plan a whole session around copyright guidelines that covers types of copyright, why copyright, and how to find copyright-friendly materials. Surveying your attendees as to how deeply they want to go into each section can help you create a presentation that leads to the highest number of satisfied attendees. 

Finish by giving attendees the last word.

You did an amazing job presenting your materials: you read out the content of your slides; you explained your infographics in non-visual ways; you used plain language throughout. But... what did you miss?

There's one way to find out: ask your attendees. 

Create a dedicated space for attendees to ask questions during the presentation, and make sure you share how you'd like attendees to follow up offline. 

After Your Presentation

After the event is over, here are three things you can do to keep your presentation accessible:

1. Send your materials to attendees -- yes, again.

Your presentation materials were and are amazing. They're a true resource for attendees, and no one will mind you emailing the materials to them again. In fact, this can be incredibly helpful for attendees with memory issues, but also anyone trying to remember where they filed your materials. 


2. Send out a satisfaction survey.

We all like to get really good at what we do. You're no exception -- and that's why you send out a satisfaction survey to attendees after every presentation. Their answers will help you make your materials and your delivery better for next time. Plus, it can help you identify and fix any accessibility fixes you might overlook the first time out -- or the fiftieth!


3. Answer follow-up questions.

If you included a slide indicating that you're open to being contacted with additional information, make sure you follow up on any questions you get. If an attendee tries to contact you by following directions you provided, but gets no response, you're potentially causing confusion or anxiety for that attendee. 

"I don't know" is always okay. 

Don't feel like you need to answer every question sent your way. Sometimes questions are beyond the scope of our fields of study, or we know a better person to answer the question.

Don't be shy about stepping back from questions you don't know the answer to.


Here are some sample scripts:

  • "That's a great question, but it's outside the field of my study. I would ask this expert instead."
  • "You know, I don't know. What I would do to find an answer to this question is [Google it / ask a librarian / email this organization]".
  • "Wow, great question! Let me do some research on this and get back to you."