When people talk about accessibility in presentations, the initial conversation usually starts and ends with colourblindness. To be honest, it’s a good place to start – just check last week’s newsletter 😁
However, accessibility is more than catering to those with permanent disabilities. The broader definition also includes temporary disabilities and even covers situations like poor connectivity. As a busy professional, focusing on accessibility provides an opportunity to reach a wider audience and share your work more effectively.
Temporary disabilities are one area that is often overlooked but is more common than you realise.
Real life is full of surprises. From fender-benders on the way to work rocking your usual calm and stoic nature to the sudden onset of the flu slowly impacting your ability to focus and concentrate as the workday progresses. Consider a parent who spent the entire night seeing to a sick child – there’s a chance that your key message lands totally differently than you intend for an audience member who is sleep deprived, worried about a sick child at home, has insurance forms to complete or is nursing a fever.
I’ve worked with colleagues who suffered from migraines and, trust me, the last thing they wanted to do was sit through a 30-minute presentation in that state. Temporary disabilities can take many forms.
When we include access and connectivity considerations, there are a few more situations to consider. Do you have audience members dialling in on a mobile device and all they have to view your presentation is their phone screen? What if the only place they can attend is a noisy coffee shop or busy airport lounge?
There’s a lot to consider. But what everyone fails to tell you is that accessibility is not a one-size-fits-all solution. It’s hard to check all the boxes with your presentation.
Luckily, I’ve pulled together a little cheat sheet to help you bring the fundamentals of accessibility to your work 😎
When in doubt, ask yourself these 3 questions:
- Is it easy to access?
- Is it easy to use?
- Is it easy to understand?
Let’s unpack each one a little:
Is it easy to access?
Have you made the presentation easy to find, download and open? Saving your files in a central location, keeping file sizes small (to download), and making sure that they are usable with common presentation software helps a lot. Making your presentations screen reader-friendly for those with low vision is a big value-add
Is it easy to use?
Is your presentation easy to view? Does it work on all devices including small screens? Have you made it simple to deliver with few animations? Using clear titles and descriptive alt text for images can make your slides easy to read for people who are blind or who use screen readers to access content
Is it easy to understand?
Have you made the content easy to follow? The basics of removing jargon and doing spell checks are often overlooked. Using plain language, keeping a logical flow and making sure that content is inclusive and not offensive goes a long way to having your message heard. Include your speaker notes for an extra touch to describe the slide and the key points you want to land with the audience
Granted, these 3 questions will not make you an accessibility expert – the goal of this series is to bring awareness to the topic.
Accessibility and assistive technology have made their way into everyday use with many of us not even realising it. The typewriter (and now the keyboard), the telephone, subtitles and the curb cuts on sidewalks are all examples borne out of the need to help people with disabilities but have now made all our lives better. This is known as the Curb-Cut Effect: where laws and investment into policies and practices for a more equitable society have benefited all.
Design that is better suited to disabilities will intrinsically be more easily accessible for the majority of audiences. You will have your own Curb-Cut Effect for your work.
Technology is a tool for empowerment. Making it easy for people to access your work and to share in your insights is a powerful thing.
Yes, it may require a little extra work. But it’ll be worth it.
Some interesting links:
- I introduced the Accessibility Checker in last week’s email. It is such an awesome tool to help uncover issues in your presentations. I recommend checking it out
- If you would like to learn more about accessibility, Microsoft provides free training which is really great
Good luck and have fun sharing your work!
If you have any questions about the topic of accessibility please feel free to reach out by replying to this email 😊
Have a fantastic week!
✌️ + ppt
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