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Accessibility Guidelines for Speakers

  1. Be aware that when presenting to an audience which may include people with visual, learning and cognitive disabilities that all visuals need to be described verbally. Descriptions of visual aids not only help people with a variety of disabilities, descriptions are also often appreciated by those sitting in the back of the room.
  2. Ensure that all visual aids are printed in as large a size as possible. To maximize readability, slides and transparencies should not have more than eight lines of text.
  3. If you are working with sign language interpreters, please:
    • Ensure that the interpreter can be seen when lights are dimmed
    • Do not walk in front of interpreters while they are signing
    • Be sure to slow your speaking rate if you tend to be a rapid speaker
    • Speak directly to the person, not to the interpreter, when addressing a person using an interpreter
    • Spell unusual terms, names and foreign words
    • When using slides, overheads, or referring to handouts, allow extra time to look at each item when you are finished discussing it. (People using interpreters cannot examine items and watch the interpreter at the same time.)
    • Advise us if you plan to divide your audience into smaller groups for certain activities. (Additional interpreters may be needed to avoid having all participants using interpreters in “segregated” groups.)
    • Use captioned films, videos, and slide shows, if at all possible. If unable to obtain captioned materials, please try to obtain a text copy of the script so that it may be provided to interpreter(s).
  4. Use the amplification system provided.
  5. Face the audience when you speak and avoid putting your hands over your mouth so those who lip read can understand you.
  6. Repeat all questions into the microphone before answering them if a microphone is not available to the audience.
  7. Ensure that only one audience member speaks at a time.
  8. Provide handout materials for your presentation in advance so that they can be converted to alternate format(s), e.g., Braille, audio tape, large print or computer disk, as necessary.

Always inquire whether the individuals invited to speak at the meeting/conference have any accommodation needs (ex. ramp, podium, type of microphone, etc.)

Excerpted from Kailes, June and Jones, Darryl. A Guide to Planning Accessible Meetings.