In a sporadic series of posts  I’ve focused in on some access issues – admittedly only scraping the surface.

Accessible blogs and documents, next up presentations/ training. Specifically – powerpoints. Slide presentations of some form have been around for ages – and I know there’s others out there who can talk about the history of this better than I can, but that’s not the point. At some point slide presentations moved from being images to accompany talks to being the stars of talks. And that’s a big problem when you’re trying to be accessible. Poor powerpoint/ presentation skills will always undermine the message you’re trying to get across – for everyone who is a witness to it. And this has been explored and written about many many times. I just want to add a few reasons to re-evaluate your use of powerpoint especially in terms of your delivery, and hopefully give you an insight into the experiences of some audiences.

  • If most of your content is written on the powerpoint, people have to read it as well as listen to you. That’s difficult if you’re trying to lip read, follow a sign interpreter, (eyes can’t be in two places at once) are dyslexic, blind or visually impaired.
  • If your speech is reliant on visual images – think about the possibility that there are blind or visually impaired people in your audience. I’m not talking about situations where images are aids – but where they are a key part of your presentation.
  • Your powerpoint should act as a guide – this can be really helpful to people who may struggle to follow your talk. those with hearing impairments, ADD. It shouldn’t be your speech. You may as well walk out of the room at that point. If it is your speech – read it word for word.
  • If you email a powerpoint – most screen readers and other assistive technologies will struggle with it. Better to create a set of notes.
  • If you create a set of notes to go with your presentation (which is only a guide) it will mean no one has to try and scribble down your every word while trying to listen to you. Helps everyone.
  • Don’t talk to your presentation. No one can hear you when you talk to a wall behind you.
  • Tell them what you’re going to tell them. Tell them it. Then tell them what you told them. The old line, but it makes it much easier to pick up where you are if you miss something – especially if you’re deaf, blind, or have any learning difficulties.

Powerpoints are used more and more these days, and I think it’s very easy to be careless with them. Most of what I’ve mentioned here is general good practice anyway – but I hope it’s given you a different perspective and some more reasons on why these things are good practices.

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