Skip to main content

Communication & Collaboration Resources: Events and presentations - making accessible

1. Checklist for creating accessible events

Preparing for an event

  • Include a space on the registration form to ask if participants need accommodations
  • Send out materials in advance
  • Come 5-10 minutes early to get everything set up and test that things are working correctly
  • Be open and friendly - it’s not always easy for people to request assistance

Can your audience see it?

Fonts and sizes

  • Use a minimum of 18 font-size on projected slides, 12 font-size on handouts
  • Use a sans-serif font - like Arial or Verdana - for easy reading
  • Don’t put whole paragraphs on slides - pull out key phrases to highlight what you are saying
  • Structure your document with headers - create accessible PDF, PowerPoint, and Slides files (see resources below)

Contrast and colors

  • Make sure your font and the background have enough contrast to read
    Use a contrast tool like Contrast Checker or Tangaru Contrast Finder or pick from pre-made accessible color combinations at clrs.cc/a11y/
  • Beware of using colors - especially red and green - to convey information.
    Use a color blindness checker like Vischeck or use text (“Correct”, “Incorrect”) or icons (✔ , ✘) as a backup for color
  • If using a red pointer, describe what you are pointing at as well

Fancy effects

  • Write descriptions, labels, or alt text for images, charts, and graphs
  • Use motion and special fonts sparingly
  • Create video captions for your videos (see resources below)

Can your audience hear it?

  • Accommodate requests for using a microphone or other amplification device
  • Face the audience, not the screen, when speaking
  • Use microphones for presenters and audience questions for groups of more than 20 (watch the “Like the Mic” video)
  • Repeat audience questions before answering

Can your audience access it physically?

Physical access

  • Determine wheelchair accessible routes and seating
  • Use clear signage for accessible entrances, bathrooms, parking, etc.
  • Consider providing food allergy-safe options and ingredient labels

Virtual access

  • Set up a Webex for remote attendees
  • Consider recording or photographing the event
  • Provide slides and materials online after the event

Can your audience communicate and participate?

  • Offer microphones for those needing voice projection
  • Enable chat and microphone communication online
  • Make sure your audience has access to the required technologies
  • Ensure space for mobility if moving around is required for activities
  • Establish norms of respectful communication
  • Ask everyone to share their preferred pronouns
  • Make sure the session content is inclusive and not privileging one point-of-view or set of life experiences

Not sure what someone needs to participate fully?

Ask. Collaborate. Provide help in a matter-of-fact way that preserves the dignity of the individual. Remember that making a meeting or event more accessible for people with disabilities often improves the experience for everyone, but also reasonable accommodation is the law (ADA).

2. MIT and other resources

MIT resources and contacts

Accessibility & Usability at MIT
Truly helpful resource at MIT. An internal consultancy available to the entire MIT community, providing assistive technology services, as well as accessibility and usability consulting. In particular, see their web pages on:

Disabilities Employee Resource Group - see Human Resource ERGs
Employee-focused group dedicated to advancing awareness and inclusion for people with disabilities at MIT, open to all.

Map of accessible parking and access (PDF)
To arrange accessible parking for visitors to campus, call the Parking and Transportation Office (617-258-6510) or email your request to mitparking@mit.edu.

MIT A/V assistance

Student Disabilities Services
Student-focused service organization dedicated to ensuring students with disabilities have equal access.

Other useful references

Attribution

This content was adapted from the presentation "Accessibility Workshop" by Sofia Leung, Stacey Snyder, Frances Botsford, and Barbara Johnson on November 6, 2017 at the MIT Libraries.