Changing workplaces: organising an accessible virtual presentation

Thu 2 September 2021

With much of the country in lockdown, and with the ever-changing nature of work, organisations are pivoting to virtual events and presentations. While it’s a necessity to conduct presentations virtually during the pandemic, we may also see some events continue to offer both a virtual and in-person option.

Australian Network on Disability has the top tips to assist you in prioritising accessibility in the virtual world.

Offer accessibility from the outset

Just as you would for an in-person event, reach out to both your attendees and those presenting and ask the simple question: are there any accessibility requirements you need?

This could be anything from captions to interpreters to copies of the presentation prior to the event – whatever it is, make sure you ask your audience and speakers early on, so you know what you need to include for the virtual event.  

Ask what requirements are needed ahead of time, like in the registration process for the presentation.

Provide your speakers with accessibility requirements

If you’re inviting speakers to your virtual event, make sure you let them know what accessibility requirements are needed for their presentations.

This includes:

  • accessible copies of the presentation (such as Word document – sent ahead of the meetings)
  • captions for any videos and audio description when appropriate.
  • alternative text for images
  • speakers to describe images on screen or any graphs during their presentation
  • correct colour contrast for presentations
  • correct font typefaces like sans serif fonts and font large enough to read (for presentation slides, we recommend size 44 font for headings and size 32 for font text).  

If the presenters are joining virtually, make sure they are also briefed on how to create an optimal accessible presenting space.

We recommend:

  • sitting in a well-lit area so your face is clearly seen on camera
  • camera positioning allowing face to be fully in frame
  • be sure you have checked microphone prior to presentation
  • sit in an area with no background noise
  • try to minimise any distractions in the background
  • say your name before speaking
  • speak clearly and at a steady pace
  • have only one person speaking at a time and have others mute microphones when not speaking.

Book your interpreters and captioners prior to the event

If interpreters and captioners are required for the virtual presentation, you will need to book them prior to the meeting. Once the virtual meeting has commenced, remind your audience to pin the interpreters to their screen to be able to see them throughout the virtual presentation if they need to.

Send out presentations to captioners, interpreters and those who have requested it prior to the virtual meeting

Allocate a due date prior to the virtual presentation for speakers to send through their presentations. This will allow you to provide the captioners and interpreters with presentation copies so they can familiarise themselves prior to the virtual presentation.

You should also send an accessible copy of the presentation (e.g an accessible word version that clearly identifies and describes what is on each slide – images, graphs etc) to the attendees ahead of the virtual event. That way attendees can access the presentation prior to the event and follow along on their own personal copies during the event.

If electronic versions are not properly formatted, it can be difficult for screen-readers to navigate them, meaning the information might be read out in the wrong order or be incomplete. Some software, such as Microsoft Office, has an accessibility checker function  that flags issues with accessibility within the document and suggests ways to address them.

If you’re looking for more tips, including for an in-person event, view our event accessibility checklist.


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