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BCLA Accessible Presentations Guidelines

BCLA is committed to creating inclusive spaces and experiences. As part of that commitment, we are working to make presentations at BCLA events more accessible. This may require some additional time from presenters to learn accessible presentation skills, but we know our community and partners agree with us on the value and importance of everyone to be able to participate.

Below are some basic information and resource links. If you have other resources you’d like to recommend, please email us, as we are learning, too.


Make your materials accessible

Step-by-step instructions for making your PowerPoint accessible

Step-by-step instructions for making your Word docs accessible

Watch this 11-minute video and learn How to Make Accessible Presentations
(PDF of presentation slides)

  • Use slide templates in PowerPoint, and titles and headings in Word – both provide structure that enables people using accessible technology to navigate independently
  • Use a simple sans serif font
  • Provide alt text for images – these descriptions of visuals ensure people with visual disabilities don’t miss out on key information
  • Avoid complicated tables
  • Use sufficient contrast between colours (https://contrastchecker.com/)
  • Use the built-in accessibility checkers in Word and PowerPoint (available in the Review menu)
  • Make your PowerPoint presentations, handouts, and any other materials you plan to use in your presentation available to attendees in advance of the event. This enables those who use assistive technology or have processing disabilities to participate.
  • If you have information that should be not available until the moment of the presentation and are using PowerPoint, offer an advance copy that has a placeholder slide indicating that information will be shared during the presentation.
  • Please provide original files formats (i.e. PowerPoint, Word document) rather than PDFs, unless you are proficient at creating accessible PDFs. PDFs are generally less accessible than PPT and DOC files.


Create accessible content

Presenter Toolkit by Rebecca Shortt

  • Use gender neutral language
  • Use simple language and explain any jargons or acronyms
  • Provide content warnings in your session description, materials, and verbal presentation before sharing potentially sensitive or upsetting content


Present with accessibility in mind

  • Use the microphone provided
  • Provide a clear and direct view of your mouth and face when speaking
  • Describe important visual information on your slides and during the presentation
  • In a panel presentation, speak one person at a time and identify yourself each time you speak
  • Give people time to process information


Additional Resources

Presenter Toolkit by Rebecca Shortt (includes webinar presentation on making accessible PowerPoints, for those who prefer video)

How to Make Your Presentations Accessible to All from the W3C Web Accessibility Initiative

Virtual Presentation Accessibility Guidelines from the American Anthropological Association (includes good alternate step-by-step instructions on creating accessible PowerPoints, Word documents, and PDFs).

Curated Accessibility Resources page from Accessible Libraries