Creating Accessible In-Person Presentations

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Accessible Presentations Guidelines for the DLF Forum

One of Digital Library Federation’s strengths is that its membership & Forums are inclusive sites for exchange. Our community of practitioners participate in a variety of cultures and disciplines, and they bring with them to the Forum many different professional and personal experiences and learning styles. To help presenters effectively engage with this diverse and dynamic community, we offer these practical recommendations for creating accessible presentations.

  • Creating Accessible Presentations LIVE webinar: Tuesday, July 26, 1pm ET

Delivering Presentations

Language and Respect

  • Respectfully acknowledge those who make your work possible—whether you’re talking about research participants, IT support, student employee labor, or the ancestral inhabitants of the ground you stand on. Recognize that the audience has knowledge to contribute.
  • Give an overview of what will happen and what you’re about to present, making note of sensitive content or language as appropriate.
  • Do not assume all cultural touchpoints or references are universal. Give context to the audience.
    • Minimize the use of jargon and acronyms, or clearly explain them in your talk.
    • Make sure you share information (spelling, pronunciation) about jargon to the live captioner or the person producing the closed captioning to ensure accuracy.
  • Adhere to the Code of Conduct for respectful and inclusive communication and interaction.
  • Make presentation materials available in advance so that participants using assistive technology can follow along on their own devices. We encourage use of DLF’s dedicated repository for Forum and Learn@DLF presentations or DigiPres.
    • Provide a textual version of presentations either in slide notes or in a document accompanying slide decks.
  • When making materials available to others, the PowerPoint (PPT) file or Google Slides is preferred over PDF. PowerPoint templates are designed to be more compatible for screen readers and other assistive technology. If you are able to produce an accessible, tagged, and properly formatted PDF that is readable to assistive technology, that is also acceptable. If you are using Keynote on a Mac to create your slides, please make sure you export them as a PPT file and use the PPT version to share with others. Native Keynote files cannot be opened by PowerPoint or easily converted to Google Slides format.

Presenter Audio and Video

Best Practices for Shared Spaces

Facilitating Discussion

Designing Presentations Materials

Design your content for an in-person event

  • Design Your Content to Be Interpreted by Assistive Technology ===
  • Make Text Easy to See
  • Optimize Content for Assistive Technology
  • Perform an Accessibility Check
  • Additional Resources
  • Broad frameworks for creating accessible presentations

Guidance specific to presentation software


This guide was originally created in October 2016 by a subgroup of the 2016 DLF Forum Inclusivity Committee. We thank Eleanor Dickson, Chelcie Juliet Rowell, and Yasmeen L. Shorish for their extensive work and dedication to accessibility.

We are especially indebted to Whitney Quesenbery’s Make Your Presentations Accessible: Seven Easy Steps and the Accessibility at the 2016 American Society for Theatre Research & Theatre Library Association Conference guide. The clarity and comprehensiveness of these recommendations were strengthened by the input of Bethany Nowviskie and members of the broader Inclusivity Committee.

This guide was updated in 2020 by a different group of DLF members (Debbie Krahmer, Lydia Tang, Sarah Goldstein, Stephanie Rosen, Alex Wermer-Colan, and Amy Vecchione), and again in 2021 by Debbie Krahmer and Carrie Pirmann. Special thanks to Stephanie Rosen for further guidance through the Accessible Meetings & Presentations documentation. (insert info about this update)

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