Creating Accessible Slides for Presentations and Online Posting

Making presentations accessible is important, whether in a classroom, in a meeting, or any situation you find yourself delivering information to an audience. Now, more learning than ever is taking place online where inaccessible content can create unequal learning opportunities.

Do you want to learn what it takes to make an accessible presentation? Read on for information about creating accessible slides for both live and recorded presentations!

Thinking about Universal Design

Universal Design is the idea that things should be created so that the most people possible can make use of them. What might be considered an accommodation for one person may benefit many others. The following tips can be considered ways to improve the learning experience for all participants.

Live and Recorded Presentations

Whether your presentation is happening in-person, live virtually, or asynchronously, there are several steps you can take to make your slides accessible.

1. Use a large font size.

During in-person presentations, participants may have trouble seeing if they are sitting far away or have impaired sight. In the virtual environment, participants may be tuning in on a phone or tablet and a larger font will help them see better on a small screen.

Image reads "this text is way too small" in 12 point font.

Example of text that is too small to read from a distance, phone, or tablet in 12 point font.

Image reads "This text is big enough to read" in size 28 font

Example of text that is big enough to read from a distance in 28 point font.

2. Use sans serif fonts.

Fonts like Calibri, Franklin Gothic Book, Lucida Sans, and Segoe are the most accessible to people with reading comprehension disabilities. Leaving plenty of white space makes your slides both more readable and more visually appealing.

3. Minimize text on slides.

People who can’t see the slides may be missing out on important content, and too much text can distract from what you’re saying. When you do include text, read everything out loud.

Image of a slide with too much text. Slide is completely filled with text.

Example of a slide with too much text.

Image of a slide with the right amout of text, including three main bullet points and a few sub bullets not in complete sentences.

Example of a slide with the right amount of text.

4. Use high contrast colors.

High contrast colors can more easily be seen by someone with a visual impairment (black and white is a reliable option). Always explain your color-codes for people who can’t see them and so all participants are on the same page.

Top half contains dark blue background with white text reading "this is high contrast". Bottom half contains light blue background with white text reading "this is low contrast"

Examples of slide font and background using high and low contrast colors.

5. Summarize all charts and images.

Images and charts should also be explained fully so that all participants understand what you are communicating.

6. Use closed captions.

For recorded presentations, both PowerPoint and Google slides allow you to add closed captions to your video or audio file. For live sessions, consider using subtitles or creating a live transcription. Technology Services offers instructions on how activate subtitles for Zoom meetings.

Posting Slides Online

Virtual presentations should be recorded when possible as our usual participants may be in other time zones, experiencing technology issues, or dealing with a countless list of challenges brought on by the pandemic or life.

Posting your slides online in an accessible format is another way to make that information available.

1. Use built in slide designs.

Slide designs built into PowerPoint and Google Slides are formatted to be read in the correct order by a screen reader. If you need to make adjustments, PowerPoint allows you to check over and adjust the reading order of your slides.

Screenshot of office theme slide designs in MS PowerPoint.

Built-in slide designs in MS PowerPoint.

2. Give all slides a title.

Titles assist people who are reading the document with a screen reader or are taking notes and allow all readers to navigate the document more easily.

3. Add alt-text to all images.

Alternative text allows screen readers to describe images. Use concise, descriptive language that captures the motivation for including the image on the slide.

4. Use meaningful hyperlinks.

Both screen readers and the human eye struggle to read long hyperlinks. Instead, use descriptive hyperlinks that make clear where the link is going to take the reader.

Examples of inaccessible hyperlinks

Examples of inaccessible or non-descriptive hyperlinks.

Example of a descriptive hyperlink

Example of an accessible and descriptive hyperlink.

5. Create a handout and save it as a PDF.

Finally, always include your speaker’s notes when posting slides online as the slides themselves only contain a fraction of what you will be communicating in your presentation.

Example of a slide with speaker's notes saved as a handout

Example of a slide with speaker’s notes saved as a handout.

It is always easier to make your presentation accessible from the start. By keeping these tips in mind, you can make sure your content can be used by the widest audience possible and help create a more inclusive learning environment!

For more information about how to use and apply these features, check out the following resources:

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Statistical Analysis at the Scholarly Commons

The Scholarly Commons is a wonderful resource if you are working on a project that involves statistical analysis. In this post, I will highlight some of the great resources the Scholarly Commons has for our researchers. No matter what point you are at in your project, whether you need to find and analyze data or just need to figure out which software to use, the Scholarly Commons has what you need!

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Welcome back to the Scholarly Commons! Here’s what you missed…

Hello friends! Campus is open again (kind of) after our long, strange, and trying pandemic summer. Here at the Scholarly Commons we are ready to get back into the swing of things and help you with all of your research technology needs. While many of the ways we do business have changed, our commitment to our patrons and your success is unwavering. In case you are feeling out-of-the-loop I’ve compiled a list of the most important changes to our services. Here is what you missed on the last episode of Keeping Up With The Scholarly Commons:

1. We are all online! Find us on chat!

Starting this semester the Scholarly Commons reference staff will be available to our patrons through the library chat service. Have a question? Trouble accessing our tools? Just miss us? Drop us a chat and we will help you in real time. Scholarly Commons chat reference hours are between 10:00am to 2:00pm Monday through Friday. Access chat through our website!Chat window with "Whats up scholarly commons?" in the text box

As always, feel free to send us an email at sc@library.illinois.edu.

2. Scanning help by appointment

You might think that because our space is closed until further notice that we don’t offer scanning services anymore. I’m delighted to say that is not the case. If you need to scan something you may request an appointment to use a library scanner using this form. It will take up to 48 hours for the form to be processed. Keep in mind that not all requests can be accommodated due to demand and the ability of our staff to supervise your appointment but we will try our best to ensure this service is accessible. If you have questions about this service send us an email.

Plustek Scanner Image

“Come visit… I’m lonely”- Our scanners (probably)

3. New Interim Head of Unit: Sara Benson

Yes, you read that correctly! We have new leadership!!! Our new interim head of unit is Copyright Librarian Extraordinaire Sara Benson. If you want to get to know Sara and her work read her interview on our blog or listen to her Copyright Chat Podcast.

Sara Benson headshot

4. New GIS Specialist: Wenjie Wang

We are very very excited to have a full-time GIS specialist for all your mapping and spacial data needs! He joins us after working at the University of Connecticut Map and Geographic Information Center and has years of experience working with GIS. Do you want to learn more about Wenjie and his work? Read his interview on Commons Knowledge. Do you have GIS questions? Request a consultation with Wenjie!

Headshot of Wenjie Wang, wearing a black suit with a blue shirt and blue striped tie. Standing in front of trees.

5. Our podcast is out!

We have been working hard on our podcast for a long time now and it is finally out! In our podcast, It Takes a Campus, we interview experts across campus about the new and exciting ways they support digital scholarship in their roles. Listen to our first two episodes right here on our blog!

Image has the text supporting digital scholarship, it takes a campus with icons of microphone and broadcast symbol

 It Takes a Campus: Episode One With Dena Strong

It Takes a Campus: Episode Two With Harriett Green

6. The Scholarly Commons turns ten!

This marks a very important year for the Scholarly Commons as we enter our tenth year supporting digital scholarship here at the University of Illinois. We have some exciting events planned so stay tuned for more updates on that!

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Meet Wenjie Wang, the Scholarly Common’s GIS Specialist

Headshot of Wenjie Wang, wearing a black suit with a blue shirt and blue striped tie. Standing in front of trees.

This latest installment of our series of interviews with Scholarly Commons experts and affiliates features Wenjie Wang, Geographic Information Science Specialist at the Scholarly Commons. Welcome, Wenjie!


What is your background and work experience?

I worked as a Data Specialist at the Map and Geographic Information Center (MAGIC) in the University of Connecticut for five years. MAGIC is located within the Library’s digital scholarship lab, Greenhouse Studios, I worked alongside digital humanities and digital scholarship colleagues with a focus on utilizing geospatial data, GIS applications, and spatial data analysis techniques to contribute to projects within Greenhouse Studios as well as to support researchers at MAGIC. I have had the opportunity of working within diverse environments and my experiences have been enriched by working with students, faculty, staff, and the community from diverse backgrounds and experiences.

 

What led you to be a GIS specialist?

In my former role as a teaching assistant for Geography courses, I realize that introducing GIS tools and methods to students in the geography class is always a challenge, as students have very different educational and technological backgrounds. Many students lack the core comprehension of geospatial concepts, have not used or even heard of GIS software before. With MAGIC receiving over 5 million online users a year, I truly understand how important GIS could be in students’ research. I think my interdisciplinary interests can put me in a strong position to bridge conversations between individuals from diverse backgrounds and I can help them use GIS as a tool in their research.

 

What are your favorite projects you’ve worked on?

I created maps to provide a quick and user-friendly way for communities to reflect on the differences in child outcomes across the local communities in Connecticut. My knowledge of GIS was utilized to analyze data and create maps to help match proven school readiness solutions with unique needs faced by communities for the organization. This is my first big project and it is very meaningful. I learned a lot from this project, so it is my favorite project so far.

 

What are some of your favorite resources that you would recommend to researchers?

I would like to recommend two data resources: IPUMS and TIGER/Line Shapefiles. IPUMS provides census and survey data, including tabular U.S. Census data, historical and contemporary U.S. health survey data, Integrated data on population and the environment, and much more. TIGER/Line shapefiles contain features such as roads, hydrographic features and boundaries. These resources are very useful for researchers who just start to use GIS since they are free and easy to handle.

 

If you could recommend one book or resource to researchers who do not have GIS background, what would you recommend?

Because many researchers just want to use GIS as a tool in their research field and they don’t have plenty of time to learn GIS, I would like to recommend Esri Training Web Courses. The courses are free and short. Through these entry level courses, researchers can easily learn what is GIS, how a GIS works, how to analyze and manage GIS data, and so on. After that, they will be able to know what kind of GIS technologies and data is useful in their research. And then they can focus on learning these parts.

 

What is the one thing you would want people to know about your field?

I would like to say GIS is not just making maps. GIS can help us make detailed and informative maps, but GIS can do much more than this. The most important part of GIS is its ability to help us think spatially and answer our questions. I hope I will be able to help researchers to understand GIS can be used as a tool in both problem solving and decision-making processes in their research.

 

Interested in contacting Wenjie? You can email him at wenjiew@illinois.edu , or set up a consultation request through the Scholarly Commons website.

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Our Graduate Assistants: Abigail Sewall

This interview is part of a continued series introducing our graduate assistants to our online community. These are some of the people you will see when you visit our space, who will greet you with a smile and a willingness to help! Say hello to Abigail Sewall!

What is your background education and work experience?

Before coming to graduate school, I was working as an administrator in standardized testing for a few years. I am a fountain of useless knowledge on most national standardized tests such as the GRE, SAT, and LSAT. The aspect of my job that I liked the most was talking to people and guiding them through what was inevitably one of the most stressful days of their life. I feel like the unique customer service environment of that job oddly enough prepared me well for working at a reference desk, especially during those stressful times of the semester where people are in panic mode. Before I worked in standardized testing I received my undergraduate degree from the University of Colorado in Boulder in Spanish Literature and Political Science. I wrote my undergraduate honors thesis in comparative politics on trust in the police in Latin American countries. Through this process I had to learn to do large scale data analysis using a large public opinion survey database. It was a challenging project but I got a lot of help from the library.

What led you to your field?

My love of libraries developed as an undergraduate. I loved working on research projects because it gave me an opportunity to talk to one of the librarians, explore the collections, and discover the seemingly endless resources available in the library. The library really enriched my academic experience in such a profound way I wanted to be able to share that experience with others and help make the magic happen. Librarianship is a great intersection of my interests because it is both an intellectually challenging field and performs a valuable service to the community.

What are your research interests?

Where to begin? I am currently really interested in Twitter data literacy. I use Twitter every day and I find it to be a rich source of political and social discourse. I like to see how text data extracted from the popular micro blogging platform is used to address a variety of research questions. I’ve done some research on institutional archiving of Twitter data, which allowed me to consider some of the ethical and cultural implications of collecting and storing social media data. I am now working on learning how to scrape data from Twitter using Python. Experimenting with Python has been interesting because I don’t come from a technical background but I am finding I make slow but sure progress with it. I am excited to see where it takes me and I may even try building my own Twitter database.

What are your favorite projects you’ve worked on?

One of my favorite projects I’ve worked on as a Scholarly Commons GA was developing resources for using US Census data for students and researchers. In the process of making our LibGuide on the Census I learned a lot about the census questionnaire and how researchers use census data. It was also a lot of fun to help my supervisor with the US Census workshop because I love instruction and it was a great opportunity to show my expertise.

What are some of your favorite underutilized Scholarly Commons resources that you would recommend?

Our LibGuides! We have dozens of guides on a variety of subjects such as software tutorials, data discovery, digital humanities, and more. Each guide has been thoughtfully assembled by one of our librarians or GAs and contain links to resources, advice, and information to suit all of your research technology needs. I taught myself how to use SPSS using our SPSS tutorial LibGuide and would highly recommend it to anyone! Check out all of our guides on our webpage!

What is the one thing you would want people to know about your field?

I think it is important for people to recognize that libraries are always a reflection of the community they serve. All the services we offer at the Scholarly Commons address a specific need of the scholars and students at our university. We provide a space for collaborative work, software and technology available no where else on campus, and instruction to supplement the resources in our unit. I hope in my career that I will be able to continue to serve the needs of my community, whatever they may be.

 

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It Takes a Campus – Episode Two with Harriett Green

Image has the text supporting digital scholarship, it takes a campus with icons of microphone and broadcast symbol

 

 

Resources mentioned:

SPEC Kit No. 357

University of Illinois Library Copyright Guide

 

For the transcript, click on “Continue reading” below.

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Blogs for All: Making Accessible Posts in WordPress

As blogs continue to provide a low barrier to entry for authors to distribute content in all avenues from academia to entertainment, it is important to make sure that blog posts are just as easy to access for readers. Here at Illinois, our blogs are run through publish.illinois.edu, a WordPress-based publishing service. As we try to improve our services for all, especially our remotely available services, I wanted to use this week’s Commons Knowledge post to discuss improving accessibility in WordPress. Within the platform, making more accessible blog posts isn’t difficult nor does it require much time; however, building these practices into our workflow allows for posts to be accessible—not just for some, but for all.

Wordpress logo - a gray W in a circle

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Illinois Digital Humanities Projects That Will Blow Your Mind

We are living in a moment where we get to discover the exciting possibilities of working, learning, and sharing on digital formats. I have decided to use this as an opportunity to appreciate the ways in which others have already embraced the power digital platforms to enhance their research. In this post I will highlight three amazing digital humanities projects that researchers right here at the University of Illinois contributed to. For each project I will provide a link to their official web page, a brief description of the project, and the name and department of the UIUC researcher who contributed to this project. Prepare to be wowed by the amazing digital work to have come out of our University research community.

Owen Wilson mouthing the word wow

“Prepare to be wowed”- Owen Wilson

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GIS Resources for Distance Learning and Working from Home

Planet Earth wearing a doctor's maskThe past couple of weeks have been a whirlwind for everyone as we’ve all sought to adjust to working, attending school, socializing, and just carrying out our daily lives online. Here at the Scholarly Commons, we’ve been working hard to ensure that this transition is as smooth as possible for those of you relying on specialized software to conduct your research or do your classwork. That’s why this week we wanted to highlight some resources essential to anyone using or teaching with GIS as we work through this period of social distancing. 

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