Creating Accessible Presentations and Videos

As a presenter at DIS, you will have two options to present your work at the conference. For in-person attendees, you may be using slides to present your work to an audience. For remote attendees, you may be creating a video presentation to be shared asynchronously. In either case, accessible presentations and videos benefit everyone and uphold our conference values. For example, the audience may not be able to see or hear, move, speak, or understand easily. Participants may not be native English speakers, be negotiating with childcare, need to break for an insulin shot, have difficulties taking notes on your presentation by hand, or be using a screen reader. Considering these factors will help everyone in the room benefit from your work.

We recognize that being an accessible presenter is a learning process, and some may be more experienced at it than others. The important thing is to do what you can, and carry forward better accessibility practices in future. Here are some tips for preparing for your DIS presentation.

General accessibility in presentation and video materials

Make text and important visuals large enough to read easily on a small computer screen (or from the back of the room). For presentations, use 18pt or larger in an easy to read font. The following are good options for accessible fonts (all are “sans serif” fonts): Arial, Calibri, Helvetica, Tahoma and Verdana. Avoid thin lettering and fancy curly fonts, as they can be more difficult to read.

Make sure to provide sufficient contrast in your presentation and video materials. This includes strong contrast between text and background, as well between colors in graphs.

Check your color contrast ratios using available tools such as  this online calculator. Contrast is measured using a formula that gives a ratio ranging from 1:1 (no contrast, e.g., black text on a black background) to 21:1 (maximum contrast, e.g., black text on a white background). Using this formula, the requirements are:

  • 3:1 – minimum contrast for “large scale” text (18 pt or 14 pt bold, or larger) under WCAG 2.0 1.4.3 (Level AA)
  • 4.5:1 – minimum contrast for regular sized text under WCAG 2.0 1.4.3 (Level AA)
  • 7:1 – “enhanced” contrast for regular sized text under WCAG 2.0 1.4.6 (Level AAA)

Avoid animations and videos with rapid transitions. Ask yourself: does animation add to the information of the presentation? Motion graphics can be distracting for many, and can make some people ill. People impacted by rapid motion are not inconvenienced; they can get very sick. This guidance should be taken very seriously.

Motion design that’s too fast, too drastic, or both, can be unpleasant and disorienting for people with vestibular disorders or light-sensitivities. It can also hinder object association and increase cognitive load for audiences. If animation is a must, keep these tips in mind:

  • Disorienting motion design tends to be large or fills the screen (especially when moving quickly). To avoid this, keep animation to a small area of the screen. See Val Head’s wonderful article on accessible animation for some specific examples of disorienting motion & how to avoid them.
  • Animation should be used to direct an audience’s attention to the most important thing on the screen. If the primary function on a slide is static and a lot of unrelated motion is happening elsewhere, audience members can be distracted and confused.
  • Avoid looping or repeating animations, or animations that flash more than 3x per second.

Finally, be sure to audibly describe the content or function of motion graphics if they are essential to the point of your presentation, just as you would do with any images throughout your talk. Best practices are described in more detail below.

Examples of inaccessible presentations from 24slides:

example of a grey presentation slide with too much black text
Figure 1: This is an example of a grey slide with too much black text, which is also far too small. When adding text to a presentation, make sure to only add the main takeaways. Text should be in 18pt font for maximum readability. 
example of a presentation slide with distracting and needless animations of bullet points and images.
Figure 2: This is an example of a slide with distracting and needless animations of bullet points and images. Avoid animations and fast slide transitions unless necessary. Where they are necessary to draw attention or illustrate a figure, make sure they take up only a small part of the screen to avoid inducing motion sickness. 

Examples of (more) accessible presentations: 

example of an presentation animation which helps guide the audience around the slide
Figure 3: This is an example of an animation which helps guide the audience around the slide, in this case pointing to different features of a world map. The animation is neither distracting nor harmful to those with visual sensitivities. To be fully accessible, the text on this slide should be made larger. 

Captions for videos:

Make videos accessible. To make your video content accessible for people who will not be listening to it or who have language barriers, make use of closed captions (Microsoft). Closed captions contain a transcription or translation of the dialogue, and also describe audio cues such as music or sound effects that occur off-screen.

If you include a video snippet in your in-person presentation, it must contain closed-captions. If you’re a remote presenter creating a stand-alone video presentation, your video must contain closed-captions AND you must also submit the closed-captioning file in .srt or .sbv format alongside your video. 

We highly recommend following CHI 2023’s Guide to an Accessible Video and SIGCHI Guidelines. These resources contain detailed instructions for adding captions to videos and other accessibility improvements, and have some good examples to follow. We summarise the main points below.

There are two common approaches for creating closed captions:

  • Convert a transcript to a caption file: This is the method we primarily recommend for accurate captions. Here, you first need to create a line-by-line transcript of your video in plain text. Include additional information (e.g. background music) using brackets (“[Background music playing]”). You can then use YouTube to automatically add timestamps and generate the final caption file. 
  • Automated captions: If you can not prepare a transcript, you make use of automated captioning tools (e.g. YouTube, to generate caption files. However, since these tools rely on AI and speech recognition to generate the text, they can contain mistakes or errors particularly when transcribing technical terms or names. It is important to check the generated caption file using any text editing tool to verify and manually correct any mistakes.

YouTube provides free tools for either of these approaches to generating closed captions: either starting from a transcript of the dialog (recommended), or using their automated speech recognition and correcting the result. YouTube will add the timings to sync it to the audio. If using YouTube, download the .sbv or .srt file and delete your video when you are finished. 

Allow time to prepare closed-captions, especially if using an AI-based service like If you use automatic speech recognition, or other AI-based captioning tools, it is essential to review your closed captions and correct any errors.

Accessibility during in-person presentations

Provide rich auditory descriptions of any slides with images, and cover all displayed content on a slide. This will help blind and visually impaired members of the audience follow along, provide context for those who struggle with visual processing, and communicate to the audience exactly what you’d like them to glean from the image.

We recommend starting with our guide to accessible figures. You can incorporate the alt text descriptions you already wrote for your paper into the descriptions you give during your presentation.

  • Particularly for images of people and scenes, such as stories introducing your research space or study explanations,  Tara Wood presents a great guide on how you might describe an image: 

“A rich auditory description will begin by providing basic, standard information of the image (ex. “This is a picture of two women sitting at a computer desk, looking at a document on a desktop computer. The picture was taken by me at the university writing center on November 14, 2009.”) After providing this information, you should then provide rich details about the image (color, shape, orientation, style) using specific vocabulary and vivid detail. You might also consider drawing on other senses to enhance your verbal description of the image (ex. “The room looks as if there might be some background noise, people talking softly to one another. The two women both have jackets on the backs of their office chairs, indicating the room is comfortably warm. The older woman on the left is laughing, and they are sharing a bowl of popcorn that is halfway empty.”

  • In addition, try to describe other visual information as it arises during the event, such as “half the group raised their hands.”
  • Finally, consider building in moments to check in with your audience as you present. You may, for instance, ask if everyone can hear you okay or if you are speaking slowly enough. 

These small practices will help you engage the whole room.

We can help!

We are happy to offer assistance in checking to make sure that your presentation and supplementary materials are accessible. Please first try using the resources we have given, but if you’re still running into trouble or unsure what might be the most accessible presentation for your unique situation, please reach out!

We are able to help with the following:

To receive assistance, we ask that you reach out to at least one week before videos are due for virtual presenters or by June 26th 2023 for in-person presenters.