Presentation Guidelines

Guidelines for presenting at the Disability Research Forum

Our aim is to make the forum an accessible and safe space for as many people as possible and so these guidelines are an example of the sorts of things that we would like you to think about/provide during your session.

We do not want you to be put off with all the requirements so if you feel that you don’t have time to do some of them, it’s not a problem, but we do request that you do as many as you can. Similarly if you feel that we could help you to achieve any of them or if you would like to suggest something which would help in future sessions, just send a quick email and I’m sure we can sort something out (

Online Sessions

  1. Please provide a title and summary at least 1 month before your session – this is so that we can advertise and get as many people as possible to the event.
  2. Please let me know if you agree to your session being recorded for the purposes of being shared with those who have signed up but were unable to make it or with those who were at the session and would like to re-watch.
  3. Please let me know if I can share your slides with those who have signed up but were unable to make it or with those who were at the session and would like to follow up on the references for example. Please provide me with the slides via email.

In person Sessions

  1. If possible please provide an accessible summary of the paper either around 1 week before the session (so that I can distribute it via email) or ready for the session itself. The summary should be easy to read and conceptualise. It should briefly explain your paper/presentation and where possible explain any problematic terms (e.g. if you use terminology in a certain way, but you are aware that this may be problematic for some, please give a brief explanation of how and why you are using the term in the way that you are). We understand that doing this with papers that are particularly theoretical may be difficult and we do not want to discourage this type of work being presented at the DRF but if you think it is something that you could provide please do.The summary doesn’t need to be more than 3-5 sentences.
  2. Please provide a couple of hard copies of your slides as some people find this easier than looking at them on the screen (it will be at your discretion if you would like these back at the end or if people are allowed to keep them)
  3. If you are reading a paper outloud please provide a couple of hard copies of this as well for people to read along with you (preferably at least one in large font). These will be claimed back to protect your intellectual property.

If you require any materials printing for you, just send them to the email address above and this can be arranged (please do this at least 24 hours before your session).

General pointers about accessible presentations

We hope to make the sessions as accessible as possible for as many people as possible. We have taken some guidance from the Huron University Webpage and also provided some of our own guidance.

Huron Guidance: 

Removing Visual Barriers

  • Text and graphics should be simple, clear, and visible. Use large fonts and high light-dark contrast to maximize visibility.
  • Break large blocks of useful text into separate, progressing slides. Instead of complicated graphs, use a series of simplified graphs.
  • Verbally identify AND describe important graphics, e.g: “Here in the corner, we have Figure A. It’s a blue bar graph that illustrates the relationship between study methods on the x-axis and average test scores on the y-axis. Study method A obtained the highest average test score, with 85%, study method B was slightly lower, with 75%”… etc.

Removing Auditory Barriers

  • Label important graphics using highly visible text, e.g: “Figure A: The relationship between [concept] and [concept.]”
  • Include text versions of important points in the same order that you describe them verbally. Presenting them in a different order, or with very different wording, can be confusing for people who are hard-of-hearing or who struggle with auditory processing.
  • Ensure your text includes all the details needed to understand your point. E.g: a line reading “Victorian gender roles?” is vague; “In what ways does [book title] criticize Victorian gender roles?” is not.
  • We strongly encourage providing handouts that match your slides and general script, especially if your presentation is highly verbal. These make an enormous difference for people who are Deaf, hard-of-hearing, or who struggle with auditory processing!
  • If available, use a microphone. When taking questions from the audience, offer them a microphone or repeat their question into yours.

Combining Audio/Visual Accessibility

Using too many slides with lots of small text creates a barrier for people with visual impairments, yet using too few slides with vague, overly simple text creates a barrier for people with hearing problems and people with auditory processing delays! These needs don’t have to be contradictory: sort through them by clarifying your goals.

  • Your goal is not to have as few slides as possible—it’s for your slides to progress at a digestible pace.
  • Your goal is not to have the shortest text—it’s to have succinct, useful, visible text.

Our additional guidance: 

  1. If your presentations include short videos and any of the movement is important please be prepared to give short verbal descriptions of what is/has happened.
  2. If your session includes any sudden or loud noises please consider if these are integral to the session. If they are, please warn us beforehand.

Visual Aids

For PowerPoint presentations:

  1. use no less than 20 point font Arial or Helvetica in capitalized lower case
  2. use left justification only
  3. ensure headings are not underlined
  4. ensure lists are numbered (bullet points are avoided)
  5. aim for around 20-25 words per slide
  6. ensure text does not overlay pictures or a patterned background
  7. use black text
  8. if the background has 10% grey scale this can reduce glare and offer a contrast with the black text. However if you feel that you want to move away from this, please make sure that the background is different enough for your black lettering to show clearly when on the screen
  9. provide a verbal narration of your slide
  10. where pictures are used, it is also important to provide a complete verbal description

 Written Materials

For accompanying handouts (including copies of PowerPoint), in addition to the above, it is helpful if:

  1. material is produced at a minimum of 14 point Arial or Helvetica
  2. layout is clear, with space to make notes
  3. copies are available on the day
  4. a range of alternative formats is available if requested in advance

[These are adapted from: Mallett, R., Runswick-Cole, K. and Collingbourne, T. (2007) ‘Guide for accessible research dissemination:  Presenting research to everyone’ Disability and Society 22:2, pp.205-207.  We recognise that they are not an exhaustive list and will not cover all access requirements.]

Thank-you for your cooperation,

Steph Hannam-Swain and Rebecca Mallett