Your Rights. Your Privacy. Your Freedom.
 

Being a more Accessible and Inclusive Presenter

a woman hugs a man in a wheelchair from behind

By Tess Zachary, NCSF Chairperson

Being a More Accessible and Inclusive Presenter

Introduction

Years ago I started using subtitles because I was presenting in these giant event spaces and the AV was not always perfect.  In a short period of time after beginning to use subtitles, I had three people who changed how I present, and how I think, forever.

  • One person shared that they really appreciated subtitles because they were hard of hearing, and it really helped them understand the content. They shared stories of how they miss so many things, and it was a joy to be able to participate.
  • Another person told me that English is their second language, and the subtitles were really helpful to them. This person had very little ‘accent’ and spoke perfect English and I never would have guessed that had any challenges at all. 
  • Another person told me that subtitles helped them process information. It was my first substantive exposure to neurodiversity, and I don’t think I’d ever had any idea of the struggles of a neurodiverse person in a neurotypical world before then.

This sent me down a path of accessibility. While intellectually I understood accommodations being important, I finally began to really understand that if I wasn’t doing everything I could to be accessible, I was leaving people out, I was telling them they weren’t as important, and I was telling them my material wasn’t meant for them. So, what began as solving a technical problem turned into a way for me to improve myself every single time I present, and genuinely understand that everyone deserves to have the same experience.

According to the CDC, more than 1 in 4 adult people in the US have a disability.

What this means to me, is that over 25% of my audience are people who may need some extra accommodation to understand and enjoy my material.  Making room for everyone having the same experience is my obligation. I would never expect someone to attend my class from behind the hallway door or be facing away from me as I speak. Making accommodations for folks who need them is no different than inviting everyone into the room.

While I am in no way an expert, below I’ve gathered the things I do when I present or teach and given you some tips from my experience that I hope will reduce your learning curve. This list is by no means exhaustive, and every time I teach, I learn something new. I also must credit people who have taken my classes for many of the things that are now part of my process.

You also don’t have to do everything all at once, but working with inclusion in mind, you will find many ways to improve your material and presentations.

Hearing Accommodations

Reserve seating in the front for those who may need hearing accommodation. As people enter the room tell them that these seats are reserved. Someone who has a disability has a lifetime of being made to feel like a burden by people who are asked for accommodation.  By planning ahead, we can manage to remove some of the things that could lead to that feeling. In some venues I have gone so far as to make a sign that I put on chairs so there is no misunderstanding. You never want to make someone uncomfortable by needing to move people for them last minute just to get them in an appropriate chair.

In my laptop bag I keep five (5) laminated (and therefore reusable) signs that say, “Front row seating reserved for those who need accommodation”. If some entering is that person, they know it is for them.  

Make your Presentation and Notes available after the class. More on this subject in “Written Material.”

If you’re online, start by asking if attendees can see and hear you to ensure your audio and video are working properly. Be prepared to walk people through turning on subtitles for themselves.

Always use subtitles. ALWAYS.

Tips For Subtitle Use

Technology is not perfect, so use a program that doesn’t rely on Wi-Fi, or have your phone ready to hotspot in case of connectivity challenges.

  • PowerPoint’s resident subtitle program is pretty good. Even if you don’t use slides for what you are doing, keep a simple title slide up just for subtitles like the photo to the right.
  • If you are presenting online, Zoom’s subtitle program is also fair and free. They call it Closed Captioning in Zoom, but if you are using the automated one, it is actually a subtitle program. (Subtitles typically contain a transcription (or translation) of the dialogue. Closed captions typically also describe audio cues such as music or sound effects that occur.) Please note, you have to enable users to turn on subtitles in Zoom settings BEFORE you start the meeting in the “Meeting” tab of your settings. Changes don’t take effect unless you close and reopen the meeting, so be prepared to do this ahead of time.  
  • You can type instructions in the chat (and even a message to the waiting room if appropriate): “Subtitles have been enabled in this meeting. To see them, please click the “Show Captions” (CC) button on your meeting controls menu. Please let us know if you need help with this.”
  • Learn to match your pace to your subtitles. This takes practice…so practice!
  • If an in-person venue or event doesn’t offer a projector, you can get a small one on Amazon that will do the job for you for as little as $50.  It is a terrific investment for many reasons!
  • Make sure you don’t cover your mouth when you speak.
  • Subtitles can be distracting for those who don’t need them. Put your subtitles above or below your presentation so those who are bothered by it can more easily ignore it.
Photo of white slide with black text of Presentation Title and the Presenters Name. with white text with a black background displaying subtitles that says "You can use a very simple slide like this as a place to put your subtitles".
Photo of white slide with black text of Presentation Title and the Presenters Name. with white text with a black background displaying subtitles that says “You can use a very simple slide like this as a place to put your subtitles”.

Working with an ASL Interpreter

  • Interpreters are not a monolith. They have different needs, abilities, and limitations.
  • Have a conversation with your interpreter ahead of time and ask them if there is anything you can do to help them or attendees.
  • Offer a copy of the presentation to your interpreter. This has proven helpful to some interpreters in the past.
  • Sometimes the folks who are lovingly giving their time are not interpreters, but sign language users who are willing to help.
  • Invite them to tell you if you are going too fast or if you need to explain some specific language.
  • Put your interpreter in front of the people who need it – in the front row-in those seats that you’ve reserved and make sure you are out of their way.
  • If you see someone signing to the interpreter, pause for the question just like you would with someone who asks a question out loud.
  • While listening to the question, please remember that the person is asking the question, please direct your answer to the person and not the interpreter. This takes some practice.
  • Debrief with your Interpreter after the class and ask if there is anything you can do to be less hearing-centric.
  • If you have the opportunity to speak to your attendees about this: Ask if there is any material, you could improve to make it better for them. Those without hearing issues tend to be a little hearing-centric, so this feedback is such a gift.

Audio Enhancement

I travel with assistive listening devices to assist in accessibility.

  • You can get personal devices on Amazon for about $25. They aren’t super fancy, and it takes some practice, but you can’t beat it for the price.
  • I personally like the kind tour guides use. I wear a microphone, and there is an expanding number of receivers (I travel with 5 unless there is a reason to have more, such as a large attendance expected).  They are about $200, but for me, it’s worth it. It is sort of a personal PA system, and you are only amplified to those receivers.
    • NOTE: If the venue or event has a microphone, you can jack that into this kind of device and then the audio out goes to the PA. However, you need to tell people ahead of time, so you don’t catch them unaware of your technology needs.
    • If you are using this “tour guide” kind of device, remember to use the mute button or cover your microphone if you clear your throat or take a drink! This takes some practice.
  • Even if someone has an assistive audio device, still give them preferred seating in front to minimize ambient noise.

Pro Tip: Most of these devices come with ear buds. Bring alcohol wipes to clean them between uses.

Sight Accommodations

Make your Presentation and Notes available after the class (when possible, it is best to provide them ahead). More on this in “Written Material”. Not all participants will be able to see you, so include pronouns and a description of yourself in your introduction. The description serves a similar function to adding alt text to images. For example, you may say something like “I’m Tess, and I use she/her/hers pronouns. I am a white woman with long red hair, and I have reading glasses I will take on and off. I’m wearing a black dress and will walk around while I speak.” (If you are online, describe your background).

If you are using a presentation (PowerPoint or other), you need to make sure you SAY the things on the slides. I tell people while I may not read every word, I do summarize everything substantive, so if the presentation is distracting, or unclear, they don’t even need to look at it!

Please see “Presentations and Slides” for more information about how to make your presentation accessible.

If you’re online, start by asking if attendees can see and hear you to ensure your audio and video are working properly. Please remember that even if you are using an accessible platform like Zoom, there is currently no way to render screen sharing accessibly. The best choice is to make your accessible presentation and materials available ahead of time. If that isn’t possible, drop a link to a copy in the chat so someone with a screen reader can follow along.

Be sure you describe photos, images, and charts that you display in your presentation. Avoid pointing at things and saying ‘this’ or ‘that’ without a full description: for example, “This is an illustration of the legal cases available in our research library. It is a large slide with fine print because there are so many. You can view all of these and their details on our website under Research on our website.”

Presenters should describe slides and graphics briefly. For example: “This slide covers X, Y, and Z…” “This table shows X, Y, and Z…”

Try to minimize the need for audio description. If you are using a video, try listening to it without watching it. What information is missing by only listening? Does it still make sense? That’s what you need to describe.

Visual Interpreting

When I teach or present, I bring someone who I’ve trained in visual interpreting who is also familiar with my material, so if someone needs a sight accommodation, I’m ready. I have a set of small walkie talkies I travel with, and the Visual Interpreter has one, and can broadcast to one or several other devices via a small lapel microphone while the listeners have an ear bud. If you don’t know what Visual Interpreters are, it is a sight accommodation facilitator who explains things that might be missed. I do teach classes on this, so if your event or organization is interested, I am happy to train a group.

I debrief with my Visual Interpreter after the class or presentation to learn if I can make any part of my material less sight-centric.

Neurodiversity Accommodations

Travel with fidgits! Most neurodiverse people who find fidgets helpful have their own fidgets but having them available helps people recognize you as someone from which they can request accommodation. My favorite site for fidgets is https://fidgettoysplus.com/, but they are available everywhere and it is not a major investment.

Also, make sure people understand that fidgets or focus devices are very welcome here, and they do not need your permission.

Tips:

  • To facilitate participation, put the questions you will ask of the group on screen, and make them large and visible.
  • Some neurodivergent people take a little more time to process information. If you do in-class exercises, make sure that people have enough time to finish, or make sure finishing isn’t mandatory to understanding the rest of the material.
  • Identify the transitions between subjects or agenda items. “Now I am going to move on to talking about…”
  • Keep your presentation as animation-free as possible, and don’t use distracting slide transitions. Limit your sensory stimulation to that which is relevant to understanding the material.
  • Limit the use of sarcasm or subtle humor because it might leave some people out of the conversation.

Language

When discussing a person with a disability, in the absence of a preference from that particular person, it is a common practice to put the person first and reflect their abilities over any type of disability that they may have. If I need to mention a person’s disability, I use People-First Language and say a “person with a disability” not a “disabled person.”

  • If someone in my class or event asks me to use different language, I do that. No group of people has the same preferences, and it is important that we accommodate the person in front of me, and not “people”.
  • I always ask before giving assistance and let people tell me what may be helpful. Please see “Checklist” below.
  • I treat adults as adults. I use the same tone of voice I use when speaking to a person with a disability as anyone else.
  • I speak to the person directly, not the support person, companion, or interpreter.
  • I introduce myself with my pronouns, and when I call on people, I ask their name and pronouns to avoid accidental misgendering.
  • I avoid gendered language when possible. (See my note on speaking naturally below).
  • I try to give time for people to think: When I ask a question, I leave adequate time before I expect a response. Some people may be reading the transcript or relying on an interpreter, which can take extra time before they are ready to answer questions.

Cultural Accommodations

I try to think about how culture relates to my presentation subject. I often acknowledge culture when I present or teach. While I am very clear that I am not qualified to discuss cultural differences in most cases, I acknowledge that different cultures will view and approach the material differently, and while I am not competent to discuss that, I hope that acknowledging those differences helps people to relate my material to themselves.

  • I try to offer opportunities where people can share cultural differences as it relates to the material, so we all have the benefit of that education. (Example: This is often viewed differently dependent on your family or geographical culture. I’m not qualified to talk about that beyond my own experience, does anyone have an example they would like to share?)
  • If I use scenarios or examples, I try to provide examples that reflect diverse cultural perspectives providing I am qualified to do so, and thoroughly understand what I am talking about.
  • I make sure that statistics, demographic data or trends presented include information about racially, ethnically, and linguistically diverse groups when appropriate.

Working with Inclusion in mind: To the extent possible, I include images, graphics and visual aids that both incorporate people with disabilities and display reflection of culturally and ethnically diverse groups and the communities in which we live.

Checklist

I am a big fan of removing burdens where I can. When possible, I like to make the accommodations I provide accessible to people BEFORE my presentation or class, but that isn’t always possible.

In most cases I leave my checklist of accommodations up while people enter the room. I have an accommodation person with me almost all of the time, and we try to make sure they are near the entrance, so someone doesn’t have to ask for something in front of the class.  If you’re alone, you have fewer choices, but do what you can to relieve the burden of someone needing to be on display to ask for help.

It looks something like this (it has grown and changed over the years, and sometimes changes between classes during the same event-when we know better, we do better):  


Accommodations: You are Important

Sight Accommodation

  • We will say out loud everything substantive.
  • Visual Interpreting.
  • Screen-reader friendly handout.
  • High Visibility Slides.
  • Large format handout.
  • Reserved Seating up front.

Hearing Accommodation

  • Subtitles.
  • Presentation and notes provided.
  • Assistive Device.
  • Reserved seating up front.

Other Kinds of available Accommodations

  • Seats reserved up front for anyone who needs them.
  • Fidgets on the table!
  • Please feel free to use your fidget or focus devices.
  • Sit or stand anywhere and how you are comfortable. Feel free to move the furniture.  Stand, sit, walk around.

Is there any other accommodation we can provide that would be helpful?

  • Please ask, you are important.

Feedback

Our bias runs through everything we do. Our choices in language, material, and even topic shows our own perspective, and we can’t do better unless we are open to hearing how we can do better.

Get A Team Together

I check my material for discriminatory language and themes-every time. I have several people that I compensate to review my material for exclusive and discriminatory language and themes.

Yes, I said compensate. No one should do this kind of work for you for free. With one friend I buy dinner while we go over material. With another friend, I pay by the project. Another friend asks me to donate to her charity. The “Favor” they are doing you is saying “yes”. Beyond that yes, compensation is appropriate.

Some advice: As you begin this journey, resist the urge to justify yourself. “I only meant…” or worse become frustrated and allow yourself to think “I can’t say anything…”. It can be painful to be told your language or material is ableist, discriminatory, homophobic, racist, bigoted, gendered, or just not inclusive, but someone did you a service, and we need to approach this with gratitude and not resentment. That sort of behavior will also stop people from saying “Yes” to you again.

When you have people edit or review your material make sure they aren’t just like you. Good feedback comes from a wide array of sources who are very different than you.

Pro Tip: As those folks help you, translate that into your speech as well.  It takes some practice to remove language from your vocabulary, but if you don’t start, you will never improve. Some examples:

  • Terms like “PTSD,” “ADD,” “ADHD,” “bipolar,” “OCD” are diagnosis of real issues that people deal with, they are not metaphors for everyday behaviors.
  • Avoid derogatory terms that stem from the context of mental health, for example: “schizo,” or “psycho.” “crazy,” or “mad.“
  • Know the origin of the idioms and jargon you use-many are rooted in stereotypes and negative connotation.
  • Try to remove gendered language. For example: “Guys” is not gender neutral.
  • Most importantly, when someone says to you that what you just said is insensitive or discriminatory, say “thank you”, and then stop saying it. It costs you nothing to accommodate. Accommodating means that your audience can hear your message absent the problematic things. Resist the urge to ask people to explain ‘why’. Thank them, fix it, and look it up later.

Give Your Attendees Permission to Advocate

The following slide exists in some form in EVERY class and presentation I do:


BEFORE WE BEGIN: Disclaimer about Pronouns and Examples

  • I sometimes speak how I live, but it is no way reflective of any judgement on the right way to live. My pronoun and relationship identifiers in examples are often based on how I live. If a word choice or pronoun doesn’t apply to you, please feel free to substitute what does. My choices are what they are because that’s how I live, so I sometimes speak and write in a way that is natural for me. I am in no way offended or put off by other folk’s choices, and I hope you won’t be offended or put off by mine.
  • THE MOST IMPORTANT THING I WILL SAY: If, however, a word choice or example is exclusionary or offensive, please call me out – IN CLASS – so I can do a better job for you, and everyone in class can learn from my mistake. I promise I will thank you. 

Something I say out loud with that slide: While I appreciate someone who wants to quietly tell me later about something I said so that I am not embarrassed, that robs me of my ability to correct what I said, and puts my comfort over yours, so if you are comfortable, I would greatly prefer you call me out in class so I have the opportunity to fix it.

I ask my attendees to call me out. While not everyone will be comfortable doing this, when they are able, it is so valuable. I sometimes hear some difficult things where my bias or cavalier language is insensitive. However, every single one of these moments has made me kinder, more inclusive, and better, and all of the people willing to take the risk and trust me with their perspective deserve my thanks. Everything I do well is thanks to the people willing to advocate, and I owe every bit of any success I have to them.

Get Feedback After the Class

At the end of class, I have my own little accessibility and inclusion survey (events often object to this, so always ask first) or at the very least I try to ask the question about accessibility and inclusion. This gives people the opportunity to share their ideas or tell me things I can do better to be more inclusive and accessible. I also make it clear I am available afterwards or via email if someone would prefer to talk in private or if they think of something later.

Over the years I’ve gotten some amazing ideas. Sometimes I can accomplish them (like Audio Accessibility devices), and sometimes I cannot (like traveling with my own ASL Interpreter). However, even the things I cannot accomplish… sometimes I can help the venue or event be more accessible by helping them find ways to accomplish things people need.

When you genuinely and authentically ask for help, people will give so much of themselves to help you improve, it is truly a magical experience.

Presentation and On-Screen Tips

Do:

  • Be familiar with the accessibility features of event platforms, so you can help attendees.
  • Before you advance a slide, make sure the subtitles have caught up to you.
  • When you advance a slide, pause to let people read it before you start speaking.
  • Make sure every slide has a unique title:  Some people rely on slide titles to navigate. For example, by skimming or using a screen reader, they can quickly scan through a list of slide titles and go right to the slide they want.
  • Reference each slide number as you move through the presentation. This will allow a user with a screen reader to more easily follow along.

Avoid:

  • Videos that are not captioned
  • Slide transitions
  • Busy slide backgrounds
  • Chart filler patterns
  • Over-crowding text
  • Color schemes providing low contrast
  • Charts or graphics without text descriptions
  • Avoid ALL CAPS—they can be difficult to read for people with low vision, and will be read incorrectly by screen readers.

Video

Use captions, subtitles, and alternative audio tracks in videos:

  • Subtitles typically contain a transcription (or translation) of the dialogue.
  • Closed captions typically also describe audio cues such as music or sound effects that occur off-screen.
  • Video description means audio-narrated descriptions of a video’s key visual elements. These descriptions are inserted into natural pauses in the program’s dialogue. Video description provides sight and hearing accommodation.

PowerPoint supports the playback of video with multiple audio tracks. It also supports closed captions and subtitles that are embedded in video files.

Pro Tip: Closed captions, subtitles, and alternative audio tracks are not preserved when you use the Compress Media or Optimize Media Compatibility features. Also, when turning your presentation into a video, closed captions, subtitles, or alternative audio tracks in the embedded videos are not included in the video that is saved.

When you use the Save Media as command on a selected video, closed captions, subtitles, and multiple audio tracks embedded in the video are preserved in the video file that is saved.

Fonts and Colors for Presentations

An accessible font doesn’t exclude or slow down the reading speed of anyone reading a slide. The right font improves the legibility and readability of the text in the presentation. To reduce the reading load, use a larger font size (30pt or larger for text and 40pt or larger for titles), and select a familiar sans serif font like Arial, Verdana, Helvetica, or, and sufficient white space. Avoid using all capital letters and excessive italics or underlines.

A person might miss out on the meaning conveyed by particular colors. For example, add an underline to color-coded hyperlink text so that people who are colorblind know that the text is linked even if they can’t see the color. For headings, consider adding bold or using a larger font.

  • The text in a presentation should be readable in a high contrast mode. For example, use bright colors or high-contrast color schemes on opposite ends of the color spectrum. White and black schemes make it easier for people who are colorblind to distinguish text and shapes. (The Colour Contrast Analyser is one of several free tools available for checking color contrast based on WCAG compliance.)

To find potential issues related to fonts or white space, review slides for areas that look crowded or illegible.  People who have dyslexia describe seeing text merge or distort if there is not enough white space.

For PowerPoint or other Office Documents: Use an accessible presentation template

Use one of the accessible PowerPoint or Office templates to make sure that slide design, colors, contrast, and fonts are accessible for all audiences. They are also designed so that screen readers can more easily read the slide content.

  • To find an accessible template, select File > New.
  • In the Search for Online templates and themes text field, type accessible templates and press Enter.
  • In the search results, select a suitable template.
  • In the template preview, select Create.

Use the Accessibility Checker to analyze the presentation and find insufficient color contrast. It finds insufficient color contrast in text with or without highlights or hyperlinks in shapes, tables, or SmartArt with solid opaque colors. It does not find insufficient color contrast in other cases such as text in a transparent text box or placeholder on top of the slide background, or color contrast issues in non-textual content.

Photos

Avoid using text in images as the sole method of conveying important information. If images have text in them, repeat the text in the slide. In alt text of such images, mention the existence of the text and its intent. Include alternative text with all visuals. Alternative text helps people who can’t see the screen to understand what’s important in images and other visuals. In alt text, briefly describe the image, its intent, and what is important about the image. Screen readers read the description to users who can’t see the content.

My personal rule of thumb: If the image doesn’t convey my message, if my message is clear without the image, or if the image is not useful to make something more readable, I remove the image entirely.

Tip from Microsoft: To write a good alt text, make sure to convey the content and the purpose of the image in a concise and unambiguous manner. The alt text shouldn’t be longer than a short sentence or two—most of the time a few thoughtfully selected words will do. Do not repeat the surrounding textual content as alt text or use phrases referring to images, such as, “a graphic of” or “an image of.” For more info on how to write alt text, Microsoft supplies instructions for this: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/office/add-alternative-text-to-a-shape-picture-chart-smartart-graphic-or-other-object-44989b2a-903c-4d9a-b742-6a75b451c669#PickTab=Windows

Tables

Avoid using tables when possible. If tables are necessary, create a simple table structure for data only, and specify column header information. Screen readers keep track of their location in a table by counting table cells.

Screen readers also use header information to identify rows and columns.

Written Material

Presentations can be saved in a format that can be easily read by a screen reader or be ported to a Braille reader. For instructions for Office Documents or PowerPoint, go to https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/office/video-save-a-presentation-in-a-different-format-37d012a1-2b59-4ff7-b6d3-71b850ea7a5dformat or Create accessible PDFs

Pro Tip: Always run the Accessibility Checker and fix all reported issues before converting a presentation into another format. To manually launch the Accessibility Checker, select Review > Check Accessibility. The Accessibility pane opens, and you can now review and fix accessibility issues.

When possible, provide accessible materials in advance

Test accessibility with a screen reader

When the presentation is ready and I have run the Accessibility Checker to make sure it is inclusive, I try to navigate the slides using a screen reader, for example, Narrator. Narrator comes with Windows, so there’s no need to install anything. This is one additional way to spot issues in the navigation order, for example.

How to do this in Navigator:

  • Start the screen reader. For example, to start Narrator, press Ctrl+Windows logo key+Enter.
  • Press F6 until the focus, the blue rectangle, is on the slide content area.
  • Press the Tab key to navigate the elements within the slide and fix the navigation order if needed. To move the focus away from the slide content, press Esc or F6.
  • Exit the screen reader. For example, to exit Narrator, press Ctrl+Windows logo key+Enter.

For Written Handouts

  • Large print should be printed on single-sided 8.5″ by 11″ paper and stapled at the top left corner
  • Use letter orientation, unless a visual element requires landscape orientation, to achieve maximum visibility
  • Left justify all paragraphs and do not use columns
  • Keep a one-inch margin on all sides
  • Use 18-point font for all text, including body text, footers, page numbers, references, disclaimers, and labels on charts and graphs. Larger fonts may be used for headings. Individual users may request fonts larger than 18-point as an accommodation
  • Use a bold serif font (such as Times New Roman) for body text and a bold simple sans-serif font (such as Arial) for headings and other information that is set apart from body text. Do not use any compressed fonts. Make lines heavy/thick in charts and graphs
  • Use a minimum of 1.5 line spacing; use double spacing when possible
  • Do not use small caps, italics, or all caps for text. Use initial caps and lower case for titles and text
  • Use underlining for emphasis instead of italics
  • Delete decorative graphics that do not contribute to the meaning of the information being presented

Flash Drives

Have screen-reader optimized materials ready on flash drives. Flash drives are relatively inexpensive, and it provides handouts to people who would otherwise miss out.  I buy them in bulk on Amazon about once a year and it works out to about $1.00 per drive. Buy the smallest size you can find in bulk, since it will only be for one presentation. Even in larger events where I have 100+ attendees I generally only need a handful of drives. In smaller workshops, I might do 1 or 2.  It is also super handy to have them in case your class is bigger than you expect, and you run out of printed materials.

How I handle that:

  • I ask anyone who wants a screen-reader optimized copy (versus the paper copies I hand out) to come see me after class.
  • Ahead of time I make sure my presentation and notes are formatted and optimized for screen readers, and I set that file right on my desktop.
  • I tag USB drives ahead of time with big plastic key tags and print little labels ahead of time. You can also just hand-write on a label and place it on the drive.
  • It takes less than 10 second to download and put a label on it.

Be Careful About Expertise

Be careful about declaring yourself an ‘expert’ in anything (unless you are indeed an expert). There are MANY ways to live, and MANY ways to do things, and many approaches that are ‘right’. When I present professionally, I am presenting my expert opinion on subjects, but when I present my material in our Community, I am one of many voices on the subject, and I try to make sure that people hear that.  

To address this issue some version of this slide is ALWAYS in my personal material:


SLIDE TITLE: The “Right” Way

While most of this material is how “I” do things and my take, and is therefore merely my opinion, I try to call out when my opinion may read as a fact. I am teaching you how I do things, and my interpretation of things, not “how things are done.”  There are lots of voices on the subject, and many ways to approach this, I am merely providing you with mine.

What is “right” is what you and your partner(s) negotiate and consent to, and what works for you. Your way is RIGHT. My only goal today is to add tools to your toolbox.

I will also share that I have a very low risk-tolerance, so often my way is much higher level of care than many people and that’s OK as well. Take what is useful and leave the rest.


Something I generally say out loud with that slide: “I tend to speak in declarative sentences and therefore my opinion can often sound like a fact. So, I do try to call it out. If something I say sounds like a fact and you aren’t sure, please just ask.”

Conclusion

I hope these suggestions are helpful. While I am certainly not an “expert” on accessibility, inclusion, or equity I have had the benefit of many people who have generously helped me to become a little bit better, every day, and I hope the growth I’ve experienced translates into a more positive experience for everyone who attends my classes and presentations.

I know this sounds like a lot, but once you do many of these things, you never have to do them again. Becoming more accessible is a process. I didn’t start doing all of these things at once, and I learn more every single time I teach or present. If you are open to it, you will as well. It is only important that you begin. Be honest and be humble. Explain to people that you are working on becoming more inclusive, and they will give you miles of grace to improve and will appreciate you for making it a priority.

When approached with humility and an open mind and heart, being an inclusive and accessible presenter is not only possible, but a joy every time you get one step closer to providing everyone an equitable experience.  

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