Disability Research Interest Group
Guidelines for an Accessible Presentation
The Disability Research Interest Group (a Special Interest Group of the Society for Medical
Anthropology) encourages presenters at the 2017 meeting of the American Anthropological
Association to abide by common accessibility guidelines. Similar guidelines have been adopted
by other organizations as standard policy. Although AAA has yet to adopt these guidelines
formally, we ask that you review this document and make your presentation and roundtable
events as accessible as possible.
Embodied capacities for vision, hearing, and sustained interaction in large crowds vary between
people, and wax and wane for each of us from hour to hour and over the course of our lives.
Maximizing the accessibility of our presentations furthers our professional work. It helps your
work reach a wide academic audience, which furthers the core goals of scholarly exchange.
Come prepared with a list of Proper Nouns , including names of people and places, and
specialized terms in your talk. If there is an ASL interpreter present, s/he will need to review this
document before your talk begins in order to familiarize himself/herself with words and names
that do not have a standard ASL sign.
Come prepared with 2-3 printed text copies of your talk . Making printed versions available
helps people who may have difficulty hearing or processing auditory information to follow your
talk. Choose size 17 font or larger and feel free to add a disclaimer: “Please do not
distribute without the expressed permission of the author” with your name and contact
information. Alternatively, you put the text on a website that people can easily access from
their devices. This can use a unique and private link, and has the added benefit that readers
can chose their own text size. You can take down the link after the conference, and you can ask
people to return your print copies at the end of your talk.
Note that providing an alternative presentation model is appreciated by people for many
reasons, including language fluency, learning style, and personal preference.
Announce that printed “access copies” are available at the start of the talk. It is best practice to
then offer them to those who respond to that request, without asking anyone why they are
requesting the copy.
Is your powerpoint accessible?
Use a high contrast powerpoint (white text on black background, and bold text or a substantially
wide font work well). Try to use a sans-serif font, such as Arial, and maintain a large font
size (17 size font or higher).
Avoid using too much text on a single slide.
Is there visual information on your slide? Describe all images – do not assume that your
audience can see ANY of the images. Include information about:
● Aesthetics and style
● Connection to talk
Roundtables & Q & A:
All speakers should use a mic at all times. All audience members asking questions should use a
mic, or a mic user should restate any questions asked without amplification. As with
presentations, if an ASL interpreter is present, it is best practice to check if the interpreter has
finished interpreting before proceeding.
If there is an ASL interpreter present:
ASL interpreters sign in American Sign Language, which has its own grammatical structure and
nuances. It may take more or less time to express an idea in ASL than in spoken English. When
interpreting academic English, interpreters often spell out proper nouns or jargon terms
letter-by-letter, which takes longer than speaking. As such, when you are presenting a text that
is being interpreted into ASL, it is best practice to pause slightly to allow the interpreter to catch
up after names, place names, or jargon terms.
Links to accessible presentation policies and guidelines for other organizations:
● American Sociological Association:
● Pacific Rim Conference presenter accessibility guidelines: