Reach More People

Blank yellow legal pad with black pen at an angle on top of it.As the ease of summer transitions to the accomplishments of fall, everyone seems to be starting projects and setting goals. One thing you might encounter in all this activity is a lecture or seminar or a meeting. It might be in school. It might be at work. It might be st church. It might be interesting, or it might be boring, but is it accessible?

My parents both worked in education. They lesson planned to incorporate different styles of learning in the classroom. Outside of academia, I’m not sure how often people consider effective communication. Whether you are an instructor, an event planner, or an attendee at a conference, do you incorporate accessibility?

When you convey messages, you want to reach as many people as possible. Presenting information in accessible ways is a guaranteed way to reach more people. No matter what role you have for an event, many things can make a gathering inclusive instead of a wasted opportunity.

Consider the following:

As a presenter…

  • Is your material available in multiple formats (print, digital, audio) ahead of time?
  • Do you face the audience when you speak?
  • Do you narrate graphs and pictures?
  • Do you make recordings of your presentation available afterwards?
  • If you are struggling to accommodate someone, do you follow-up to try to find an alternative?
  • Do you ask for feedback?

As an organizer…

  • Do you familiarize yourself with the physical location of the event to identify the acoustics, the seating options, the availability of accessible bathrooms and alternatives to stairs?
  • Do you elicit accommodation requests by including contact information on event announcements and registration materials?
  • Do you schedule breaks with adequate time to move from place to place in a crowded area and ample time for administering medication/refreshment?
  • Do you solicit event feedback?

As an attendee…

  • Do you request ahead of time the reasonable accommodations you need from presenters and organizers?
  • Do you ask about the location or visit it ahead of time to orient yourself?
  • Do you bring personal items that will help you adjust to varying environment elements like temperature and light?
  • Do you alert someone if you feel excluded?
  • When an organization and/or presenter meets your needs, do you thank them and provide positive feedback/constructive criticism?

That’s a lot to consider, yet there’s more tools available. For anyone interested in making presentations inclusive, here’s a fantastic resource from W3C regarding accessible presentations. Check it out. It might change the way you experience your next meeting.

What things make an event inclusive for you? Have you ever given a presentation with accessibility in mind? How has an event in the past left you behind? How would you plan accessible events? Tell me about it.


3 Comments Add yours

  1. This is great information Susan. Prior to retirement, I used to plan events for work and while I always took into consideration breaks, refreshments, and variety of food items for vegetarians, allergies, etc. I hadn’t considered disabilities until I began losing my vision. I like the way that you outlined tasks for each role because even though it would be nice for the world to take into consideration those with disabilities we have to take an active part in advocating on our own behalf and that means in part alerting people/organizations ahead of time of any accommodation requests. Awareness for presenters and organizers as well will help us to become more inclusive. I’ll check out the link you provided. Thx

    1. Thanks Steph. I wanted to differentiate the roles to empower anyone, no matter what role they take for an event, to encourage inclusivity/accessibility.

      1. Amen to that!! I agree wholeheartedly.

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