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ATTW 2011

Title: Must Beyond Bullets Mean Beyond Accessible? Accessibility Considerations for Contemporary Presentation Design
Presenter: Cheri Lemieux Spiegel, Northern Virginia Community College
Session: B.6 – Visualizing Technical Communication
Time & Location: 11:00 am – 12:15 pm; Room: M109 (Marquis Level)

Key Points and Take Aways:

Balancing usability, accessibility, and aesthetics is difficult, but there are four things we can do to help presentations without comprising any of the three:

  • Visuals:
    • Describe images when picture is doing something beyond reinforcing.
    • Describe what connects to pronouns we use: do not say “this,” “that,” “she,” “it,” or so on without describing what “that” or “it” is for those who cannot see what you mean.
  • Audio: Provide separate text for audio, even a sentence outline. Gives more meaning.
  • Text: Limit text on slides. Do not give audience too much written text which giving audio (presenting) text. Will cancel out—forces audience to choose one.

Notes:
This was an enjoyable and practical presentation. I actually covered part of it in my Business Writing class the next day.

  • Death by power point: presentations trying to kill us via too much text, disconnect between speaker/audience (maybe due to use of presentation software).
  • Accessibility and communication camps not talking and often in direct contrast to each other.
  • Accessibility: title slides end with period (screen reader understands as end of title), bullet info, limit any type of visual, with white backgrounds.
    • But doesn’t do a lot of the cool visual design stuff. Is this the only thing? Is this painting the full picture of accessibility?
    • Diverse accessibility concerns beyond the “normal”—“other” category includes AIDs and Cancer, for example).
  • Universal Design: everyone has a disability (Ron Mace). More specific guidelines:
    • Visuals be current and engaging, be tied to a purpose not just decorate, need to be identified if posted online (for screen readers to describe, meta data).
    • Audio: always accompanied by text.
    • Text: make sure color is acceptable for colorblind, how large font? (18 pt at least).
  • Communication design:
    • Nancy Duarte: how tell story, part of visual narrative (slides), consider purpose. 50 slides is a doc, 25 is a teleprompter, just a sentence or 2 then using slides as visual aid, Audience is king, put self last; audience first.
    • Garr Reynolds: simple is best, don’t overdo, presentation zen, large images, visual story telling.
    • Both do not recommend bullet points.
  • Went to experts: TED talks
    • Analyzed slides based on 10 principles by communication design experts.
    • Looked further at best 3 to see what could do better to make more accessible.
    • Things to do that were lacking:
      • When including visuals, explain them briefly.
      • Be specific, don’t say things like “I’m going to go over here and click on this”—no pronouns.
      • Have audio reading slides.
  • Came up with four things we can do to help presentations without comprising visual presentation, accessibility, and usability (repeated from take aways above):
    • Visuals:
      • Describe images when picture is doing something beyond reinforcing.
      • Describe what connects to pronouns we use.
    • Audio: Provide separate text for audio, even a sentence outline. Gives more meaning.
    • Text: Limit text on slides. Do not give audience too much written text which giving audio (presenting) text. Will cancel out—forces audience to choose one.

One Response to “ATTW 2011: Must Beyond Bullets Mean Beyond Accessible? Accessibility Considerations for Contemporary Presentation Design”

Hi Jennifer–I just ran across this overview of my presentation! I’m so happy you were able to take these recommendations directly into your classroom the next day! You’ve reminded me how much I enjoyed that research. Thanks for sharing these notes!

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