Skills day 2008: are your events accessible?

Cary MacMahon – TechDis

Download Cary’s presentation as a PDF:
Cary MacMahon: are your events accessible?

I’m the new JISC Techdis coordinator – “the new Sue”!

Techdis is all about Accessibility = usability = success

Use the presentation (above) as a checklist.

We’re pragmatic – we want to support the education sector in greater accessibility and inclusivity. We support diverse needs – it is a diverse sector. We take diverse approaches – holistic approach – provide staff training, support and advice via helpdesk and website – work with key intermediaries, the JISC teams and the RSCs

Key objectives:

To influence the work of key partners to embed inclusive practice
To adhere to best practice guidelines
To give clear, timely advice
To embed materials into your work

Why be accessible?
Best way to learn
Legal requirement

Pre-event planning:
Accessible email: see demo with Alistair via Instant Presenter this afternoon
Communicating and collaborating on agenda…
Stop and think about time and money:
Budgetary considerations – eg BSL interpreters
Timetable flexibility
Alternate document production
Speaker additional requirements

The venue:
Ask them for an accessibility audit
Enquire about previous issues
Visit the venue and tour the facilities – look for possible pitfalls and ways round them
Check availability of accessible bedrooms and parking spaces
Ask what disability awareness training staff have had and if you need to arrange some

Easy conference calls: could use Skype, JANET talk,
Collaboration tools: Google docs, Mindmeister, (online collaboration and meeting tool)
Using chat to discuss the agenda eg googlechat, MSN, (useful for those with a hearing impairment)

Text style and format:
Chosen font should be sans serif and no smaller than 12 point and avoid underlining etc
Think about colour and contrast – avoid red, green and pink coloured paper
Layout – don’t justify, but do use subheads, bullet points etc, single idea sentences
Language – be clear and straightforward; ensure terminology is consistent; avoid complex words; avoid slashed constructions
Images – provide explanation for screen readers – also with tables need to consider how they are laid out

Have a look at the Techdis Accessibility Essentials series – see Techdis website for details.

Publicity and registration:
Different publicity formats – provide alternatives
Early details of location
Range of registration options eg phone as well as online
Ascertain if have any support or access requirements
Confirm with delegates

At the event:
Venue: signage and refreshments
Make signage at a height appropriate for wheelchair users (1.4-1.7m)
Ensure staff are aware of disability equality issues – brief them specifically and generally
Name badges in a minimum size 18 font – good practice!
Distribute alternate packs sensitively
Consider providing and accessible taxi service

Meet and greet:
Ask what is appropriate – everybody is different – be respectful and sensitive

Look at etiquette and terminology chart (available on presentation)

Check refreshment areas navigable by wheelchair
Think about suitable heights
Ensure some seating available if lunch served buffet-style
Ensure staff available to explain menu options
Range of beverage options
Variety of drinking cups including straws
Provide personal assistance if necessary

Creating accessible presentations:
Minimum text sizes, use the notes field (there for screenreaders), describe diagrams and charts, text minimum 24 sans serif

Appropriate use of Powerpoint:
Ensure images etc not distracting
Read out the info and explain images, but no need to read it out verbatim – present the main messages by voice but no need to read every single word
Face forward at all times when speaking
Use mic system if available
Do not speak over any audio content
Ensure that have finished videos etc before speaking again
Ensure questions for the audience are repeated by the presenter

Accessibility Essentials series – number 3 is about Powerpoint – how best to use PPT for inclusive purposes

Visit the JISC TechDis website for more info and for a good practice guide:
Contact the helpdesk: