Accessibility Guidelines

NASPA is committed to ensuring our programs are accessible to and usable by any individual with a disability. We would like conference presenters to follow the guidelines listed below for their presentations in order to allow each attendee to maximize their conference experience.

  • Be aware that when presenting to an audience which include people with visual, learning, and cognitive disabilities that all visuals need to be described verbally. For example, "The first slide covers these three points..."
  • It is helpful for you to upload your presentation or handouts ahead of time (e.g. outline of presentation, PowerPoint slides, statutory language, or essential definitions that are the subject of the presentation).  If there are sign language interpreters in the room, make sure they have a copy of your presentation before you begin.
  • All documents, including PowerPoints, must use a sans serif font such as: Arial, Tahoma, Verbena, Helvetica (do not use Times New Roman, it is NOT a sans serif font). The minimum font size is 12 pt for standard-size copies, 18 pt for large print copies.
  • Please do not use italics, as they can be hard for persons with low vision to read. Please use left-justified text with a ragged right edge which is better for screen readers. Bullets and numbering may be hard for a Braille reader to follow if indented. Please use indentations sparingly.
  • Use a sans serif font that is at least 22 pt; A light colored background with dark text is preferred; Use a plain background without any watermark, photo, or design behind the text; Use as an outline for your presentation, using short sentences and/or bulleted phrases (about 4 lines of text / 40 words per slide); Avoid long sentences; Keep it short. As a rule of thumb, 1 slide for every 2 minutes of speaking time; 
  • The use of pictures or any non-text media in an otherwise accessible document will make the document inaccessible. However, this can be resolved by including a text description of the picture or non-text media. There are two ways to add alternative text descriptions to an image: (a) text that explains the image can be manually added, such as a descriptive caption under a photo; or (b) inserting an “alt text” tag that is not visible on the printed page but which can be read by a screen reader.
  • To the extent possible, please avoid the use of tables and graphs. Graphs are similar to photos and are not accessible. They must be accompanied by a text description and/or an alternative text tag. Tables are most accessible when the information is presented in a logical order that follows how a screen reader tabs through the rows and columns.  Also, keep tables simple, using as few columns as feasible.
  • If a presentation includes a video, that video MUST be captioned.

Tips for Presenters

  • Provide handouts in an accessible electronic format.  This resource provides some helpful information.
  • Speak slowly and clearly with amplification. Do NOT rely on the perceived amplification of your own voice -- USE the microphone. This takes the onus of individuals within the audience having to indicate their inability to hear the presenter. This helps ALL participants, as ambient noise can often make it hard to hear a presenter even for those who generally have no difficulty hearing.
  • Restate questions before answering them.
  • Use person-first langauge (e.g. "students with disabilities," rather than "disabled students").
  • Offer contact information for questions.