Conferences, Meetings and Public Forums

The following tips were developed by CDAC in collaboration with the North American Alliance for Communication Access.

At registration, provide delegates with information about the accessibility features provided by the conference.

Ask if they require additional accommodations, such as communication assistance.

 Moderator or chairperson should:

  • Ensure that all participants, especially those who use have communication disabilities are provided with sufficient, uninterrupted time and opportunity to participate using their preferred communication method.

Presenters should:

  • Wait for the sign language interpreter, if required before beginning the presentation.
  • Face the audience; this is especially helpful for audience members who are speech readers (lip readers).
  • Speak at a normal rate, neither too slowly nor too quickly.
  • Caption videos.
  • If using slides:
    • Use a sans serif font that is at least 22 point.
    • Use a light-colored background with dark text.
    • Use a PowerPoint theme to structure your presentation, with only short sentences and/or bulleted phrases (about 4 lines of text/40 words per slide).
    • Keep it short – as a rule, one slide for every two minutes of speaking time.
    • Describe all meaningful graphics (such as photos, images, charts, and illustrations).
    • Address all the information shown on your slides.
  • Use felt tip markers free of scents and solvents and replace the cap when not in use.
  • Use lasers to point only; resist the urge to wiggle the light around the screen (this can be problematic for people with a variety of conditions, including vision disabilities), and turn it off when not in use.
  • If asked a question by someone not using a microphone, repeat the question into the microphone.
  • Time presentations to give people who use mobility aids to get to the next session.

If presenter uses augmentative communication (AAC):

  • Inform the organizer of the event about additional accessibility requirements you may need.
  • Determine how best to communicate during the presentation and question /answer period such as:
    • communication device
    • someone to read their prepared presentation
    • using an audio recording of their presentation.
    • using a communication assistant to read their AAC board to answer questions.
  • If using a communication device, consider:
    • Programming the device ahead of time.
    • Backing up your presentation on a memory card.
    • Timing the presentation.
    • Checking for clarity in terms of rate of communication and pronunciation.
    • Ensuring the device is fully charged.
    • Bringing a second battery, if you have one or having the means to connect your device to power source.
    • Positioning a mic to pick up your speaker and requesting more mics if you choose to also speak and/or use a communication assistant.
    • Accompanying speech out by showing text on slides, using a split screen.
    • Giving a printed copy of your presentation as a handout.
    • Deciding if you want to present from a podium or table.
    • Decide if you will advance slides, if you need an accessible remote control or have an assistant control the slides at your direction.
    • Allowing sufficient time to receive questions from participants who use AAC and to answer their questions.
    • Engaging a communication assistant if using a low-tech method to answer questions.
  • If using a communication assistant:
    • Ensure the assistant understands that they do not add content to the presentation, unless they are a co-presenter.
    • Tell the audience what the assistant will do.  For example, repeat what the presenter has communicated if someone does not understand.
    • Pick an assistant who has a clear speaking voice.
    • Ask participants to direct questions to the presenter, not the assistant.
  • Handling questions:
    • If possible, defer questions to the end of the presentation.
    • Give the option to answer questions after the session.


  • Provide options for alternate formats (large print, electronic copy, accessible PDFs, compatible with screen readers etc.,)


  • Avoid interrupting and talking when a participant who uses AAC is communicating a question / comment.

Video: Meetings

Video: Krystine on communicating at meetings

Video: Krystine on being understood at a meeting

Video: Using a communication assistant at a meeting


Video: Public Events