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Access and Inclusion through Technology

Access Technology - Today and Tomorrow

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Powerpoint - A guide to ease of use

February 7, 2010
I spent the last two days in Brussels looking at CIP funding for ICT and inclusion - throughout the workshops there were many presentations - at one point I was struggling to read the powerpoints and take notes and listen to the speaker when it struck me that many of my problems were caused by poor ease of viewing in the slides. Sligtly bizarre when yiou remember the topics we were there to discuss.
As a result I thought it might be helpful to have a quick and easy guide to some key things to get right when preparing a presentation - easpecially if we wnat those materials to be as accessible to the audience as possible and hence inclusive.
1 Colour Contrasts
Provide strong contrasts between your text and the backgrounds - make the words that you want to convey stand out clearly
2 One point per bullet
Avoid providing too much text on a slide - dont make us read long paragraphs with too much text - use bullet points with one clear message communicated on each
3 Avoid confusing backgrounds
Dont overlay text across graphics - its very visually confusing and makes it more difficult to understand your key messages.
4 Include Alternative Text for images
If you are going to distribute your powerpoint to the audience make sure you add text to images to say what information they convey - screenreaders need this information - its also useful to all users who dont have your narration to work from for context
5 Consider Size of Text
Think about the size of audience and size of screen - how long does it take to read the screen - be confident to communicate points across slides rather than cramp the slide visually
6 Use titles not text boxes
Again this makes it easier for users to navigate through the slides to find key information - especially useful for screen reader users
7 Use simple consistent fonts
A well spaced sans serif font such as Arial is ideal - dont mix and match fonts as much as possible
8 Use diagrams sparingly
Diagrams are very valuable - but think about the clarity and ease of use - try to aim for a simple layout to clarify complex messages - dont try to convey too much visually - confusing the users
9 Use the notes pane to give VI users additional Information
You arent there to explain your slides when they are distributed so notes may be important
10 Test it out
If youre not sure ask someone to look at it for you - projected and viewed from distance - if they are having to strain to read or understand your points go back and try again
Remember - good design benefits everyone on your audience disabled and non disabled (Noddy's) alike

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