Presenter Guidelines

December 15, 2018
Presenter Guidelines

All conference materials and presentations at the NDRN Annual Conference must meet the following accessibility standards.

Handouts and Resource Materials


These are documents useful for participants to have in front of them in order to follow a presentation (e.g., an outline of the presentation, PowerPoint slides, statutory language or essential definitions that are the subject of a presentation). These are made available during the workshop in various accessible formats: standard size (12 point) font, large size (18 point) font, Braille, and an electronic format via the Conference USB Flash Drive for persons who use screen readers.

Resource Materials

These are not needed by participants during the workshop to follow a presentation. These are reference materials for participants to use after attending the conference (e.g., pleadings, research articles, studies). These are only provided electronically on the Conference USB Flash Drive.

Page limit for handouts

The maximum number of pages for handouts is 50 (25 sheets of paper printed back-to-back) for each 90-minute workshop, and 200 pages for each all-day Institute. This reduces the costs of providing handouts, and gives participants less materials to carry when returning home.

Conference USB Flash Drive

Persons attending the conference receive at Registration a copy of the Conference USB Flash Drive with all of the handouts and resource materials on it. To create accessible copies of handouts and make the Conference USB Flash Drive, presenters need to submit all handouts and resource materials to TASC by specified deadline.

Documents, Web Pages & Videos


Word and WordPerfect

Most documents created in Word or WordPerfect are accessible for screen readers if they only contain text (that is, no photos, graphs and clip art are used). Utilize Microsoft’s Accessibility Checker to find accessibility issues before submitting your Word document, or review TASC’s PowerPoint on Creating Accessible Word Documents.


Documents converted to PDF format may or may not be accessible (however, see below regarding scanned documents). To check whether a PDF document is accessible, click on the “Select Text” icon. If you can select the text with your mouse, then the document is accessible. If you are unable to do so, the document is not accessible.

Pictures and Non-Text Media

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:

  1. manually add text that explains the image, such as a descriptive caption under a photo; or
  2. insert an “alt text” tag that is not visible on the printed page but which can be read by a screen reader.
    • If an image is decorative, and an alternative text description is not necessary. Simply put (” “) in the alt text field.

Tables and Graphs

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 (refer to “Create Accessible Tables in Word”). Also, keep tables simple, using as few columns as possible.

Italics, Bullets, Justification

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 used indentations sparingly.

Scanned Documents

Scanning a text document to create an electronic version of the document typically results in a photo of the document, and therefore it is not accessible because it cannot be read using a screen reader. However, newer copier systems that scan directly into Adobe PDF might produce accessible documents (see above regarding how to check if a .pdf is accessible). A scanned document often can be made accessible by using an interpreting software program known as Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software. OCR is able to interpret the image and convert it into a text format. However, this can result in formatting and other errors requiring manual correction. Documents made accessible using OCR software need careful proofreading.

Web Pages

Web pages must meet the same accessibility standards as electronic documents. The same rules apply for images on web pages. Special care should be taken to provide description tags with the html document for any graphic objects, such as images, tables, graphs, etc. There are several guides regarding Web accessibility that can be found on the World Wide Web Consortium’s website.


Presenter must provide video captions:

  1. YouTube captions – Edited for accuracy, not Automatic
  2. Open captions – Burned in or embedded onto video itself
  3. A transcript – Provide accessible document

If you plan to embed a video in your presentation, an “Unlisted” or “Public” URL link either via YouTube, Google Drive, or Dropbox must be provided to TASC by specified deadline. If it isn’t possible to generate a URL, please send the original file directly to [email protected]. Please note: The NDRN Conference Flash Drive has a limited amount of storage space. Avoid sharing 4K files.

Accessible Presentations

Presenters and persons attending the NDRN Annual Conference are requested to refrain from using perfume, cologne, and other fragrances. NDRN depends on your assistance to provide a fully accessible conference for everyone.

Visual Accessibility

for persons who have low vision or are blind Keep lights on at all times, even when playing a video.

Alternative formats. All handouts (anything handed out during the conference) must be available in alternative formats; i.e., large print (minimum 18 point font), Braille, and an electronic version on a CD or USB Flash Drive. Materials that are not provided in alternative formats cannot be used during the conference.

  • TASC will provide your materials in alternative formats if an electronic copy is received by specified deadline for submitting handouts.
  • Anyone bringing handouts without submitting them to TASC by the specified deadline must bring:
    • 25 standard-size copies (minimum 12 point font)
    • 3 large-print copies (minimum 18 point font)
    • 1 Braille copy (on request)
    • electronic copies on 2 CDs or USB Flash Drives.

Fonts. All documents, including PowerPoints, must use a sans-serif font such as: Arial, Calibri, Helvetica, Tahoma, Verbena (Times New Roman is NOT a sans-serif font). The minimum font size is 12 point for standard-size copies, 18 point for large print copies.

PowerPoint. Keep it short. As a rule of thumb, limit your deck to 1 slide for every 2 minutes of speaking time.

  • Use a sans-serif font that is at least 22 point.
  • A light colored background with dark text is preferred.
  • Us a plain background without any watermark, photo, or design behind the text.
  • Use as an outline for your presentation, with short sentences and/or bulleted phrases (about 4 lines of text / 40 words per slide). Avoid long sentences.
  • Photographs, images, clip art, graphics, maps, and charts cannot be read by screen readers. They need an Alt Text description embedded in them, and need to be verbally described during the presentation.

Videos. Only videos with captioning may be used.

Auditory Accessibility

for persons who are deaf or hard of hearing Always use a microphone when speaking, and ask participants to do the same. Face participants when speaking, so people who read lips can understand you (do not speak while your back is turned to write on a flip chart, etc.). Sign-language interpreters.

  • Speak clearly and slowly when an interpreter is present.
  • Keep the lights on at all times, even when using a PowerPoint or a video.
  • When conversing with someone who uses an interpreter, speak directly to the person, not the interpreter.
  • When using a PowerPoint or other visual aids, allow extra time for the interpreters to sign or explain the visuals.

Physical Accessibility

for persons who use wheelchairs or other mobility assistance devices

  • Do not re-arrange tables or chairs in the room. Rooms have been set-up to provide maximum accessibility and seating choices for persons who use wheelchairs.
  • Do not block doorways.
  • Keep floors clear of personal belongings.
  • Keep pathways between tables clear of items that block the flow of people.


Use “people first” neutral language Don’t Use:

  • “a disabled person”
  • “handicapped people”
  • “retarded persons”
  • “the mentally ill”
  • “crazy” or “nuts”
  • “crippled” or “lame”


  • “an individual with a disability”
  • “a person who has a cognitive disability”
  • “people [living] with mental illness”
  • “persons who have a psychiatric disability”

Note: “Intellectual disability” is the current term for what used to be called “mental retardation”.

Cultural Competence

Culturally competent presentations:

  • acknowledge and accept that cultural differences exist and have an impact on service delivery.
  • acknowledge that, when working with different cultures, process is as important as product.
  • respect the unique, culturally-defined needs of various client populations.
  • acknowledge culture as a predominant force in shaping behaviors, values and institutions.
  • acknowledge and appreciate that traditional support systems (i.e. family, community, religious institutes, etc.) act as a primary mechanism of support for communities of color.
  • recognize that the concepts of “family”, “community” etc., are different for various cultures and even for subgroups within cultures.
  • believe that diversity within cultures is as important as diversity between cultures.
  • function with the awareness that the dignity of the person is not guaranteed unless the dignity of his/her people is preserved.
  • understand when there may be a cultural conflict with dominant societal values.
  • recognize that communication styles/methods may differ among various cultures, yet can be equally effective in developing solutions to problems.
  • recognize that communities of color encounter unique barriers in the dominant society.
  • acknowledge the need for cultural negotiation when interacting on a cross cultural level.
  • recognize that there is no such thing as a culture free interaction between individuals.






Insert a Caption for a Picture:

PowerPoint Accessibility:

Web Accessibility



World Wide Web Consortium:


If you have any questions or suggestions regarding these guidelines, please contact TASC at NDRN at [email protected] or call 202-408-9514.

The Training and Advocacy Support Center (TASC) at NDRN is sponsored by the Administration on Developmental Disabilities (ADD), the Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS), the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA), the Social Security Administration (SSA), and the Health Resources Services Administration (HRSA). TASC is a division of the National Disability Rights Network (NDRN).

Page last updated: November 25, 2019