Access For All: Exceptional Idea!

Since I have an interest in moving onto Durham College’s Access and Support Centre, I thought it would be interesting to research and report on presentations using on line tools for individuals with exceptionalities.

Do you remember a time when people around you broke out in laughter, but you didn’t hear the joke? 
Be careful not to leave out information for some people in your audience. For example, if you say “you can read it on the screen”, you are probably excluding people who cannot see the slide.

a visual

Giving an online presentation with text and/or images

Difficulty scale (in terms of creation): varies from low to high depending on the format choice.


What are the benefits to presenting online?


In blended and/or online courses, delivering presentations online reduces the amount of time spent covering course concepts and allows more face-to-face class time to be spent in small group activities or discussion.  It also allows students to review materials 24/7, and for courses that are entirely online, this is a strong way to be able to convey lessons to the students. In online courses, narrated presentations increase instructor presence which is connected to student perception of engagement.

What are the most common formats?

Online presentations can be delivered in a number of ways.  Here are the most common:

  1. Text-only – these are usually documents created in a word processing program and converted to PDF.
  2. Text + image – these are usually PowerPoint (or Key Note) slides with text-based notes.
  3. Text + visual (image + sound) – these are usually narrated presentations (PowerPoint).


As with all digital content, accessibility is an important consideration.  Not only is it important to ensure that materials are accessible to students with exceptionalities, it is also important for some students with family or work obligations.

Online presentations should be readable by screen readers.  This means that the presentation should have accompanying text that has identifiable characters.  You can ensure that your presentation has accompanying text through one of the following methods.

PDF documents created in MS Word

If you used word processing to create a text-only lecture, Microsoft Word or Mac will convert documents to PDF format.  Screen readers should be able to read text that was originally created in MS Word.

Scripts to accompany narrated presentations

If you plan to create a narrated presentation, create a text-based script before you record your narration.  This will ensure that students with exceptionalities have access to the content.

Voice recognition software

While not as common as scripts, it is possible to record your narration and then use voice recognition software to create a transcript.  After “training” the software for your voice, you can import an audio file and software, like Dragon Naturally Speaking will create a text transcript.



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