Webinar Recording of Digital Accessibility: Best Practices for Creating User-friendly Presentations and Content

Citizen science projects can be done from virtually anywhere, making these fun activities easy to join while maintaining safe social distancing.

Although many people were planning to host in-person events during Citizen Science Month (April), due to COVID-19 these events have either been cancelled or changed to virtual events. And even though Citizen Science Month is ending, you can plan events and do citizen science throughout the year.

Below is a recording of the “Digital Accessibility” webinar.

Please fill out the survey after watching.

Webinar Recording of Digital Accessibility: Best Practices for Creating User-friendly Presentations and Content

To make events and programs user-friendly for everyone, organizers take steps to ensure that the physical spaces are accessible for people with disabilities. But what about electronic content we post or share with users? Citizen science is for everyone, and now that we are focusing on virtual events for Citizen Science Month, it is more important to ever to follow digital accessibility best practices to make sure everyone can enjoy the event.

To draw attention to this topic, Caroline Nickerson from SciStarter and Kelli Ham from the National Network of Libraries of Medicine teamed up to provide tips and techniques that anyone can use. The presentation started with concepts and techniques in PowerPoint presentations, which are notoriously inaccessible without the use of good design.  Attendees learned that by applying just a handful of simple techniques, most common accessibility issues disappear. Techniques included:

  • The importance of structure, created by using built-in layouts
  • The art of writing good alt text to describe images
  • How to create meaningful hyperlinks
  • Using color and contrast effectively
  • Recognizing and avoiding common habits that create inaccessible content

The webinar aimed to encourage users to adopt an accessible design mindset. Creating a well-designed document or presentation is highly preferable than remediating – or fixing – content that is inaccessible. By changing habits and building simple techniques into their workflow, content creators can focus on great digital offerings, rather than spending precious time later remediating files.  (Or worse, publishing content that will be inaccessible to some users.) While changing work habits can seem time-consuming, good technique and design will ultimately save time and effort for all.

You can watch the recording on YouTube and download the PowerPoint slides with one click.

Please fill out the survey after watching.

Several techniques were demonstrated during the webinar, including the closed captioning feature in Google Slides. Given the current high demand for online presentations, lectures, and training webinars, this free feature is worth investigating. Organizations needing closed captions can provide real time, high quality captions while presenting from Google Slides. Presenters must be in the Chrome browser; they need to use a headset or mic, and they need to be in presenter mode in order to show the captions. While not quite as robust as PowerPoint, Google Slides includes built-in layouts and many design tools for slides. The simplicity of the software makes certain tasks easier with less steps, such as applying alt text to an image.

Many office software programs include tools to help content designers. Microsoft Office programs include accessibility checkers that identify certain problems and provide additional information about why and how to fix. As a bonus, Microsoft also offers guides and a number of attractive, accessible templates; try one out to learn techniques and greater understanding of accessibility issues. To learn more about developing your own accessible design workflow, check out the slides with the additional speaker’s notes and the webinar recording.

Presenters and Facilitators: Kelli Ham, National Network of Libraries of Medicine Pacific Southwest Region, Community Engagement Librarian, PSR, All of Us; Caroline Nickerson, SciStarter, Program Manager

Taking Action: Planning a Virtual Event

After you watch the webinar, you can plan a virtual Citizen Science Month event.

Step One: Sign up to receive our updates for event facilitators (which will continue after Citizen Science Month!).

Step Two: Join one of SciStarter’s “Citizen Science Month Office Hours,” also known as our weekly calls. We’ll keep these going throughout the year.

Step Three: Think about how you can incorporate projects selected by the National Library of Medicine into your library programming. These important research projects

Step Four: Use SciStarter event materials to promote, enhance, and celebrate your event! Consider using these social media graphics, downloadable through one-click.

Categories: Citizen Science Month, NNLM, webinar

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About the Author

Caroline Nickerson

Caroline Nickerson

Caroline is a Master of Public Policy student at American University with a focus on environmental and climate change policy. She also works with the UF-VA UNESCO Bioethics Unit, the Christensen Project, the DC Gator Club, and the Commission on Local Debates. Caroline manages SciStarter's Syndicated Blog Network, which encompasses the Science Connected, Discover Magazine, and SciStarter platforms, and manages programs at SciStarter.