Presentations and lectures should be accessible whether they are done in front of an audience or online. When presenting to an audience a presenter/educator may not know their audience or the needs of their audience ahead of time. Therefore, preparing with accessibility in mind will help in times when a need is brought to your attention or our expectations abruptly change.

Tips for Accessible and Inclusive Class Lectures

Tips for Online Communication with Students

Audio Associated with Slides

Screen Casts for Lectures

Software for Communication

Google Hangout Extensions

Google Meet

Microsoft 365


Tips for Accessible and Inclusive Class Lectures

  • Describe visuals being used during lectures. Using clear, concise language to help with painting a picture of the visual for those that are blind or have a visual impairment.
  • Use visuals that align with the lecture, to include a PowerPoint, topic points, or pages from the text being discussed.
  • Create the above items to be accessible.
  • Provide class materials prior to the lecture to allow students to prepare their notes prior to class. This assists with an individuals processing of information.
  • Allow students time to process information provided, especially any questions asked of the class.
  • Check in with the class to verify understanding. If a student is struggling, encourage them to see you after class or to see you during office hours.

Tips for Online Communication with Students

  • Allow for flexibility in meeting course requirements. For example, being prepared with an array of options for students to display mastery of instructional content.
  • Be open to different options of communication. For example, offering multiple platforms, communication by phone or email to address student needs.
  • Provide accessible ways in which you can engage your students, in relation to the materials you share, audio and video content viewed, and platforms used.

Below are ways in which faculty may provide lectures and/or communication to students in various ways to include the accessibility of some products known to be used by faculty.

If using Audio Associated with Presentation slides:

  • Provide the transcript of the audio in the notes section of each slide, or
  • Recommend turning PowerPoint into a video so that captions can be added.

If using Screen Casts for Lectures:

  • Make sure videos are captioned.
  • If there are visuals on the screen that require someone with sight to understand the lesson, provide an alternative way to receive this information, such as an attached transcript providing the visual information in the text or have an additional video with audio descriptions.

If Using Software for Communication:

Whether a course is provided online, or a student is unable to physically attend meetings, there are additional software available for communication above a phone call. When working with students we recognize the face-to-face interaction is beneficial to both parties and can feel at times that a phone call does not provide the level of interaction and understanding that an in person meeting may have provided. Google Hangouts and Zoom can provide this additional level of communication through remote services.

Google Hangouts

The application and extension are both accessible to all users. They are created with headings and landmarks to allow for navigation and accessibility. Here is information on browser and screen reader compatibility, for those using google hangouts extension.

Accessibility Features Include:

  • Keyboard shortcuts for video calls and in chat.
  • Caption support for real-time transcription, either through a service or by typing yourself, via an app that can be added from the left margin of the video call interface.
  • Sign Language Interpreter app: This can be added from the left margin of the video call interface. Support for this can be requested through the ODR as a formal accommodation for registered students.[1]

Google Meet

Google Meet is very accessible and easy to use for those with disabilities.

Accessibility features include:

  • Live Captions – Display captions of the person speaking, to the bottom of the screen without blurring aspects of the video. Captions are auto generated, which means that they may not meet the 99% requirement for accommodations, but are done extremely well and can be used with little to no notice. Special Note: captions are not recorded and therefore will not play when watching a recording of your google meet meeting.
  • Blind and low-vision users can use the built-in screen reader, full-page zoom, high-contrast color, and accessibility extensions in the Chrome Browser.
  • Keyboard shortcuts available for users to control the video and microphone and open accessibility features.
  • Allows for spoken feedback and live captions on Google meet hardware, Chromebox and Chromebase for meetings.[2]

Microsoft 365

Microsoft 365 was created to incorporate accessibility by design, to be as inclusive as possible to all people no matter what their abilities may be. Currently includes the best-in-class applications and powerful cloud services with accessibility built-in.

Accessibility features include:

  • All applications are created to work with assistive technology devices to include but not limited to screen readers, and adaptive equipment such as keyboards.
  • Power Point within 365 offers auto-generated subtitles on presentations for PCs. It allows each audience member to follow along with captions displayed in their chosen language utilizing Microsoft Translator (60+ supported languages).
  • Provides Learning Tools such as Immersive Reader which is a built in text to speech reader, with simultaneous highlighting. In addition, users can reduce focus to a few lines, adjust page colors, and increase spacing between lines, letters and words. Available for OneNote, Word, and Outlook on various devices.
  • Allows users to convert speech to text utilizing the built-in Dictate within Word, PowerPoint and Outlook for PCs.
  • OneNote and Outlook can work together to assist with time management, organization and planning.[3]


It is accessible to all users. Zoom Accessibility has been tested with the latest accessibility standards to ensure the platform is fully accessible to screen reading technology.

Accessibility features include:

  • Allows for the integration of 3rd party closed captioning providers as needed.
  • Provides automatic transcripts of meetings.
  • Allows for keyboard navigation, through keystrokes, and accessible without the need of a mouse.[4]

Return to the Top of Page

  1. “Use Google Chat with Accessibility Features - Computer.” Google Chat Help, Google, 2020, support.google.com/chat/answer/7652236?co=GENIE.Platform.
  2. “Google Meet Accessibility.” Google Meet Help, Google, 2020, support.google.com/meet/answer/7313544?hl=en.
  3. “An Inclusive, Accessible Office 365.” Accessibility, Microsoft, 2019, www.microsoft.com/en-us/accessibility/office?activetab=pivot_1%3Aprimaryr7.
  4. “Happy Meetings for Everyone.” Happy Meetings For Everyone, Zoom, 2019, zoom.us/accessibility.


Access for All Copyright © 2020 by dsmith24; Alison Grimes; and Danielle Smith. All Rights Reserved.

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