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Tips for Accessibility

National Conference Presenters



Ensuring that NSTA conferences are accessible, welcoming, and encourage full participation by all attendees, is critical to NSTA’s mission of transforming science education to benefit all. Below are a series of easy-to-implement tips for reducing barriers, increasing awareness, and ensuring that your presentation is accessible to all attendees, including those with sensory and physical disabilities. Remember that not all disabilities are visible; the following are provided to help you make your session inclusive for a full range of attendees.

Making Your Session Accessible and Inclusive for All Attendees

Preparing for Your Session
  • As you design your session, use multiple communication methods (verbal information, pictures and diagrams, text, auditory) to convey your information, and provide multiple means for allowing your audience to communicate with you (verbally, in writing, online feedback, through an interpreter).
  • Remember that all aspects of your session, including your talk, hands-on activities, Q&A, raffles, games, etc. need to be accessible for all attendees. Think through your entire session in advance and remedy points that might present barriers to full participation.
  • Make all materials (slides/handouts) available in advance of the session using the NSTA conference system so that they can be viewed or read aloud to participants as needed.
  • Using slides to present? Follow these tips for making presentations accessible, including minimizing the number of slides and the amount of text on the slides, using high contrast colors and large (at least 24 point) sans serif font, and turning on captions.
  • Plan to bring an additional set of slides/notes for a sign language interpreter or real-time captioner as well as a few sets of handouts in large print and Braille.
  • Check to see whether conference organizers have collected accessibility requests from attendees before the conference; such requests can help presenters prepare for a range of accommodation needs.
At Your Session
  • Keep the doors to your session open to ensure that the room is easily accessible for attendees who use wheelchairs, scooters, or other mobility devices.
  • Ensure that aisles are clear (at least 36 inches wide), that there is adequate space for movement, and materials are physically accessible to all attendees. 
  • Remove chairs in various spaces in session rooms to allow for wheelchair users to sit throughout the space (not just in the back of the room).
  • If there is a deaf or hard of hearing person in the audience using an interpreter, take time to speak with the participant and the interpreter to determine the best place to stand. Typically there are two interpreters who switch off every 20-minutes. A real-time captioner will know where to sit, but do check in.
  • At the start of your session, orally describe the room layout and location of emergency exits, food/beverages, and restrooms.
  • Provide an overview of the presentation at the start, letting attendees know whether they will be doing tasks in groups/moving around, reading, or writing and whether they can expect any loud noises in demonstrations. 
  • Be clear and intentional about providing time for processing new information, asking questions, or providing directions. Consider how to provide opportunities for participants to request information to be repeated, if necessary. 
  • Always face the audience and use a microphone when you are presenting and interacting with the audience; make sure the audience uses the microphone when asking questions or making remarks.
  • Repeat audience questions before responding.
  • Verbally describe all visual materials (e.g., slides, charts, overheads, videos) in detail.
  • Address attendees directly rather than the sign language interpreter, reader, or other access provider.
  • Provide a summary of the key points at the end of the session.


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