Accessibility is about ensuring people can access information presented to them regardless of any impairment. For instance, an audience may include individuals who are blind or have low vision, or those with processing disorders that make it difficult to understand and integrate visual information.

Ensuring a poster presentation is accessible means that the entire audience can perceive and understand the information contained within it. It means not only considering font size, color, or the use of images, animations, and audio but how and where the poster is presented.

As part of Berkeley Lab’s Increase Awareness, Increase Action, Increase Accountability campaign, at November’s All-to-All meeting ATAP’s Michele Pixa delivered a thought-provoking overview of some of the obstacles to accessibility as well as approaches for making poster presentations more accessible.

Vugraf with poster tips

An example of an accessible poster from “Guide to Making Accessible Research Posters” by Rua M. Williams.  Accessibility tips help us reach the entire audience (click for larger version)


Sometimes the media used in sharing and presenting science is not friendly to people with disabilities. For example:

  • Posterboard aisles are often narrow and crowded and can be challenging for people using wheelchairs or canes.
  • Conversation during a poster presentation can be difficult for people who are deaf, hard of hearing, or have speech disorders.




To remedy this, here are suggestions for poster presenters:

  • Use a notepad to pass notes back and forth;
  • Explain the poster to anyone present; or
  • Consider placing a QR Code that takes the reader to an accessible PDF or plain text document or allows an exchange when the presenter isn’t present

For those using PowerPoint slides, the following could be employed as inclusive practices:

  • Use high color contrast and color coding that works for colorblind people.
  • Use more than color to communicate information, or use bold, italics, or underlined text.
  • During the talk, verbally describe images.
  • Avoid animations, as some people won’t be able to see them.
  • Submit slides ahead of time to disabled audience members.
  • Always use the microphone provided, which is sometimes connected to an FM transmitter that people with hearing aids rely on.
  • Repeat audience questions so that all listeners can hear the question
  • Closed captioning is also suitable for non-native English speakers.

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