Live Oral Presentation in person as part of Local State based Program AFSS Conference 2020

Is everyone getting your message? Making scientific communication accessible (#53)

Anne Colville 1
  1. School of Life Sciences, University of Technology Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia

In recent years there has been increasing emphasis on improving access for people living with disabilities. Visual impairment (colour blindness, low vision), hearing impairment, dyslexia, autism spectrum disorder and even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can all present barriers for someone attending a scientific conference, or trying to read and understand published papers or posters. These are all common in the community, so it is very likely that one or more members of an audience will be affected. This presentation will discuss ways to avoid and overcome some issues in presentations and scientific publications.

Some modifications, such as simple layouts, readable fonts and good colour contrast for slides and documents are well-established as good practice. More recently, with increasing power of computers, a range of applications have been developed to give more specific support for different types of disability. Accessibility applications can make things easier for people with disabilities, and also help non-disabled presenters to identify and correct potential problems in their materials.

Many graphics like heat maps and colour-coded figures are designed for maximum visual impact to unimpaired readers, but colour-blindness makes them unintelligible. Colour-blindness simulators, available online, allow a writer to “see” how images would appear to people with different types of colour blindness and edit to improve visibility. For people who have difficulty reading, screen readers can convert text to speech if documents are suitably formatted.

Applications like Microsoft Word, Powerpoint and Adobe Acrobat Pro have built-in Accessibility Checkers for problems with colour choice, language and suitability of the documents for screen readers.

Appropriate venue layout and facilities can assist people with hearing impairment, autism or PTSD, via hearing loops, closed captions for presentations, or layouts to reduce crowding at functions.

Fixing these issues can help more people to get your message.