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Accessible Library Instruction

Speaking Tips

  • Make sure students can see your face and presentation materials at the same time. Don’t wander too far, Don’t turn away from the classroom, Don’t lecture while handing out materials, don’t cover your face with hands or objects.
  • Take frequent pauses while speaking.
  • Repeat questions before responding.
  • Do not chew gum, eat candy, or have anything else in your mouth.
  • Rephrase a word or sentence if not understood the first time.
  • Use a microphone for larger classes.
  • Be certain that students are paying attention before you start speaking.
  • Speak directly to students who have interpreters, not to the interpreters.
  • Identify yourself when speaking to students with visual disabilities.
  • Don’t exaggerate lip movements when speaking to deaf, deafened or hard of hearing students. Do not speak excessively slowly or loudly to students with disabilities.

Facilitating Discussion

  • Mention inappropriate behaviour in private, not before a group. Provide clear behaviour boundaries.
  • Include students with speech-related disabilities a place in the discussion. Allow multiple ways of communicating, such as writing.
  • Allow students time to respond. Don’t tell them to “slow down”, “take a breath,” or attempt to finish their sentence, or interrupt them in other ways.
  • Focus on the person speaking and maintain eye contact with them.
  • Give students an opportunity to express they have understood you.
  • Do not pretend you have understood when you have not.
  • Only allow one person to speak at a time.


  • Environmental noise may negatively impact students who rely on residual hearing. Minimize background noise (e.g. by muting participants, locating yourself in an area with as little background noise as possible)
  • Consider recording and making recording available to attendees after the session.
  • Use a functional microphone. Check your equipment before you begin.
  • Make sure you are visible to students who may rely on lip reading. Don’t turn off camera arbitrarily.
  • Allow multiple ways of participating: typing in chat, speaking, using annotate, etc. Don’t arbitrarily restrict which may be used.
  • Only allow one speaker to speak at a time. Consider muting/ unmuting participants to facilitate this.
  • Zoom is compatible with screen readers.
  • It is possible to designate a live closed captioner for your Zoom session.
  • Zoom is keyboard navigable. It has a number of keyboard shortcuts.
  • Consider making meeting controls always visible. Do this by going to settings-accessibility-always show meeting controls.
  • enable mute participants upon entry.
  • consider sharing resources via chat and email.
  • polling feature presents barriers.
  • describe what you are annotating when using the whiteboard feature.
  • consider recording session to distribute later.

Collaborate Ultra

  • Consider recording sessions to share with students. This option is available under the sessions menu. Recordings are stored in Collaborate under menu-recordings. If recording a presentation in which files were shared, wait at least 8 seconds after you end recording to ensure the files are downloaded properly.
  • Live captioning is possible during synchronous sessions. Consider assigning a captioner. Captions are not captured by text to speech assistive technology, so match them as much as possible to the actual words being spoken.
  • By default, captions will appear under the heading of the captioner's name. It is recommended to change this to "closed captioning". You can also change the captioning font size: ensure it is large enough to be readable.
  • Live captioning is not supported in Chinese, Japanese, or Korean.
  • The first caption track of recorded sessions is captured. If there are multiple caption tracks, others are not captured in recording.
  • Add captions to recorded sessions. If the session did not have live captioning, an easy way is to upload to YouTube for the captioning, then reupload to blackboard. You can also add captions by uploading a VTT or SRT file. Go to the recording, select "recording options", and select "add caption source".
  • Collaborate is compatible with JAWS (Chrome) and VoiceOver (Safari) screen readers
  • Keyboard shortcuts include:
    • To turn the microphone on and off, press Alt + M in Windows. On a Mac, press Option + M.
    • To turn the camera on and off, press Alt + C in Windows. On a Mac, press Option + C.
    • To raise and lower your hand, press Alt + H in Windows. On a Mac, press Option + H.


  • Use slide templates. They are designed to be accessible. Much like HTML, structural elements in PowerPoint help screen readers interpret the page.
  • Use a unique title that describes the slide content on every slide. If you don’t want the title to be visible, it’s okay to move it off the slide: screen readers will still read it.
  • Use larger text than on handouts: for projected presentations, 30pt is recommended. For those shared via a platform like Zoom, smaller text may be okay.
  • Use high contrast between text and background colour.
  • Colours used should retain contrast in grayscale in case document is printed. Use view- grayscale to preview this
  • Avoid transition animations altogether or keep transitions simple.
  • Use simple language.
  • Stick to 3-7 bullet points/ slide. Do not make slides a wall of text.
  • Insert lecture notes in the notes panel.
  • Share a copy of the slides with students if possible.
  • Verbally explain the information conveyed in writing or graphs shown on slides. Similarly, use text or an image to convey what you say visually.
  • Give concise verbal and written instructions for all activities.
  • Use simple tables: avoid split cells, merged cells, and nested tables.
  • Use Home-Drawing-Arrange-Selection to set the order in which screen readers read elements of a slide. Built in designs already have optimized reading order.
  • Don’t use Compress Media or Optimize Media Compatibility features: these remove accessibility features like closed captions in embedded videos.