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DVR TIG Week: Considering Accessibility in Evaluation Presentations by Caitlyn Bukaty and Morgan Buras-Finlay

Hello! We are Morgan Buras-Finlay and Caitlyn Bukaty. I, Caitlyn, have served as a leader of the AEA Disabilities and Underrepresented Populations (DUP) TIG for many years and work as a research associate at the Institute for Community Inclusion at UMass Boston. I, Morgan, am an evaluator and researcher, and also identify as hard of hearing, with single- sided deafness. Sharing results and findings of our work is an important part of what we do as evaluators. We want our audience to connect to what we are sharing, so our learnings spark action and discussion, and create change for program participants and communities.

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), approximately 15% of US adults over the age of 18 experience some kind of difficulty with hearing, and according to the Georgetown Health Policy Institute, approximately 8% of the US population has a visual impairment. Additionally, invisible disabilities,” ones that are not immediately apparent to another person, can require people to constantly self advocate so they can participate in their professional and personal life. Some examples from my own life (Morgan) are things like reminding folks to talk to my hearing side, asking people to repeat themselves or to seek a quieter space to talk. Self advocating can be mentally and emotionally draining, and can make participation in important meetings difficult.

Our goal as presenters and facilitators is to make it easy for our audience to connect to our material. Whether the audience is organization staff, stakeholders, community members, or other evaluators, accessibility and inclusion ought to be front of mind, as we consider the audience’s needs and wants. Through our professional work and personal experience, we’ve learned a few simple things that can boost auditory and visual accessibility of our presentations so we can boost access and participation for our entire audience. There is no one-size fits all, but we try our best to integrate some things that we’ve learned so that, whether we are virtual or in-person, in an office or a conference hall, we create a better learning environment for all.

Hot Tips

  1. Accessibility Check-ins: Start your sessions with a check-in, confirm that everyone has what they need to participate, are able to access slides and hear the speakers.
  2. Describe yourself: Start off your talk with a self-description to give information about you that non-blind people take in visually.
  3. Describe your figures and images: When presenting slides with images or figures, provide a verbal description of the image and what it is intending to convey.
  4. Make Resources available before the talk: QR codes are great for this! This enables individuals to access your content on their own devices, which may be formatted to fit their needs, with things like screen readers. This is a huge plus in large conference sessions, where the screen may be far or hard to read.
  5. Use Alt-Text: Add Alt Text to images in your presentation. Audience members using a screen reader will hear pictures and figures described.
  6. Think about how you are using color: Make sure that color contrast is sufficient, and it is not the only means of conveying information. 
  7. Use that Mic!: For in-person presentations, use Microphones or other amplification. During Q&A sessions, repeat audience questions back into the Microphone to amplify sound.
  8. Line of Sight: Ensure there is a clear line of sight from the audience to any speakers or visuals. This may mean moving furniture, objects or changing whether you sit/stand.
  9. Limit Cross-talk and Interruptions: Cross-talk and interruptions can interfere with Closed Caption accuracy, lip-reading, interpreter services and more. This is true both in-person and Virtually.

Rad Resources

  1. Caitlyn Bukaty and June Gothberg – Inclusive Evaluation Design
  2. Stephanie Evergreen on 508 Compliance and Data Visualization
  3. Roger Pens are a great resource for dynamic learning environments
  4. Catch Box throwable microphones are great for large, interactive sessions

The American Evaluation Association is hosting Data Visualization and Reporting (DVR) Week with our colleagues in the DVR Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to AEA365 come from DVR TIG members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this AEA365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the AEA365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an AEA365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to AEA365@eval.org. AEA365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators. The views and opinions expressed on the AEA365 blog are solely those of the original authors and other contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the American Evaluation Association, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

2 thoughts on “DVR TIG Week: Considering Accessibility in Evaluation Presentations by Caitlyn Bukaty and Morgan Buras-Finlay”

  1. Wow this is super helpful! I am also hard of hearing and I would not have thought of many of these tips!

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