Improving Accessibility

Learning Statement: In this article you will learn about some key considerations when designing your OMBEA Response slides to be more accessible.
Audience: This article is aimed at all OMBEA users.

Follow the 30/20/10 Rule

This is one of those useful ‘golden rules’ in the world of presentations. Peter Smythe talks about it in his Business Student article, ‘How to Present and Pitch’. You can read about the full rule there but the ’30’ part refers to font sizes. Stick to font sizes of 30 or higher and your slides will be more legible to people within your audience.

Make deliberate font choices

Stick with fonts such as Arial, Calibri, or Tahoma in your headings and bullets, as long as these are relatively short (10-12 words max). Fonts like this, knows as ‘sans serif’ fonts, are easier to read in short bursts.

If you need to include a longer body of text, switch to a serif font such as Times New Roman. This is known as a ‘serif’ font and makes paragraphs easier to read, especially form a distance which will be the case with a presentation.

On the subject of fonts, unless it’s absolutely necessary, stick with sentence case for your slides. Anything written completely in upper case is harder to read and will make life more difficult for your audience.

Use the most legible chart for your question

Of all the different chart types within OMBEA Response, the vertical bar is the easiest to ready from anywhere in the room if you have up to five options.

If you have more than five options, consider using the horizontal bar chart because you can line the bars up against your numbered list of answer options.

Think about legibility in your colour scheme

The rule of thumb here is to make sure your slides use a ‘high-contrast’ colour scheme. This simply means that the colours are distinct from each other, with the simplest example of a high-contrast scheme being black text on a white background. If you wish to move away from black and white, make sure you use dark text on a light background, or vice versa.

There are some colour combinations to avoid because they are particularly unforgiving to the reader. These include:

  • Red and green, e.g. red text on a green background, or vice versa.
  • Red and blue, e.g. red text on a blue background, or vice versa.

In fact red and green combinations should be avoided in general because between 7 and 10% of the male population are red-green colourblind and, for them, these colours become indistinguishable form each other.

One final area to avoid with colour schemes is the use of gradient fills for colours, pictures and charts. Depending on the type of gradient you use and the complexity of it, the gradient can become a distraction from the message you’re really trying to convey.

For a more detailed discussion on colour choices, see Microsoft’s article on Mistakes to Avoid.

Use Custom Session IDs with OMBEA ResponseApp

By default ResponseApp uses a random six-digit number for your Session ID.

Some audience members may find this difficult to interpret when you display it on your screen. You can make life easier for them by using a custom Session ID which means you can use an easier-to-read word.

To learn how to set a Custom Session ID, read our article on Changing OMBEA Connect settings.

Use PowerPoint’s Slide Layout templates

These are simply the default layouts that PowerPoint offers you when creating a new slide. The reason you should use these templates is because they contribute correctly to PowerPoint’s slide summary and outline, which in turn makes them accessibility-friendly. For example a screen reader tool will ‘know’ the correct order in which to read your slides and bullets out loud.

Add relevant alternative text to your images, shapes, and other slide objects

Another way to make sure your slides are accessible is to make sure you’ve added so-called ‘alt-text’ to any images, shapes, or diagrams you’ve included. Screen reader tools will read the alternative text to users that need it, so the more accurately you describe what’s going on, the more understandable your slides will be.

Here is Microsoft’s support article on adding alternative text.

Use Microsoft’s built-in Accessibility Checker

PowerPoint has included an accessibility check tool since version 2010. This makes it much easier to identify and repair accessibility issues. To run the accessibility checker:

  1. Click File, then Info.
  2. Click Check for Issues, then Check Accessibility.