- Eye health and eye care
- Parents of Children with Vision Impairments
- Friends and Relatives
- Education professionals
- Health professionals
- Architects & Engineers
- Students and Researchers
- Ways you can assist a person with sight loss
- Best practice guides
- Assisting customers who are blind or vision impaired
- Good practice guide - the retail experience
- Making banking accessible
- Making events and conferences accessible
- Making football stadiums accessible
- Making meetings accessible
- Making your business accessible to customers with sight loss
- Making sports and fitness accessible
Summary: Taking the time to make your meeting suitable to participants who are blind or vision impaired will benefit all of your participants. We have outlined some guidelines below to help you to make your meeting more inclusive to everyone.
Before the meeting
Ask the person if they would like the meeting materials in Braille, audio, email (text-only) or large-print format. It would be helpful to give the material to the participant in advance of the meeting so that he or she can read it beforehand and be able to participate fully in the meeting. Advance material can include a copy of the agenda, slides, handouts and overheads.
NCBI’s Media Centre offers a Braille transcription and audio recording service – Tel: 01 864 2266.
Signing in at reception
If a person has to sign in as a visitor at reception, it is helpful to offer to show them where to sign. Ask the person if he or she would like to use a signature guide – a simple device to help people who are blind or vision impaired to write their signature in the appropriate place. If they do, place the signature guide over the signature line, with the black side facing up, and use a paper clip to hold it in place. Tell the person what you are doing. Offer a pen to the person, place it into his or her hand and guide the pen to the signature line. NCBI can also offer practical training in how to use a signature guide, upon request. Signature guides are available free of charge from the NCBI shop LoCall 1850 33 43 53.
Meeting and greeting
- Introduce yourself by saying hello, your name and your role and wait for the person with impaired vision to offer his or her hand.
- Don’t be afraid to use terms like ‘see you later’. People with sight loss use these expressions too.
- Before giving assistance, always ask the person first if they would like assistance, and if they do, ask what assistance is needed.
- If a person says that he or she would like to be guided, offer your elbow. Keep your arm by your side and the person with sight loss can walk a little behind you, holding your arm just above the elbow. Become familiar with the sighted guide technique. NCBI can offer practical training in how to guide someone who is blind or vision impaired, upon request.
You will find more information in our factsheet meeting and greeting people with sight loss, which will offer you more guidelines on common do’s and don’ts.
In the meeting room
- Describe the layout of the meeting room. Say whether there is a table and chairs and how they are arranged. Tell the person where they are being seated, whether there are items on the table such as water glasses, and where the refreshments and toilets are located. Use descriptive terms such as ‘straight ahead’, ‘forward’, ‘left’. For example, you might say, ‘There is a round table in the middle of the room, about 5 feet in front of you.’
- A person who is blind or vision impaired may not realise that there are other participants in the room, so introduce each person in the room by name and indicate where he or she is in the room relative to where the person with impaired vision is seated. For example, ‘To your left is Joe Bloggs; two metres in front of you is Mary Jones.’
During the meeting
- At the start of the meeting, ask everyone at the table to introduce themselves in the order in which they are seated.
- Address each person by name, when directing conversation to them. If someone joins or leaves the table, they should announce this; for example, ‘Excuse me, I have to leave the room for a moment.’
- Ask each person to state his or her name each time before speaking, throughout the meeting, and let it be known when the conservation has ended. For example, ‘John, could you give feedback to the group … Thanks John’ (to close the conversation).
- When handing handouts to a person with impaired vision, state which item is which.
Presentations at the meeting
- Brief the presenters in advance of the meeting that their presentation must be accessible.
- Ask presenters to read out loud all the material on overhead slides and flip charts, including a description of graphs or images.
- If you have input into the development of videos being shown, consider providing an audio description narrative. Audio description is the name given to a narrative track that assists people who are blind or vision impaired when watching a video. Audio description enriches content of visual passages in a movie for a person who is blind or vision impaired. Our Media Centre offers an audio description service.
- Obtain presentation handouts from presenters in advance of the meeting so that they can be made available in large print, Braille, email (text-only) or audio.
- Ensure that PowerPoint presentations are accessible. The readability of a slide will be influenced by its position, size, viewing distance and colour, as well as the degree of tonal contrast between the lettering and background. It is important to remember that PowerPoint presentations should support what is being delivered by the presenter rather than supplementing it, and therefore only key bullet points should be provided.
- As a general rule of thumb, use a very minimum text size of 32pt on PowerPoint. However, the text on the slides should be large as possible and well spaced out. Choose colours that provide effective contrast between background and lettering. Avoid setting text over pictures or textured backgrounds. NCBI can advise further – LoCall 1850 33 43 53.
- Ensure that glare doesn’t cause a problem. The presenter should avoid standing in front of a window or artificial light, as he or she can turn into a silhouette, making it hard to see his or her face. Ensure adjustable blinds or curtains at windows are provided.
- Never distract a guide dog when in harness.
- It is helpful to provide water bowls upon request for guide dogs to use.
After the meeting
- At the end of the meeting, offer to accompany or guide the person back to reception.
- Ensure they have not left anything behind.
- Consider asking the person for feedback after the meeting has taken place in terms of whether they found the meeting accessible, and ask them if there are any improvements that they would suggest.
Disability awareness training
Staff training is key to ensuring good customer service at your event. NCBI can offer training programmes for all key staff. Training allows staff to understand more about sight loss and how they can help people with sight problems to access the event. It will also teach staff how to correctly guide a person with impaired vision, and give advice on do’s and don’ts.
Events and Conferences
Find out more about making your events and conferences accessible.
For more information or to book an awareness course, please contact NCBI on LoCall 1850 33 43 53.