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‘Can subtitles be turned off? They get in the way of the text on the slides.’

How we think about things, depends on our perspective: what do we think is the priority, what is getting in the way ?

There probably isn’t anyone who has prepared slides that has not put considerable thought into their design: the font, layout, colour etc. If you consider accessibility as part of the design, this will lead you to think deeper about the choices you make: is the contrast sufficient, is there too much text?

There is even more to be considered if you design slides to be combined with an audio track. Thinking about accessibility, you are probably considering subtitling them; even if you are not, a useful resource could be reused so it’s possible that someone will do this later.

Likewise if the slides are to accompany a live presentation, you can foresee someone using live captioning (for instance, as provided in Teams).

In these cases, it makes sense to leave the lowest portion of the slide blank, certainly not make it where the most crucial information is placed (e.g. the speaker’s name). To estimate how much space to leave, look at examples of subtitled media on Media Hopper or, when you are next in a Teams meeting, turn on captions and see where they appear.

This is more difficult when the slides have already been prepared, especially if it would take considerable effort to reformat, but because subtitling and captioning are not going away, it’s probably time to build space for captions into resource design from now on.

Further information

Accessibility Checklists | University of Edinburgh


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