I use screensharing tools frequently for my job and also for my virtual classes, and over the last few months have learned several different strategies for effective screensharing with low vision, both as a presenter and as an audience member. A lot of traditional screensharing methods involve smaller print sizes and other visual elements that can be difficult for everyone to read, so today I will be sharing my favorite tips for screensharing with low vision that can benefit all audience members, especially those with vision loss.
Share a link to the presentation/visuals
When possible, hosts should provide a link to the website, document, slide deck, or other visual content that they are sharing on the screen so that users have the option to open the content on their own device and interact with it using assistive technology. For example, my professors will often send copies of code snippets so that students can run code in their own development environments and read the output, instead of trying to enlarge small snippets on the screen.
- Quick Ways To Improve Accessibility For Virtual Learning Materials
- How I Use Repl.it IDE With Low Vision
Increase the size of the mouse cursor/pointer
Having a larger mouse cursor/pointer can make it easier for users to follow along with what is going on. For Windows users, I highly recommend enabling the colored mouse cursor/pointer option as well as the text cursor indicator- I have posts on how to make the text cursor and mouse pointer easier to see linked below.
HOW TO CHANGE MOUSE POINTER SIZE IN WINDOWS
- Open the Ease of Access menu in Settings
- Search for the Mouse Pointer option, or select Mouse Pointer from the list of options in the Vision section
- Move the slider to your desired size
HOW TO ADD A TEXT CURSOR INDICATOR IN WINDOWS
- Open the Ease of Access menu in Settings
- Search for the Text Cursor option, or select Text Cursor from the list of options in the Vision section
- Select the slider to turn on text cursor indicator
- Adjust the size using the slider below the preview box.
Use simplified reading displays
Simplified reading displays like Microsoft Immersive Reader and Reading View can make text content like documents and webpages easier to read as they remove advertisements and other distractions to show a simple view of text with consistent formatting. This is especially helpful when displaying content that is being read out loud with screensharing, or for displaying instructions for a class.
- My Talk At I’m Determined Summit: Crash Course In Immersive Reader
- Five Ways To Simplify Reading With Technology
- Ways To Read Webpages Without A Traditional Screen Reader
Provide image descriptions
If images are being displayed, provide an image description that summarizes important information about the image- in most cases for screensharing, a 1-3 sentence description works best. Image descriptions can be embedded into a document or webpage, read out loud during a presentation, or both, and are different from alt text that is only visible to screen reader users.
Examples of information to include in image descriptions include:
- Placement of objects in image
- Image style (painting, graph)
- Names of people
- Clothes (if they are an important detail)
- Transcription of text
- Emotions, such as smiling
Specific types of content may call for different characteristics to be included in an image description- I recommend checking out my alt text category for more information on specific types of content.
A note on descriptions for graphs/charts
When presenting charts or graphs, presenters should mention the name of the chart/graph and its type (pie, map, etc), as well as the total number of values and sections. Presenters should also share any significant sections or points of interest in the chart such as summary statistics, min/max values, or other information that can help users better understand the significance of the graph.
- How To Create Accessible Pie Charts For Low Vision
- How To Create Accessible Map Charts For Low Vision
- How To Create Accessible Diagrams For Low Vision
Display text with a larger font size
When sharing a document page, it is important to use a larger font size that can easily be viewed in the screensharing window. One of my favorite strategies for displaying text content while screensharing is to use a teleprompter app, which displays text at a very large font size that is still comfortable to read, and can automatically scroll at a slow rate so that people can follow along with information. Since I first shared this tip, I’ve been thrilled to see many Teachers of the Visually Impaired incorporate it into their lessons!
Other tips for screensharing with low vision
- Avoid playing back videos or GIFs while screensharing as the lag can be disorienting or trigger a migraine/be painful to watch for some audiences
- Instead of using terms like “over here” or “over there”, provide more specific location information such as “under the heading” or “in the graph section”
- Some users may prefer to have a copy of their content displayed on a second monitor or on another device so that they can follow along while presenting