Preparation in Advance

Assess Their Needs

The first step to achieving accessibility for your guest speaker is to check in with them about their needs. Ensuring the session is accessible for them is just as important as it is for your audience.

Questions to Ask:
  • What can you do to support their presentation?
  • What do they need to successfully deliver a presentation? 

Gather Presentation Details

Determining the content, length, and format of the presentation will help you better prepare for accessibility. 

Questions to Ask:
  • What material will your speaker cover?
  • Will questions be encouraged?
  • Is there an expectation for audience participation?
  • Will there be breaks if it is a long presentation?


Review the speaker’s plan for their presentation from an accessible perspective and remind them about your commitment to accessibility. Once you finalize the outline and plan for the presentation, share it with your students to clarify expectations. 

Materials and Technology

Get Materials in Advance

Ask your guest speaker to share materials in advance whenever possible.

Confirm Technology

Confirm with your presenter what technology they will be using for their presentation and ensure it is accessible. Being proactive with this information will allow you to make any necessary adjustments and changes to ensure accessibility. 

Questions to Ask:
  • Are they showing captioned videos?
  • Are interactive games accessible on a screen reader?

Guest Speakers in an Online Class

  • If your class is online and you’re hosting a guest speaker you’ll want to confirm that the speaker is comfortable with the virtual meeting platform you’re using. If not, you may offer to arrange a test session if necessary.
  • Review and outline the built-in accessibility features of the platform so your speaker is aware of them (e.g., auto-captioning, etc.).
  • Have a plan in place in case challenges emerge with technology during the presentation.
  • Being prepared for any potential technical issues that arise will allow you to ensure changes or adaptations are still maintaining accessibility.  

Summary/Key Takeaways

Having guest speakers in your class is a fantastic way to engage students and share different experiences with them. It’s important to remember that you are responsible for ensuring accessibility for your guest speaker and their presentation. It’s critical to have conversations about accessibility during the initial planning phase with your guest speaker. In doing so, you will reduce barriers for both the presenter and the audience. 


  • Photo by SDI Productions via Getty Images. Used with permission.

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