Previous ProposalReturn to ScheduleNext Proposal

How to Design PowerPoint Presentations Which are EASY to Create While Enhancing Accessible, Clear Communication

Proposal No: 2717

Bios & Handouts


  • Norm Coombs, CEO, EASI
  • Beth Coombs, CAO, EASI

Disability Area:          

Topic Area:                  

Length of Session (in hours): 1-hrFormat: Lecture Expertise Level: BeginnerType of session: Not provided

Summary of Session

Keep it simple while focusing on the goal of your presentation and the needs of your audience. Use PowerPoint features that enhance your message while avoiding extraneous glitz. Design slides to be visually appealing and select layout and colors that are not distracting and have good contrast.


While PowerPoint can be used as a stand-alone presentation, its normal and best use is to support a presenter by a speaker. Therefore, you need to decide: • What you are going to say? • Who your audience will be? • what will be your main points? • What you want the audience to take away at the end? • Is PowerPoint the appropriate communication mode? PowerPoint has so many features you can never use them all and probably never learn how to use most of them. After learning where different features you need are located on its ribbons you need to learn how they will impact the presentation you are creating. As a content provider and not an entertainer, you need to select features that help clarify your communication and avoid features that, while showing skill, will actually distract from your communication. Different disability groups suffer from different problems and require different solutions. Therefore it is important to understand how your PowerPoint is used.


  1. Understanding PowerPoint features and learning how to use them effectively and easily
  2. Organizing content to make a clear, logical presentation
  3. Identifying the accessibility features to use or avoid in PowerPoint

Speaker Bio(s)

Norm Coombs

Norman Coombs is the CEO of EASI (Equal Access to Software and Information). He received the Ph.D. in history from the University of Wisconsin and taught at the Rochester Institute of Technology for almost 40 years. Blinded in a childhood accident at age 8, Coombs has become a dedicated user of information technology for over 30 years. In the 1980s he was a pioneer in experimenting with the use of distance learning. Coombs became an international leader in distance learning and traveled to spread the gospel across the US, Canada, Mexico, England, Ireland, Switzerland, Austria and Turkey. Recently he wrote a book, Making Online Teaching Accessible published by Jossey-Bass. Norm retired in the late 1990s and moved from Rochester to escape the cold and snow and now lives with his wife of 56 years in Laguna Hills, CA. Norm hosts Webinars on information technology accessibility aimed to support college and university staff better serve faculty and students with disabilities.

Beth Coombs

Beth earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work from the Rochester Institute of Technology. While in college she was diagnosed with ADHD, and the college learning center changed her life by providing her with strategies to control and use it to her advantage both in school and life. This started Beth on the path of connecting technology with transcending her disability. While a student at RIT she also supported its many hearing impaired students by being a notetaker for them. Incidentally, notetaking helped her learn to focus better and her disability connected with students with hearing impairments for their mutual benefit. Beth has been connected with EASI for 20 years supporting it with Web proofing, proofing Norm’s articles and his PowerPoint presentations. She worked faithfully and diligently researching and proofing Norm’s recent publication, Making Online Teaching More Accessible. She has also co-presented with Norm at conferences across the US.


Coombs - AHG-2015 Text NotesCoombs - AHG 2015