Tips for Preparing Accessible Remarks

These tips were developed to assist people preparing remarks for NCIL’s Congressional Reception.


People with disabilities are a diverse group, and NCIL is a cross-disability organization. Some members of our community are Deaf or hard of hearing, some are blind, and some have mental health disabilities. Some have intellectual and developmental disabilities, and some have physical disabilities. Some have chronic illnesses, some have dwarfism, and some have traumatic brain injuries. Some have other disabilities. Some have multiple disabilities. Many people with disabilities are members of other marginalized communities as well. The best way to show respect for all members of the disability community is to think about all of us when you’re speaking at a disability community event.


Some members of our community have language processing disorders, disabilities that affect learning, have been denied academic educations, and/or are still learning English. Please:

  • The first time you use an acronym, spell it out. If you’re only mentioning something once, you may not need the acronym.
  • Use familiar words when you can. When you need to use a technical term or proper name, explain it.
  • Use short, simple sentences.
  • Use active language (“The President signed the bill” is better the “The bill was signed by the President”).
  • Avoid idioms and metaphors (“Please keep your remarks brief and to the point” is better than “Land the plane”).
  • When you use analogies, be explicit.


Some members of our community have been denied academic educations, including civics education. Some are not politically sophisticated. And some rely on interpreters or captioner – who will likely not be subject matter experts. Please:

  • Use examples when explaining concepts and ideas.
  • Do not speak too quickly and speak at a consistent speed. This makes you easier to understand.
  • Do not vary your volume too much.
  • Always use the microphone. Even if you have a loud voice, it’s not enough for everyone.
  • Repeat important information, especially anything with numbers.
  • Pause between topics to give people time to catch up and to signal you are moving on to the next topic.
  • Resist the urge to “dumb down” your remarks. Adults with disabilities are adults. Many members of our community have a lot of experience being condescended to. Assume that, with the right supports and explanations, everyone in the room can understand what you’re talking about. We just want to give everyone the best possible chance to hear and appreciate what you have taken the time to come and tell us!

Please note: NCIL events are smoke and fragrance-free. Please refrain from wearing/washing with – and please wash off – scented products.