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Describing yourself in inclusive meetings

"Hi, my name is Renata Gusmao and I'm the Regional Head of Social Change for Thoughtworks LATAM".

What sighted people also understand during this introduction: "I'm a Latin American woman, with shoulder-length dark hair, wearing a black top. I have a green beanbag behind me".


Why is the practice of describing ourselves important?


We provide alt-text descriptions for the experience of meeting or seeing someone when it happens in a document or on a webpage. We also need to provide that description, whether it’s in real life, in a video meeting or to be played back later on video, to give visually impaired or blind people the same information as sighted people.

Giving a description of yourself for the benefit of blind or visually impaired people – when meeting a group of people for the first time; when speaking at a conference or seminar – is good practice and part of your professional responsibilities. Even if there are no blind or visually impaired people in the meeting, often meetings are recorded and made available for later, so it is always important to ensure that they are accessible to the blind or visually impaired.


More tips on inclusive meetings, for visually impaired and other groups are in this cheat sheet.

How much info is too much info?


A blind person will get information overload if, for example, there are 35 people in a meeting and all of them go into detail about their hair, skin, height, clothes and Zoom background. Keep it to essential information only.


Describe a little about yourself (such as pronouns, ethnicity, hair color and shape, whether you wear glasses or have a beard, etc.) Skin tone should not be assumed as a default. Briefly describe the background too and anything visual being presented throughout the meeting. 


The objective of audible description is to make the experience of visually impaired people as autonomous as possible. When we don’t intentionally include, we exclude.


Disclaimer: The statements and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Thoughtworks.

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