Tips for Hosting More Accessible Meetings
Today is Global Accessibility Awareness Day, and we wanted to take a few minutes to help raise additional awareness on the challenges virtual meetings can present to those with audio and visual disabilities.
We here at Zoom work closely with leading accessibility organizations to make Zoom as inclusive as possible, but we can all play a part in understanding diverse needs and improving the virtual communications experience for everyone.
Here are a few best practices for scheduling and hosting virtual meetings to help all of your attendees better participate in your event.
- Include dial-in numbers on the invite: Some Deaf users use Video Relay Services to get sign language interpretation for Zoom meetings. Including dial-in numbers in the meeting invite helps them – and those who may not have computer access – better participate.
- Provide materials ahead of time: Share slides or any other presentation materials that may be used during a meeting with participants ahead of time, and be sure they’re accessible documents. Tools like Microsoft’s Accessibility Checker can be a good place to start to help determine whether your Excel, Word, or other documents are accessible.
- Mute all participants upon entry: Those with visual impairments rely heavily on audio from screen readers, so excess noise should be minimized when possible. Some neurodivergent users also may be sensitive to background buzzing noises.
- Say it out loud: Users with visual or auditory disabilities, and those using screen readers or viewing sign language interpreters, may not be able to view or follow shared content. When sharing a screen, it’s helpful to also verbally discuss the content so everyone has an opportunity to access and understand the information being shared.
- Make a plan for chat: On Zoom, screen readers read the comments in chat aloud, which can drown out the conversation. Meeting hosts can designate a person who everyone privately messages and have that person read the chats at an appropriate time. That person can also keep a record of URLs posted in the chat and share them with the group.
- Identify yourself before speaking: Hosts can encourage participants to identify themselves before speaking when in meetings with individuals who may be visually impaired.
- Turn on captioning: Zoom allows for manual closed captioning, integration with third-party closed captioning services, and automatic closed captioning called Live Transcription. We are working toward making Live Transcription available to all of our Basic (free) users in fall 2021. For free account holders who want Live Transcription before then, please fill out this form.
- Use an accessible virtual background: We recommend backgrounds with little to no motion, since they can affect people who have attention deficit disorder, motion sickness, dyslexia, epilepsy, or migraines. A disruptive background can also be distracting to participants trying to follow along with a sign language interpreter.
- Use the Spotlight and Multi-Pin features: Zoom hosts can spotlight the interpreter and speaker videos so everyone sees them, no matter who is speaking. This feature can be used to spotlight sign language interpreters so their video feeds are easily located in large meetings. Hosts can also enable participants to pin multiple videos for their own custom view.
For the most up-to-date information on Zoom accessibility, to give us feedback, or to request documentation in a different form, please visit zoom.us/accessibility. Or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.