The list below is a collection of information and tips on how to make Zoom meetings as accessible as possible for all participants, including participants with disabilities. Most functions in Zoom are user-friendly and are accessible to people who use assistive technology. There are, however, a few exceptions and best practices to be aware of.
Sound quality is important for all users and critical for people who are hard of hearing.
- Reduce background noise: When speaking, ensure you are in a noise-free environment and stay close to the microphone.
- Mute participants who are not speaking: Especially in large meetings, all participants should be muted except for the person who is speaking. If participants are not consistently muting themselves, the host can mute individual participants in the Manage Participants panel. The host can also use the Mute All tool or the Mute Participants on Entry option to apply muting to multiple participants at once. The “Mute participants on entry” option can also be selected when scheduling the meeting. Let participants know that they have been muted upon entry and state expectations for how and when they should unmute themselves and participate.
Some attendees may not want to turn on their video in a meeting for a variety of reasons. These reasons can include medical privacy concerns, concerns about the ways in which the use of video may reveal or highlight disabilities, the anxiety or distraction that video can cause, and more. If you are encouraging participants to turn on their video, it is important to keep in mind that some participants may have good reasons for not wanting to do so. This is true in the classroom setting as well as in business meetings.
In-meeting chat can be very useful during meetings, including as a participation channel for people who are working in noisy environments. There are just a few things to keep in mind.
Share chat content through additional channels. Some participants may be unable to access or fully utilize chat. Participants who are calling into a meeting will not be able to see or contribute to chat. Assistive technology users can access, read, and contribute to chat, but may be unable to activate links in the chat window. Finally, all users run the risk of losing important links or content from the chat if this information is not saved in some way.
- If chat comments are being incorporated into a meeting, read the comments aloud as part of the meeting.
- Send links from the chat to all participants by email before or after the meeting.
- Optionally, you can save the entire chat.
Sharing your screen is a good way to display PowerPoints or other media, pull up an editable whiteboard, or walk participants through a process step-by-step.
- Verbalize what is on the screen. Participants who are calling in or have bad Internet connections may be unable to see the screen. People who are blind or have low vision may also be unable to see the screen, and cannot read the screen-share contents using assistive technology. For the benefit of anyone who may be unable to see your screen, verbalize what is seen and the actions you are taking.
- Share materials ahead of time. Send any materials you plan to display through screen sharing to your participants ahead of time. This allows everyone to access the materials and follow along even if they cannot see the screen share during the meeting.
There are creative ways to use the polling feature for participation during meetings or to survey participants. Hosts should keep these best practices in mind:
- Ensure everyone can participate. The polling feature is accessible to people who use assistive technology. It is not usable, however, by people who are joining a meeting by phone. If you have participants joining by phone, offer an alternative way for them to send in feedback.
- Alert participants when launching a poll. Notify participants verbally when you are launching a poll. This is especially helpful for assistive technology users as well as anyone who may not be looking at their screen.
- Give enough time. Allow plenty of time for participants to find and participate in the poll.
Breakout rooms can be used for small-group discussion and collaboration.
- Plan ahead for technical difficulties. Some devices and technical set-ups do not allow participants to join breakout rooms. See Zoom’s breakout room guidance for more information. Participants who cannot join breakout rooms can use the main room as an alternative space for discussion.
- Pay attention to accommodations. If live captionists or ASL interpreters are present, make sure to assign them to the same breakout room as the participant receiving the live captioning or ASL interpreting.
- Give participants the ability to record. If the Zoom session is being recorded for later review or captioning, the host will need to give participants the ability to record if the host will not be in the breakout room that needs to be recorded.
ASL interpreters will need to join the call just like any other participant and share their video. Interpreters should have the Zoom application downloaded on their device before joining the call for best functionality.
Participants who wish to view the ASL interpreter should select “Pin Video” in the context menu (“...”), which is available by hovering over the interpreter’s video thumbnail. (Please note: Accessing the Pin Video feature currently requires the use of the mouse to hover. This issue has been reported to the vendor.)
Students registered with the Disability Resource Center can arrange for ASL interpreting through their Access Consultant. All other individuals can contact the Disability Resource Center.
Reference: Sign Language Interpreter in Zoom
For live captioning (or “real-time captioning”) provided by a person (not an automated service), there are two steps that are required in order to incorporate live captions into your Zoom session.
- The session host will need to enable closed captioning in their Zoom account.
- Secondly, the captionist will need to be provided with a way to add captions to the Zoom meeting. There are two ways to do this.
Students registered with the Disability Resource Center can arrange for live captioning through their Access Consultant. All other individuals who need to arrange live captioning for an accommodation can contact the Disability Resource Center.
Reference: Closed Captions in Zoom