- Virtual meeting platforms each have accessibility concerns. Realize that you may need to choose an alternative platform to make your virtual venue accessible to participants.
- For more information about the accessibility of various meeting and video platforms, see Inclusive Instructional Technology Tools.
Inclusive Virtual Meetings
- Know your tools and when possible, test them in advance to minimize glitches and technical issues.
- Improve your audio and video quality. When possible, use an external microphone or headset and an external webcam with auto-focus turned off.
- Provide materials ahead of time. Lecture or course materials such as PowerPoints, PDF documents, etc. should be sent out in advance so people can follow along in their preferred format.
- Try to ensure that documents are accessible before sending them out; otherwise, they may not be usable for people using assistive technologies.
- Whenever possible, turn on auto-caption features. However, understand that auto-captions are not perfect and may not be very accurate. Auto-captions are improved by use of an external microphone, speaking at a moderate pace, and staying on topic.
- When working with someone who needs captions as an accommodation, contact the Student Disability Center or Office of Equal Opportunity to ensure that more accurate captioning services are in place ahead of time. Auto-captions are usually insufficient for accommodation purposes.
- Auto-captions are now available in many platforms such as Teams, Zoom, Echo360 and Kaltura.
- See the captioning page for more details on providing accurate captions.
- Provide clear expectations and communication rules at the start of the meeting. These may include:
- Encourage all participants to mute microphones unless they are speaking.
- Manage turn-taking. Establish a method by which participants may indicate that they have a question or comment to reduce interruptions and crosstalk. This could include using hand-raising functions, chat, etc.
- Encourage participants to identify themselves by name before speaking.
- At the beginning of a meeting or lecture, ask participants if they have everything they need. This can help to establish a culture where people feel welcome and that their needs are being considered.
- Screen-sharing is not accessible for many people using assistive technologies or with vision impairments. If you must share your screen, describe all of the relevant information you display, including pictures, diagrams, etc. for people without visual access.
Note: Much of the above material was sourced from a webinar provided from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Federal Communications Commission.
Williams, Gerard and Pace, Brandon. (2020). Accessible Virtual Meetings. [PowerPoint slides]. https://uofi.app.box.com/s/yqjlrqpf0bp8ypcjpcvk8r3w6020siqs/file/691018922455