As we helped many different organizations organize their virtual AGMs this year, we got a lot of questions about Zoom accessibility. Here are a few of the most common examples:
- How can we make this accessible to people without internet?
- What would make this usable for groups working in multiple languages?
- How can we make this accessible to people who are hard of hearing?
We explored lots of different options with groups, and Zoom can be a very powerful tool when you use it right! However, it also has some major issues.
Accessibility Issues with Zoom
Some of the ones we encountered were:
- Difficulty accessing or writing in the chat if the person is using a screen reader (an assistive technology for people with visual impairments; it essentially reads the screen)
- Screen readers not being able to work if someone is sharing their screen
- Issues with the closed captioning offered by Zoom
This wiki offers a much more comprehensive list of the accessibility issues with Zoom, and how they might impact your particular audience.
The wiki also has some great accessibility resources to use to make your Zoom event more accessible, particularly for users who are Deaf/hard of hearing or are Blind/visually impaired.
A lot of these solutions can also be used for community groups who are working with a multilingual group, or a group where there are people who are joining by phone and can’t see the screen, etc.
General Accessibility Tips for Zoom Meetings
We also liked this general resource on accessibility on Zoom. Some of the most important tips we found in there were:
- To avoid meetings with a mix of in-person and virtual attendees. We are seeing lots of community organizations try this (out of an intention to make it more accessible)- but it is very hard to pull off and can cause a lot more problems than it is worth
- Having a second screen if you are running the meeting. This will allow you to see the participants and edit a document/view a web page/watch a captioning transcript/… at the same time. It really increases your ability to make a meeting more accessible!
- Recording the meetings. This can have lots of accessibility benefits, including helping people re-engage with things they missed because of a technical issue or an accessibility issue.