Tips To Make Your Virtual Meetings And Video Conferencing Accessible To All

virtual meeting accessibility video conferencing access

Working from home has become a staple during the Covid-19 pandemic for most organizations all over the world. It has changed several dynamics of the ways organizational teams and workforces function because they are heavily reliant on technology to fill several gaps. 

Meetings and conferences are examples of elements that are entirely reliant on technology these days. Several organizations are dependent on virtual conferencing tools to conduct their business and company meetings. 

Even though most video conferencing software provides efficient solutions for most members, there might be some gaps when it comes to making them accessible to people with disabilities. 

In this article, we are going to talk about some of the tips that can ensure the accessibility of virtual meetings through video conferencing. 

Choose an Accessible Video Conferencing Software 

Several video conferencing solutions have incorporated extra features to make them accessible. For example, BlueJeans is one of the latest video conferencing tools that have optimized their design to increase its accessibility. Below are some of the features that are essential to make video conferencing software accessible. 

• The conferencing software must provide closed captioning for the live video feed. BlueJeans use voice recognition to produce closed captions during the video meetings that you can activate easily by checking a box. 

• The web conferencing must be accessible by keyboard use only so that people can access all the features without using a mouse. BlueJeans can not only be used with a keyboard only, but you can also use keyboard shortcuts to activate and deactivate several features. 

• An ideal video conferencing software must be accessible with assistive devices. BlueJeans have optimized the use of screen readers, such as NVDA, JAWS, and several others, to access it. The software can also adjust the display to high contrast for better visibility. 

So before you start using a video conferencing solution for your organization, make sure that you know about the various accessibility features. We recommend that you read a few comprehensive reviews on how to choose an ideal video conferencing software so that you make a well-informed decision. 

Prepare For The Virtual Meeting 

Think about the preparations that can make your virtual meetings more accessible. 

You can send invitations beforehand to facilitate any necessary preparations to attend the video conference. Since you would be holding cloud-based video conferencing, ask members with disabilities if they need any assistance to join the meeting. You can also provide a list of accessibility features that they can use and keyboard shortcuts to access them. 

Restrict The Use Of Certain Features 

It is a common practice for members to use the chat feature during online meetings. But if you have a visually impaired person joining the conference, you can disable the chat feature. Employees with visual impairments use screen readers to understand what is happening on the screen. 

If the screen reader relays the meeting along with the chat, it can get confusing for them. Plus, they might not be able to participate in ongoing written communication actively. Similarly, think of other features that may create accessibility drawbacks, and advise the members joining the meeting to refrain from using them. 

Describe The Screen Or Discussions 

If you have a visually impaired person joining the meeting, you might have to describe what is happening on the screen for them. The best way to achieve this would be to appoint a person responsible for this task. Some elements of video conferencing are not accessible by screen readers, such as the annotations tool. 

So if a team member needs to use the annotations tools, make sure that someone is appointed to describe it to the blind employees. Video presentations are another element that might create accessibility problems. 

If the video presentations do not contain closed captions or transcripts, it might be inaccessible to the hard of hearing. If there is such a video presentation in your meeting schedule, you must ensure that someone can type the ongoing details for the person who cannot hear it. 

Sometimes the participating members may need to make further adjustments to accommodate people with disabilities during video conferencing. Blind users have to rely on Braille to communicate, so the other members must not rush things for them. 

Similarly, if a deaf person is using a telecommunication relay service with sign language, members might have to pace things according to their convenience. Also, some people with disabilities may have problems if too many people speak at the same time. 

So make sure that you convey the same to the other members. Technology can fulfill some criteria to make virtual conferences accessible to users with disabilities. But we, as human beings, must make adjustments to accommodate their needs as well.

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