Accessible Virtual Meetings and Events

Before the Event

Choosing a meeting platform

Zoom is the most widely used platform for digital meetings at WashU, but others, such as Microsoft Teams, are also used. To sign in or schedule a meeting, go to the WashU instance of Zoom.

Zoom Accessibility Resources

Microsoft Teams Accessibility Resources

When scheduling your meeting, make sure that you offer different format options for participants. Both Zoom and Teams also offer the option to attend meetings via a conference phone number by telephone.

Meeting RSVP

If you are including an RSVP form with your event invitation, ensure that the form is accessible to all users, including those who are accessing it from a mobile device. Make sure your form fields are clearly labeled and that any required fields are clearly marked.

Presentation materials

If you are sharing slides, documents, other visual content, please make sure any online materials are accessible. If at all possible, share the materials in advance so participants have more control over their access to the information instead of only having the large group experience since it may not be accessible to them. 

Save the chat

You can set the chat to save either to your computer or the Zoom Cloud either manually or automatically. If you save the chat locally to your computer, it will save any chats that you can see, both those sent directly to you and those sent to everyone in the meeting or webinar. If you save the chat to the cloud, it will only save chats that were sent to everyone and messages sent while you were cloud recording.

During the Event

Automatic Zoom and Microsoft Teams live captions

 Zoom and Teams now both offer automatic live captions for meetings. Live transcripts allow participants to see automatically generated captions and transcriptions of spoken audio in real-time during a meeting or webinar. As your meeting starts, don't forget to turn on live captioning and transcription. Transcriptions of a meeting can't be saved unless they are enabled by the host before the meeting. Remember, captions aren't just for those who have disabilities. They provide a better experience for those who have poor quality audio on their device, are non-native speakers of English and use captions to help understand the content, and those who are using public or noisy workspaces.

Accessible conversation

If at all possible, turn on your video and directly face the camera. Seeing the presenter can be helpful for those who read lips and also helps participants maintain attention. If other attendees will be speaking to the group, encourage them to identify themselves before speaking. This helps those who cannot see the video follow along with the conversation.

Be flexible with taking questions and use chat sparingly

Meeting participants can either post their questions in the chat window or use the raise hand feature. It's recommended to allow both methods to give attendees options. When answering questions in the chat window, make sure you read them out loud before answering so that attendees who can't visually see the chat can follow along with the conversation. Reading the question out loud also means that it will now show in the captions and appear in the transcript. Also, people using assistive technology may not be able to copy or click on links. All links should be read out loud or also included in a follow-up email after the meeting.

Since people using assistive technology may not be able to fully participate in chat, it is best to use it sparingly. 

Describe what is on the screen

Video presentations, PowerPoint, annotations, and screen shares during a virtual meeting can't be read by a screen reader. This means that any information a presenter doesn't say out loud is lost to someone who is using a screen reader or has low vision. When you are presenting or referring to something that is on your screen share, make sure that you are reading the most important points and being descriptive about any visual elements such as images and charts. 

After the Event

Posting a video recording of the meeting or event

If the video is going to be posted online, the video must have accurate captions and a text transcript posted with it. The transcript should include the event name and the name of any speakers.


Follow up email

When sending out a follow-up email to the participants, include a copy of the presentation materials if they were not already sent out before the meeting. Also include any links that were discussed in the chat along with the answers to any follow-up questions.