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Conducting accessible virtual events & meetings

This page discusses accessibility features and tips for web conferencing tools authorized for use at Ryerson. Follow these best practices to ensure your virtual meetings and lectures are as accessible as possible for everyone, including people with disabilities.

This page is intended to complement the following guide on conducting virtual meetings.

Best practices

Accommodations 

Before the meeting takes place, ask meeting participants if they have any accessibility requirements to ensure their inclusion. It is the responsibility of the meeting organizer/host to accommodate these requests. 

  • If you need support arranging accommodations, please contact accessibility@ryerson.ca
  • If you are an instructor, Academic Accommodation Support will coordinate any known student accommodations with you.

Sound quality

Sound quality is important for all users, especially for people who are hard of hearing. It's recommended that all participants use headphones when possible. Encourage participants to mute their microphone when they are not speaking.

Screen sharing and speaking

  • If sharing materials on screen, concisely verbalize any: images, graphs, videos with no sound, images that spark a laugh, and/or any actions you are taking. 
    • This will benefit participants who are calling in, have bad internet connection, or people who are blind and unable to see the screen.
    • This will also benefit people who are D/deaf or hard of hearing working with an ASL interpreter. Often times it's difficult to split focus between a shared screen and the interpreter.
  • Speak clearly and avoid speaking too fast, so participants and sign language interpreters can better understand you and follow along. If there are multiple presenters, announce who is speaking each turn.
  • Do not mute your webcam when speaking, as people who are D/deaf or hard of hearing may be able to lip read.

Share materials in advance

Consider sharing your slides or any complementary materials in advance.

  • This gives your audience the opportunity to follow along or take additional notes. Your audience will also be less likely to miss any words or terminology when listening, allowing them to better comprehend the presentation.
  • People with low vision can zoom in or adjust the slideshow to their personal viewing preferences. 
  • People who are blind can follow along with a Braille display or with a screen reader and earbuds.
  • People who are D/deaf or hard of hearing will often review the slides ahead of time, because they may be focused on the interpreter during the session.

Learn how to create accessible slideshows or accessible documents.

Recording meetings

Consider recording your Zoom or Google Meet sessions, as it provides flexibility for participants who cannot attend or who don't have a good internet connection. It also gives participants the opportunity to pause the recording, playback and review, or make notes. It's recommended to share audio and video using Google Drive.

Real-time automated captioning summary

For smaller classes and meetings, we recommend using Google Meet which includes real-time automated captioning.

Zoom does not currently support real-time automated captioning. The easiest way to provide some form of real-time captioning is to present with Google Slides or PowerPoint (Office 365). This method will only caption audio from the person sharing their screen or slideshow. This does not work for multiple speakers or discussions.

Accurate captioning of at least 99% accuracy is the only way to ensure that people who are D/deaf or hard of hearing can understand audio content. Automatic captions should never be used as a substitute for captions or ASL interpreting.

Using a paid captioning service

Students registered with Academic Accommodation Support can arrange for live captioning through their Student Accommodation Facilitator. All other individuals who need information or assistance to arrange live captioning for an accommodation, please contact accessibility@ryerson.ca.

  

Zoom

Zoom is best for teaching-related web conferencing, especially where an integrated whiteboard and breakout sessions are required.

  • If using the polling feature, be sure to verbalize the launch and results of the poll. This ensures participants who use assistive technology and participants that are calling in are aware of what’s happening.
  • Give participants enough time to participate in the poll, or offer alternative ways for participants to provide feedback.

View Zoom accessibility FAQs., external link

Zoom does not have real-time, automatic captioning. If you are a meeting host and there is a known accommodation, please read Using a paid captioning service below. Alternatively, when you are screen sharing:

Please note: this method will only caption audio from the person sharing their screen or slideshow. This works best when there is only one speaker. This does not work for multiple speakers or discussions. If using this method, repeat any questions from the audience to have the question captioned. 

Using a paid captioning service

Students registered with Academic Accommodation Support can arrange for live captioning through their Student Accommodation Facilitator. All other individuals who need information or assistance to arrange live captioning for an accommodation, please contact accessibility@ryerson.ca.

  • Live captioning vendors join the meeting just like any other participants. If you are a host or co-host, click on “Closed Captioning” and click on “Copy the API token”. Share the API token with the captioning vendor. For more information, visit using closed captioning in Zoom., external link

Automatic transcription for Zoom Cloud recordings

Meetings recorded to the Zoom Cloud are automatically transcribed. The transcription will be available after the recording. Learn more about Zoom Cloud Recordings and automatic transcription.

Students registered with Academic Accommodation Support can arrange for ASL interpretation through their Student Accommodation Facilitator. All other individuals who need information or assistance to arrange ASL interpretation, please contact accessibility@ryerson.ca.

Meeting hosts

ASL interpreters join the meeting just like any other participant. Interpreters should have the Zoom client downloaded for best functionality. 

  • If you are a Zoom host and are expecting ASL interpreters (outside of Ryerson), do not enable the “Only authenticated users can join” option.
  • Spotlight the interpreter, so they are consistently visible to participants and captured in recordings. Learn how to spotlight video in Zoom., external link
  • If using the breakout rooms feature, make sure to assign interpreters to the same breakout room as the participant receiving the live captioning or ASL interpreting.

Participants

  • If you are a participant, you can pin the interpreter’s video in Zoom. There are also options to pin videos on separate screens if you have more than one monitor. Learn how to Pin a Video in Zoom., external link

If you are viewing a shared screen, you can also switch to Side by Side Mode to adjust the preview of both speaker and the shared screen.

Zoom supports Keyboard Shortcuts, external link for easy navigation, and is compatible with screen readers such as NVDA, JAWS, VoiceOver, and Android Talkback.

Google Meet

Google Meet is recommended for smaller team meetings, administrative, highly sensitive and other web conferencing. Google Meet also works great for smaller class sizes.

Google Meet has real-time, automatic captions that can be enabled by clicking on the “CC” button. 

Limitations of closed captioning in Google Meet

  • Closed captioning is not available when live streaming.
  • It is not possible to save the automatic captions or transcript of the meeting. 
  • If you record a video meeting, captions are not recorded and don't appear when you play the recording.
  • Although the accuracy and efficiency of the technology is always improving, it does not offer 100% accuracy. Therefore, it is not recommended to use this feature as a substitute for remote (live) captioning or ASL interpreting.

Using a paid captioning service

Students registered with Academic Accommodation Support can arrange for live captioning through their Student Accommodation Facilitator. All other individuals who need information or assistance to arrange live captioning for an accommodation, please contact accessibility@ryerson.ca.

Google Meet does not support third-party captioning natively within the Google Meet interface. Captions would instead be provided by the vendor in a separate browser window.

Students registered with Academic Accommodation Support can arrange for ASL interpretation through their Student Accommodation Facilitator. All other individuals who need information or assistance to arrange ASL interpretation, please contact accessibility@ryerson.ca.

ASL interpreters join the meeting just like any other participant.

Google Meet supports Keyboard Shortcuts, external link for easy navigation, and is compatible with screen readers such as NVDA, JAWS, VoiceOver, and Android Talkback.