In today’s world, virtual meetings have become more and more common. In fact, since COVID, meetings held over Zoom and other platforms are more frequent than gatherings held in person. And, while the technology that allows for these types of interactions is great, event organizers must realize they need to take extra steps to make their online meetings more accessible.
Keep in mind that people have all kinds of unique needs and disabilities. Plus, online communication is different than face-to-face, in person communication. Thus, you can’t just send out a meeting link, say what you need to say, and then pat yourself on the back. Instead, you need to carefully plan to meet the needs of all attendees, which you can do by following these three easy accessibility tips.
Tip #1: Choose the Right Platform
First things first, it’s hard to hold accessible virtual meetings if you don’t have a platform that supports them. Thus, choosing the right platform is vital.
A good platform will make accessibility possible by offering features, such as navigation shortcuts and compatibility with screen readers, that help and empower those with various, disability-related needs.
Zoom and Microsoft Teams, in particular, are known for being quite accessibility-friendly. However, there are plenty of other good platforms out there. Just make sure you carefully research any platform you plan to use and that you ensure it has the accessibility features you and your team need.
Tip #2: Offer Offline Options
While it might seem like everyone has reliable internet and a fast computer, tablet, or phone, that’s not necessarily the case. Plus, accessing these resources and then using them can be difficult for people with certain disabilities. Thus, when you host virtual events, make it easy for everyone to participate in a way that works best for them.
For example, you can offer the choice to dial-in by phone to a meeting. That way, no internet is required, and the person can still hear what’s happening.
Or, you might want to look into offering equipment, such as company laptops or assistive devices, to those who express a need. And, it definitely never hurts to offer access to recordings of meetings or downloadable documents that go over what you’ve covered. These will help people who miss out on something due to their disability, as well as anyone who needs to double-check or refresh themselves on key information.
Tip #3: Cut the Chat
Finally, when you host virtual meetings, try and use the chat feature as little as possible and encourage participants to do the same.
While chatting via typing may be a quick way to communicate questions or interact with people, it can cause some problems for those with various disabilities. People who struggle with focus, for example, may be distracted by the constantly-moving chat box. And, for those who use screen readers, having to hear chats read over the presenter’s information can lead to confusion and frustration.
This isn’t to say that the chat feature should be outright banned, but it should definitely be used minimally and with caution and consideration.
Learn More About Accessibility from Van Products
These tips can help to make any virtual meeting more successful and equitable. But, they barely scratch the surface when it comes to the needs of the disabled.
If you’d like to learn more about accessibility, important accessibility products, and the best ways to support a disabled person, then don’t hesitate to reach out to Van Products. We are a leading supplier of top-of-the-line mobility and accessibility products as well as new and used wheelchair accessible vans.