Are Your Virtual Meetings Accessible?
When it comes to building a new website, most companies have ADA compliance in mind. But what about online meetings? How do we make virtual meetings and events just as accessible as the websites on which we host them? In this blog we will give a quick description of the ADA. Additionally, we will provide some suggestions that will help make your virtual meetings and events more accessible.
What is the ADA?
The Americans with Disabilities Act, or the ADA, was created in 1990 to help people with disabilities access everyday aspects of life. A major aspect of life covered within the ADA is “places or public accommodation” which now includes the internet, as it is a place of business for many of us. The website compliance part of the Americas with Disabilities Act (section 508) says that your website is a place of public space just like a brick and mortar, and as a business, it needs to be accessible to anyone with a disability.
Giving participants the opportunity to prepare for meetings and events is important. Login information and passwords should be shared beforehand. When time permits, training on how to use platform features should also be provided prior to the meeting. Any extra accessibility steps that have been taken should also be shared with participants.
It is very important to make sure that the platform you are using is compatible with AAC and assistive technology. Using platforms that work alongside with screen reading software, magnifiers, voice amplification software, and text-to-speak systems is a great start.
Closed captions for speakers
Make sure to provide a closed captioning option for online meetings and events. Some platforms support live closed captioning while presenting. Other conferencing platforms offer a closed captioning tool that allows a designated participant to type the closed captions while the meeting is in process.
Video web conferencing is more popular than ever. Fortunately, platforms like KUDO can connect professional interpreters to meetings so that everyone can participate in their own language. This should always include Sign Language. While closed captioning is sometimes helpful, it does not provide full accessibility. Having a Sign Language interpreter allows those who are hard of hearing or deaf to participate more freely.
Text handouts (Hybrid)/ Digital download of the events documents
In a world of video conferencing, we sometimes forget the importance of supportive materials. Make sure to send important documents and a glossary of terms that will be used before your meeting to give participants time to review. For hybrid meetings, pass out physical copies of any graphics or important documents that will be discussed. You shouldn’t assume that the amount of time that you display a certain slide is enough for everyone. Reading speed and comprehensions vary. Furthermore, for those using Sign Language interpreters, receiving information via Sign Language and text at the same time could be taxing. Give your meeting participants time to go over documents beforehand.
Provide multiple ways for people to participate
An accessible meeting is one that allows participation from everyone. Participants should be able to participate via voice, text and visually. The more options you give for people to participate, the more engaging your meetings will be. It is also important to let participants know the format in which the meeting will be held beforehand. If your platform has multilingual capabilities like KUDO, make sure to connect interpreters to your meetings. This ensures that everyone can both follow and participate in the meetings in their own language.
Transcript for video and audio
If a meeting is accessible after it’s finished, adding transcript of the video and/or audio is important. This increases accessibility to your meetings and allows accurate closed captions to be added alongside your video for future viewing.
Accessibility is in KUDO’s DNA. Our mission is to ease communications by breaking language barriers. And with every new feature and addition to the KUDO platform, we keep accessibility in mind. When more people are able to access information and communicate with ease, true collaboration happens. And with collaboration comes innovation and progress.
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