What makes a remote meeting platform accessible to people with disabilities? When evaluating options, you’ll want to consider these 4 elements to make sure your platform is accessible.

1. The platform is compatible with assistive technologies like screen readers

For a platform to be accessible, all users must be able to easily register and enter a virtual meeting. This includes users who navigate via screen readers and keyboard commands. They must be able to participate meaningfully with the communication and collaboration tools (listed below) that others in the meeting are using. And of course, these features need to be accessible for people playing various roles in the meeting, such as hosts, presenters, and attendees.

Check out the accessibility pages for the meeting platforms you’re considering. These pages highlight how the program can work with screen readers, among other accessibility functions. The end of this article links to helpful resources.

When evaluating your platform options, be sure to consider and test the accessibility of the specific features you plan to use. Key features may include:

  • File sharing
  • Screen sharing
  • Chat function
  • Digital whiteboard
  • Polling/interaction tools
  • Videos & multimedia
  • Communication and coordination between multiple speakers
  • Breakout room capability
  • Participant lists

2. The captioning is high-quality

Platforms with the highest-quality captioning integrate live captions seamlessly into the platform without the need for users to open a separate browser window. Meeting hosts can secure CART (communication access real-time translation) to play in a window adjacent to the speaker or presentation displayed on screen.

Some platforms include automatic captions by default. Automated captions have made impressive strides in recent years and are certainly better than no captions for on-the-fly meetings. However, it is a best practice to provide CART for accuracy, especially when a participant has requested it as an accommodation.

3. The meeting offers a dial-in number

All meetings need a 10-digit call-in number for access to relay service. Relay service enables text-telephone (TTY) users to communicate with standard voice telephone users through specially trained Relay Operators or captioners. Including a dial-in number also provides a reliable way for users with low-bandwidth to join.

4. Be an inclusive host

Even the best platform can only be as inclusive as its host. All hosts and presenters should receive training in the best practices for planning and running an inclusive meeting. Explore the following tipsheets for recommendations on how to plan and host an accessible meeting:

7 Steps to Make Your Virtual Presentations Accessible

Checklist for an Accessible Virtual Meeting & Presentation

The Next Steps: Researching and Working with Vendors

Any platform you are considering should provide a clear description of their accessibility features. The external links below offer a short list of opinions about some of the more common meeting platforms.

Once you’ve done your research, the article How to Pick an Accessible Meeting Platform offers tips for working with vendors through a successful procurement process.

External Reviews of Meeting Platforms

Virtual Meetings: Accessibility Checklist & Best Practices | American Bar Association

Which Video Conferencing Tools Are Most Accessible? | Claudio Luis Vera

Best video conferencing apps and software for accessibility | The Big Hack and Business Disability Forum

The importance of accessibility when using online meeting tools | Fable

Videoconferencing & Captioning Overview | Knowledge Base

Video Conferencing Platforms Feature Matrix | Hearing Loss Association of America