With telework comes the importance of ensuring that your meeting platforms support full accessibility for people with disabilities. Luckily, the process for selecting an accessible meeting platform matches the process for choosing any other technology.
The key to success is to address accessibility requirements from the start. Incorporate accessibility into the procurement process, and then make sure to evaluate what technology providers promise and how they deliver.
Research the Options
First, evaluate the accessibility features of the meeting platforms you already use, and the technical specifications for accessibility that you want to meet. Start by reading “4 Elements of an Accessible Meeting Platform” to learn the essential features you should evaluate, and where to find accessibility reviews for some of the more common meeting platforms.
Any platform you are considering should provide a clear description of their accessibility features. The following websites describe accessibility features for several commonly used platforms for webinars, virtual conferences, and other collaborative activities:
- Adobe Connect
- Google G Suite
- Microsoft Teams
- Slack (keyboard accessibility, screen reader accessibility)
- Workplace by Facebook
Plan Your Procurement
Of course, you can’t always assume that a platform’s marketed accessibility features are sufficient to facilitate a fully inclusive virtual meeting. Consider how your organization can follow these important steps for procuring and using accessible meeting platforms:
- Set your procurement priorities at the start of the process.
- Request a VPAT and conduct comprehensive testing—if you haven’t already taken these steps. After testing, utilize the test results to help vendors remediate any issues.
- Use strategies outlined in PEAT’s Buy IT! Guide to adopt a process for ensuring that any future technology you purchase adheres to best practices for accessibility. For example, the tool includes model procurement language that you can integrate into your contracts to ensure your vendors will have an obligation to remediate any accessibility issues that may arise.
- Once you’ve completed the purchase, ensure that you provide staff training sessions to all employees on digital accessibility basics. These basics should include primers on how to plan and host an accessible remote meeting with specific guidance on the accessibility features of your selected platform.
- If you need other targeted assistance, PEAT also provides guidance on how to hire accessibility professionals and user testers.