As so many of us have shifted our professional communications online, we suggest 3 ways to make video conferencing more accessible for everyone.

It’s fair to say that, for many of us, the shift to digital working has proved challenging. Adapting to a new way of working is never easy, not least having to deal with a pandemic at the same time.

But as we’re now used to attending daily Skype meetings, participating in Zoom webinars and chatting with colleagues on Google Hangouts, we need to ensure that we’re making our conversations as accessible as possible.

Two dogs pretending to have a Zoom meeting

When we think about accessibility, we rightly tend to think about accessibility for those who are blind, visually impaired, deaf and hard of hearing. This is, of course, absolutely essential to address.

But there are also other crucial considerations to make when aiming for accessibility in video conferencing, both during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

Here are 3 easy-to-implement solutions that we suggest:

Infographic outlining the 3 ways to make video conferencing more accessible

1. Live captioning

Group meetings and live events can be fast-paced and noisy. What’s more, WiFi is notoriously unreliable and audio can often cut out or muffle. This is can make it tricky to follow important discussions, particularly for those team members who are hard of hearing, aren’t native English speakers or are juggling children in the background.

Integrating live captioning into your video conferencing, webinar or live stream can ensure that nobody misses a detail. This function is available on most major video conferencing platforms.

But don’t be tempted to rely on the platform’s built-in automatic captions. Whilst quick and convenient for informal discussions, automatic captions can prove majorly detrimental for work-related discussions. They don’t guarantee accuracy for those who require them the most, and they can become more of a distraction than a help.

For best results, partner with a live captioning expert who has the experience, resources and professional stenographers on board to be able to make a success of your live events and online meetings.

2. Transcription

Group conversations can move rapidly and, as accessible music organisation Drake Music points out, this pace can be inaccessible to some people.

On top of this, with so many of us working at home and facing varying distractions, it can be easy to miss out key points of a discussion.

Person holding up phone with Skype app open.

One solution that we suggest is providing a full transcription of your meeting for participants to access. This means that team members can recap key points afterwards at their own pace, make notes and ask follow-up questions if needed.

Your live captioning partner should be able to create this transcript for you as part of their service. Alternatively, you can ask for a transcript-only service.

3. Audio Description

One useful feature of video conferencing is the ability to share and present multimedia within the meeting itself.

However, when you share visually-led video or presentation content, it can be tricky for those who are blind and visually impaired to fully participate in a team discussion.

Person with headphones on

Ensure that you briefly describe any visual elements of content shared within the meeting. What’s more, you should integrate Audio Description into any video you share to take the visual details and make them accessible to everyone.

Article written by Sofia Ellen Lewis, VoiceBox contributor

Want help making your video conferencing more accessible? You’ve come to the right place. Get in contact with a member of the VoiceBox team today for a quote.

Sofia Ellen Lewis
Sofia Ellen Lewis

Since graduating from University of Bristol in 2018 with a First in Italian and Spanish BA, Sofia has gone on to become a skilled translator, content writer and digital marketer. Sofia has a passion for storytelling and has also recently dipped her toe into journalism. A self-proclaimed language nerd, she is always looking for suggestions on which language to learn next.