Hosting Accessible Remote Meetings

Hosts can consider digital accessibility before, during, and after holding a remote meeting or event to ensure that all attendees, including those with disabilities, are able to participate and engage. The following tips will help hosts structure an inclusive and functional environment for all.

Before the Meeting

For live public events, we recommend issuing an accessibility statement to potential attendees. This statement should include:

  • Information on what participants can expect at the event (Will there be a small or large group of attendees? Is the event held via a Zoom webinar or a regular Zoom meeting? Can you only join the meeting audio via computer audio or can participants dial-in if they'd like?)
  • Information on in-meeting captioning provided (Are captions auto-generated or manually generated? If the method of captioning is manual transcription, is the captioning being done by a professional transcriptionist?)
  • Information on how to reach out if different accommodations are needed (If the stated method of captioning will not be adequate for prospective attendees, which office can they contact for an accommodations request? What is the best email address and telephone number to reach them?)

Example accessibility statement:

This event will have an expected attendance of 250-300 participants. It will be a regular Zoom meeting rather than a webinar. Participants will be able to join the meeting audio via computer audio or telephone (see meeting invite for dial-in number). Captioning will be provided via Zoom's auto-captioning feature. If different accommodations are needed, please contact [office hosting the event] at [office email address] or [office phone number] with your request.

If you’re holding a remote meeting or event for students, let them know well in advance that they can request accommodations from Student Accessibility Services (SAS). You can share the following information:

Student Accessibility Services (SAS) offers services to qualified students with documented physical, medical, visual, hearing, learning, or psychiatric disabilities. All student requests for accommodations must be directed to and evaluated by the SAS staff.

Please make your requests in a timely manner to give us time to arrange the necessary accommodations. To request a test accommodation, contact SAS early in the semester, well in advance of any exams.

Students with disabilities are not required to register with SAS. However, to receive accommodations, students must register with SAS and request them.

Students can learn more about the request process on the SAS website.

Non-student attendees to events who need accommodation should contact the office hosting the event to determine options.

All images, documents, videos, audio, and slides you plan to share should follow Emerson's accessibility guidelines. We recommend making this material available to attendees ahead of time.

  • See Digital Accessibility Resources at Emerson for guides that cover creating accessible images, documents, and videos.
  • Ancillary materials such as trailers and introductory videos should be captioned in advance of the meeting. See Creating Accessible Videos for guidance.
  • Share a copy of your slides with attendees in advance to allow them direct control over their access to information (to increase font size, magnify images, or invert colors as needed). The larger group experience may not be as accessible to them.
  • Remind all speakers to take a breath at regular intervals and not to speak too quickly or talk over each other. This can be difficult when there is lag in Zoom, so speaking more slowly than usual and pausing regularly is recommended.
  • Send third party services, including captioners and interpreters, the following information prior to the meeting:
    • An email the day before the meeting with a synopsis of any film being shown.
    • Vocabulary and names of all speakers, characters, cast, and crew.
    • Bios for speakers.
    • Any prepared questions.
    • The meeting’s or event’s agenda.
    • The meeting’s start and end times. In order to respect the captioner’s or interpreter’s time, keep to these times. Make these times clear when hiring the captioner or interpreter.
  • If your meeting will include ASL interpretation, hold a consultation with the interpreters prior to the meeting to discuss technical settings and procedures. Invite the ASL users to join this discussion.

During the Meeting

It’s important for both hosts and participants to be aware of Zoom’s accessibility features, including:

  • Zoom Keyboard Shortcuts
  • Customizable font size for chat and closed captions.
  • Screen reader support.
  • Automatic transcripts.
  • Rearrangeable gallery view.
  • Ability to spotlight and pin multiple videos.

Hosts may choose to provide live captions for their meeting when required or encouraged by the College or as an inclusive practice to make an event more accessible. Live transcriptions can either be generated automatically (by a computer) or manually entered by a human transcriber.

Automatic transcription should not be relied on for accessibility accommodations or public events. Instead, there are two possible practices for live-captioning an accessible event: provide manual captions in-house, or hire a captioning vendor. If ASL interpretation is needed, at least 2 ASL interpreters must be provided and consulted with in advance. See the decision table below to determine the best option for your meeting or event.

Use this table to determine how best to add captioning, transcription, or interpretation to your remote meeting or event. Follow the links to find instructions that fit your needs. Please note that the situations provided are not mutually exclusive; you may need to implement the items in more than one row.

I want to: Host needs to do this:

Enable automatic captions and transcription during a meeting and get an automatic transcript with the recording of the meeting.

Have human captioning and transcription for my event.

Have professional human captioning and transcription in my meeting for an accessibility accommodation.

Have ASL interpretation in my meeting.

After the Meeting

If a video recording of a live meeting or event is posted to a public-facing Emerson website or provided to students, the video must have closed captions as specified in Emerson's accessibility guidelines.

Zoom will automatically generate captions for recordings saved to the Cloud. If your video is for long-term use, it is recommended that you replace Zoom’s automatic captions with more accurate captions that include punctuation, speaker names, etc. You may provide corrected captions yourself or hire a vendor to provide human-generated captions.

See this guide for guidance on correcting captions and vendor recommendations:

Note: We recommend uploading your Zoom recordings to Panopto or YouTube if you want to keep them beyond their original semester, since recordings stored in the Zoom cloud will be deleted after 180 days.

Learn More

This guide was adapted with permission from Harvard University’s Digital Accessibility Services. Find the original guide here: "Hosting Accessible Remote Meetings and Events.”
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