Creating Accessible Virtual Meetings, Part 2: Meeting Participation

Written in partnership with Elizabeth Ralston, MPH, Consultant

This is part 2 of the series we began with tips for marketing and planning logistics for accessible virtual meetings. In light of October’s Disability Awareness Month and the continuing needs of the community, we are sharing these resources to encourage folks to be more inclusive in their meetings every month of the year!

It’s time to host your meeting! Here are things to consider as you facilitate participation in your virtual meeting:

Is everyone able to actively engage during the meeting?

  • If there are fewer than 8 people, try to have your video on as much as possible as it helps people with disabilities follow who is talking and be able to lipread and see facial cues. If there are more than 8 people, it becomes distracting and more difficult to follow. However, if people are speaking, encourage them to turn their video on when it is their turn to speak.
Example of a shared screen
Example of what it looks like when you spotlight a presenter and interpreter while sharing a slide presentation. Credit: Tina Childress, Au.D., CCC-A
  • The first time you introduce yourself, state your pronouns and include a physical description, e.g. Hello, I am Josie! I am Black and have short black hair with a white hat. I am wearing bright red lipstick and a black and white striped shirt. I am sitting in front of a bookshelf.” Simple actions like this can really help a person with low vision have an image of who is speaking and sets the tone for making feel included as part of the meeting. It also helps the captioner and interpreter track the conversation.
  • Every time you begin talking, say your name so that it is clear for anyone tracking the conversation to know who is speaking (e.g. someone with cognitive disabilities or who is blind or low vision).
  • Describe the content on your slides to benefit anyone calling in or people who are blind or low vision. Images need to be described out loud as people who are blind and low vision may not be able to see the screen.
  • Allow time for people with disabilities to respond to questions and have the opportunity to share thoughts. Sometimes it takes them longer because they are looking at the captions, interpreter, screen reader, are nonverbal or have cognitive issues that prevent them from responding more quickly.
  • Encourage use of chat box or Q & A to ensure everyone can participate. This also allows people who are nonverbal to share their thoughts—the moderator, host or facilitator should be sure to read those aloud.
  • Be sure to describe any visuals that are not audio described before a video is shown and make sure it is captioned. More on audio descriptions in the video below:

Want even more help to begin or grow on your inclusive journey? Check out the resources below!

Additional Resources:

Chicago Cultural Accessibility Consortium: Leading Accessible Virtual Programs

King County TV: How to Host Online Meetings