Business as usual?
With the COVID-19 crisis not going away as soon as we would like, employees around the world have been depending more than ever on technology and virtual meetings to enable a sense of ‘business as usual’. Employees working remotely are realizing the value that face-to-face interactions have on the workplace and are utilizing virtual meetings at an increasing rate.
As working from home is becoming the new normal for many businesses, there are steps that should be taken to ensure that employees & clients have equal access in the virtual workplace and that everyone is able to access all virtual meetings necessary.
How can you make virtual meetings work for everyone?
Technology would work the same for everyone in a perfect world, however, as we all know, 2020 especially has proven that our world is far from perfect. People living with permanent or temporary vision, hearing or motor disabilities may require special accommodations to participate in virtual meetings.
Follow these tips to ensure that your next meeting is as accessible as possible:
- Choose a meeting platform provider that offers accessibility features such as https://zoom.us/accessibility, or be sure to ask ahead of time if anyone attending requires any specific accommodations: Most common issues require closed-captioning, keyboard accessibility, transcripts, screen reader support or magnification tools.
- Plan ahead and send meeting invites in plenty of time for people to prepare and to reach out to let you know of any issues they may have regarding accessibility of the meeting.
- Ensure your meeting invitation and any text used in documents for the meeting are large and easy to read.
- Avoid low color contrast on essential graphics used.
- Ask that all attendees participate from a quiet location with minimal noise in the background
- Presenters should clearly identify themselves and speak slowly and close to their microphone so that the attendees can hear well. Do not move around while talking.
- Presenters should enable the attendees to see a video with a clear view of the speakers face at all times.
- Only one speaker at a time.
- Describe any visuals used if screen share is being provided in case the user is not able to see the screen.
- Read out loud any important comments that come through on the chat screen for those unable to access the chat.
- Take time occasionally to recap any critical information and to make sure everyone is understanding what is being discussed rather than saving all questions for the end.
- Record all meetings and share the recordings along with a transcript or additional notes once the meeting is completed for those who missed out on some of the information.
- Ask for feedback on how you can improve your meetings.
Remember – Accessibility applies to businesses of ALL sizes
Accessibility improves the ease of use for everyone, not just the disabled. No matter what size of business you have, you must be accessible with all means of communications. You never know who is wanting to know more about you, and you need to make sure that anyone interested in what you have to share is able to access your information. That means not just your website, but all forms of communications such as your virtual meetings & classes as well.
Think about it, there is no reason not to want to be accessible. It allows any and all users to access your information, increases SEO, AND boosts your brand image. Who doesn’t want that?
“Businesses that integrate accessibility are more likely to be innovative, inclusive enterprises that reach more people with positive brand messaging that meets emerging global legal requirements.”
Learn more about Accessibility
- What is accessibility and why does it matter?
- Understanding website accessibility regulations
- Have you considered an Accessibility Audit?
- Accessibility is NOT just for people with disabilities
- Understanding Website Accessibility in 2020
LATEST ACCESSIBILITY UPDATE (January 2020): Due to the proposed updates to ADA regulations being officially withdrawn by the DOJ, there is no set date to enforcing that the WCAG 2.1 Guidelines be turned into a testable set of requirements. However, if your business provides a “place of public accommodation”, it will be required to be made accessible to all people sooner or later. It is best to start the process now, before there are legal requirements and deadlines. Learn more about US accessibility policies.