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Online meetings

When hosting meetings or teaching classes using an online meeting platform such as Zoom, there are several issues to keep in mind in order to ensure the meeting is accessible to all participants.

Practical strategies

Some of the most effective strategies for ensuring online meetings are accessible are not technical strategies. They involve simple practices such as the following:

  • Distribute slides and all other materials to attendees in advance.
  • Clearly state the meeting agenda up-front, including which features of the meeting tool will be used.
  • Ask meeting participants to state their name each time they speak.
  • Create pauses during and between activities, so students who are taking notes, students with slow Internet bandwidth, or students using captions or sign language interpreters can catch up.
  • Don’t say “click here” if demoing something on the shared screen. Not everyone can see what you’re referring to. Students might be blind or have low vision, writing notes, looking at the textbook, or dealing with a notification that popped up that they haven’t figured out how to turn off. Instead, specifically identify what you are clicking on.

The following UW resources include a variety of additional tips:

Captions and sign language

Students from the Deaf or Hard of Hearing community depend on live captions or sign language interpreters in order to access the spoken content of an online meeting.  At the UW, these services are coordinated through Disability Resources for Students on behalf of matriculated students who require accommodations, or through the Disability Services Office for employees or visitors to UW functions. Please contact either of these offices to learn how to request these services.

Other meeting participants can benefit from captions as well, both of live meetings and recorded meetings.  For additional information, see the following pages:


The following pages on the current website specifically address accessibility within Zoom:

Accessibility of online meeting tools

Most of the tools used at the UW to support online teaching and learning have help pages that document their keyboard shortcuts (especially helpful for meeting participants who are unable to use a mouse) and provide step-by-step instructions for using the tools with assistive technologies such as screen readers.  Instructors and meeting hosts should become familiar with these resources and be ready to share them as needed with meeting participants.