Now that so many employees are working remotely, employers are seriously thinking about accessible meeting options. Whether your organization needs auto-captioning software or standing desks, there are many considerations when working to improve the accessibility of your online meetings.
Video and teleconferencing
Although video conferencing is a useful option for a busy office, it can be difficult to access for some employees. People living with hearing loss or deafness might find it hard to understand their colleagues over a video call, especially in lengthy meetings where "listening fatigue" kicks in.
Other groups who may have difficulties accessing a video conference include neurodiverse employees, employees with invisible disabilities, and those living with physical disabilities.
Some accessibility options you may need to provide include auto-captioning software, transcripts, standing desks, breaks or shorter meetings, adaptive computer mice, and more.
However, some employees may benefit from video and teleconferencing. Employees who are required to navigate public transportation or have difficulty accessing inaccessible facilities may prefer and appreciate conferencing capabilities more than others. Nevertheless, you may still have to provide accessible computers and/or telephone equipment to ensure everyone has the ability to access content.
Schedule time to talk through your employee's needs and expectations and work to identify solutions that make remote conferencing as accessible as other meeting options.
Google Docs, Slack, Trello, Asana, etc.
For employees who cannot easily access teleconferencing or video conferencing, you can make use of remote working apps like Google Docs, Slack, Trello, or Asana.
Working collaboratively on Google Docs is an excellent way to create documents or work on projects remotely, but it can also be used as a forum for meetings. It’s ideal for people who prefer to type, instead of talk, or employees with hearing difficulties. It’s also an excellent solution for non-verbal employees, too.
However, accessing popular apps like Slack, Trello and Asana can be a minefield for employees with disabilities. Assistive technology like screen readers and screen magnification software can help visually disabled employees access work tools online, and keeping meeting boards tidy, organized, and relevant will help neurodiverse employees or employees living with mental health conditions.
You can also use apps like Asana to provide text-based references to important information. This will serve all your staff, but it particularly helps out your deaf or hard-of-hearing employees.
Meeting accessibility for neurodiverse employees
Many neurodiverse employees value careful preparation and being fully aware of how things are going to pan out beforehand. You may need to stick to your plans quite firmly. Try not to make any major changes at the last minute.
Nevertheless, don’t assume your employees need anything in particular, as neurodiversity covers a wide range of disabilities, each of which has a vast spectrum. Everyone’s disability will affect them differently, and it’s always best to discuss any potential accessibility needs with individual employees in a confidential setting, rather than provide accessibility options they may not need.
Organizing accessible meetings can be challenging, but with our remote work and accessibility series to refer back to, you’re sure to find the next one easier. Most importantly, work closely with your employees to identify what they need instead of assuming one size fits all.
Accessibility.com is proud of our role in promoting accessibility and equal access while recognizing there is much work to be done. In response to the overwhelming interest in AccessibilityPlus 2021, and in celebration of National Disability Employment Awareness Month, Accessibility.com has extended conference capabilities to include more participants, insider free tickets are still available. For more information about the conference, speakers, and topics, please visit our AccessibilityPlus registration page.