To get started using Zoom, consult the CU Zoom Help page. The list below is a collection of information and tips on how to make Zoom meetings as accessible as possible for all participants, including participants with disabilities. Most functions in Zoom are user-friendly and are accessible to people who use assistive technology. There are, however, a few exceptions and best practices to be aware of.

Sound quality

Sound quality is important for all users and critical for people who are hard of hearing.

  • Reduce background noise: When speaking, ensure you are in a noise-free environment and stay close to the microphone. 

  • Mute participants who are not speaking: Especially in large meetings, all participants should be muted except for the person who is speaking. If participants are not consistently muting themselves, the host can mute individual participants in the Manage Participants panel. The host can also use the Mute All tool or the Mute Participants on Entry option to apply muting to multiple participants at once. The “Mute participants on entry” option can also be selected when scheduling the meeting. Let participants know that they have been muted upon entry and state expectations for how and when they should unmute themselves and participate.

Recording

You may wish to record a Zoom session, especially for participants who cannot attend or who don’t have a good internet connection. 

  • Choose where to store the recording: You can either record a meeting and save it to Zoom Cloud or save the file to your computer. One reason to store to the cloud is if you want your media transcribed. See the “Transcripts and Captioning” section, below, for more on this. 

  • Choose how to share the recording: Consider OIT’s Guidance for Storing Documents in the Cloud before selecting a platform to ensure adequate data security for the information contained in your video materials. Additionally, consult with the person you are sharing the media with to ensure they are comfortable using whichever platform you select.

    • If you chose to record in Zoom Cloud, you can share a direct link with anyone who needs access to the recording.

    • To share local Zoom recordings with students, it is best to upload them to Kaltura (“My Media”) in Canvas. See step 5 of the Zoom Record a Meeting guidance for instructions.

    • To share local recordings with faculty or staff, you can use the campus’s Large File Transfer service, Google Drive, or other similar media storage services. 

Chat

In-meeting chat can be very useful during meetings, including as a participation channel for people who are working in noisy environments. There are just a few things to keep in mind.

  • Share chat content through additional channels. Some participants may be unable to access or fully utilize chat. Participants who are calling in to a meeting will not be able to see or contribute to chat. Assistive technology users can access, read, and contribute to chat, but may be unable to activate links in the chat window. Finally, all users run the risk of losing important links or content from the chat if this information is not saved in some way.

    Recommendations:

    • If chat comments are being incorporated into a meeting, read the comments aloud as part of the meeting.

    • Send links from the chat to all participants by email before or after the meeting. 

    • Optionally, you can save the entire chat to your computer or the cloud, for your own reference or to share with others.

Screen sharing

Sharing your screen is a good way to display PowerPoints or other media, pull up an editable whiteboard, or walk participants through a process step-by-step. 

  • Verbalize what is on the screen. Participants who are calling in or have bad internet connections may be unable to see the screen. People who are blind or have low vision may also be unable to see the screen, and cannot read the screen-share contents using assistive technology. For the benefit of anyone who may be unable to see your screen, verbalize what is seen and the actions you are taking.

  • Share materials ahead of time. Send any materials you plan to display through screen sharing to your participants ahead of time. This allows everyone to access the materials and follow along even if they cannot see the screen share during the meeting.

Polling

There are creative ways to use the polling feature for participation during meetings or to survey participants. Hosts should keep these best practices in mind:

  • Ensure everyone can participate. The polling feature is accessible to people who use assistive technology. It is not usable, however, by people who are joining a meeting by phone. If you have participants joining by phone, offer an alternative way for them to send in feedback.

  • Alert participants when launching a poll. Notify participants verbally when you are launching a poll. This is especially helpful for assistive technology users as well as anyone who may not be looking at their screen. 

  • Give enough time. Allow plenty of time for participants to find and participate in the poll.

Breakout rooms

Breakout rooms can be used for small-group discussion and collaboration. 

  • Plan ahead for technical difficulties. Some devices and technical set-ups do not allow participants to join breakout rooms. See Zoom’s breakout room guidance for more information. Participants who cannot join breakout rooms can use the main room as an alternative space for discussion.

  • Pay attention to accommodations. If live captionists or ASL interpreters are present, make sure to assign them to the same breakout room as the participant receiving the live captioning or ASL interpreting.

  • Give participants the ability to record. If the Zoom session is being recorded for later review or captioning, the host will need to give participants the ability to record if the host will not be in the breakout room that needs to be recorded.

Transcripts and captioning for completed Zoom recordings

Some hosts find it helpful to review or share transcripts of Zoom sessions after the session is completed. Recorded sessions can also be captioned for later viewing.

  • Zoom recordings stored in Zoom Cloud can be machine-transcribed. The transcripts generated through this process will not be completely accurate, but the video owner can correct them for accuracy within the Zoom Cloud interface. Transcripts may be useful for a variety of viewers; for longer videos in particular, the interactive transcript tool in Zoom Cloud can help viewers jump to a specific part of the video they'd like to rewatch.

  • If your recording requires captioning to fulfill a student or employee accommodation request, Zoom Cloud’s machine-generated transcripts are not sufficient and you will need to work with the campus captioning service to send the video to a vendor for captioning. Please contact captioning@colorado.edu for guidance.

     

ASL Interpretation

ASL interpreters will need to join the call just like any other participant and share their video. Interpreters should have the Zoom application downloaded on their device before joining the call for best functionality. Interpreters do not need to log into Zoom with an Identikey.

Participants who wish to view the ASL interpreter should select “Pin Video” in the context menu (“...”), which is available by hovering over the interpreter’s video thumbnail. (Please note: Accessing the Pin Video feature currently requires the use of the mouse to hover. This issue is being reported to the vendor.)

The context menu for a participant showing the "Pin Video" option.

Students registered with Disability Services can arrange for ASL interpreting through their access coordinator. All other individuals can contact the campus ADA office to request ASL interpreting

Live captioning

For live captioning (or “real-time captioning”) provided by a person (not an automated service), there are two steps that are required in order to incorporate live captions into your Zoom session.

  1. The session host will need to enable closed captioning in their Zoom account

  2. Secondly, the captionist will need to be provided with a way to add captions to the Zoom meeting. There are two ways to do this. 

Students registered with Disability Services can arrange for live captioning through their access coordinator. All other individuals who need to arrange live captioning for an accommodation can contact the campus ADA office to request live captioning.

There are a variety of free or low-cost tools that can support DIY live captioning as well; please contact captioning@colorado.edu for more support.

Get Help or Provide Feedback

For questions or comments regarding accessibility in Zoom, please contact the CU Digital Accessibility Office at digitalaccessibility@colorado.edu. For general questions about Zoom, contact oithelp@colorado.edu or attend an Academic Technology Training.