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Disability types and access strategies

Visual disabilities

Attendees with visual disabilities can’t perceive content presented visually, including most PowerPoint or other presentations. And not just the blind–you need to consider low-vision and colorblind attendees as well.

Points to consider: 

  • Attendees may be using a screen reader simultaneously.
  • Chat features are a challenge for non-visual attendees.

Accessibility tips:

  • Don't use color alone for meaning.
  • Provide your attendees with the meeting materials in advance of the meeting.
  • If appropriate, explain where you are in the presentation, such as "now on slide 7 we see…"

Attendees with auditory disabilities

Attendees with auditory disabilities (Deaf and hard of hearing) will need help with the audio portion of the meeting.

Accommodations that you may need to provide include:

  • Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART): Captions by a live person
  • ASL interpreters: Interpreter appears in their own video window
  • Telecommunications relay service (TRS): Used with a dial-in number
  • Auto captions: Better than they used to be but still not 100% accurate

Attendees with motor skills disabilities

Attendees with motor skills disabilities are not just people in wheelchairs. Some of your attendees might have arthritis, a broken arm, etc. As a presenter, you need to ensure full participation in your meeting without requiring the use of a mouse. 

Be mindful of the following: 

  • Ensure that the meeting platform software you are using is keyboard accessible (most major platforms meet this requirement). Also, ensure that any secondary software used is keyboard compatible such as polling or other external software. 
  • The use of chat features, polling, etc., may not be easy to switch back and forth in an attendees view.
  • Be careful of any team building, and icebreaker-type activities that require physical movement.

Attendees with cognitive disabilities

Cognitive disabilities are a wide spectrum which includes autism, dyslexia, social anxiety disorder, and numerous others. Attendees with cognitive disabilities may have trouble interacting with your meeting, especially within large groups.

Consider the following: 

  • Allow for questions in advance that can be read by a facilitator. 
  • Avoid icebreakers and team exercises.
  • Provide post-meeting transcripts.
  • Be aware that large group participation can be challenging.