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Making Virtual Meetings and Events Accessible

Making Virtual Meetings and Events Accessible:
Tips, Tricks, and Reminders

This page is meant as a resource and as a supportive guide for tips, tricks, and things to keep in mind while planning and conducting accessible virtual meetings and events. It is by no means an all-encompassing guide for accessibility and language access, but it is meant as a supportive resource to get you thinking about what you may need to do, friendly tips to optimize accessibility features, and resources for your ongoing work.

If you need additional technical assistance in planning an accessible emergency/disaster-related meeting or event, please contact us.

General Best Practices

  • Provide accommodations like American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation and Communication Access Real-time Translation (CART) captioning without requiring people to request it. 
    • Ensure you promote the availability of provided accommodations, and how/by when people should send requests for other accommodations (such as Spanish language translation).
      • Example language: “ASL interpretation provided. If you require additional accommodations, please contact [insert contact person, email address, and phone number] by [insert date at least two weeks before the event date].”
    • Note: Zoom captions and other AI captioning services are not the same as CART captions as AI captions are frequently inaccurate.
  • Ensure all promotional materials are screen-reader accessible.

    • Ensure any images (for social media, for example) have accompanying image descriptions.
    • Note: Image descriptions and alt-text have slightly different purposes. You may need to use both.
      • Image descriptions are used for describing in words the visual details of an image that is placed in the body of a post or website that anyone can read.
      • Alt-text is describing in words the visual details of an image that is embedded within the image, which is only visible to screen readers.
  • For events, have at least one practice session with speakers and your access team, if possible.
  • If you are providing multiple accessibility/language access features, try to have a practice session with the interpreters ahead of the meeting/event. Practice as if you were conducting the meeting/event. This is especially helpful if you are engaging in language access practices that are new to you or are interpreting three or more languages.
  • Identify and make clear to the audience who will be/how to reach the primary contact for accessibility concerns/issues that arise during the event.
  • Prior to the meeting/event, send attendees any materials that will be shared/discussed during the meeting/event.
    • Ensure all materials are screen-reader accessible.
      • Reminder: Make sure to embed alt text in images and confirm the correct reading order of PDFs. (See resources below)

Information to Provide Language Access Providers Prior to the Event

  • Share all materials with the access team at least 2-7 days ahead of time.
  • Key materials include:
    • Any materials/documents that will be presented/used to present (e.g., slide decks, speaker’s notes, song lyrics, poem, etc.).
    • List of speakers’ names, pronouns, titles, organization/affiliation, and/or land acknowledgments.
    • List of commonly used phrases or words, especially if they are community-specific (i.e., people with disabilities, disabled people, multiply marginalized communities, access and functional needs, nothing about us without us, resilience, disability-led organization, etc.)
    • List of commonly used/anticipated acronyms (i.e., CMS, HHS, CDC, etc.) 
      • Note: Avoid using acronyms when speaking for everyone’s understanding.

Before the Event

  • Log on to the event platform at least half an hour early so presenters and the language access team have ample time for technology support and troubleshooting.
  • Before starting, ensure all presenters and/or interpreters are clearly lit and conduct sound checks to ensure their audio is working.
  • Encourage attendees to mute themselves or ensure the host mutes attendees who are not actively speaking to prevent excess background noise.
  • Encourage presenters and those who speak during the event to turn on their cameras when speaking; this will support participants who benefit from facial expressions and lip reading.

During the Event

For moderators:

  • Spotlight ASL interpreters and speakers.
    • Note: In pre-check, ask ASL interpreters if they’ll use periodic breaks for transition or if they will have their own process for switching (i.e. Do they need the presenter to pause for breaks.)
      • If they need pauses, ask how often and/or how that will be communicated to the presenter.
  • If sharing slides, inform attendees how they can adjust their Zoom screen to see slides and/or the sign language interpreters screen larger/smaller.
  • Add an external CART link in chat periodically at the beginning and when noticing new people join throughout.
    • Example language: To view the CART captions in a separate window click here: [enter link]
  • Make space to read chat questions/comments (or summarize chat posts and discussions, if appropriate).

For speakers:

  • Read all text on slides.
  • Describe any images on slides, including charts, tables, pictures, etc.
  • Avoid using acronyms for everyone’s understanding (i.e. say what acronyms mean instead of using the acronym).
  • If there are multiple speakers at the same time, say your name each time before speaking (i.e., This is Julia, to expand on what John said…”).

At the End of the Event

  • Remind people how to access presentation slides, transcript, materials, chat, etc.
  • [If recurring event or series] Remind people of the next session and instructions on registration (i.e., if it is the same Zoom link or to expect a new Zoom link for the next session).
  • Thank ASL interpreters, CART captioners, and any other language access provider.



Sample Opening Script

Hello, everyone, and welcome to the [organization’s name] “[webinar name]” webinar. My name is [name], and I’m [role] with [organization’s name]. I use [they/them, she/her, he/him, etc.] pronouns, and I am a [2-3 sentence visual description that briefly describes your physical features on screen and what you are wearing].

On the screen, you have a title slide text that reads “[Name of webinar].” [Describe anything else on the screen, including logos, speakers’ contact information, etc.]

I am first going to start with a few accessibility and technical support reminders, and then we’ll get started.

[Example language if you are recording/will share the recording/slides: First and foremost, this training is being recorded and an archive of today’s conversation will be available in the coming weeks. In addition to the recording, you will also receive an accessible slide deck of the presentation used today. Be on the lookout for these items in your email in the coming weeks.]

[Example language if you have captioning: Today, we have [CART/auto] captions available through [organization/provider]. [Share how to access the captions. Example language if on Zoom: “If you’re joining on your computer, you can access the captions via the “show captions” CC button on the navigation bar at the bottom of your Zoom screen. Click once to show subtitles on Zoom. You can edit the font size and text color via the “Subtitle Settings” button accessed via the small carrot within the CC button. A screenshot on screen shows the Zoom navigation bar that sits at the bottom of the screen with the “Show captions” button outlined.”]

[Example language if you have ASL interpretation and sharing screen: We also have American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation. Today’s ASL interpreters are [name] and [name], who have already been spotlighted. To adjust the size of the slides and speakers/interpreters in Zoom, drag the divider that separates them from the slides to the left or right.

If you can’t access the ASL interpreters, please let us know in chat. If the chat is not accessible to you, please email your questions to [email].]

To ask or respond to questions, [share how to engage with the event. Example language: please use the “raise your hand” button on the bottom of your Zoom screen, type in chat, or simply unmute yourself and jump in the conversation at an appropriate time. If the chat is not accessible to you, please email your questions to [email].]

Please raise your hand or type in chat for technical assistance or to alert us to an issue, such as letting us know to slow down.

Some friendly reminders regarding accessibility during this event:

  • Please identify yourself before speaking
    • “This is [name], and I was wondering…”
  • Please don’t talk over others and keep yourself on mute when not talking.
    • If you are having trouble with your mute button, we will help you mute.

Please define any acronyms you may use so we all are on the same page.



*Last Updated 3/18/24*

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