Technology December 17, 2021
Top 5 accessible video conferencing platforms for people with disabilities globally
The sudden switch to work from home post the COVID-19 pandemic has underlined the importance of digital accessibility at work – wherever that work takes place. Here are the Top 5 video conferencing platforms that are enabling people with disabilities to do that.
Google Meet is accessible to screen reader and keyboard users. People with disabilities can participate in Google Meet video meetings using accessibility features in Meet, Chrome Browser, and Google meeting room hardware.
Among the accessibility features available are Live Captions, Screen Readers, Magnifiers, and Keyboard Shortcuts.Users can control the camera and microphone and open accessibility features using the keyboard. Meet also offers automatic captions that benefit people who are hard-of-hearing.
Much of the world has turned to Zoom not just for work but also schoolwork, social meet ups, even exercise classes! It seems to be a favourite in the disability community for its reputation for providing consistently high access.
Among the accessibility features are Support for Closed Captioning, Hotkeys and Shortcuts, Screen Reader Support, and Automatic Transcription. Zoom supports closed captioning for its live meetings through several different methods.
Microsoft Teams is designed for people of different abilities. It gives everyone an opportunity to work together and levels the playing field. The accessibility features of Teams are available on desktop and the mobile app. Video calls can include hundreds of participants.
Among the popular features are Live Captions, Translation feature in chat, Zoom feature, Zooming presented content while a meeting, Use of Dark mode or High Contrast Mode, Immersive Reader, Voice Message, Shortcut Keys and Voicemail: Speech to Text.
Microsoft Teams helps me stay connected with my team and I can do all the activities seamlessly with them. With Teams, I conduct trainings, organise meetings, engage in group discussions and even carry out polls. It offers lots of keyboard shortcuts to make use of its wide range of features. Teams is compatible with different screen readers. – Priti Rohra, Chief Accessibility Officer, BarrierBreak
Slack is a popular app for threaded work chat that offers the ability to interact with a fellow member in a video call. You can have spontaneous video chats too. The app is used by many Fortune 100 companies and is available on every major platform and iOS and Android devices.
The iOS and Android apps have been tailored to work well with screen reading and magnification tools. Buttons and controls are labelled, and a variety of low-vision options. The large bold buttons are helpful for low vision users.
“Slack is accessible as it can be used to set up meetings and have calls”, says Raghavendra S Peri, a CPWA certified accessibility consultant and Product Manager (Accessibility) at Deque Software, India. Peri is a person with a vision impairment. “Initially I found it difficult to use but since early 2020 I have been using it extensively. I can read threads and participate in them. It can be daunting when you are in a large group it lets you be a part of many channels”.
Webex by Cisco
Webex has become popular after its integration with Cisco’s on-site video conferencing equipment. It offers mixed levels of accessibility for users of different abilities.
For users who are low vision, Webex’s integrations are quite useful. For deaf and hard-of-hearing users there is a media viewer window where a person can type what is being spoken during a meeting. There are transcription services for recorded meetings. The bold design is effective for low vision users.
Since the start of pandemic, developments in accessibility have accelerated. Major product updates and announcements are happening on a regular basis. One thing to remember is to diligently update your software on a regular basis. Or enable auto-updates on your device. Sometimes a software update can fix a serious accessibility issue.
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