Accessible remote communication utilizes similar principles as web accessibility. Following are some tips that can help you provide an equivalent experience for all members of your audience. If accommodations are required for students, please contact Services for Students with Disabilities for more information.
Early and clear Communication is key
- The first step is transparency: Letting people know what to expect, either via email, social media posts, etc. so they know whether they will need a special accommodation.
- Prominently display contact information for requesting assistive technology or for asking questions.
Other things to share ahead of time
- Any additional documents you’ll be sharing (make sure docs are accessible) PowerPoint slides, PDFs, Charts etc. Assistive Technologies can’t read PowerPoint when they are in a Zoom window but viewers can read along on their own computers if the are provided the file.
- Share information about the main and additional technology you will be using. Example: Zoom Hand Raising Tool (for asking questions), if closed captioning will be available, share any special hotkey instructions.
Zoom Hand Raising Tool
- Any other rules or means of engaging everyone in the conversation
Think about what sort of basic functions of the technology you are using might be useful to accessible guests, such as break out rooms, real-time chat, polls and surveys, file sharing.
Standard statements and practices
- Is a dial in phone number available? This is useful for TDD (deaf or hard of hearing) and blind descriptive relay services.
- Hosts and Co-hosts, who are presenting or moderating, should have a standard opening script that explains accessibility options such as a dial in number, a cloud service for the documents, and where, where to view CC, chat availability, and when transcripts will be available.
- It is good to have moderators to handle any off the cuff accessibility requests, issues, asking questions, etc.
Hosts and Co-hosts should act as their own alternative text for visual elements:
For example, you don’t need to read a literal word for word of a chart or graph says but the information it conveys: Instead of “see this chart about the number people with disabilities”, say “This chart describes that 1 in 5 adults in the United States report a disability, while in specific states such as Minnesota it is 1 in 6 adults, and 1 in 3 in Alabama”
All the standard web accessibility accommodations still apply to remote communications/webinars, such as don’t use very small text, use proper Color Contrast, Plain language (free of jargon), or confusing and/or cluttered visualizations.
Close Captioning (CC)
For general CC guidelines visit our close captioning instruction page.
Auto Close Captioning
While auto captioning technology has improved it is still prone to some bizarre errors. That being said auto captioning is better than no captioning at all.
The following platforms support Auto CC: Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Panopto, Google Hangouts, Discord, TeamViewer, YouTube Live, Twitch and Twitter Periscope.
Real-Time Close Captioning
- Live Auto-captioning in UT Austin Zoom
- Zoom has an option for a designated typists (in your office) to type along with the hosts and co-hosts.
- Texas Closed Captioning is used for University Events such as Commencement, State of the University and football and basketball events.
- Zoom and Adobe Connect can share their API with a for pay CART Service (Communications Access Real Time) that provide real time Close Captioning (CC). Contact the campus UT American Sign Language and CART Services
For all Zoom options, a transcript is available as a .txt file, after the presentation is over.
The Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA) which is administered by the FCC, requires all two-way voice communication and video conferencing to be accessible.
If you are using these remote and video tools for instruction and teaching, please visit the Faculty Affairs site to learn more from the Office of Instructional Continuity and Innovation.