7 Ways to Design Inclusive Meetings For People With Disabilities

May 19 is Global Accessibility Awareness Day, which is meant to promote digital accessibility and inclusion for people with all disabilities. But just how can you ensure that your workplace is more inclusive, especially with more companies adopting hybrid work? Here are 7 ways that you can do so:

1. Make your presentations more accessible

Visual complexity and low contrast text can make it harder for anyone to absorb the information in your deck, but especially for people who are blind, have low vision or have a cognitive impairment. When making presentation slides, create clear, simple slides without overcrowding them with too many graphics or too much text. And make sure your audience can read your text by presenting it on a background with a high contrast ratio.

2. Include alternative text and captions across communications that have images, drawing or diagrams

Alternative text, or “Alt text” for short, describes the appearance and function of an image on a page. It makes graphics accessible to people who rely on screen readers.

  1. To add alt text in Google Slides and Docs, select the object, then open the context menu (right click, or Ctrl+Shift +\ on ChromeOS, or ⌘+Shift+\ on Mac), then select Alt text.
  2. When you include an image on Docs or an email on Gmail, simply click on the image and click “Edit alt text” to add descriptive captions that explain what an image shows.

3. Write with accessibility in mind

When creating slides or documents, avoid small fonts and relying on visual cues to convey information. Always use text along with any visual elements. To help screen reader users understand the content on a page, make sure to use proper headings to indicate new sections rather than just making the font bigger or bolder. Headings affect how screen readers navigate. Plus, keep in mind that jargon and acronyms can be challenging for people with learning disabilities to understand.

4. Use informative link text

Screen readers can scan for hyperlinks, so informative link text helps users save time. Think about what you want someone to know about the link. Be descriptive and avoid only hyperlinking the word “here.”

5. Use real-time closed captions (CC) in slides and GVC

Speak at a slow, conversational pace and turn on your camera so that people can read your lips. You should also provide captions for all audio or video recordings shared in the presentation or during a meeting. If you’re using YouTube, check that automatic captioning is accurate.

6. Create an inclusive meeting environment to help people speak up

Avoid only relying on visual cues such as hand gestures or audio cues like clapping to facilitate discussions. On Google Meet and Zoom, the Raise My Hand can be helpful to use during meetings because it creates a speaker queue to prevent people from interrupting each other. Also, keep in mind that some paicipants may need more time to formulate their input.

7. Share content ahead of time

Whenever possible send out the agenda, process, notes doc and any other relevant materials in advance of a meeting. This gives meeting paicipants a chance to review it and make any necessary arrangements to accommodate their needs and preferences.

 

Besides the seven points shared above, do explore online tools such as Google’s updated TalkBack, improved Select-to-Speak and the creation of Project Relate that help improve the way people with disabilities communicate. All we need is a little more mindfulness and inclusivity to soon realise that people with ‘disabilities’ are simply people who are ‘differently-abled’!


Image: Google

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