Hosting accessible meetings

October 26, 2021

HUIT Digital Accessibility logo with flowing lines and icons to indicate sight, touch, cognition, and hearing


What are accessible meetings?

When you’re hosting a meeting, event, or class, accessibility means ensuring that all attendees, including people with disabilities, can participate and engage with content at the same time, with the same ease of use. These simple practices can enhance the experience for all attendees, whether meeting online, in-person, or hybrid.

How can I host an accessible meeting?

There are lots of ways to ensure your meetings are inclusive, and you can find a full guide to hosting accessible remote meetings and events from Digital Accessibility Services (DAS). Here are some quick tips to get you started:

Enable live auto captions: Zoom and Microsoft Teams offer a live transcription service that allows participants to see automatically generated captions of spoken audio in real time during a meeting or webinar. Live captions are beneficial for people with auditory or cognitive disabilities and can help with comprehension. While auto-generated captions do not meet the accuracy requirements of Harvard’s guidelines and are not adequate for someone who may rely on them for communication, they can still be beneficial for attendees, and they’re easy to enable and free.

Be descriptive: Describing the visual content being displayed can help attendees with vision or cognitive disabilities, as well as anyone joining by phone or without video. Keep in mind that expressions such as “right here” or “here we see” will not translate well to participants who cannot see the screen. Be descriptive and clear when presenting.

Share accessible presentation materials ahead of time: Sharing a copy of your slides, videos, or audio content in advance of the meeting allows participants to access the information in the way that’s best for them (like magnifying text or inverting colors), instead of relying on the larger group experience which may not be as accessible to them (like viewing a shared screen in Zoom). Learn how to create accessible materials by attending our Creating Accessible Documents course.

Learn about accessibility features in your meeting tools: As well as live captioning, Zoom and Microsoft Teams both come with a range of accessibility features built into the app, like customizable font sizes, screen reader support, and keyboard shortcuts. Learn more:

Where can I get help?

We’re here to help! If you need help hosting accessible meetings, or if you have any digital accessibility questions:


National Disability Employment Awareness Month: October 2021

National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) is held each October to celebrate the many and varied contributions of people with disabilities to America’s workplaces and economy. Browse NDEAM events around Harvard.


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