Captioning is now available for Zoom meetings. (Photo credit: Pieter Valkenburg)
June 2, 2021. National AccessAbility Week in Canada highlights disability inclusion and accessibility. Readers of this blog are already aware that promoting hearing accessibility awareness and providing tips and tools for living and thriving with hearing loss are its focus.
Last time the topic was choosing headphones that help protect your ears. (Missed the posting? See here: https://theauralreport.wordpress.com/2021/05/31/your-choice-of-headphones-can-help-protect-your-ears/)
This time, I’d like to discuss virtual meetings. Since Covid-19 and the resulting pandemic safety measures, almost all of us have participated in a virtual meeting, whether by Zoom or another provider.
….Thumbs down on Zoom Meeting #1…..
A while ago, I participated in two Zoom meetings. The first was with a local non-profit health organization. I didn’t have high expectations as this was the same group that a few years ago saw no reason why they needed microphones for a public meeting. (See https://theauralreport.wordpress.com/2018/04/17/what-a-difference-a-microphone-would-have-made/)
This time there was a microphone on the table, but it was centrally placed and it was not easy to hear all of the speakers. Providing a microphone for each speaker at the table would have helped, or having each speaker move towards the microphone.
The non-profit group outsourced organizing the Zoom meeting, so it is a shame that no advice was given about the microphone, nor did the paid meeting organizer activate the real-time captioning option to allow viewers with hearing loss to follow the discussion with the help of captioning.
I ended up leaving the Zoom meeting before it was finished and gave it thumbs down for accessibility.
….Captioning is available on Zoom….
The live transcribe and captioning options have always been available on paid versions of Zoom. However, many of us use Zoom’s free version, particularly since social distancing measures came into place due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
At first, captioning was not available on the free version of Zoom, but after a petition began and received over 80,000 signatures, captioning can be added to a free account upon request. (Here is the link to the request form: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSccQQ2W-K8naaltkBIbuv6BfJvisy0NZS2qWIKd0gSMUWGGpQ/viewform)
At present, the captioning option can ONLY be activated by the meeting organizer, but sometime in the fall of 2021, Zoom will make this option available to all users. (You can read more at Zoom’s support page here: https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/207279736-Closed-captioning-and-live-transcription)
….Thumbs up on Zoom Meeting #2…..
Jane and I test out the captioning on Zoom. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)
Jane Scott set up her free account and requested that the captioning option be added to her account. Once it was activated we immediately tested it. Once the meeting organizer activates the captioning, it’s available for all participants in the Zoom call.
Jane’s reaction mirrored mine: “…Wowzaa — it worked pretty darn well….”
The trick is that the meeting organizer MUST activate the captioning option each time. This means that meetings can be held with or without the captioning activated, depending on the circumstances. If captioning is activated, you also have the option of printing out a transcript of the discussion, which can be very useful if you need a written record of what was discussed.
Look for the CC/Live Transcript button on the bottom of your screen and click to activate it. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)
Not only did I give a thumbs up for this meeting, I asked Tech Support (ie my husband) to set me up with a free Zoom account of my own so that I could organize a meeting. Once that was set up I also applied for captioning to be added to my account. Within 48 hours it was activated.
Naturally, Jane and I had another meeting to test out how well I did as the meeting organizer. For this non-techie person it worked beautifully.
Is the real-time captioning perfect? No, but it’s very good and much better than sitting in a virtual meeting and having no idea what someone said.
Thank you to Jane Scott for her advice on the Zoom captioning trials and step-by-step instructions on what to do! If you have a Zoom meeting scheduled, and have hearing loss, ask the meeting organizer to activate the real-time captioning so that the session is more accessible.
If you are the meeting organizer, please ask your meeting participants if they need the real-time captioning activated. Make your virtual meetings as hearing accessible as possible!
Do you have an experience with virtual meetings to share? Send an email to email@example.com, comment on the blog, or tweet to @HearPEI.
Did you know you can subscribe to the Hear PEI Association Channel on YouTube? Here is the link: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCrDqwG4tu2mmja5HwZJS3VQ
© Daria Valkenburg