Below, we have provided some useful links to information about how to make video calls accessible to disabled students or disabled colleagues.
This information builds on the content of our paid 1-hour recorded webinar ‘Working successfully with students via 1:1 video calls”. You can find out more about our webinar here.
Useful resources: Video calls and accessibility
As we mention in our webinar, there are steps we can follow to make it easier for disabled students to let us know about their access requirements when using video calls:
Whenever sending anyone an invitation to a video call, get into the habit of asking people to let you know if they have any access requirements relating to video calls.
Offer everyone the alternative of a telephone call, if they would prefer that.
Be guided by what a disabled student says what works for them to enable them to access a video call.
Software features are being updated all the time. Use the information in the resources below as a general guide, but check with the video call software companies themselves or test the software to confirm that the features mentioned are currently available.
General guidance on accessible video calls:
A blog from Drake Music sets out useful tips for making video calls, particularly group calls, accessible.
A comparison, from The Big Hack, of the accessibility features of different video call software platforms.
When working with a student who is deaf or hearing-impaired:
A blog article from Ideas for Ears entitled “Subtitles for video calls – searching for the Holy Grail”.
If you want to have live subtitles in your video calls (and if you are using Windows 10 and Microsoft Office 365), another option is to share a PowerPoint presentation (even just sharing a single blank slide) and switch on ‘live captioning’ within PowerPoint. Here is the Microsoft guide to using this function.
A blog from The Limping Chicken, written primarily for deaf people, which offers those of us working with deaf students useful insights into how video call technology can be made accessible.
When working with a student who is blind or visually-impaired:
When working with a student with a neurodiverse conditions, such as autism:
Research findings about “Managing Stress: The Needs of Autistic Adults in Video Calling” by Zolyomi, A (Microsoft Research, University of Washington) et al. (2019). Some of the quotes provide a useful insight into some of the advantages and challenges of using video calls.
An article from Planet Neurodivergent draws comparisons between the ‘zoom fatigue’ many of us experience nowadays with the day-to-day experience of autistic adults.
Video calls and mental health:
An article from Medical News Today entitled “11 ways video calls may affect mental health”.
An article on video calls and social anxiety from Discover Magazine: “A Psychologist Explains How to Cope With Video Chat When You’re Socially Anxious”.
Software-specific accessibility guides:
The video call software platforms have their own guides to their accessibility features. For example, here are the accessibility guides for Microsoft Teams and Zoom.
Webinar: "Working successfully with students via 1:1 video calls"
While our webinar is about enhancing the quality of our video calls when working with all students, the practical tips we share in the webinar can also have specific particular benefits when working with disabled students. For example, a fast internet connection and a clear webcam image of you can help a student who is relying on lip-reading, and using a plain simple backdrop might be helpful to students who have neurodiverse conditions, such as autism.
Let us know of any other useful resources about making video calls accessible.
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