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Best Practices for Accessible Meetings

Effective Communication:

The following are some highlights of best practices for effective communication from the site:

  1. Inquire if people require accommodations prior to virtual, hybrid or in person meetings. The goal here is to provide an aid or service that is effective.  
  2. Honor the person's choice unless another equally effective means of communication is available that doesn't cause undue burden. Book Interpreters/Assistive tech if requested. Provide information and materials in advance.
  3. Reasonable advance notice is sometimes necessary especially when arranging an aid or service understanding walk-in situations will be honored to the best extent possible. If using an interpreter its best to do this far in advance as possible when arranging a meeting, minimum of two weeks. For State of Vermont internal partners, contact Vancro to request an interpreter.
  • For people who are blind, or have vision loss or are DeafBlind, provide a qualified reader, offer information in large print, Braille or electronically, or audio recording of the printed materials.
  • For deaf, hearing loss, DeafBlind, ASL or tactile interpreter, real-time captioning, and printed materials provided in advance. 
  • For speech disabilities, a qualified speech-to-speech transliterator, paper and pencil so the person can write out words, or allow more time to communication if using a communication board or device. Listen attentively and do not be afraid to ask the person to repeat the word or phrase they do not understand. 

Meeting considerations:

  • For presenters/ facilitators:

    • Inquire if people require accomodations prior to virtual, hybrid or in person meetings. 
    • Provide information and materials in advance.
    • When referring to a visual, be descriptive.

    • Spell out technical terms or jargon.

    • Speak at a natural and modest pace.

    • Use a microphone if in person.

  • For participants:

    • Raise hands to participate.

    • Use a microphone if in person.

    • Mention their name before speaking.

  • For Virtual meetings, arrange captioning.
    • For Zoom meetings, the meeting host must activate closed captioning in Zoom and assign our captioner. It is a good idea for the meeting host and captioner to log onto the meeting a few minutes early. 
    • For MicroSoft Teams meetings: Hover over the meeting toolbar and click on … (more options.) Then click on ‘Turn on live captions (preview.) Text will show on the bottom left of your Teams app.

Walk-in tools:

  • Ask what communication method they prefer: use communication cards that show pictures of what communication they prefer.
  • Offer to write back and forth.
  • Use a speech to text app on your mobile device.
  • Call for a live captionist.
  • Call for an ASL interpreter. For State of Vermont internal partners, contact Vancro to request an interpreter.
  • Setup a meeting in advance when an interpreter is available.

For More Information:

A Planning Guide for Making Temporary Events Accessible to People With Disabilities

Job Accommodation Network: Accessible Meeting Event Checklist: Taking care to create an accessible event benefits not only individuals with visible or known disabilities, it also helps to ensure that all participants/attendees, including individuals with non-obvious disabilities and/or chronic health conditions, and people of all ages and body types, are able to fully engage in the program.

Recorded Workshops | Department of Libraries ( Create Accessible Meetings

Accessibility tips for inclusive Microsoft Teams meetings and live events

State of Vermont Report Template: provides instructions on setting up a word document as a report and making sure its accessible.

State of Vermont Presentation Template: provides instructions on setting up a presentation as a report and making sure its accessible.