Accessibility Best Practices for OfficeSuite HD Meeting

Jason Huffey
Jason Huffey Official Rep, Hosted Services Partner, Hosted Services Content Manager mod

As many options continue to be added with our HD Meeting product this post is to highlight some of the day-to-day recommended best practices around the Assessability subject matter. Computer accessibility (also known as accessible computing) refers to the accessibility of a computer system to all people, regardless of disability type or severity of impairment (Wikipedia). See below.

Enable the Closed Captions Feature

Enable the Closed Captions feature in “advanced meeting settings” on your account for any meetings that will require closed captions. Closed captioning CART (Communications Access Realtime Translation) services will be identified based on accommodation requests. In addition, please be familiar with how to assign a participant to type closed captions should a request arise.

Enable Closed captioning:

“Spotlight” ASL Interpreters 

If using an ASL interpreter and recording a session, please make sure the meeting host “Spotlights” the ASL provider’s video so that the ASL is captured in the recording. As the host you can select participants, click more and select “spotlight video”

Manually Create Breakout Rooms When Using Interpreters

If participants are using interpreters, manually create the breakout rooms or otherwise ensure the interpreter is added to the same breakout room as the person using the interpreter.

Slow Down Your Pace

The speed of online conversations can be challenging to follow, especially when they involve speaking and text simultaneously. Consider asking participants if they have preferences for one form of involvement in the HD meeting over another before beginning your session.

Enable “Always Show Meeting Controls”

Individual meeting participants can enable this feature on their HD Meeting client. By selecting the “Always Show Meeting Controls” checkbox, the controls at the bottom of the HD Meeting screen will remain up. This improves the user experience as you don’t have to worry about the bar appearing and disappearing upon hovering (especially if you are new to HD Meeting and don’t know how to make the bar at the bottom show up after it has disappeared).

From within the HD Meeting Client:

1.  Select the “Home” tab.

2.  Select the Settings “Gear” icon. A settings pop-up window will open.

3.  Select the “Accessibility” (Windows)

Enable the “Mute Participants Upon Entry” Feature

In your meeting settings, select the “Mute participants upon entry” checkbox (located under Meeting Options when scheduling a session). Participants will have to unmute their mics to participate. This feature will ensure fewer disruptions at the start of a meeting or class.

Remember to describe images and other visual content that’s displayed

Describing visual content that is displayed will help anyone with a vision or cognitive disability, as well as someone that may have needed to call in due to a local internet outage.

Provide instructions on how participants can ask questions

There are a couple of ways people can ask questions. First, participants can use non-verbal feedback, such as raising their hands and unmuting when called upon. In addition, they can post a question in the chat feature. The recommendation is to use both features but to always repeat questions that are provided through chat. By repeating the questions, you will help anyone that can’t access the chat during the session (people using assistive technology will have too much screen reader interference if they enable chat) and you will improve the captioning quality of any recorded sessions.

Send any resource links you post in Chat via email as well

It’s okay to use the Chat feature. However, keep in mind that anyone using assistive technology may not be able to copy or activate the links. It’s recommended that you send any resource links you’ll be sharing either prior to or after the session. You can also speak out the URL when posting it in Chat. If your resource link is long, consider using a URL shortener, such as or Tiny URL, to help with communicating the link verbally and so that the link is cleaner for anyone copying it from the chat box. You can set up your account to auto-save in your account settings. 

Limit use of the polling feature

Currently, the polling tool has significant barriers for both presenters and participants with some disabilities.

Describe what you are annotating if using the Whiteboard feature

Similar to using a whiteboard in a meeting room, you should always describe what you are writing on the board for anyone with a disability or anyone that is using their phone due to internet connection issues in your virtual room.

Recording Your Session

There are a few reasons to consider recording your HD Meeting sessions locally to your computer for distribution after a meeting or class:

1.  Occasionally, due to local outages, employees may not be able to access a live HD Meeting session.

2.  In addition, other unexpected distractions may come up that cause your meeting participant to miss portions of your meeting.