Zoom has added new features to make its platform more accessible for users who might find video meetings more of a struggle.
The company has been working with accessibility organizations including the A11y Project to help tackle accessibility challenges faced by people with hearing, vision, mobility, and cognitive difficulties, particularly when communicating via video.
SEE: How to improve your audio in a Zoom meeting (TechRepublic)
Zoom said it had been working with these organizations to make Zoom accessible to a more diverse user base.
Among the new features introduced to the platform this week are tools to make it easier for users who require an interpreter to follow the chain of conversation when the speaker in a meeting switches.
Multi-pinning, for example, allows users to pin multiple video chat windows in place on the screen so that the interpreter and speaker stay in the same spot, regardless of who is speaking, to make it easier for users to focus on the content. The host and co-host can grant permission for up to nine people in the meeting to pin multiple videos.
Multi-spotlight works in a similar fashion, except the spotlighted videos show are displayed for everyone in the Zoom meeting. The host or co-host can spotlight up to nine videos so that everyone sees the same spotlighted videos. This is intended to make it easier to spotlight interpreters and speakers for everyone on a call, particularly in larger meetings.
Another newly added Zoom feature is the ability to rearrange videos on the screen. Traditionally, video chat windows switch or reorder based on who is speaking. Now, users can organize these windows however it suits them, for example placing their interpreter’s box next to that of the person speaking – making it easier to see and follow whatever’s being shared.
Elsewhere, Zoom has been tweaking its video chat platform in accordance with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 AA recommendations. The company said it continued to make improvements to its closed captioning tool, which is available with professional captioners or can be assigned to another meeting participant. Keyboard accessibility has also been improved, a spokesperson said, meanwhile Zoom recently added new accessibility settings allowing users to manage screen reader alerts, resize their closed captions and increase text size for both in-meeting and out-of-meeting chats.
“Our accessibility is built into the platform from the start, not retrofitted after. Our designers and developers thoughtfully create, test, and build products intended to balance ease of use for diverse communities,” a blog post from Zoom read.
“While we know that nothing can be a ‘perfect fit’ for everyone’s needs, we are continuously working to improve our products and services. We work diligently with many leading accessibility organizations to make Zoom as accessibility-friendly as possible.”