Accessibility and Zoom

Accessibility & Zoom – Best Practices


Problems with video? Try turning off HD Video

Factors that can affect participation with HD video are bandwidth limitations, restricted data usage on mobile, or unreliable internet access. To change these settings while in a meeting:

  1. Choose “Enable/Stop Video” button in the controls bar the bottom of your Zoom session
  2. Choose Video settings
  3. Uncheck “Enable HD”

If there are consistent issues with video, you can change the video settings of meetings:

From within the Zoom Client:

  1. Select the “Home” tab.
  2. Select the Settings “Gear” icon. 
  3. A settings pop-up window will open. 
    1. If you are using a Windows computer, select the “View Advanced Features” link under General settings.
    2. If you are using a Mac computer, select the “View More Settings” link under General settings. 
  4. The Zoom website will open. Login if you are prompted with the login screen. The Meeting Settings page will open.
  5. Navigate to the In Meeting (Advanced) section of the Meeting Settings page.
  6. Disable the Group HD video setting.

Finally, if you are experiencing very low bandwidth, or find audio quality dropping, you can also turn your video off entirely using the “Stop Video” in the control bar

or with keyboard shortcuts:

  • Mac: Command + Shift + V
  • Windows: Alt + V

Enable “Always Show Meeting Controls”

By selecting the “Always Show Meeting Controls” checkbox, the controls at the bottom of the zoom screen will remain up. This improves the user experience for many participants as they don’t have to worry about the bar appearing and disappearing upon hover (especially if they are new to Zoom and don’t know how to make the bar at the bottom show up after it’s disappeared).

From within the Zoom Client:

  1. Select the “Home” tab.
  2. Select the Settings “Gear” icon. A settings pop-up window will open.
  3. Select the “View Advanced Features” (Windows) or “View More Settings” link (Mac) under General settings. The Zoom website will open. Login if you are prompted with the login screen. The Meeting Settings page will open.
  4. Navigate to the In Meeting (Basics) section of the Meeting Settings page.
  5. Enable the “Always show meeting control toolbar” setting.

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.

Communicate Keyboard Shortcuts

Send out the Zoom Keyboard Shortcuts ahead of time. These instructions are valuable for anyone including those using keyboard-only navigation or assistive technology. In addition, it could be helpful to anyone who may have had their mouse stop working unexpectedly.

Remember to describe images and other visual content that is 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 ways people can ask questions.

First, participants can use non-verbal feedback, such as raising their hand and unmuting when called upon. We strongly advise that you or your co-host keep the “Manage Participants” list open and checking it regularly. 

“Manage Participants” can be found on the control bar at the bottom of your screen, engaging that button brings up a list of participants.

The keyboard shortcuts to display/hide Participants panel are:

  • Mac: Command + U
  • Windows: Alt + U

In addition, questions can be posted 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.

Post any resource links you post in Chat on Moodle or 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. In addition, we recently learned, from experience, that if a link or other information is posted before a person joins the session, they will not see those posts.

We recommend that you post any resource links you’ll be sharing on the Moodle course page prior to the session. If you do not use Moodle, please send resource links via email well in advance of the meeting. 

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, to help with communicating the link verbally.  An added benefit is that the link is cleaner for anyone copying it from the chat box.

Confirm the best polling technology in advance

Currently, the Zoom polling tool has significant barriers for both presenters and participants with disabilities.  ITS is looking into other options and both Qualtrics (there are some questions types which must be avoided) and Poll Everywhere are viable options at this time.  

Note: Poll Everywhere, as of this writing, is not friendly for poll creators who use assistive tech.  If you need assistance creating a Poll Everywhere poll, please contact

Use Pin or Spotlight tool to focus on one person

Zoom allows participants to “pin” a particular participant’s video or a spotlight can be created so that one user is always focused for all participants.  The main difference between a pin vs. a spotlight is this: 

  • Pin 
    • Allows an individual participant to disable the active speaker functionality
    • Does not affect others attending or the cloud recording
    • Recommend local recording for the individual doing the pinning so they can refer back to the pinned video.  The pinned video is only pinned for the participant choosing to pin, and is not part of the cloud recording
    • An example might be a hearing-impaired person who would like to keep a sign interpreter focused
  • Spotlight 
    • Makes a particular user the active speaker for all participants and in the cloud recording.
    • Must have at least 3 participants with video on
    • Can only be done by the host
    • An example might be when there is a guest speaker 

Describe what you are annotating if using the Whiteboard feature

Similar to using a whiteboard in the classroom, 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 Zoom Session

We highly suggest recording to the cloud vs. recording your zoom sessions locally.  This is particularly useful if you will be taking advantage of the Zoom, Panopto and Moodle integration. 

There are a few reasons to consider:

  1. Occasionally, due to local outages, students or employees may not be able to access a live Zoom session.
  2. Currently, there are several countries or regions where international students are unable to access live Zoom sessions for regulatory reasons.
  3. In addition, other unexpected distractions may come up that cause your meeting or class participant to miss portions of your class.
  4. Cloud recordings automatically create an audio transcript
  5. Differences in time zones (e.g. South Korea is 12 hours ahead of US Eastern Standard Time)

You can also record your zoom sessions locally to your computer for distribution after a meeting or class.  We are still testing this, but we believe that the creation of captions for local recordings may be a bit more involved.  For now, please use Panopto to create auto-captions and edit them there

Note: Because of the current high demand on Zoom’s cloud services you may experience a delay in accessing your recordings (as of March 20, 2020).