Make your meeting more accessible with Skype for Business

You can make all your meetings more accessible for people with disabilities, just by using Skype for Business and following these best practices.

After all, why have a meeting if not to include everyone?

Make every meeting a Skype meeting

Skype for Business can help you include everyone in a meeting, even when everyone is in the same room.

  • People with vision impairments can get shared content on their own computers. This lets them use their favorite assistive technologies, such as a screen reader or magnifier.

  • You can record the meeting, so people can review the meeting in the future.

  • People with hearing impairments can get transcription services in real time, through Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART). CART is available in many languages around the world.

In this article

Quick-start a Skype for Business meeting

Don't lose valuable meeting time just to start an online meeting.

  • When you schedule the meeting, make it a Skype meeting. Then people can join the meeting from a link or a reminder in Outlook, or join directly through Skype for Business.

  • For ad-hoc meetings or meetings that were not scheduled to be online:

    • Select Meet Now from the calendar icon in the Skype for Business. main window

    • Select the Invite More People icon in the Conversation window, and invite the people that you want.

Tip: If the people in the meeting are in an Exchange distribution list or group, add the group to your Contacts. Then, just select the group name, open the context menu (with right-click or Shift+F10), and select Start a video call.

Include video to increase understanding

We humans work best when we have input from multiple sensory sources. Educators and entertainers use this fact constantly, when they choose video as a medium. You can do the same thing with a phone call or meeting.

  • Video enables deaf participants to use a sign-language interpreter.

  • Video enhances full-spectrum speech understanding. This can be especially helpful for people who are hard of hearing and depend on speech reading.

Tip: During a video meeting, check the video preview screen to make sure that people can see you clearly. For example, where you sit in relation to the camera can make a difference.

Invite a CART transcriber for people who can't hear

Invite a CART transcriber to a meeting or phone call in Skype for Business to get real-time captions. At the end of the meeting, ask for a transcript to share with the participants.

  • CART services are available worldwide and in many languages. CART makes it possible for people who are deaf or hard of hearing to participate fully in a meeting or phone call.

Tips: 

  • Add a conference phone as a participant by using the Invite More People icon. Just type in the telephone number. The phone can be a media-enabled conference phone in the room or a smart phone.

  • Ask participants to say their names when they participate. This helps people who are deaf or hard of hearing follow the meeting.

  • Make sure only one person speaks at a time.

Add IM to augment spoken communication

IM lets you offer meeting information in alternative forms.

  • Type instant alternative text (alt text) for screen content in IM.

  • Ask interpreters to post additional information in IM for deaf people to read.

  • Paste detailed information, such as URLs to documents and web pages, in text. Details don't get lost, and people can open linked content directly on their own computers. If needed, people can use magnifiers or screen readers to enhance understanding.

  • Post important statements, decisions, and action items into IM.

  • People with speech impairments and those who process auditory information at a different pace can type questions or answers in IM.

Share content to enable assistive technologies

With Skype for Business, everyone can have a personal view of meeting content.

  • Share a desktop

    Share your desktop into a meeting instead of just projecting content to a screen. This allows people to use a magnifier for content.

  • Share a program or app

    To show a single app, share an app window instead of sharing the whole desktop. This makes the shared content larger when people view it.

  • Use a Skype for Business whiteboard

    Use the Skype for Business whiteboard instead of a physical whiteboard so that everyone can see the board content on their PCs or devices. People with motor or mobility disabilities can add to a Skype whiteboard electronically, and people with low vision can use a magnifier.

Tip: Instead of sharing content, you can upload PowerPoint presentations and other files into the meeting, and then present it from Skype for Business. This lets everyone have the content on their own computer, where they can use their preferred assistive technology, such as a screen reader or a favorite magnifier.

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