We look at how to make meetings as accessible as possible when using Zoom.
- Use captions* (from automated speech-to-text software or from a human speech-to-text reporter)
- View full transcript in meeting*
- Connect to a wired or Bluetooth output source (e.g. Bluetooth connected hearing aids)
- View invited BSL Interpreters in the call or in a resizable pop-out window *
- Use Push to talk shortcut
- Use basic noise suppression
- Record the meeting.
* If enabled by host.
- Change the font size of captions
- Have captions on by default in all meetings
- Select between six different audio profiles for their preferred level of noise cancellation.
There are some settings you should enable in the Zoom Web Portal before the meeting so that your participants can make use of the accessibility features of Zoom.
You can find these settings by going to the Zoom website and logging in. You can also open this page from the desktop client by going to Settings then selecting View More Settings.
Once there, go to Settings and then the section entitled In Meeting (Advanced), we recommend you:
- Automated Captions
- Full Transcript
- Save Captions
- Manual Captions (including options Allow how to type or assign a participant to type and Allow use of caption API to integrate with 3rd-party Closed Captioning services).
- Sign Language Interpretation View.
This will allow participants to use automated captions, view the meeting transcript, save transcripts and captions, have a pop out and resizable BSL interpreter and allow the meeting to use a speech-to-text reporter.
Text alternatives to speech
- In meeting, select the Captions menu.
- Select Enable Captions.
*If captions are already enabled, this menu option will appear as Disable Captions.
Free accounts or guests without a Zoom account
Captions can be turned on by selecting ‘Show Captions’. This may appear at the bottom of your screen or may be in the Menu under ‘Captions…’
Business or paid Zoom account
In addition to manually turning on and off captions in a meeting, you can make ‘Always Show Captions’ your default. You can select this option by going to the Accessibility menu within Settings.
In this menu you can also select a preferred font size for you captions and see an example of what they will look like.
Zoom’s automated transcript is a written record of all the captions from a meeting. In order to create a transcript, the host must have enabled ‘Automated Captions’, ‘Full Transcript’ and ‘Save Captions’ in the Zoom Web Portal.
All Zoom accounts can view a transcript during the meeting by selecting View Full Transcript from the Captions menu (either in More or with its own [CC] icon). This will appear in the side of the zoom window, is searchable and can be popped out to a separate resizable window.
As a participant
Saving the transcript may be possible if you are using the Zoom desktop client. If this is possible it will appear in the transcript window.
As the host
As for participants, this option will appear in the live transcript window. The host may need to save and share the transcript with participants depending on whether the save option was available to them.
Speech-to-text reporters (STTR)
In Zoom, a speech-to-text reporter (STTR) is referred to as a Manual Captioner and they will need to be invited to the meeting in the same way as a normal participant.
The host, or anyone given host privileges, can enable a manual captioner (or a third party captioning service).
1. Select Set Up Manual Captioner… from the Captions menu
2. Select Enable a Manual Captioner
3. Select Assign a Participant to Type
4. Select the invited Speech-to-text reporter from the participants list.
We recommend testing this before the meeting.
Zoom also gives you the option to connect a third-party captioning service, such as Otter.ai. Learn how to enable a third-party captioning service on the Zoom website.
A notetaker should be invited to the meeting the same as a participant would be.
It’s good practice to let other participants know that a notetaker is present and agree with them before to the meeting on how the notes are laid out and saved.
Free users have a single option for noise suppression.
This can be turned on by going to:
- Under ‘Audio Profile’, you can toggle Background Noise Suppression on or off.
Paid users have the ability to choose between six different audio profiles for different applications and for different levels of background noise. These can also be found under Audio Profile in Audio Setting.
The options are:
- Zoom optimized audio:
- Background noise suppression levels
- Original sound for musicians
- Live performance audio.
Connecting hearing aids and other audio device
If you have a Bluetooth device, such as a Bluetooth connected hearing aid, you’ll first need to make sure it is connected to the computer/phone you are running Zoom on by going into your Bluetooth settings. You can make sure wired or USB devices are connected correctly by going into your system’s sound settings.
Changing an audio output or input device appears similarly for free and paid users.
Go into Zoom’s settings and select the audio menu. In this menu you can select your audio devices and test that they are working correctly.
All available input and output audio devices can be accessed in a call from the up arrow next to the mute button.
Under Select a Speaker, there will be a list of all available output devices, including any Bluetooth devices.
Under Select a Microphone, there will be a list of all available input devices.
If the device you want to connect to does not appear in any of these menus, you’ll need to check the device is set up correctly in your system’s settings.
Push to Talk
The spacebar has two functions in zoom, as a shortcut to turn mute on and off, and as a Push to Talk trigger.
Pressing the spacebar toggles mute on and off.
Pressing and holding the spacebar, if you’re already on mute, will temporarily unmute you for the duration you hold down the spacebar.
British Sign Language (BSL) interpreters
There are 2 ways to add a BSL interpreter in Zoom. Both begin with inviting the interpreter/s to the meeting as you would a regular participant.
Once the interpreter/s have joined the meeting, ask participants who require the interpreter to pin them.
Pinning a participant’s video can be done by selecting the ‘…’ on a person’s video from Gallery view or in going to the participants list and selecting ‘Pin’.
Prior to the meeting, Sign Language Interpretation view needs to be enabled in the host’s Zoom Web Portal.
Once the interpreter/s have joined the meeting, the host can select the ‘Interpretation’ option in the bottom menu. From this menu, the host can:
- View everyone assigned to an interpreter role
- Add or remove someone from an interpreter role
- Start or end the interpretation feature for everyone.
Will be able to select Interpretation (either in More or with its own Interpretation icon)
This will bring up the interpreter in a separate resizable window which they can move around their screen.
This is a relatively new feature to Zoom and may change more regularly. Read more about the interpretation feature on the Zoom website
The option to record will appear during the meeting in the menu at the bottom.
Both free and paid users can record meetings locally onto their devices. This feature is not available when using Zoom in the browser.
Depending on the type of paid account you have, you may also have the option to record to the cloud.
Regardless of location, what will be saved is an audio only recording (.m4a), an audiovisual recording (.mp4), the closed captions (as both .txt and a .vtt files) and a configuration file.
The audiovisual recording will not have the captions embedded. To embed the captions in the audiovisual file, you will need to use a video editor to link the audiovisuals with the VTT file (which has both the text of the captions and timing information).
If you have a BSL interpreter and are not using Sign Language Interpretation View, make sure that the host (or account recording the call) has the interpreter pinned.
By selecting ‘Record on this computer’ the meeting recording will be saved locally. At the end of the meeting, the recording will be processed and Zoom will direct you to where it has been saved.
By selecting ‘Record to the cloud’, the meeting will be saved and accessible from Zoom’s Web Portal.
On the cloud, you can view the recording with the captions included, by clicking the captions icon in the menu as you would in a meeting.
There are a number of extra options as to what is saved in a cloud recording. Read more about cloud recordings on the Zoom website
If you have issues using Zoom, you can read information or use live chat on the Zoom Support website.
These features were tested on Version 5.14.2 of the Windows desktop client with a business account and using a guest account on a web browser.
Page last updated 17 May 2023.