Accessible Web Meetings

Benefits of Fillable Forms
March 17, 2015
Color Contrast
March 30, 2015

Many of today’s modern technologies have made way for advancements in the way we communicate, but not all users have the ability to fully participate in these new communication channels. For individuals with disabilities, accessing digital information is still problematic. Government agencies, advocacy groups, and businesses are working to improve accessibility for all web users, including those with visual, auditory, or mobility impairments.

In the context of the web conferencing user experience, three categories of disability call for specific attention: visual, auditory, and mobility.


There are three major types of visual disabilities that can affect users: blindness, low vision, and color blindness.

  • Blindness is the condition of lacking visual perception due to physiological or neurological factors.
  • Low vision is a visual impairment – not corrected by standard glasses, contact lenses, medicine, or surgery – that interferes with the ability to perform everyday activities. A related term is legally blind, which is defined as a visual acuity of 20/200 or less or a visual field of less than 20 degrees (the norm being 180 degrees).
  • Color blindness is a color-vision deficiency resulting in the inability to perceive differences between some colors that others can distinguish. It ranges from total color blindness to partial color blindness.

A person who is blind usually precluded from using a mouse or point device because of the hand-eye coordination required for effective operation. A person who is blind is also likely to use a screen reader. People with low vision might use a screen reader to enlarge text.


There are two major auditory disabilities: deafness and hard of hearing

  • Deafness is the inability to understand speech or recognize environmental sounds. People who are deaf generally communicate using sign language.
  • Access to interpreting services, closed captioning on television, instant messaging, and text messaging has broadened the entertainment and communication options for those who are deaf. Some of these text-based channels, such as chat, are common features in web conferencing applications.
  • Hard of hearing or hearing loss is categorized as a continuous spectrum of loss. There are several levels of severity: mild, moderate, severe, and profound. On average, people with mild hearing loss are able to hear sounds of 25 to 40 decibels with their better ear. For those with profound hearing loss, the quietest sound they might hear is 90 decibels. People who suffer from profound hearing loss are very hard of hearing and rely on mostly written text, lip reading, and sign language.

Hearing impairments make it difficult or impossible for individuals to respond to audible cues, such as sound alerts or audible indicators. Visual representations of auditory information and translation of audio information into a visual format are required for people affected by hearing impairments.


Impaired mobility can arise from neurological disorders, repetitive stress or other physical injury, or degenerative diseases.

  • Neurological disorders, caused either by birth accident, can result in partial or full paralysis when nerves fail to control the muscles of the body
  • Repetitive stress injuries are a result of repeating motions over a long period of time. Common manifestations include tendonitis and backache.
  • Degenerative diseases and conditions such as arthritis may be associated with aging.

Mobility or dexterity impairments often limit a person’s movement or fine-motor skills. They can affect the ability to type and use a mouse or pointing device. People suffering from mobility impairments might use alternate input devices for interacting with their computer, such as voice-dictation software.

Accessibility is not just a requirement mandated by national and international organizations. It is a process of making software more available to all users who wish to do so. While there are features that take web meetings and conferences a step forward, there are still improvements that need to be made before the problems are completely solved. Although, we as a society live in an advanced technological age, the technology we use is well on its way to becoming accessible by all users.