Accessible synchronous online learning and collaboration tools can make learning easier and more accessible to individuals with disabilities. They reduce the need to travel to campus and allow students to use their personal computers equipped with assistive technology hardware are software they need.
- Accessibility Considerations for Online Synchronous Learning
- University Supported Web Conferencing Tools
- Live Captioning Solutions
- Additional Web Conferencing Tools
- Always select an accessible tool.
- Provide a telephone-based teleconferencing connection.
- If you have a student who is deaf or hard of hearing in your class provide live captioning.
- If the class session is recorded, send the recording to the ATI for captioning and transcription.
- If you have a student with a visual impairment, ensure that all documents shared on during the session are available to the student in accessible format prior to the class session.
|Deaf/Hard of Hearing ||
|Cognitive and Learning||
University Supported Web Conferencing Tools
The ATI urges faculty and staff to select tools that are supported by Mason. University supported resources have been reviewed for accessibility and provide features to increase the likelihood that they will work with assistive technology. See below:
- Webex Meetings
- Webex Teams
- Blackboard Collaborate Ultra
- Microsoft Skype for Business Online
- Zoom Meetings & Chat
Webex Meetings* is a web conferencing tool that may be used for meetings and collaboration Webex Meetings allows you to meet face-to-face using video conferencing; share your desktop, documents, or individual applications with everyone in class. It also provides an accessible platform for students with disabilities.
Webex Events and Meetings Accessibility FAQs
|Support for keyboard navigation?||Yes. See Accessibility Features in Webex Meetings and Webex Events*.|
|Support for screen reader users?||Yes. Screen readers support all of keyboard shortcuts listed in the Webex Meetings Keyboard Navigation* section. Jaws 2018 or later is recommended. Screen readers are unable, however, to read content from shared presentations, shared applications, and shared desktops.
Additional guidance for screen reader users below:
Webex Tips for Students using JAWS or NVDA (PDF)
Webex Tips for Students using JAWS or NVDA (Word)
Webex Web App Accessibility Features*
|Support for live captioning?||Webex allows you to assign an individual in the session to handle the closed captions or use of a third-party service for live captioning. Live captioning services may be scheduled through Disability Services Live Caption Request Form*.
Option #1: Enabling captions in Webex using the Closed Captions Panel
Webex Meetings allows the host to assign a Closed Captionist* role to one of the participants. This allows the participant to type captions directly into the Closed Captions Panel for other participants to see. Unfortunately, the Closed Captions Panel in is limited in that the captioner must continually press the Enter key or click the Publish button in order for attendees to see the captions. It is recommended that live captions are streamed through the Multimedia Viewer Panel using a third-party service.
Option #2: Stream captions using the Multimedia ViewerPanel (RECOMMENDED)
Webex Teams* provides work spaces where everyone can contribute anytime, from any device, with messaging, file sharing, screen sharing, white boarding, and video meetings.
Webex Teams Accessibility FAQs
|Support for keyboard navigation?||Yes. See Keyboard Navigation and Shortcuts for Cisco Webex Teams*.
|Support for screen reader users?||Yes. Screen readers are supported on every platform except for Linux, For additional information, visit Screen Readers Supported by Webex Teams*
Increasing Contrast in Webex Teams*
|Support for live captioning?||There is no support within Webex Teams for live captioning.
Blackboard Collaborate Ultra* is an interactive web conferencing and virtual classroom environment designed for teaching and learning and real-time collaboration. It is available in all myMason Organizations and Blackboard Courses. Instructors can use Collaborate to set up virtual conferencing for their classes while students can participate in chat and discussion sessions from anywhere. It also provides an accessible platform for students with disabilities
Blackboard Collaborate Ultra Accessibility FAQs
|Support for keyboard navigation?||Yes. See Keyboard Navigation and Shortcuts for Blackboard Collaborate Ultra*.
|Support for screen reader users?||Yes. For the best screen reader experience in Blackboard Collaborate Ultra*, use Jaws with Firefox on a Windows machine and Safari with VoiceOver on a Mac.
Additional resources for screen reader users below:
Blackboard Ultra Basic Navigation Tips for Students using JAWS or NVDA (PDF)
Blackboard Ultra Basic Navigation Tips for Students using JAWS or NVDA (Word)
Accessibility in Blackboard Collaborate with Ultra Experience*
|Support for live captioning?||Yes. See Closed Captioning in Blackboard Collaborate Ultra:
Microsoft Skype for Business Online* connects people anytime and from virtually anywhere by delivering collaboration capabilities; it gives users access to instant messaging, ad hoc device to device audio and video calling, online meetings, and web conferencing capabilities.
Microsoft Skype for Business Accessibility FAQs
|Support for keyboard navigation?||Yes. See Keyboard Shortcuts in Skype for Business Online*
|Support for screen reader users?||Yes. See Using a screen reader to explore and navigate Skype for Business*.
|Support for live captioning?||Closed captioning support in Skype for Business Online is currently in preview. It is not yet available for use.
For more information, visit Enable real-time transcription and translation in Skype Meeting Broadcast*
Zoom* provides enterprise video conferencing with real-time messaging and content sharing. It is one of the most accessible video conferencing platforms for individuals with disabilities, especially those using screen reading applications.
Zoom Accessibility FAQs
|Support for keyboard navigation?||Yes. See Hot Keys and Keyboard Shortcuts for Zoom*
|Support for screen reader users?||Yes. Zoom supports most of the latest screen readers (i.e., Jaws, NVDA, VoiceOver, etc.). Review the keyboard shortcuts and hot keys provided above. Visit Zoom Accessibility Features* for more information.
|Support for live captioning?||Zoom allows you to assign an individual in the session to handle the closed captions or use of a third-party service for live captioning. Live captioning services using a third-party may be scheduled through Disability Services Live Caption Request Form*.
Option #1: Enabling captions in Zoom
Option #2: Setting up third-party support for live captioning
For more information, see Closed Captioning in Zoom*:
Live Captioning Solutions
As more and more Mason courses and events move online due to COVID-19, the ATI strongly encourages academic and non-academic organizations in the Mason community to think about being accessible and inclusive. Whenever possible, synchronous courses and/or virtual events should include the use of live captions. Providing live captioning for your course/event does the following:
- Provides access to individuals with hearing loss and/or cognitive challenges.
- Improves comprehension for non-native English speakers
- Allow those in noisy environments to remain engaged in the event
Have questions? We have addressed some of the more common questions about providing live captioning below:
Live Captioning Solutions FAQs
- I am hosting a synchronous virtual event and received an accommodation request from a participant with hearing loss. What do I do?
- Answer: When an individual requests this service as part of a disability accommodation request, organizations hosting Mason events and/or programs are required to provide this service. To do so, submit a request using the Disability Services Live Caption Request Form*.
- What if I am a student and I need this service for class?
- Answer: Students requiring this service should contact Disability Services*. The Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services Coordinator will meet with you and assess your service request.
- I am a faculty member and I need this service for department/unit meetings?
- Answer: Please submit a request using the Disability Services Live Caption Request Form*.
- How can I stream live captions through Webex Meetings or Zoom?
- Answer: Review the information provided in the University-Supported Web Conferencing Tools section.
- I do not have a student (or event participant) with a specific accommodation need, but would like to offer this service as a best practice for any synchronous courses (or virtual events) that I host. How can I do this without a budget to work with?
- Answer: See Live Captioning Solutions “When there is no budget“
Below, we have listed additional web conferencing and collaboration tools that have accessibility features built-in:
- Google Hangouts Accessibility*
PLEASE NOTE: These applications have not been reviewed for accessibility through the ASRB Process* and are not fully supported by Mason.