In today’s corporate world, inclusivity isn’t just a buzzword—it’s a crucial aspect of effective communication and team dynamics. With the rise of remote work and virtual meetings, ensuring that all participants, including those who are deaf or hard of hearing (D/HH), can engage fully isn’t just beneficial; it’s essential. This guide will walk you through practical steps to make your virtual meetings inclusive on platforms like Zoom and Microsoft Teams. 

Implement Automatic and Professional Captioning

While automatic captions are a good starting point for accessibility, they are often insufficient for clear understanding due to errors and limitations in recognizing technical jargon or accents. To provide inclusive virtual meetings, consider providing Caption Access in RealTime (CART). CART services offer professional and accurate captioning, ensuring that all participants can follow the conversation without missing vital information.

Use Communication Protocols

Start every meeting by announcing communication rules which facilitate better understanding for D/HH individuals. This includes simple but effective practices such as:

  • Identifying oneself before speaking: This helps interpreters and D/HH participants know who is talking, easing the follow-up process.
  • Having a “cameras on” policy: Encourage speakers to turn on their cameras. This supports speechreading and enhances engagement for D/HH attendees.
  • Multi-pin feature: Platforms like Zoom allow users to pin multiple screens. Enable D/HH participants and their interpreters to pin each other’s video feeds, which can significantly improve their ability to see one another clearly.

Regular Check-Ins

Empathy goes a long way. Regularly checking in with D/HH participants to ask about their experience and any adjustments they might need is key to fostering an inclusive environment. These private check-ins can help identify any ongoing issues with accessibility and demonstrate a genuine commitment to inclusion.

Ensure Adequate Interpreter Services

For D/HH participants who request sign language interpreters, it’s imperative to provide these services without hesitation. Do not assume that captions alone will suffice for effective communication. For meetings extending beyond one hour, it is the industry standard to provide two interpreters to maintain the quality and accuracy of the interpretation throughout the session. 

To facilitate a seamless communication experience, ensure that interpreters are visibly integrated into the meeting. Grant them co-host privileges, which allows them to manage their visibility and positioning on screen effectively. Additionally, consider spotlighting the interpreters throughout the meeting to ensure that they are always visible to Deaf participants.

We recommend: Interpreter-Now

Establish Clear and Inclusive Slide Presentations

When using slide decks, be mindful of D/HH participants:

  • Allow time for reading: If a slide is text-heavy, give participants time to read before discussing the contents. This consideration ensures that D/HH individuals do not have to choose between following the interpreter or captions and reading the slide.
  • Visual clarity: Ensure that slides are visually clear and not cluttered, with high contrast between text and background for easier reading.

Create and Promote an Inclusive Culture

Beyond individual meetings, strive to create an environment that champions accessibility:

  • Training and awareness: Regularly train your team on best practices in communicating with D/HH participants and to foster an empathetic and informed workplace culture.
  • Model inclusivity: Encourage all departments to adopt these practices. When organizing meetings, leaders should act as role models in implementing and promoting these accessibility standards.
  • Learn best practices to communicate with D/HH individuals.

Be a Proactive Ally

Being an ally involves more than just accommodating requests. It means being proactive in anticipating needs and eliminating barriers before they impact participation. This proactive approach not only benefits D/HH individuals but also enhances the overall meeting effectiveness and inclusivity.


Adopting these strategies not only adheres to best practices in accessibility but also demonstrates a commitment to an inclusive corporate culture. By making small changes to create an inclusive virtual meeting, you not only comply with legal standards but also empower all participants, leading to more productive and engaging meetings. Remember, inclusivity in virtual meetings is not just about adding features; it’s about creating an environment where everyone can participate equally and effectively.

Implementing these guidelines will position your company as a leader in inclusivity, making it an attractive place for diverse talents and setting a standard for others to follow. Remember, every step towards inclusivity is a step towards a more effective and cohesive team.