Using Zoom virtual meetings if you are visually impaired

Zoom is an app that allows people to have virtual meetings and stay connected, as long as they have access to an internet connection. With Zoom, you can hold conference calls for up to 100 people using both audio and video.
Our Digital Enablement Officer, Richard, tested this app out on Android, iOS and via the website on a Windows laptop to see how accessible it is for people living with sight loss.

Downloading the Zoom app

First you will need to install the Zoom app onto your device or computer.  The following links should help you download the version you need:

App Store (for iOS devices) – download here

Google Play store (for Android devices) – download here

Desktop version (although this will be auto-installed when you join or start your first meeting) – download here

When initially accessing this app, you are given the opportunity to create an account. You only need to do this if you are hosting the conference calls or virtual meetings. Otherwise, you can just let the app sit on your device.

Image shows a PC screen with the Zoom app open. There is also the blue Zoom logo at the top of the image.
Image shows a member of Henshaws staff demonstrating some digital tech to an elderly gentleman.

Joining a Zoom meeting

Joining a meeting can be done in a couple of ways.  The host will have to give you the information, but you can either:

  1. Join from a link sent by the host (usually via email)
  2. Or the host can give you the meeting ID and the password for that meeting (either verbally or by text message/email, etc.)

If the host has sent out a link, just click on the link and your device will take you to the app (if you have it installed) or to the website via your default browser. You will automatically be connected to the meeting, but may have to answer a couple of questions regarding allowing your device to use the camera and microphone first.

If you join a meeting directly and not from a link, you will be asked for the meeting ID, which is a 9 digit number, and there may be a password if the host has password protected it.

Taking part in a Zoom meeting

The host will dictate whether it is an ‘audio only’ or ‘audio and video’ call.  The host also has the power to mute participants to maintain meeting discipline, although individuals can override this if they so choose.

The app works well with both Talkback and Voiceover, although Dynamic Fonts in iOS is mixed.  Where icons and symbols are used, the text associated with them appears to be a fixed size.

As a participant I found it very easy to use, and the audio and video were both good quality.  As with all other means of conferencing over the internet, the audio quality was much better when there was no video.

Swiping left and right allowed me to see the others in the meeting. Swiping left to the extreme brought everyone up in tiles on the same screen, swiping right to the extreme turned off my microphone and camera until I swiped left again.

As a host, the process was also straightforward, although not as easy as being a participant.

Image shows a member of Henshaws staff demonstrating a smartphone to a visually impaired man.
Image shows a laptop screen with 5 different sections each showing a different member of staff looking at the camera.

Zoom virtual meetings in practice

We hope you found the overview of the Zoom app useful.

Our staff have been getting to grips with using a range of video conferencing tools as we have been working from home in locations across Greater Manchester and beyond during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Here is a photo of one of our virtual staff meetings!

We have seen an increasing number of uses for the Zoom app across the internet , including quiz nights, bingo, and virtual coffee mornings! Our world has never been so connected thanks to technology.

Find out more

We are very impressed with the commitment Zoom has made to the accessibility of its app across the different platforms.

If you want to find out more, check out the accessibility page on Zoom’s website. Zoom has also put together a list of keyboard shortcuts and answers to frequently asked questions about accessibility.

Hartgen Consultancy has also developed JAWS scripts for Zoom which give users even more control over how the JAWS screen reader interacts with the Zoom client.

Mosen Consulting has produced an audiobook which discusses in-depth how to use Zoom with JAWS for Windows and VoiceOver on iOS.

Disclaimer: There have been known cases of privacy breaches in which hackers have been attending Zoom meetings, and in some instances, sharing inappropriate content.

If you are at all concerned about the privacy of your meeting, this useful article, published during the Covid-19 pandemic, explains the preventative measures that you can take to protect your meeting.

Zoom is just one of many apps that can be used to communicate with family, friends and colleagues.

If you want more information on using technology to communicate with people remotely, give us a call on 0300 222 5555 or email info@henshaws.org.uk to speak to one of our Digital Enablement Officers.

You can also check out our Knowledge Village where we have useful content which may help with communication. We have a series of videos discussing the accessibility features of Apple products and much more content to help you get the most out of technology.

We can't do it without you

Henshaws rely on voluntary donations; our work just wouldn’t be possible without people like you. Your support empowers local people living with sight loss and a range of other disabilities to increase their independence, achieve their dreams, and go beyond expectations.

Donate now

Sarah
Sarah
Sarah is the Marketing Manager with responsibility for Community Services across Greater Manchester, and the Knowledge Village.