13 April 2020 | Ted Page
We are now offering our PDF accessibility training online, using Zoom video conferencing. But is Zoom itself accessible?
The answer is yes, to quite a high level. Zoom’s own accessibility testing results state that, with exceptions, Zoom is compliant with WCAG 2.1 AA, EN 301 549 and Section 508. The stated exceptions are mainly around audio descriptions for videos, some input fields that do not include error messages and error suggestions, and a few features and dialogues that are time restricted.
Zoom make available detailed documentation on their product’s accessibility testing. Also on their site are lists of Zoom’s built-in keyboard shortcuts for Windows, Mac, Linux and iOS. These work well with both JAWS and NVDA, allowing the user to navigate easily and to operate most of the controls (see below). Also on this page are instructions for customising shortcuts.
We were able to use all of the relevant panels and controls with both JAWS (2020) and NVDA (2019.3), in both cases with the exception of Zoom’s annotations section. We were also able to access web pages and PDFs with both screen readers when in Share Screen mode.
We also found that Zoom works well with literacy software Read&Write Gold (version 12). However, one major assistive technology that we found struggles a little with Zoom is (ironically) ZoomText Reader (2020). Although it was possible to navigate between Zoom’s various panels using Zoom’s keyboard shortcuts, in ZoomText Reader, disappointingly, keyboard access to the content and buttons within those panels was not possible.
Other accessibility features
Zoom’s other accessibility features include:
- The ability to add live captions (using a third-party provider)
- The ability to produce an automated transcript once a meeting has ended
- The ability to prevent meeting controls from auto-hiding
- The ability to play a sound when someone joins or leaves a meeting
For the purposes of this post, we only tested Zoom and none of the other video conferencing options now available. And as summarised above, the results were generally good. For an overview of the comparative accessibility of Zoom’s competitors see The Big Hack’s Best video conferencing apps and software for accessibility.