Transcribing Video Calls: Accessibility Tips When Working From Home

By Workplace Initiative Team
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Right now, lots of people are working from home to slow the spread of the coronavirus. And while working from home can be a reasonable accommodation for some people with disabilities, it can present new challenges for others. Video calls, for example, can be a barrier for some employees with disabilities. 

Some of your staff may already be comfortable asking for tools or accommodations they need to do videoconferencing or video calls. But it’s possible that some employees haven’t disclosed their disabilities. And even if they have, they might not feel comfortable asking for accommodations.

One way you can help all of your employees is by taking comprehensive notes of your video calls. Read on to learn why good video call notes can be especially helpful for people with disabilities.

Why good video call notes are important for accessibility

Video calls can help teams share information and stay connected while everyone is working from home. But some employees may have trouble participating in these calls. Here are a few reasons why good notes can help employees with disabilities access the information that is conveyed during video calls.

Employees may have hearing loss, whether they’ve disclosed it or not. And hearing loss can make it harder for an employee to participate in a video call. For example, employees who typically use visual cues to help them understand in-person conversations may have a harder time seeing those cues on a video call. Or their teammates might turn their video on and off during a call due to low bandwidth or distractions at home.

Employees might have disabilities that make it harder for them to focus and process information via video chat as opposed to in-person. And that can be especially true during a time of high anxiety, like the one we’re in now.

Sharing comprehensive, well-organized notes of your video calls can help people with disabilities stay fully in the loop when working from home. And like many accommodations for people with disabilities, these notes can also be useful for your wider staff.

How to take good meeting notes on a video call

There are several options for taking meeting notes on video calls. 

For one, there’s the old-fashioned way. Designate an employee to take notes from the call. It’s good to ask for a volunteer so you can avoid putting someone on the spot. Some teammates may have disabilities that can make taking notes in real time difficult or stressful.

You can also use transcription software to take notes. Here are some options:

Whichever method you choose, make sure the notes are shared in an accessible document format after the call. 

Right now, lots of teams are learning best practices for video calls on the fly. And they’re doing it during a stressful and unpredictable time. Taking solid notes of your video calls is one good way to help your whole team feel more organized and productive—whether or not they have disabilities.

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