Tips for Better Video Calls with Deaf/Hard of Hearing Participants

Tips for Better Video Calls with Deaf/Hard of Hearing Participants

For Deaf Workers, Zoom Meetings Pose Problems UPDATED

Zoom meetings can be a great source of frustration for deaf workers, as discussed in our introduction to this topic in For Deaf Workers, Zoom Meetings Pose Problems. Video calls have always presented problems for deaf employees. But with the increase in business conducted via video calling due to the Covid Pandemic, those problems can multipy quickly.

There are numerous issues for someone who must rely on captions to know what is being said. For instance, on Zoom the written transcript can begin to lag enough so anyone relying on the captions starts to get left out of the conversation. Or on Google Meet, which has captions built right in, there is no caption history, so participants need to pay full attention to the captions, so nothing is missed. Also  if a person is being addressed directly but their name is not stated, or not said until the end, they won’t know they’re being spoken to.

Tips for Better Video Calls with Deaf/Hard of Hearing People

So, in this era of increased video calling, what can we do to create a more inclusive video meeting environment?

  • Have everyone on the call use captioning so they can track the conversion and correct information that gets captioned incorrectly.
  • Eliminate as much background noise as possible
  • Have a well- lit environment that can help those who lip read.
  • Use good video quality and fast bandwidth.
  • Speak in complete sentences, rather than the cryptic speech many of us use day to day.
  • Allow only one person to speak at a time.
  • When addressing someone directly, say their name first.
  • Allow conversational space for someone to join in; use more pauses.

Enabling Closed Captioning in Zoom and Google Meet

You can enable captioning in a variety of ways. For all users in an account, you can verify that captioning is enabled under the Meeting tab/ Meeting (advanced). Click to toggle on and off. From here you can also click the lock icon to make the setting mandatory for all users in an account. Go here for more details on Zoom captioning set-up and controls.

As a meeting host, you can also provide a third-party closed captioning service.

For Google Meet captioning, click on the three dots in lower right corner and select “Turn on captions” next to the CC symbol.

These ideas can be helpful to more than deaf or hard of hearing individuals. People may be simply dealing with bad ear buds or speakers, or an ear infection instead of permanent hearing loss.

By following these helpful hints, your meetings will be more inclusive, efficient and clearer to all participants.

Work calls are not the only place to use these tips. You may even identify individual hearing issues during family calls. If a loved one appears to have trouble hearing on a video call, read our article on Whether Your Loved One Needs Hearing Aids.

Need Hearing Aids and Can’t Afford it?

If you cannot afford hearing aids, and you qualify for our help, LSH may be able to help with the cost (including co-pays and non covered hearing support).

To find out if you qualify go to How Do I Qualify or call us at 800-647-6638.

Note: For those who have difficulty using the phone, a helpful resource can be found at


How To Qualify