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Improve Zoom Meetings for Those with Hearing Loss

We are pleased to announce that closed captioning is available for First Church Zoom meetings and events! This is part of our effort to serve members and guests who may find it difficult to understand communication via Zoom, especially those with hearing loss. We currently have only two accounts that offer closed captioning, so if you know the participants for your event or meeting would appreciate this option, please get your closed captioning request in early when you reserve your First Church Zoom room with the online form.

Captions are helpful even for people who use hearing assist devices, since those devices do not usually restore normal hearing. This is especially true when many people participate in a Zoom event and the quality of computer equipment varies from one person to another.

It is important to remember that we hear with our eyes and our brain as well as our ears.

All of us can help increase accessibility through the following suggestions:

  1. Ask participants to turn on their video when speaking and be sure their camera image includes their full face (especially their mouth).
  2. Select “speaker view” while you listen. Speaker view displays a larger image of the person who is speaking so you can watch their lips and facial expressions.
  3. Speak close to your microphone. Speak clearly and more slowly than usual. This will help our Artificial Intelligence automatic captioning service translate your words into text more accurately.
  4. Avoid talking on top of one another. A slight pause between speakers helps a listener’s brain adjust to different voices.
  5. Allow participants to ask for clarification as needed.
  6. Ask people to mute themselves when they are not speaking to reduce background noise. This also ensures that images of people who are not speaking do not replace the one who is speaking on “speaker view.”
  7. Whenever captions are available, include this information as part of the event announcement and publicity. People make decisions to attend based on whether or not they’ll be able to understand speech.
  8. Event leaders can provide a cheat sheet to participants on how to activate and control captions that can be shared prior to, and at the beginning of, the session. Settings are especially important to self-control the size of the text. Please request the cheat sheet from our First Church hearing assist volunteer BJ Ermenc at prior to the event.

Rev. Dena McPhetres and BJ Ermenc

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