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Make your meetings deaf aware

An illustration of a man using a laptop and wearing headphones

We’ve put together these tips to make online and offline meetings more accessible and inclusive for deaf people and those with hearing loss.

Before your online or offline meeting

Check if anyone needs communication support  

Ask before the meeting if anyone needs communication support. Participants might need a British Sign Language (BSL) interpreter or a text alternative to speech.

Text alternatives to speech include:

    • automated captions (for online meetings)

    • a transcript (for online meetings)

Allow plenty of time to arrange these.

Nominate a note or minute taker 

The note or minute taker should summarise actions and next steps.

Avoid asking an attendee who is deaf or has hearing loss, because they’ll be focused on following the meeting and possibly lipreading.

Test the technology

Make sure the technology you will use for the meeting is accessible by testing it with someone who is deaf or has hearing loss.

For an offline meeting, this may include a hearing loop system. For an online meeting, this may include video conferencing apps.

Read our guides to using accessibility features on video conferencing apps.

Send an agenda in advance

Circulate an agenda in advance so everyone has clear reference points to follow.

Schedule breaks

Schedule breaks if the meeting is likely to exceed more than 1 hour, and allow time for any BSL interpreters to swap over if they’re interpreting for a long time.

Pick a suitable location

Pick somewhere well lit without lots of background noise or other distractions.

During your online or offline meeting

Find a quiet place

Background noise will be picked up by some microphones and hearing aids, making your voice less clear.

For people with hearing loss, good sound quality is really important in order to be able to clearly understand what is being said.

If you can’t find a quiet place for an online meeting, use any noise cancellation features offered by the software or device you’re using.

Let people know who will speak

For offline meetings, ask delegates to raise their hands before speaking, so people with hearing loss can see who will speak next.

For online meetings, ask delegates to use the ‘raise your hand’ function and say their name before speaking. This lets lipreaders know who to watch next.

Don’t cover your mouth

People who are lipreading will need to be able to see the lip patterns of who is speaking. Don’t cover your mouth, chew gum or eat.

Speak one at a time

If colleagues are speaking over each other during a meeting, take control and remind attendees to speak one at a time.

Additional guidance for online meetings

Turn on captions

Automated captions are not 100% accurate. Hearing participants can support colleagues by turning captions on as well.

This allows participants to quickly clarify captioning errors and see how their microphone and background environment affect speech quality and captioning accuracy.

Mute yourself when you’re not speaking

This is really important as background noise can be distracting and confusing – but don’t forget to unmute the mic before you speak.

Turn your camera on

Keep still and stay close to the camera. Someone might be trying to lipread.

If you’re going to use British Sign Language (BSL), don’t blur your background because your hands may become blurred when you sign.

Record and caption your meeting

Make sure the recording includes captions and a transcript, and share the recording after the meeting for reference.

Download our poster guides

These posters contain our top tips for running an accessible meeting, video call or telephone call.

Download our video calls poster (PDF, 76KB)

Download our how to make your meetings deaf aware poster (PDF, 76KB) 

Download our deaf friendly phone call tips poster (PDF, 76KB) 

Contact us

There are lots of things you can do to make your organisation more inclusive for staff and customers who are deaf, have hearing loss or tinnitus.u003cbru003eu003c/bru003eWe can help.
Contact us

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Page last updated: 31 May 2024

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