A businesswoman discussing work via virtual meetings with a caption that says Assistive Technology for Virtual Meetings

Assistive Technology for Virtual Meetings

June 3, 2024

As the option to work from home or remotely becomes more readily available and acceptable, virtual meetings have become an essential tool for many managers. In fact, virtual meetings have revolutionised how managers conduct business in today’s fast-paced and dynamic work environment. As organisations adapt to remote and hybrid work settings, the reliance on virtual communication tools has increased significantly.  


One of the challenges that Managers may face when utilising and conducting virtual meetings is ensuring that they are accessible to all employees. For some individuals, particularly those with disabilities or those facing accessibility challenges, participating in virtual meetings can be more difficult than it is for more able employees. Assistive technology can play a crucial role in ensuring that virtual meetings are inclusive, efficient, and productive for all employees.  


What is Assistive Technology? 


“Assistive technologies are those whose primary purpose is to maintain or improve an individual’s functioning and independence to facilitate participation and to enhance overall well-being. They can also help prevent impairments and secondary health conditions.” (World Health Organisation, Disability: Assistive Devices and Technologies 2021) 


Assistive technology encompasses a wide range of tools, devices, and software including screen readers, speech recognition software, ergonomic keyboards, alternative input devices, and more. In short, the technology offers support for employees that identify as having a disability to reach their full potential. 


By incorporating assistive technology into the workplace and more specifically, virtual meetings, managers can empower employees with specific needs to perform their tasks efficiently and effectively through inclusivity. By providing employees with the necessary tools to overcome barriers related to disability or accessibility, managers can foster an environment where all team members feel valued and supported. This, in turn, can lead to increased morale, productivity, and creativity among employees.  


Let’s explore some of the ways that assistive technology can enhance the virtual meeting experience for all employees:




For employees who are hearing impaired, having real-time captions displayed during a meeting can make all the difference in their ability to fully engage and contribute to the discussion. Subtitles not only ensure that valuable information is accessible to all participants but this in turn fosters a more inclusive and supportive meeting environment. Programs such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Skype already offer live captions allowing hearing-impaired employees the ability to keep up in meetings. 


Even though hearing-impaired employees may already have hearing aids or cochlear implants, some with limited hearing may also benefit from assistive listening devices to help further. These options rely on capturing sounds through a microphone and amplifying it via a speaker. Assistive listening devices that use this method include: 

  • Bluetooth systems 
  • Audio induction loops 
  • FM systems 
  • Personal amplified system or  
  • Infrared systems. 



AI Meeting Assistants 

Artificial Intelligence (AI) meeting assistants are designed to streamline the meeting process and improve productivity and effectiveness. This enables all employees not just those with disabilities or accessibility issues, the ability focus on the meeting and not on the technicalities. For employees who may have difficulty with typing or writing, speech-to-text AI assistant software can be a game changer. AI assistant software features can also commonly include the following functions:  


  • Speech-to-text: enables the conversion of the written text into multiple voice options 
  • Automated meeting scheduling: schedule meetings by sending out invitations automatically at convenient times for everyone involved 
  • Reminders: reminders can be sent to employees before the meeting to ensure they do not forget or miss the scheduled meeting 
  • Meeting notes: AI meeting assistants can listen in on conversations during meetings and make notes of the most important points discussed 
  • Meeting transcription: any online meeting is transcribed, so participants can review the discussion later 
  • Follow-up on action items: follow up action items are identified during online meetings 
  • Personalisation: employee preferences cannot be learnt and adapted to their meeting style, creating a more personalised meeting experience. 


Keep in mind that many common virtual meeting platforms like Zoom and Microsoft Teams have the capacity to record meetings and provide transcripts. 



White Boards 

The integration of whiteboard capabilities into virtual meeting platforms can facilitate visual brainstorming and idea sharing for all employees. This is a great option for visual learners. 


For employees who may have visual impairments or difficulty processing complex visual information, assistive technology can provide alternative modes of interaction with the whiteboard, such as audio descriptions or tactile feedback systems. These adaptations ensure that all participants, regardless of their individual needs, can actively contribute to and benefit from the collaborative aspects of virtual meetings.  



Recording Meetings 

Recording virtual meetings can also be immensely beneficial for employees, as it allows for easy review of discussions, decisions, and action items. Assistive technology can enhance the accessibility of recorded meetings through the incorporation of audio descriptions or speech-to-text functionality, making the content more comprehensible for individuals with visual or cognitive disabilities.  


Additionally, providing transcripts alongside meeting recordings ensures that information is accessible in multiple formats, catering to diverse learning and comprehension preferences.  



Engaging in open and respectful communication with employees about their specific needs and preferences regarding assistive technology can lead to more personalised and successful accommodations. Managers could also consider investing in training programs to familiarise all employees with the assistive technologies being introduced. This proactive approach can help foster a culture of learning, acceptance and understanding among the entire team.  

Ultimately, the successful implementation of assistive technology in meetings can lead to improved employee satisfaction, enhanced productivity, and a more cohesive and empowered workforce. 


By leveraging features such as subtitles, minute taking, whiteboard adaptations, and accessible recordings, business’ can create an environment where all employees, regardless of their abilities or challenges, can fully engage, collaborate, and contribute meaningfully.  

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