How To: Zoom Conference with Sign Language

American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters will need to join the Zoom meeting like any other participant and share their video. Interpreters should have the Zoom application downloaded on their device before joining the call for best functionality. Interpreters are placed into the Canvas courses as observers when interpreting has been requested and made available. Students who wish to view the ASL interpreter should select “Pin Video” in the Zoom context menu (“...”), after hovering over the interpreter’s video thumbnail. ASL interpreting can be requested and arranged through the Office of ADAptive Services for students register with their office. Typically more than one ASL interpreter will be in the same Zoom meeting for a class meeting. The student will need to switch the Pinned video to the other ASL interpreter in the meeting.

Support Resources:

Tips for Zoom Meetings with American Sign Language (ASL):

Virtual Backgrounds

Virtual backgrounds should not be used by participants communicating in ASL to the interpreter or by the ASL interpreter to ensure the best video quality and show all gestures properly.

Sound quality

Sound quality is important for all users and critical for people who are hard of hearing or rely on a sign language interpreter.

  • Reduce background noise: When speaking, stay close to the microphone or wear a microphone headset with the microphone close by. Reduce noise within the environment as much as you are able. 

  • Mute participants who are not speaking: Especially in class meetings, all participants should be muted except for the person who is speaking. The instructor can also use the Mute All tool or the Mute Participants on Entry option to apply muting to multiple participants at once. The “Mute participants on entry” option can also be selected when scheduling the meeting. Let participants know that they have been muted upon entry and state expectations for how and when they should un-mute themselves and participate. Having only the current speaker audible will provide better ASL interpreting and will reduce other noise present during the meeting.

Recording

You may wish to record a Zoom session, especially for participants who cannot attend or who don’t have a good Internet connection. 

  • Choose where to store the recording: You can either record a meeting and save it to Zoom Cloud or save the file to your computer. Zoom Cloud recordings can be automatically transcribed, this will provide automatic captions for recordings shared with the Zoom recording link

    • Note: Uploads to the Cloud may have a long turnaround time due to increased global demand. Additionally, automated captions may not appear immediately on the recording. If fast turnaround time is essential, record and save to your computer. If your recording requires captioning to fulfill a student or employee accommodation request, then machine-generated transcripts from Zoom or Kaltura are not sufficient and you will need edit the captioning for accuracy or work with elearning@fsw.edu to send the video to 3PlayMedia for captioning.

  • Share the recording: To provide the recording to the participants after the Zoom meeting, consider uploading the video file to Kaltura ("My Media") in Canvas and embedding the video into a Canvas Announcement or making the recording available in the "Media Gallery." Kaltura provides automatic captioning and an interactive transcript for the embedded player, improve the accuracy of the captions for your recording before sharing.

Chat

In-meeting chat can be very useful during meetings and classes, providing a participation channel for those working in noisy environments. There are just a few things to keep in mind.

  • Share chat content through additional channels. Some participants may be unable to access or fully utilize chat. Participants who are calling into a meeting, via phone, will not be able to see or contribute to chat. Assistive technology users can access, read, and contribute to chat, but may be unable to activate links placed in the chat window. Finally, all users run the risk of losing important links or content from the chat if this information is not saved in some way.

Recommendations:

  • If chat comments are being incorporated into a meeting, read the comments aloud as part of the meeting.

  • Send links from the chat to all participants by email before or after the meeting. 

  • Optionally, you can save the entire chat to your computer or the cloud, for your own reference or to share with others.

Screen sharing

Sharing your screen is a good way to display PowerPoints or other media, pull up an editable whiteboard, or walk participants through a process step-by-step. 

  • Verbalize what is on the screen. Participants who are calling in by phone or have poor Internet connections may be unable to see the screen. People who are blind or have low vision may also be unable to see the screen, and cannot read the screen-share contents using assistive technology. For the benefit of anyone who may be unable to see your screen, verbalize what is seen and the actions you are taking.

  • Share materials ahead of time. Send any materials you plan to display through screen sharing to your participants ahead of time through Canvas or an email. This allows everyone to access the materials, take notes, and follow along even if they cannot see the screen share during the meeting.

Breakout rooms

Breakout rooms can be used for small-group discussion and collaboration. 

  • Plan ahead for technical difficulties. Some devices and technical set-ups do not allow participants to join breakout rooms. See Zoom’s breakout room guidance for more information. Participants who cannot join breakout rooms can use the main room as an alternative space for discussion.

  • Pay attention to accommodations. If live captioning or ASL interpreters are present, then make sure to assign them to the same breakout room as the participant receiving the live captioning or ASL interpreting.

  • Give participants the ability to record. If the Zoom session is being recorded for later review or captioning, then the host will need to give participants the ability to record if the host will not be in the breakout room that needs to be recorded.

Adapted from: University of Colorado Boulder. (2020, June 25). Zoom accessibility best practices.