How To: Enable Captions and ASL Support in Zoom

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Zoom Automatic CaptioningTips for Zoom Meetings with American Sign Language (ASL)

Zoom Automatic Captioning

Zoom provides automatic captions for each meeting. When students or other guests (participants) are within a Zoom meeting, they can locate and select the "Show Captions" button which is represented as a CC Icon. Once selected, they can select the caption language, English is set as the default. Once the participant or host selects the language and selects the "Save" button, everyone within the meeting will be able to access the live automatic closed captioning.

Closed Captions button within Zoom.

Language selection box where English is set as default.


Prior to hosting a meeting or beginning a Zoom session, please follow these steps to ensure captioning and ASL options are available for any meetings:

  1. Log into your FSW Zoom Account Settings with your FSW credentials.
  2. The "Meeting" set of options should be displayed by default.
  3. Locate the "In Meeting (Advanced)" group of options, near the end of the Meeting options.
  4. Ensure the following "Meeting" settings are enabled:
    1. "Manual Captions" is toggled on with both options below it checked, "Allow host to type or assign a participant to type" and "Allow use of caption API Token to integrate with 3rd-party Closed Captioning services". These will ensure you are able to have the ability to use Verbit, if needed.Zoom meeting setting of Manual captions with recommended options selected.
    2. "Automated captions" is toggled on. You can edit the list of caption languages to meet your needs.Zoom meeting setting of Automated captions with recommended options selected.
    3. "Full transcript" is toggled on. This will provide a side panel which will display the transcription from when the participant joins the meeting. It will not display the transcription created prior to them joining.Zoom meeting setting of Full transcript with recommended options selected.
    4. (Optional) "Save Captions" is toggled on. This will allow the host and participants to save the full transcription from when they logged into the meeting. The user must select the "Save" option at the bottom of the transcript panel to save the current meeting from when they joined to that moment. Once the meeting ends this option is not available and it will not automatically save a file for the host or participant.Zoom meeting setting of Save captions with recommended options selected.
    5. (Optional) "Sign Language interpretation view" is toggled on. This allows an interpreter to be added when scheduling a meeting, however, if an ASL interpreter is present the participant may "Pin Video" in the Zoom context menu ("..."), after hovering over the interpreter’s video thumbnail in the meeting. The participant can do this for any individual participant regardless if this setting is enabled.Zoom meeting setting of Sign language interpretation with recommended options selected.
  5. Ensure the following "Recording" settings are enabled:
    1. Local recording settings should have "Save closed caption as a VTT file" checked. Optionally, you can allow recording for users who request it with the "Hosts can give meeting participants permission to record locally".Zoom local recording settings with recommended options selected.
    2. Cloud recording settings should have the "Save closed caption as a VTT file" checked.

Zoom Support Resources

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Tips for Zoom Meetings with American Sign Language (ASL)

Allow Participants to Multi-Pin

Typically more than one ASL Interpreter will be on a Zoom session longer than one hour, so the student and interpreters will all need to see eachother during the class session. The host (or co-host) can enable the Multi-pin feature for select individuals utilizing the Participants list:

  1. Open the Participants list on the meeting toolbar
  2. For each interpreter and the student requiring ASL select the "More" drop-down for each
  3. Select "Allow to Multi-pin"

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.


You may wish to record the lecture portions of a Zoom session, especially for participants who cannot attend or who don’t have a good Internet connection. Please review the FSW Virtual Classroom Standards prior to recording class sessions. Recording the full class with student discussion is not recommended by FSW.

  • 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: Automated captions may not appear immediately on the recording, an email notification will be sent to the host once the transcription is completed. 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 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.


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.


  • 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.

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Article ID: 108516
Wed 5/27/20 11:30 AM
Mon 6/10/24 2:31 PM

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