Accessibility doesn't just mean making the physical space more accessible through structural design changes. It also permeates the virtual world, especially in the new normal of Zoom meetings. People who are deaf or hard of hearing often go through a lot of stress trying to closely follow what's being said by others in an online conversation. While it is encouraged to offer a sign language interpreter or training for employees in this field, it is not always possible to secure these provisions. That’s why a little support goes a long way in helping your coworker not only make out the content of a discussion but also participate in it.
So, the next time you have a deaf coworker joining you on a virtual call, be sure to:
Turn your video on so your coworker can SEE you talk and read your lips (Remember to ask your coworker what would be best for them beforehand, as unsolicited help can be confusing or disorienting)
Turn captions on
Talk at a normal pace and pause when needed
Avoid silhouette or similar forms of lighting that casts shadows on your face
Reduce unnecessary physical movements to minimize the risk of video lags in case of poor internet connectivity