Chart bar icon

How to Make Meetings Accessible for Everyone

DEI&B has become a top priority, but there’s still one aspect that often gets overlooked: accessibility. Learn how to make meetings accessible for all.

View the How to Make Meetings Accessible for Everyone Infographic


While business leaders and human resources managers have become increasingly aware of the importance of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEI&B), there’s still one aspect of DEI&B that often gets overlooked or inadequately addressed: accessibility.

As a result, people with disabilities continue to encounter barriers to participation at work.

What is a disability?     
dis·a·bil·i·ty (disəˈbilədē) n.: A condition that impairs a person’s ability to perform day-to-day activities.

Some are genetic, and some are acquired through accidents, illnesses, or chronic conditions. Disabilities may be temporary or permanent, and many are invisible.

There are many ways organizations can become more accessible for people with disabilities of all kinds:

  • Physical
  • Cognitive
  • Sensory
  • Mental
  • Intellectual
  • Learning

The one aspect of work that impacts all employees: meetings

  • Technological barriers
    • How they’re a barrier
      • Some people can’t read on-screen text
      • Flashing or strobing effects may be uncomfortable for some
      • Without captions, people with hearing impairments might not be able to follow the presentation
    • How to overcome them
      • Use PowerPoint’s built-in Accessibility Checker
      • Make sure all pictures and graphics have alternative text
      • Ensure that all videos have captions
      • Provide warnings for videos that have flashing or strobing effects, and prepare an alternative
      • Allow participants to read the transcript on their own
  • Information and communication barriers
    • How they’re a barrier
      • People have different learning styles and absorb information differently
      • Without taking this into account, your meeting might be less effective
    • How to overcome them
      • Ask participants how they prefer to work
      • Pay attention to those who don’t seem engaged, and ask how they’d like to contribute
      • Include visuals to help convey information
      • Ask participants questions to check for understanding
      • If someone prefers not to make eye contact, understand that this is important for their comfort and doesn’t mean they aren’t engaged
  • Physical (built environment) barriers
    • How they’re a barrier
      • In-person meeting spaces can pose problems if:
        • They have narrow doors that aren’t wheelchair-accessible
        • They aren’t acoustically treated, resulting in echoes or loud, ambient noise
        • They’re in a busy area with high traffic and potential for interruptions
        • Chairs are arranged in a way that doesn’t permit lip readers to see others talking
        • They’re off-site at locations that are hard to travel to or park at
    • How to overcome them
      • Choose locations that are easy to get to
      • Make sure the space has room for wheelchairs and mobility devices
      • Arrange chairs so everyone is visible
  • Attitudinal barriers
    • How they’re a barrier
      • Using patronizing or ableist language
      • Suggesting that those with disabilities can’t take on tasks or lead projects
      • Assuming things that people with disabilities can and cannot do
      • Resenting those with disabilities who get accommodations
    • How to overcome them
      • Ask how employees who have disclosed disabilities would like to be referred to
      • Understand that people with disabilities are experts at navigating a world that wasn’t designed for them
      • Ask for suggestions to make meetings more accessible
      • Don’t speak on behalf of people with disabilities
  • Organizational or systemic barriers
    • How they’re a barrier
      • Practices and policies embedded in an organization can contribute to barriers such as:
        • Requiring everyone to attend meetings in person
        • Asking people with disabilities to participate in ways that pose challenges for them
        • Lacking an accommodation policy
    • How to overcome them
      • Revisit meeting practices and ask yourself if they provide options for those who find it challenging to attend in person
      • Brainstorm ways to invite participation
      • Create a formal policy regarding accommodations and share it internally and externally

Different types of meetings

  • Team Huddles: Quick, focused meetings that serve as “check-ins” for teams to determine action plans.
  • Walking Meetings: Meetings designed with wellbeing in mind. However, this style of interaction should be used thoughtfully — be sure that everyone can participate comfortably.
  • Silent Meetings: A concept that originated at Amazon, where the chairperson or facilitator opens the session with a topic or question. Then, everyone works quietly. When it’s time to share, people do so by using sticky notes or virtual chat.

Elements of a successful meeting: do’s and don’ts


  • DO
    • Invite people with disabilities to co-develop accessibility policies for meetings
  • DON'T
    • Forget that accessibility is the “unofficial” fifth component of DEI&B


  • DO
    • Circulate an agenda at least 24 hours before
    • Provide instructions and expectations in advance
  • DON'T
    • Schedule during typical commuting hours
    • Have a meeting if you don’t need to


  • DO
    • Introduce new people
    • Offer a variety of formats for participating (i.e., sharing ideas in writing instead of speaking)
  • DON'T
    • Put anyone on the spot by asking them to discuss their disability without getting permission
    • Forget to provide breaks

Meeting content

  • DO
    • Use plain language, avoiding jargon, idioms, acronyms, and complex sentences
    • Use inclusive language
  • DON'T
    • Use handouts that are low-contrast
    • Choose hard-to-read fonts — studies show Helvetica, Arial, Courier, and Verdana are best


  • DO
    • Ensure that captions are turned on
    • Record the meeting to create a meeting transcript
  • DON'T
    • Use tools that are mouse-dependent or don’t have the ability to utilize keyboard shortcuts

In conclusion…

Meetings are one of the principal ways that an organization communicates with its employees. That’s why they must be all-embracing in every sense — including accessibility.

Important resources

Visit the resources below to learn more:

©2023 UKG Inc. All rights reserved. For a full list of UKG trademarks, please visit All other trademarks, if any, are property of their respective owners. All specifications are subject to change.