Accessibility Expert Discusses the Importance of Zoom’s New Closed Captioning Feature

Zoom allows users to enhance accessibility and flexibility with the new closed captioning feature. Once enabled, the feature makes it easier for users to type captions during a webinar or meeting. Users type directly into the video conferencing platform or via an integrated third-party software.

Additionally, Zoom generates captions if you save the content of a webinar or meeting to the cloud. The application employs automatic speech recognition tools to produce captions.

Jon Buonaspina, an accessibility expert at LI Tech Advisors recently talked about the new feature. Here is what he had to say.

How Can the Zoom Closed Caption Feature Help Users?

Buonaspina said the new closed captioning feature benefits a broad spectrum of users. As a Certified Professional in Web Accessibility (CPWA), he has in-depth knowledge of various aspects of multimedia and Zoom accessibility.

Meeting participants with hearing disabilities typically occupy the top of the list when considering accessibility benefits of captioning. Buonaspina also mentioned people with cognitive disabilities as another group that takes advantage of Zoom’s closed captioning feature.

In addition, multimedia accessibility features like captioning are beneficial to individuals who prefer reading on-screen texts to listen to the speech. Likewise, anyone viewing the meeting or webinar from a noisy environment can rely on captions to follow proceedings. Some people can find captions useful when viewing the content from a noise-sensitive environment.

What Is the Effect of the Manual Captioning on Viewers’ Experience?

According to Buonaspina, live captions still entail manual input. On the other hand, Microsoft Teams comes with an advanced live captioning feature that automatically generates captions. Hence, Zoom users need to save the content to the cloud to take advantage of the integrated closed captioning software.

Manual captioning leads to a significant delay between the dialogue and the appearance of on-screen text. The captioner takes time to listen and type the dialogue. Companies need to assign the task to a highly skilled captioner capable of typing faster without compromising the on-screen text’s quality to reduce the delay.

Jon Buonaspina noted that manual inputs also come with one advantage: ensuring accuracy. Automatic captioning software tends to generate texts that are 60 to 70 percent accurate. A highly skilled captioner raises the accuracy level to between 85 and 95 percent.

What are Captioning Best Practices?

To enhance the accessibility of Zoom meetings and webinars, Buonaspina recommends adhering to basic captioning rules and best practices. He urges captioners to ensure that the on-screen text is verbatim. Thus, it is vital to avoid modification or censorship of the dialogue. This rule applies, even if the dialogue includes swear words.

In addition, captioners should type the current speaker’s name and title. Likewise, there is a need to convey essential or informative background sounds. Doing so helps viewers, including persons with disabilities and those viewing from noisy environments, understand the content’s context. This rule also applies to off-screen dialogue (with an indication that the words come from an off-screen speaker).

Carl Fransen from CTECH Consulting Group in Calgary ( shares, “Zoom’s closed captioning feature has several benefits, including maximizing flexibility for users and enhancing engagement. Anyone attending the meeting while on the go requires an alternative way to follow proceedings if they are unable to listen to the audio. Additionally, the captions are useful for team members who cannot attend the meeting.”

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, Jon Buonaspina applauded Zoom for demonstrating a commitment to ensure accessibility of meetings. He urged the video conference platform to include an automatic live captioning feature. In doing so, Zoom enhances the viewing experience for all participants, including anyone requiring captions.

He also emphasized the need to educate users about how to generate quality captions for business meetings. Buonaspina invites people interested in learning more about accessibility, Zoom’s language interpretation capabilities, or other tech topics to get in touch with him at LI Tech Advisors.