Zoom Accessibility Distractions


It would be nice if Zoom considered neurodiversity as much as it has deafness. I’ve complained to Zoom through the Help menu feedback feature for the past year about its unfriendliness to me, with no sign of improvement.

Zoom has worked hard on deaf accessibility. An automatic transcript can be provided, and I believe they’ve also made provisions for live human transcription. Meetings can pin multiple speakers, allowing for an ASL interpreter to be pinned alongside the speaker.

The experience for neurodiverse folx could use as much love. A Zoom meeting has a lot of distracting motion.

  • Video frames move around as people enable or disable their videos or start talking.
  • Attendees can enable animated backgrounds.
  • ASL speakers are moving continuously, a necessary feature of their work.
  • People on handheld smartphones or carrying their laptop around may present shaky images.
  • People may be using a hands-free smartphone in their moving car.
  • The participant list shuffles as people come and go or talk.
  • If I close the Chat window, there’s a pop-up notification every time someone posts to chat. (I think there might be a way to turn this off already.)
  • If someone coughs or squeaks their chair while speaker view is enabled, they suddenly become the speaker.

As a neurodivergent individual, I need a way to shut out all this motion, yet get updates when I’m ready for them.

  • Once I pause, the only indication things have changed would be that a “…” indicator appears and remains static until I click it to update my display, then disappears until there are new updates. For video windows, the pause button would prevent all rearranging until I click the “…”. Clicking “…” would not un-pause; only clicking Play would. Clicking “…” would merely update the display to the current state. I’ll leave it to the @Zoom UI/UX engineers whether there would be one pause button and one “…” for the entire interface, or separate ones for video, chat, etc.
  • For the issue of high-motion backgrounds, I would want the ability to hide any videos that are providing too much input to allow me to focus. I get to decide which videos; this would be an extra menu item on each videos right-click menu: Hide this video.
  • Add the ability in speaker view to set a delay that someone has to actually speak for two or more seconds before speaker view switches to them, to reduce false switches

I’ve been working around the distracting video issue by using Stickies. But setting that up and moving the Stickies around as videos move and resize during a meeting distracts me from the meeting.

I also often turn off Hide Non-Video participants, which helps a bit, but would prefer to be able to focus on the speakers. And alas, videos still re-shuffle.

It’s been a year that we’ve been doing this. @Zoom has made frequent improvements. Please Zoom, get on this.

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