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Online meetings

Online meetings have become much more common.

Many more people with intellectual disabilities use technology and take part in online meetings. Online meetings also make it easier to take part without having to travel.

It is good to follow the same Listen Include Respect guidelines for meetings when you are planning an online meeting. 
There are some extra things to think about for an online meeting:



Many people with intellectual disabilities do not have access to technology or need extra support to access technology. 


Data and internet access can be expensive. This is a barrier for some people with intellectual disabilities.

While you are planning your meeting think about people who may not have access to data or technology.


For example:  

  • Offer to pay for costs such as internet connection costs (data) or travel costs so people can go to an office where there are computers

  • Check that everyone who is invited has access to technology or can get support to access technology 

  • Share easy to follow guides in advance about how to use the online meeting platform

  • Offer a pre-meeting or a practice session to support people to understand how to use online meeting platforms



Think about which online meeting platform to use. 

It is a good idea if possible to use a platform which people have used before. 

For example, if people are used to using Zoom they will feel comfortable during the meeting. 


Online meetings can make language interpretation easier, as interpreters can join from different places.


English only meetings mean many people with intellectual disabilities cannot attend. Think about language interpretation during the meeting to allow people from different parts of the world to attend.

Online meetings also mean you can use captioning - many people with intellectual disabilities (and their supporters) find it helpful to be able to read the words people are saying on the screen.



Make all invitation information clear, short and easy to understand. 

If your online meeting has a registration form, make sure it is short and easy to understand.


Ask about accommodations or accessibility needs.


For example, check if people with intellectual disabilities need a support person to be invited, or if you need to provide extra time.


Remember that you could have people with multiple access needs - for example, a person with an intellectual disability who is deaf could need sign language interpretation and a support person. 


Send materials in advance.


Online meetings sometimes seem less formal than meetings in-person, but it is also important to share agendas in advance in online meetings. 

Agendas, pre-meeting activities (like things to read or think about in advance), and all of the discussion questions should be sent out
2 weeks before the meeting.



Make sure the link to the meeting is sent in advance and also re-sent on the day of the meeting so it is easy to find. 

You should also add the meeting link into the agenda and into an e-calendar invitation. 

Avoid using complicated passwords to join the meeting. One-click links are best.


Online meetings should not be any longer than 2 hours. 

There should be screen time breaks every 30 to 45 minutes. These breaks are important for participants but also for their supporters and any language or sign interpreters.


Just like in-person meetings, activities and small group discussions can make online meetings more interesting. 

Think about using break-out rooms or online activities like polls.

Be sure to clearly explain activities and plan for extra time. 


Just like in-person meetings, setting ground rules can help people to take part. 

For example a few online ground rules to follow could be: 

  • Find a quiet place to take your online meeting

  • Speak slowly and clearly into your microphone

  • Keep your microphone on mute while other people are speaking

  • Use the online chat to ask questions while other people are speaking

  • Use buttons or icons to share messages about accessibility. For example, Zoom has a reactions button we can use to tell speakers to slow down. 


Have extra help to make sure everyone is engaged.

In an online meeting, if the speaker is sharing their screen they won't be able to see all of the participants. If there are many people on the call it will be difficult to check on everyone.

Have one person in charge of making sure everyone is participating - they should check for Zoom reactions (like asking to go slower) and hands up, and can answer questions or help people in the chat box.

Useful resources


Example of a Plain Language Agenda


Example of a Pre-Meeting Document


Example of speaker briefing notes

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