Make Webinars Accessible

With COVID-19 and a shift to remote work, webinars are a common way to conduct Town Halls, large presentations and training events.

The sooner accessibility is addressed in the project the less remediation is needed after. One question to ask yourself when planning a webinar is will the webinar video be live and/or pre-recorded? There are different WCAG 2.0 guidelines for each type, for example a live broadcast will cost more to make accessible due to the cost of human transcriptionist. Here's some best practices.

Identify Vendor Partners

Here is a link to some Closed Captioning Services and pricing, put together by our colleagues at UCSD. This is a good starting point for estimating costs and exploring vendors for live and pre-recorded videos. Pay special attention to the comment column as some vendors already have contracts with UC or individual campuses plus there is other helpful info. The first section is for automated services typically used for pre-recorded videos. The second section is for non-automated services where a human is involved for live sessions.

Tips for a live broadcast session 

  • Choose a non-automated service with a live person stenography service as seen in the recent Friday Town Hall Meetings. This type of service can be $125+ per hour because a real person is involved. This is typically done through an integration with a webinar system such as Zoom.
  • Estimate extra time for set-up with the live stenographer prior to the start of the broadcast. 

Identify Roles

One person may be able to pull off a Zoom meeting on their own, but with the complexity of a webinar, you may need to collaborate with content contributors, moderators, UCSF IT AV tech supportEducational Technology Services (ETS), caption reviewer/editor, and/or vendor technical support. Large scale events may warrant a project manager.

Identify Technology

What types if technology will be used? This includes any of the following: webinar system such as Zoom, file formats of materials, Learning Management Systems (LMS), online learning environments, conference software, video camera, microphone, and automated accessibility checkers.


Test all materials for accessibility before including in the webinar, such as PowerPoint slides. Test again after a webinar is recorded and distributed or before and after out into a LMS.

Use this 3-tiered approach to testing your webinars.

1. Test materials with accessibility tools such as Siteimprove, the Accessibility Checker in Word, PowerPoint and Acrobat.

2. Test materials manually.

  • Use keyboard testing to make sure someone who does not use a mouse can navigate through a posted recording or when it is put in an LMS. 
  • Make sure video captions are available and accurate.

3. Test materials with users with disabilities.

Posting Your Webinar

If you have a UCSF Drupal Hosted Website, the best practice is to link to your webinar from your site to a 3rd party video hosting service such as, but not limited to, YouTube or Vimeo. Posting or embedding in another Content Management System such as Wordpress or an online learning environment or Learning Management System (LMS) may require collaboration with the technical support for these services. It is not recommended to link to videos housed in Zoom folders.