Below is a message I just sent to Zoom Tech Support. If you agree with my opinion, please take a little time to send them similar requests. It’s more effective if several people speak out.
I would like to report on a general problem, not specific to any meeting, and make some suggestions. I am blind and use the JAWS screen reader program. Like millions of other people, many blind people have increased their use of the invaluable Zoom platform to stay in touch and conduct business meetings in these challenging times.
As you know, when participants enter and leave meetings, it is announced. I assume visual participants see something on the screen. Screen reader users hear “John Smith has entered the meeting,” or “Sally Jones has left the meeting.” Because we are forced to hear this audio, it often seriously disrupts meetings, especially those with a large number of participants. Presenters who use screen readers are frequently interrupted and thrown off stride. Participants often have to ask presenters to repeat what they just said. It can even be awkward and embarrassing. Imagine yourself in a meeting conducted in a physical conference room. In the middle of a presentation, somebody suddenly blurts out “My name is John Smith and I am leaving the meeting.” He then gets up and walks out the door. Of course, everybody would be shocked at this outrageous behavior. A milder form of this can happen in Zoom meetings. To be perfectly frank, the main reason I leave meetings early is that I no longer think the discussion worth my time. But I don’t want to be forced to publicly proclaim it. One thing I recently figured out is to rename myself as a fake phone number. That way, when I leave nobody knows who I am. But I should not be compelled to resort to such devious behavior.
While there are ways that blind people can mute their screen reader program, that only works for those individuals who know the keystrokes. It does not help improve overall meeting quality for the other participants. And if I am a presenter, I may need to hear my screen reader program, so I must unmute it, causing me to hear this annoying verbiage again.
Giving participants and hosts the option to disable entry and exit notifications would greatly improve the Zoom meeting experience for screen reader users. I would suggest the following specific modifications to the Zoom app on the PC.
It would be advisable to make similar modifications in the appropriate places in the smartphone app.
Thank you for taking time to consider these ideas and hopefully implement them . I strongly believe that if You make these modifications in a future update, it will greatly improve the Zoom meeting experience for blind and visually impaired users of the Zoom Cloud platform.