How to Host Online Events

Meeting coordinators and event speakers should ensure their online meetings and events and the materials they contain are accessible to all participants, including people with disabilities.

Although they are designed  to ensure inclusion for people with disabilities, the practices here will benefit many participants. We encourage you to adopt them for all your presentations.


  • Ensure the platform is accessible.
  • In your event announcements, invite accommodations
    • "To request disability-related accommodations, please contact [name, email, phone, or link to form] no later than [five working days] prior to the event."
  • Budget for live, human captioning or sign language interpretation
  • Provide materials in advance if requested
  • If requested, or if you would like to offer it, the Aira service, for those with visual or print disabilities, is available at no cost to attendees. Schedule by emailing [email protected]


As much as possible, use your natural background. Digital backgrounds increase eye strain and make it more difficult to read people's facial expressions. They cause fatigue, especially to people with disabilities, and should be avoided.



  • Use a simple font with high contrast
  • Limit the lines of text to 3 or 4
  • Use bold for emphasis
  • Use lists, with bullets or numbering wherever possible
  • Left justify text
  • Use plenty of vertical spacing between lines


  • Limit the information on each slide to avoid overwhelming participants
  • Use high-contrast colors, and do not rely on color alone to convey information
  • Keep graphics as simple as possible
  • Avoid complex charts or tables. Highlight only the most important information


  • If an accommodation is requested for slides or other materials in advance, check and fix them for accessibility


  • Follow best practices, for example by using built-in headings and styles, providing alt-text for images, and using only simple tables
  • If requested for an accommodation, ask guest speakers to provide accessible documents
  • Use simple fonts
  • Avoid digital PDF documents, or provide an accessible versions of the source files (e.g., Word, PowerPoint). If an accommodation is requested, remediate the PDFs, or have them professionally remediated.


  • Dampen or eliminate background noise
  • Describe visuals for people with visual impairments, viewing on a small screen, or who (such as the public or non-native speakers) may have difficulty understanding them

Automated Live Captions

Machine-generated live captions are a helpful feature for many people. Note that automated live captions are not necessarily sufficient for those who require captions as an accommodation. In such instances, meeting organizers should follow an attendee's accommodation need: in the case of a member of the University community, as documented by the Office of Disabilities, Human Resources, or the Office of the Dean of the Faculty; or in the case of a member of the public, as requested.

Zoom Automated Live Captions

Participants can turn captions on an off as needed. Note that captions are not saved.

PowerPoint Automated Live Captions

PowerPoint for Microsoft 365 can create captions and subtitles live as you speak during a presentation. The captions can appear in the same language you are speaking, or can be translated to subtitles in over 60 languages.

NOTE that you must be running PowerPoint for Office 365. If it is not installed on your desktop, use PowerPoint online:

  1. Go to Office 365 Online.
  2. Log in with your Princeton credentials.

Professional Live Captions

Also known by the technical term "Communication Access Real-time Translation" (CART), live captions are provided by a professional captioner. They may be required as an accommodation. Captions are shown over the bottom portion of the video window. 

For Major Events

  1. When you submit a request for Media Event/Production Support, indicate on the form the need for live captioning.
  2. You must then also separately schedule live captioning. We recommend CaptionFirst.
  3. CaptionFirst will then contact Video Production Support to coordinate captioning.

For Zoom Webinars

  1. To enable professional live captioning, you must first submit a request for a Video / Web Conferencing Account.
  2. Once your account has been established, schedule live captioning. We recommend ACS Captions or CaptionFirst.
  3. Contact Video Production Support with any questions or concerns.

For Zoom Meetings

  1. All staff Zoom accounts are Meeting accounts, so no account request is required.
  2. Schedule professional live captioning with either ACS Captions or CaptionFirst.
  3. Contact Video Production Support with any questions or concerns.