Zoom: On schedule, at hand, even on the go

Zoom, one of today’s most widely used platforms for online meetings, has gone through a major leap in global popularity and recognition recently, especially during the pandemic. Fortunately, its accessibility on all supported platforms has also grown significantly, along with its usage.
Even if you’ve never used it before, fret not. Should you need to refresh your memory on how to download the app, start or join a meeting, review the meeting’s chat, share your screen, or just quickly look up that particular keystroke that always seems to elude your brain, this handout has you covered.

Downloading the app

There are native apps available for all major platforms, including iOS and Android devices, as well as plugins for the Firefox and Chrome web browsers or Microsoft Outlook. However, for best (the most accessible) results, it’s recommended to use the native app in all cases.
For iOS and Android, you can probably achieve the fastest results by opening up the App Store or Play Store respectively and searching for Zoom in the respective field. The correct app is called Zoom Cloud Meetings, the developer is simply Zoom, and the app is free. It should come up as the first result.
For Windows or Mac, it’s best to use the following link, although this works on mobile as well – it will point you to the respective platform’s store.
Once downloaded, just run the installer file and follow the on-screen instructions.

Joining a meeting

The easiest way to join an existing meeting is via the invitation the host should have sent you. For some meetings, registration in advance may be required. If this is the case, the e-mail will contain a „Register in advance for this meeting“ link that you need to click and fill out your first and last name and e-mail. Subsequently, you should receive another e-mail with details on how to join. Otherwise, the e-mail will simply contain the link to „Join from PC, Mac, iOS or Android“. Upon clicking it, if you haven’t installed Zoom yet, you will get a link to download it on the resulting web page. If already installed, look for the „Launch meeting“ button.

  • If you get the text „Please wait for the host to start this meeting“ upon joining, it simply means that the meeting has not started yet and that you need to wait for the host to start it for a while.
  • Remember to click the „Join with computer audio“ button once connected. Otherwise, you may not hear others. Also pay attention to the „Mute/unmute my audio“ button to make sure whether your microphone is currently muted (others are unable to hear you) or not. By default, your microphone is muted when entering a meeting.
  • Use the Alt key to view or hide the meeting controls. If they seem to be hidden by accident, just press Alt again at any time.
  • Use Tab to cycle through the controls.

The meeting controls and their respective keystrokes

  • F6 cycles between Zoom windows
  • Ctrl+Shift+Alt cycles between meeting controls (see above)
  • Alt+A mutes or unmutes the microphone (the „Mute/unmute my audio“ button); note the „Audio settings“ button next to this control (see below)
  • Alt+V starts or stops your video – others can see the picture from your camera; note the „Video settings“ button next to this control where you can choose the camera device to use for capturing as well as a virtual background. If transmitting video, the virtual background can help a lot if you are blind as you needn’t worry about what can possibly be seen behind you (your room etc.). However, lighting conditions are important for the virtual background to work properly. If there is too little light in the room, the virtual background picture will be mangled. If there is too much light behind you, your face will look dark. If there is too much light in front of you, your face will look too bright.
  • Alt+S starts sharing your screen (the „Share screen“ button), but the meeting controls have to be visible. If you want to share your screen, you need to choose whether to share the entire screen or just a specific app’s window. Also, there is a checkbox that controls whether your computer audio will be shared as well.
  • Alt+T pauses or resumes the screen share
  • Alt+R starts local recording. Meetings are recorded in MP4. By default, only the host can start recording. All participants see a notification popup window if recording is about to start. If you click the Record button as a participant, the host will see this and can choose whether to permit this or not.
  • Alt+P pauses or resumes the recording if you were the one to initiate it
  • Alt+F switches between full-screen and windowed view
  • Alt+H views or hides the chat panel. When entering chat, focus is placed in the message input field. If your screen reader does not announce this initially, you need to press tab once and then immediately shift+tab to fix this. Enter in the input field sends the message. Shift+tab moves you from the input field to the chat history list view. You can cycle between messages with the up and down arrow keys.
  • Alt+U views or hides the participants panel
  • Alt+Y raises or lowers hand
  • Alt+Q leaves the meeting; if you are the host, you can choose whether to just leave yourself or end the meeting for all connected participants

Screen-reader-specific keystrokes


Checking if audio works

  • Open the Zoom main window (not a meeting)
  • Click Settings
  • Press Tab to focus the Settings window and use the up and down arrow keys to find the Audio item
  • Here, you can test the microphone and speakers or choose the correct audio device for either one (see below)
    When finished, press escape to close Settings

If audio doesn’t work (you can’t hear others or your screen reader):

  • Open audio settings, either via the Settings window (see above) or via the „Audio settings“ button within a meeting
  • Check the „Same as system“ option for both your speakers and your microphone

This article is one of the outcomes of the project Inclusive education: ensuring participation of persons with disabilities in non-formal adult education (IEDA), in which the Teiresias Centre of Masaryk University is involved.


Lukáš Hosnedl
Jmenuji se Lukáš Hosnedl a překládáním nejrůznějších textů z angličtiny se na poloprofesionální úrovni zabývám už víc než deset let. Také se aktivně zajímám o přístupnost, asistivní technologie a technologie obecně. Baví mě ale třeba i tvůrčí psaní, hra na...