Accessibility Features of MS Teams and Zoom

The accessibility criteria in the following table apply to all types of virtual gatherings in Microsoft Teams (meeting, webinar, townhall) or Zooms (meeting, webinar, event) unless otherwise specified. Definitions of the term “meeting”, “webinar”, “townhall” and “event” and further resources are provided under Virtual Gathering Definitions.

This comparison was created by Christine Zaza and Samantha Fowler, Disability Inclusion Team, AccessAbility Services on April 26, 2024.

Download Comparison of Accessibility Features of Microsoft Teams and Zoom (Word Document)

Accessibility Criteria Comparison

Accessibility Criteria Microsoft Teams Zoom
Allows live events to be recorded and shared Yes Yes
Live closed captions (through AI): users can turn on/off live closed captions Yes Yes
Option to assign live, synchronous closed-captioner No Yes
Closed captioning window: can be enabled. In Zoom, the ASL window is a pop-out window (not embedded within the main Zoom screen). This allows you to move the ASL window to a position that works best for you (e.g., not blocking text on slide). No Yes
Transcription can be downloaded Yes Yes
Comments typed in the chat can be downloaded No Yes
Allows participants to attend via a dial-in phone Yes Yes
Enabled participants who are experiencing difficulties during the event to contact organizer through direct message Yes Yes
Users can magnify the screen content Yes No
Users can change the background Yes Yes
Users can use high contrast mode Yes No
Includes keyboard shortcuts Yes Yes
Compatible with screen readers Yes Yes
Dark mode option Yes Yes
Focus mode (i.e., host and co-hosts can view all participants' videos without other participants seeing each other) Yes Yes
Spotlight feature (i.e., puts a user as the primary active speaker for all participants in the meeting and recording) Yes Yes
Pin feature (i.e., individual users can pin a specific video or screenshare for themselves only) Yes Yes
Green room: For Microsoft Teams webinars and townhalls and Zoom webinars or events (i.e., not meetings): Hosts can test the virtual event space prior to a webinar or event (i.e., green room) Yes Yes

Virtual Gathering Definitions

Meeting (MS Teams and Zoom): a communications platform that allows users to collaboratively connect with video, audio, phone, and chat 

Webinar (MS Teams and Zoom): designed so that the host and any designated panellists can share their video, audio and screen. The host can unmute specific attendees. 

Townhall (MS Teams): an extension of Teams meetings, enabling users to broadcast video and meeting content to a large online audience. Townhall are meant for one-to-many communications where the host of the event is leading the interactions and audience participation is primarily to view the content shared by host.  

Event (Zoom): a virtual experience platform that allows hosts to create virtual and hybrid conference platforms with links to multiple concurrent sessions (meeting or webinar) and general conference chat outside of specific meetings 


University of Waterloo Educational Technologies Hum - Zoom 

University of Waterloo offers Microsoft Teams meetings, webinars, and townhalls. All employees have access to meetings and webinars. Contact IST For Townhalls.  

Microsoft Teams Accessibility for Live Events 

Zoom Accessibility FAQs 

Zoom at Carleton 

Microsoft Teams Overview of Meetings, Webinars, and Townhalls