Improving Zoom's Closed CaptionAcademic Project
The CC feature is currently tucked deep in the account settings via Zoom’s website, an area where users don’t typically touch when using Zoom for video-conferencing via the desktop or mobile app. Since the feature is not easily located and the default setting for the CC is off, users need to take extra steps to provide CC, discouraging them from using the feature.

On top of that, deaf users express that due to the heavy reliance on the hosts (who often are unaware of how to turn on the feature) to provide closed caption via their account settings, the closed caption feature is frequently not available when needed.
How might we encourage Zoom users to actively use the closed caption feature while also assisting the deaf/hard of hearing (HoH) community to communicate their accessibility needs to their peers or colleagues?
I connected with the deaf community and the people who work closely with them, performed literature reviews, and conducted usability testing that lead me to my solutions: CC settings relocation and Request Closed Caption feature.

The relocation of the CC settings increased the visibility of the feature and reduced the frictions when accessing it. The Request Closed Caption feature allows users to communicate their needs fast, easy, and most importantly, noticeable, ensuring that their need is being heard.
✦ As a Participant: Requesting for Closed Captions✦
Participants who need closed captioning can send a request for its availability to the host during the meeting.
✦ As a Host: Responding to closed caption Request✦
The host will be notified by a pop-up window when someone in the meeting requested for closed captioning.
✦ As a Host: Configuring Closed Caption Settings✦
The host can configure closed captioning from the meeting room now instead of through Zoom's website, making it more visible and accessible for Zoom users.
Double Diamond Design Process
I conducted a secondary research via literature review and observational research from online forums such as Discord and Reddit to validate my assumptions regarding how deaf people navigate online communication and how closed caption is used by internet users.
Deaf users rely on closed caption when using Zoom.
Closed caption is one of the most reliable accessibility tools in terms of availability and privacy issues.

However, Zoom’s closed caption feature is host-dependent, so it is not always available for the participants to see despite it being crucial for them.
Closed captioning is universally beneficial for other spectrum of users.
Language learners use closed caption to help them pick up the words spoken.

Closed caption also helps to enhance clarity for speakers with heavy accents and/or high talking speed.

Moreover, users who are situated in a noisy environment can also benefit from closed captions.
I performed 3 group interviews with permanently deaf users, temporarily HoH users (eg. ear infection), and regular users who have experience using Zoom in a noisy environment.

I figured like, there must be a closed captioning feature on Zoom right? It just makes sense for them to have it, but to this day I still don’t know where it is, let alone how to operate it.”

Interviewee 1

It was actually bad, because that one time I needed CC because of the construction noise, the feature wasn’t there even though I had seen it before. And it was awkward too ask for CC halfway through the meeting.”

Interviewee 2
8 / 10
know the existence of the closed caption feature, but only...
4 / 10
know how to operate them.
After extracting the insights taken from the research process, I created two complete user journey maps of conducting a meeting with Zoom from the two user personas: users as hosts (first slide) and users as meeting participants (second slide).
Journey Map as a Host
Journey Map as Meeting Participant
From here, you can see that since turning on the closed caption is a learning curve for amateur users, it frustrates not only the host who is responsible to turn it on, but also for the participants who need it because they are unable to get the accessibility tool they need in a quick manner. I saw an opportunity to improve the experience here:
💡Opportunity 1

Relocate the CC configuration setting to an area where users will definitely see, which is within the meeting room.
💡Opportunity 2

Create a feature where participants can quickly raise about their need of closed captioning.
Designing with the purpose of giving users control of their decision-making and experience.
Designing with the purpose of making sure that the service is readily available within an easy reach.
Designing with the purpose of making it easier for users to take actions.
I created a before-after user flow to see how my solution improves the highlighted problem in this project before executing the design process.
Turning on CC as a host before and after
Turning on CC user flow before redesign
Turning on CC user flow after redesign
Requesting CC as a Participant before and after
Requesting CC user flow before redesign
Requesting CC user flow after redesign
Requesting closed caption as a participant
Participants can communicate their need for closed captioning quickly. Participants now can also cancel the closed caption request they sent for cases such as human error or they just simply don't need it anymore.
High-fidelity prototype of requesting CC after iterationHigh-fidelity prototype of requesting CC after iteration
Mobile view
High-fidelity prototype of requesting CC after iteration
High-fidelity prototype of requesting CC after iteration
Desktop view
Accepting a CC request as a Host
The request is displayed as a pop-up window on the host's screen to ensure that the host is notified about someone's accessibility needs.
High-fidelity prototype of requesting CC after iterationHigh-fidelity prototype of requesting CC after iteration
Mobile view
High-fidelity prototype of a host responding to a participant's CC request after iteration
Desktop view
Turning on CC settings during meeting as a Host
All closed caption settings are accessible within and during the Zoom meeting for easier and faster access, ensuring a smoother and more inclusive communication.
High-fidelity prototype of requesting CC after iterationHigh-fidelity prototype of requesting CC after iteration
Mobile view
High-fidelity prototype of a host turning on their CC settings from the meeting room after iteration
Desktop view
Turning on CC
⌛️ 2 - 4 minutes
💪 Turning on CC is laborious (web + app configuration)
⌛️ 10 - 30 seconds
👌 With the easy and quick access within the meeting room
Requesting CC
⌛️ 1 - 5 minutes
📢 Interruptive and dependent on manual communication
⌛️ 15 - 45 seconds
🤌 Non-interruptive, quick, and effective
🎉 Request Live Transcription feature is now a live feature on Zoom!
This project was completed before the feature was released. While it’s purely coincidental, this proves the need of a feature that helps users communicate their needs easily while using Zoom, alleviating users’ frustration.
Lessons Learned

🐣 The importance of accessibility

Through this project, I learned how deaf users navigate online communication and how their needs are often overlooked by other people. Creating an equal digital experience for everyone is crucial, especially now that we shift towards a fully remote work and school.

🐣 Designing with, not for

Actively involve the users through out the process to create a shared sense of ownership and to eliminate my personal biases.

Shoutout to Chris Hartley from Figma Community for the Zoom desktop assets!