Lockdown means we can’t meet face-to-face, but no matter because virtual is the answer. It might even carry on being the answer beyond lockdown. The question is: which virtual platform to adopt? After doing a small amount of research, I have decided to pledge my allegiance to Zoom.

Before 23 March I’d never heard of Zoom but now I can’t move for people zooming. So, as a user of screen reader JAWS and iPhone’s Voiceover, how would I get into Zoom? My advice would be to assume you haven’t already got it. This is very important because I was told I already had it on my laptop only to spend a long time trying to find it, even when using that little key to the left of the alt key to bring up the Cortana windows search. Having concluded that I didn’t have it, I had to seek it out there on the web. I decided to download it on my iPhone and now I can hear the word Zoom at the foot of page two of the home screen. 

As is customary when I download an app, I ignore it for ages. About two weeks in this case. I had heard somewhere that it is not enough to download the app but I had to set myself up with a Zoom account. I have no memory of this process which means it was either quick and easy or because I’ve simply banished the trauma to my subconscious. Suffice to say, it worked. All I do recall is that I was asked to provide an email address and password in the traditional way. 

Now for getting Zoom on the laptop. Time to open the browser and search for the Zoom website. I typed Zoom Cloud Meetings into the Google search field. The first result seemed relevant so I entered on that. Indeed, it brought me to the right place and after some tabbing and arrowing and hitting H for heading I found a link called the download centre and entered on that. I was confronted with about eight different Zoom options from which to choose. I eliminated the mobile apps, but I had no idea which one to select from the others. What if I download one that was completely inappropriate? I asked several people but nobody knew. Note: it seems that people find it easy to forget the set-up process once they have done it; a bit tricky for those following in their footsteps. Then again, these pioneers had nobody to consult when they tried it. Sometimes greater independence is gained by assuming you are on your own.

So, I opted for Zoom client meetings – or was it Zoom meetings client? I can’t remember. Whatever the correct phrase, I pressed enter on download and it brought up a question: did I want to run or save Zoom installer? I did not know what this question meant and neither did anyone else I consulted so I tossed a coin and hit run. There were no objections from the PC but neither was there a friendly message declaring that the download was complete. I didn’t know what to do. Then, I don’t know why, but for some reason I went back to Cortana and typed in Zoom and I got something new come up called Start Zoom! Did I dare to believe that it worked? I entered on start Zoom and found … oh, a dialogue asking me to create an account. But I already had an account, the one I set up on the iPhone. Couldn’t I just log into that? I tried to find a sign in option where I could input my email address and password – oh yes, what were they? – but to no avail. I couldn’t seem to get off this persistent create dialogue. Now I felt enveloped in a heavy, clammy cloak of despair. There must be something wrong with me! To compound it all, everyone else using Zoom has no idea what I am on about.

My next move, I think, was a masterstroke. I shut down the PC and did some leisure reading instead. After that, I went to bed.

The next day when I booted up, I dreaded to think what Zoom had in store for me. I brought up Start Zoom via the Cortana search key and something very different happened. I found not a create account dialogue but a sign in one! So, it is worth leaving things alone for a bit to see if they sort themselves out. Now I was free to input the all-important email address and password and access my account. I am a Zoomer – now my troubles can really begin!


Liam O’Carroll, London Vision Project Coordinator, 12 May 2020. For more COVID-19 related news, resources and information, check out our resources page.