Google Meet – Guide for blind users

This is a recovered post from Blogger.
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In this post I will be talking about Google Meet, which is the platform that I have been having all my lessons on during lockdown. It has also been one of the ways I chat with friends.
If you want to be able to follow along with what I’m talking about, anyone who has a Google Account can now create free meetings at
meet.google.com
or using the Meet app (for mobile devices only).
These meetings can last for an unlimited time but will be limited to 60 minutes after the 30th of September.
The Google Meet interface is very simple and only includes features that are essential in a meeting platform (for example Zoom lets you lock meetings, but Google Meet doesn’t have this feature).
Although this makes you think you might be loosing out, it also means there are less options to scroll through when you are in a meeting so you can find the option you need quicker.

Creating a meeting:
As explained above, you need a Google Account to create a meeting. If you don’t have one, you can create one with your current email address or if you’d rather have a new email address Google can give you an email address that ends in @gmail.com
If you already have a Gmail address or a YouTube channel, you already have a Google account and can login with your details to start using Meet.
Google Accounts also let you access Google Drive, Docs, Forms, Google Calendar, Hangouts and more. As an added bonus, users with Google accounts can edit and delete comments they post on this blog, and can also get notified when they receive replies to their comments.
Once you’re set up with a Google Account, or have signed in to one, follow these steps:

Step 1: Open the Meet website or app.
Make sure you have the website or app open on the Meet homepage. On this page there should be a few things including a menu button and a create a meeting button.

Step 2: Find the New meeting button.
Somewhere on the page should be a button labelled “New Meeting” or “Create meeting”
As this page is quite small, you should be able to find it just by navigating through the page.

Step 3: Click the button and a meeting is created.
Click on the button you have found. A new pop-up should appear with joining info and a share button, indicating your new meeting is now ready to go. Use the joining info to invite other people to your meeting.
N.B. You can use the same meeting if you want to meet again. Just remember that after a few weeks of inactivity the meeting may become invalid, and that you will have to admit people into the meeting every time you use it. You also need to save the joining info if you want to use the meeting again later, as Google Meet does not automatically do this for you beyond a 20 minute window after you leave the meeting.

Joining Meetings:
Joining a meeting is even more simple than creating one.
First, find the link you received. It should look something like this:
meet.google.com/ftb-hcyk-ich
Please note: This is not a working meeting invitation, it is just a demo link to show you what you’re looking for when searsting for your invite.

What happens if I receive the invite through Google Calendar?
The process is the same as before, just find the email you received inviting you to the calendar event, and click the link listed under “Join with Google Meet”
If the organiser has invited you via Google calendar, it should always appear as a link, rather than a code as Google will be in charge of creating the link and inserting it into the invite message.

Why are dial-i numbers only available for some meetings but not ones I create?
Call-in numbers are currently only available for meetings created by people which use a work or school Google Account, but this might change in the future.

Why can’t people signed into a school account join my meetings?
People signed in to school accounts (G Suite for Education accounts) can only join meetings created by other schools or companies, so they will have to switch to a personal Google account to join.

What happens if I’ve got no link and just have a code?
If you have only received a meeting code, not a link, you can either type it in to Meet, or create a link yourself (this isn’t as hard as it looks).
In this example invite, the meeting code that you may receive would be
ftb-hcyk-ich
As you may have already noticed, this is the same as the link, but just without the meet.google.com/ on the beginning of it.
So, you can quickly join a meeting where you have been given a code by typing
meet.google.com/meeting-invite-code
Where you replace meeting-invite-code with the code that was sent to you.
You can type this in a browser address bar (which is most straight forward), or on a mobile device you can even type it anywhere you want and copy/cut it to the clipboard. Then, open the Meet app and you should see a pop-up saying that you copied a meeting link, where you can click Join.
N.B. Meet will pick up links from the clipboard, but cannot paste a link into the code box unless you remove the meet.google.com/ from the beginning.
If you are having lots of meetings with someone who sends out codes, it might be useful to ask them to send you a link rather than a code. This will mean you can join meetings quicker (this is particularly important if the info is only sent out at the time of the meeting).

If you’d rather not create the link yourself, you can insert the code into the “Enter meeting code” box on the Meet homepage and press Enter.
N.B. This will connect you to the meeting without any kind of preview screen, so be prepared to join the meeting immediately if you would like to use this method.

Why am I being asked to sign in to join some meetings?
Meetings created using personal accounts require you to sign in with a personal Google account to join them, so that other people know who you are. Once you do this once, it should remember the login information on that device.

My tips on Google Meet:
When I have been doing lessons on Google Meet, I have joined the meetings on my school iPad using the Meet app.
The first thing to notice is that if VoiceOver is focused on the main speaker section, it will tell you who the main speaker is every time this changes.
Although this can be quite usebbl, this can change quite often in a lesson and can stop you from being able to hear the teacher. To stop this, you can focus VoiceOver somewhere else on the screen, like the Turn on microphone button.
It is also useful to have VoiceOver focused on this option as you can then just double-tap to mute/unmute.
If VoiceOver tells you the amount of unread chat messages every time a new message comes in, this means you are focused on the Chat tab and you can move off this to stop hearing these announcements.

What is chat?
Chat is a way to quickly send messages to everyone in a meeting. You cannot do private chats in Meet. If you need private chats, try something like Google Chat or Google Hangouts to send them messages via their Google Account, or use something like WhatsApp to message them for free (if you know their phone number).
Messages are only stored on participant’s devices until they leave, so they cannot view resources you posted after the meeting if they were just chat messages.
If you are using Google Meet for lessons, try posting the resource/recommended article/completed work on Classroom, which will make it available after the end of the meeting.

I always join the meetings on my iPad so that I can work on the Touch without having to try and switch to the meeting screen when I need to talk. Also, the Touch/Touch + seems to connect you to meetings in such a way that you create feedback and the sound quality is not very good.

Scheduling a meeting:
To schedule a meeting, you need a Google Account and the Google Calendar app.

Step 1: Open the Calendar app
Open the Google Calendar app or calendar.google.com

Step 2: Create the event
Click the “Create event” button and fill in information like the title, time/date and description.
Step 3: Add the Meet conference
Click on the button that says Add video conferencing, then select Google Meet if asked to select a meeting provider

Step 4: Invite guests
Click add people and invite the guests you would like to Meet with.

Step 5: Click Done
Click the Done button and the event will be created. Make sure to click “Send emails” on the screen asking you if you want to email invites to guests, as these emails will be the way guests can join your meeting

If guests sign in to the same Google Account that they received the invite on, they can join by clicking the Meeting title from the Meet homepage.
If you inviteuests via calendar, they will be able to join at the scheduled time of the meeting without needing to request access.
I hope you enjoyed this guide, more to come!

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