resources

Suggested Resources for Setting up a Temporary Online Meeting

The following information is a starting place to set up an online meeting for your group by using a free or a very low-cost conferencing service.

To begin, it is suggested that the group conscience designate a service position to start the account, organize the distribution of the information (dial-in number and code), and then host the online meeting.

It may help if the person attends one of the many existing online groups that can be found at the Online Intergroup of Alcoholics Anonymous: https://www.aa-intergroup.org/directory.php to get a feel for how phone meetings are run. They also have this resource with pamphlets and information: https://www.aa-intergroup.org/downloads/index.php


Here are some free and low-cost technologies: 

Zoom.comFree services include the following, but a low-cost monthly subscription will remove most of these restrictions:

  • Host up to 100 participants
  • Unlimited 1-to-1 meetings
  • 40-min limit on group meeting
  • Unlimited number of meetings
  • “HIPPA compliant” provided the host ensures recording is prohibited, as it should be in any meeting.

FreeConferenceCall.com
One of the more popular sites, FreeConferenceCall.com, is easy to use and is (as the name implies) free for a basic account.


Suggestions for Hosting Virtual Meetings:

  • Here is an example meeting script if you want to off and running:
    » Online Meeting Script
  • Please log in 15 minutes early to start the meeting room and offer technical assistance.
  • Everyone should mute their phone unless they want to share, or want to interject a laugh or other nondisruptive sound.
  • If you giving/chairing Zoom meetings, or you know someone who is, here are some tips to turn off screen sharing. Evidently trolls have figured out how to disrupt online Zoom meetings and the article below shows you how to turn this feature off. https://techcrunch.com/2020/03/17/zoombombing/
  • If two people try to share at the same time, the facilitator or chairperson can break the tie if needed.
  • Due to lag in conference calls, it’s probably best to have one person lead the opening/closing prayers. Otherwise, a hilarious discord will ensue. (Same goes for intros for new people)

Online Anonymity

To maintain online anonymity, default settings within Zoom need to be changed.

The default Zoom settings run counter to AA’s spiritual foundation of anonymity. The meetings are publicly accessible and full names and faces are often displayed. Additionally, by default, all Zoom meetings are recorded to the cloud. Turning that feature off is simple, fortunately.

There are other settings in the Meeting subtab that can also be adjusted, such as disallowing remote control of devices, file transfer, data sharing with Zoom, and screen sharing.

Here are some suggested settings for your meeting to use. Please note that most, if not all, of the settings below are not the Zoom default:

Go to: Settings > Recording and click off the Local and Cloud recording features.
In the Zoom Settings section, under the Meeting subtab:

  • Require Encryption for Third-Party Endpoints
  • Disable Autosaving chats
  • Disable File transfer
  • Disable Feedback to Zoom
  • Disable Screen sharing
  • Disable desktop/screen share for users
  • Disable Remote control
  • Allow Virtual background (this is the Zoom default and allows the user to use a virtual background instead of the inside of their apartment, for example)

In the Zoom Settings section, under the Recording subtab:

  • Disable Local recording
  • Disable Cloud recording
  • Disable Automatic recording 

Hosting Remote AA Meetings with Deaf Participants

One silver lining in all of this chaos is that there are more opportunities for Deaf AAs to join meetings with ASL interpreters. However, there are some special considerations for including Deaf participants in meetings. Here are some tips:

For Meeting Hosts:

  • During your opening announcement: Ask Deaf participants to identify themselves as Deaf in their display name, if they are willing. Ask all people to keep an eye on Deaf participants wishing to share. Invite people to post in the chat or verbally announce it. (Note: Zoom identifies speakers by voice activation, not sign language.)
  • Keep the ASL interpreter spotlighted the entire meeting, except when a Deaf AA wants to share​. (Right-click on their picture, select Spotlight.) This will make the interpreter the “speaker” and put them in a large view on everyone’s screens.
  • When a Deaf person wants to share, ​Spotlight the Deaf AA’s video​ for all to see. This will make their video big and visible to everyone on the call, including the interpreter and other Deaf AA’s. (extremely helpful!) When they’re done, switch the Spotlight back to the interpreter.
  • Think of this process as the equivalent to ‘unmuting’ the meeting for the Deaf AAs, allowing them to easily listen and participate without having to fiddle with the tech constantly.
  • Remind all participants that they can switch to the “gallery view” by clicking in the top right corner of the screen. Remind folks periodically through the first part of the meeting, as several will have joined late and missed the first announcement.

For Deaf participants:

  • Please ​log on 15 minutes early​ to meet the interpreter and let the host know that you are Deaf: there are often 30 to 40 people logged on and it’s challenging to find your face.
  • If you wish to share, keep waving, until the host sees you. When your name is called by the host, ​wait to start your share until you know the interpreter can see you​.
  • Please ​wear dark clothing ​so others can see you, and ​put DEAF or ASL by your name​.

For Interpreters:

  • Download the Zoom app prior to the call.
  • Please​ use a headset​.
  • Log on ​15 minutes early​.
  • If there are multiple Deaf people in a meeting, it can be hard to find all their videos. We have asked meeting hosts to ‘spotlight’ the interpreter for the entire meeting, switching to Deaf AA’s when they want to share. ​Be patient​. This process takes time for the person doing the spotlighting.
  • Let the Deaf person know when you can see them and that you’re ready to interpret. (They may think you can see them, because they’re only looking at you.)
  • Keep yourself muted​ if a Deaf person is not sharing. Please familiarize yourself with toggling mute before the meeting starts.

The Zoom Protection Guide (brought to you NY Intergroup)