Video Chats: Using The Technology We Have to Stay Connected

hand holding a phone, doing a video call.

03/25/20  Just added: the House Party app for video drop ins and house parties.  Thanks Haley and Debbie!

Waving Hand (house party app icon)

The world is facing a crisis with the spread of Covid-19. Social Isolation is vital to stop the spread of the coronavirus and keep us from overwhelming our healthcare system.  Yet, isolation can cause anxiety and stress. It can worsen mental illness. Mental health needs are real. Touch deprivation is real. 

One of the steps recommended by the CDC to manage stress and anxiety is to:

Connect with others. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.”

We need to find ways to make connection possible given the current situation.  

Fortunately, we live in the age of computers and smartphones. Most of us have devices that allow us to make video calls.  My mother lives in NYC and has a chronic lung condition. She is truly stuck at home. We got her set up with an iPhone in January and we now FaceTime almost every day.

Two people on a Video chat.

In this time of Social Isolation, being able to video chat IS Assistive Technology and we all can benefit.  Of course, not everybody has an iPhone, but there are lots of tools we can use. Just make sure that everyone downloads the same app. Here are a few choices:



Name Platform Call Type Accessibility Features  Encryption

Facetime app icon

iOS and Mac Video or Voice Can send sound to hearing aids, 

Settings for visual alerts (call notifications)


Zooom app icon

Desktop, iOS or Android Video or Voice Zoom appearance options and keyboard shortcuts for blind/low vision Yes
FB Messenger

Messenger app icon

Desktop, iOS or Android Video, text, or Voice Keyboard shortcuts for blind/low vision, Voiceover gestures for iOS Has a “Secret” mode

WhatsApp app icon

Desktop, iOS or Android Video, text, or Voice Works with Voiceover or Siri can read messages aloud Yes
Google DuoGoogle Duo app icon iOS or Android Video, live or recorded Simple screen with large buttons. Uses photos from your contact list. Yes
Google Hangouts

Google Hangouts app icon

Desktop, iOS or Android Video, text, or Voice built-in screen reader, full-page zoom, high-contrast color, and accessibility extensions in Chrome Browser Yes

Skype app icon

Desktop, iOS or Android Video, text, or Voice Captioning  and subtitles (desktop), 

High contrast theme


Glide app icon

iOS or Android Video, live or recorded You can record, check, and then send your video
House Party App

Waving Hand (house party app icon)

iOS, Mac, Android, or Chrome Live video, games, and notifications when your contacts are “in the house You can “lock” your room so that random drop ins are prevented

Do you have a favorite video chat app? Let us know!

CDC article:  Managing Stress & Anxiety


Kathryn Helland

Kathryn is a certified speech-language pathologist and works with children and adults with complex communication needs. She has been with the TechOWL team since 2015 and is currently working on her doctorate. She would like to examine how to best support AAC users in higher education.

2 comments on “Video Chats: Using The Technology We Have to Stay Connected

  1. What does is one do when TV broadcast tower not maintrained, thus no airwaves TV broadcasts. And low-income broadband programs are no t provided in your town, so when libraries closed state-wide, crippled access to internet. And funding on hold ffor OWLTech to sendTTY able mobile phone, so I must go to medical facility in person to communicate. It seems text alerts for weather and news ate thing of the past. I am using precious data to write this. I could live with being only person not included or having means of access to information and communication, but I am not. It is a painful thing to be outcast and isolated. I have reached out to various government agencies, including the governor,though COVID-19 must take presidence, I wonder if matter of true inclusion by access and communication will be addressed. Why is it an extremely rare occasion to see the ASL interpreter during government news TV broadcasts. I apologize for being so verbose. Keep safe & well!

    1. I am so sorry that you are so isolated. I hear how hard it must be. I have given your email address to Laura Grassia, who coordinates our free phone program. She can give you an update on where things stand. Be safe, Kathryn

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