Microsoft is adding a sign language view to Teams

Microsoft is adding a sign language view to Teams

Above: View sign language in Teams. Screenshot from Microsoft.

Microsoft introduced Show sign languagea new meeting experience in Microsoft Teams that helps signers — deaf/hard of hearing (D/HH), interpreters, and others who use sign language — keep each other’s priority center stage, in a fixed location, in every meeting place.

“As a deaf person who uses Teams for several meetings per day, I am very familiar with the challenges that virtual meetings pose to Deaf and Hard of Hearing (D/HH) users. is building a vision to create a best-in-class experience for the D/HH community in Teams,” noted Chris Sanu, Accessibility Engineer, Microsoft Teams.

With the goal of learning, Microsoft spoke with many D/HH users, listened to their feedback, and developed a roadmap for creators and users. Offering sign language is a first step towards addressing several requests from the D/HH community, including:

  • Maintain video feeds of interpreters and other signers in a consistent location
  • Ensure that video feeds are of the appropriate shape and size so that sign language is visible
  • Enable participants to have up to two other signatories in view throughout each meeting
  • Reduce repetitive meeting setup tasks such as installing interpreters and running captions at the start of each meeting

When sign language display is enabled, priority video broadcasts are automatically shown in the correct aspect ratio and in the highest quality available. Like pinning and commenting, displaying sign language is personal and will not affect what others see in the meeting. It adapts to the needs of any user: They can enable sign language display while navigating a meeting or as a setting that persists across all calls.

When displaying sign language is turned on, the video feeds of individuals selected by each user remain visible center stage as long as their video is on. Other participants can also be pinned or highlighted without infringing upon the sign language interpreter.

Also, when someone shares content in the meeting, the priority signer’s video changes positions at a larger size than other participants’ video feeds. A sign language offer can be turned on by default across all meetings and select a set of pre-favorite signers who work with the internal user organization on a regular basis.

The Sign Language view and the Accessibility Settings pane are currently in Public Preview. It will roll out to the general public for Teams desktop and web customers, for business customers, and for GCC customers in the coming weeks. For detailed instructions on how to enable, please refer to Public preview in Microsoft Teams on Microsoft Learn.

These features are just the beginning – one step on a much longer road. Microsoft is committed to creating a Teams meeting experience that is not only accessible, but enjoyable for participants who are deaf and hard of hearing. Users can provide feedback Via the Help menu within Teams itself.

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