Microsoft Teams just got another game changing accessibility feature

Microsoft Teams is getting a significant upgrade to its accessibility tools that should make the video conferencing platform better for more users.

In a Microsoft blog post (opens in new tab) , Accessibility Architect Chris Sano announced the creation of a “best-in-class experience for the deaf and hard of hearing (D/HH) community” on Teams.

Sano, who is deaf himself, had been tasked with making the platform more accessible, and the first release - Sign Language View - is now ready, and hopes to transform how D/HH users to take part in Microsoft Teams calls for the better.

Teams Sign Language View

When needed, up to two sign language interpreters’ video feeds are kept in a consistent location so that D/HH meeting participants can dive straight into the call. The video tiles are also designed to be an optimal shape and size, and will automatically stream at the highest possible quality.

In its promise to listen to customer feedback, Microsoft has made Sign Language View preferences “sticky”, so that any settings don’t need to be re-applied for each call.

According to Sano, you can also "pre-identify a set of preferred signers that you work with inside your organization on a regular basis – for example, your regular interpreters (or for interpreters, your regular clients)." There is an option to turn on captions by default for all of your meetings as well.

Sano asks that D/HH customers continue to provide feedback through the ‘Help’ menu from within Teams, or to call the US helpdesk to communicate directly in ASL.

It is expected to roll out “in the coming weeks” which coincides with an entry on the company’s roadmap (opens in new tab) stating a December 2022 general availability. Right now, a version of Sign Language View has been rolled out to the Public Preview program (opens in new tab) on a per-user basis, so you may be able to get it that way, too.

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