Microsoft introduces new sign language display, accessibility preference pane for teams

In a blog post published Thursday, Microsoft announced a new feature for its popular Teams video conferencing software called Sign Language View.

The addition is another step toward creating a “best-in-class experience” for deaf and hard-of-hearing people using Teams, according to post author “csano,” who is deaf. Sign language rendering is intended to bring interpreters and other sign language to the forefront in one consistent location. When enabled, the feature automatically streams the correct video(s) in the highest possible quality. Sign language display can be used permanently or on a whim, depending on one’s needs and tolerances. Notably, Microsoft says the feature is personal to the user; Sign language display is invisible to the other participants in the conversation.

“These features are just the beginning — a step on a much longer path,” csano wrote in the post. “We are committed to creating a Teams meeting experience that is not only accessible, but delightful for deaf and hard-of-hearing participants.”

According to Microsoft, Sign Language Display accomplishes four things:

  • Stores video of interpreters and those of other sign language in a fixed space
  • Ensures that the feed remains the correct size and shape for readability
  • Enables participants to have up to two other signers in view at all times
  • Reduces friction associated with video pinning and setting subtitles

In addition to Sign Language View, Microsoft has also announced an all-new Accessibility preference pane in Teams. People can use this new part of the user interface to pre-set sign language display and subtitles globally all at once, and set preferred signers, such as an interpreter you work with on a regular basis.

Sign language display and accessibility settings are currently in public preview.

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