Microsoft Teams makes it easier to host meetings using sign language

Video chats are now friendlier to people who are deaf or hard of hearing.


It's now much simpler to participate in a Microsoft Teams meeting if you have hearing issues. Microsoft has introduced a sign language view that lets people who are deaf or hard of hearing, as well as their interpreters, prioritize each other during meetings. Those video feeds will remain in consistent locations, at sizes large enough for sign language to be visible. You'll see as many as two other signers throughout a meeting, and video will remain large even when slides or screen shares are visible.

The view also makes preferences "sticky" thanks to a new accessibility settings pane, Microsoft says. You won't have to worry about pinning interpreters or enabling captions every time a Teams call begins. You can jump directly into a meeting instead of tweaking options.

The sign language view and accessibility pane are currently available only through a Public Preview available on a user-by-user basis. They'll roll out to all commercial and government customers in the "coming weeks," Microsoft says. It could take a while before everyone can use the functionality. Still, this promises to greatly simplify meetings for anyone with limited hearing — and might make Teams more viable if alternatives like Zoom (which only recently added support for interpreters) aren't up to the task.

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