It’s now much easier to join a Microsoft Teams meeting if you have hearing problems. Microsoft has introduced a sign language view that allows people who are deaf or hard of hearing, as well as their interpreters, to prioritize each other in meetings. These video feeds remain in consistent locations and at a size large enough for the sign language to be visible. During a meeting, you’ll see up to two other signers, and the video stays large even when slides or screen shares are visible.
The view also makes the settings “sticky,” Microsoft says, thanks to a new accessibility settings pane. You don’t have to worry about pinning interpreters or turning on closed captions every time a Teams call starts. You can jump right into a meeting instead of tweaking options.
The sign language view and accessibility panel are currently only available through a public preview, which is available on a per-user basis. They will roll out to all commercial and government customers in the “coming weeks,” Microsoft says. It may take a while before everyone can use the functionality. Still, it promises to make meetings a whole lot easier for anyone with hearing impairments — and potentially make Teams more profitable when alternatives like Zoom (which only recently added support for interpreters) are not up to the task.
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