Microsoft has a new dedicated sign language view for its Microsoft Teams video conferencing platform. The feature enables sign language users to select up to two other participants’ videos to be fixed in a central location, allowing designated signers to be visible throughout the meeting.
Microsoft says Teams users can enable the feature for all meetings or on a meeting-by-meeting basis, which is especially useful for non-hearing impaired signers. Sign language interpreters can be pre-assigned prior to starting a meeting if they’re within your organization, and external interpreters can only be assigned within a meeting using the Accessibility tab in the app settings. Microsoft does not provide sign language interpreters for Teams meetings.
Sign language view doesn’t affect what other call participants can see on Teams
Other participants can still be pinned without encroaching on the prioritized video streams of the signer, which will default to an uncropped ratio at the highest available quality. The prioritized stream shifts when a presentation is shared but will still be easily distinguishable from other participants, retaining a larger size and high video quality. Sign language view is also personal to the user — other call participants will not be alerted or have their own Teams view altered.
Microsoft is also announcing a new sticky Accessibility preferences pane for Teams. The new pane gives users easy access during calls to make changes like turning on sign language view by default or pre-identifying preferred signers. Sign language view and live captions can also be quickly toggled on or off within the pane.
Accessibility settings can be accessed and kept open during meetings, allowing users to toggle sign language view and live captions. Image: Microsoft
Sign language view and the new Accessibility pane are currently available to try in Public Preview, which can be personally enabled if your organization has also enabled it. Microsoft says both features will be rolling out to Teams desktop and web clients for commercial and GCC customers in the coming weeks.