Microsoft announced the launch of a new feature in its video conferencing service, Teams, that allows adding a special offer for sign language users.
The US tech giant said in a blog post that the feature enables sign language users to choose up to two other participants to pin to a central location on the screen, allowing users to see who is translating what is happening into sign language throughout the meeting.
Microsoft added that Teams users can activate the feature for all meetings or for each meeting separately, a feature that is believed to be useful for users with hearing impairments.
The company explained that translators can be assigned to sign language before the start of the meeting if they are within the same organization, and translators from outside the organization can be appointed during the meeting using the Accessibility tab in the application settings. Noting that Microsoft does not provide translators into sign language on its own.
Other participants can still be pinned without infringing on the sign language interpreter’s priority video stream, which will by default be displayed at the original size in the highest available quality. However, the translator’s image will change slightly when a presentation is shared, but it will still be easy to distinguish him from other participants while maintaining a larger size and high video quality.
In addition to the sign language feature, Microsoft announced a new static accessibility preferences pane for Teams. The new pane gives users easy access during calls to make changes, such as turning on the sign language display by default, or pre-setting preferred interpreters for meetings. The display of sign language and live captions can also be quickly turned on or off within the Accessibility preferences pane.
Microsoft said the new sign language display and accessibility pane are currently available in a public beta.
The company added that both features will be rolled out in the coming weeks to Teams users on desktop and web devices, for commercial customers and customers of what the company calls the GCC government community cloud.