Upcoming update to Microsoft Teams wants to help people with hearing impairments better engage in online meetings.
Similar to A latest Zoom updateThe new Sign Language View feature allows Microsoft Teams users to select up to two other video feeds to be centered in the app, making sign language interpreters much more visible throughout the meeting.
Microsoft says (opens in a new tab) that the channel gets bigger than others and stays in high definition for the clearest view possible and is client side only so users will be the only ones able to see the view as other attendees will have their own view. If someone shares content during a meeting, the signer’s video will be moved to the side along with everything else, but will maintain a larger aspect ratio. Other participants can still be highlighted and it will not take the place of the interpreter either.
Turning on the view
The sign language view will be coming to Microsoft Teams on both desktop and web in December, according to a post on the site Microsoft 365 Roadmap (opens in a new tab).
Users can join Teams Public View Program (opens in a new tab) try this feature; however, keep in mind that the preview is done on a per-user basis, and if you’re one of the lucky few, Microsoft has set of instructions (opens in a new tab) how to enable view.
Sign language view can be enabled for all appointments or on a case-by-case basis. Translators who work in the same company as you can be pre-assigned before the meeting, which you can do via the Settings menu. This way, when you enter a meeting with an interpreter, the view will already be activated.
Signers can be added during a meeting using the “Manage Signers” button in the new accessibility pane. By clicking on the button, you can designate a participant as an interpreter by entering their first and last name. In this pane, you can toggle both the sign language view and the live caption view during the meeting.
Microsoft has released a ton of new features for Teams in recent months, and it’s a little hard to keep track of it all. For example the company has recently implemented games to the platform as a way to build camaraderie between team members. You have your basic titles like Solitaire and Minesweeper, but also more interactive games like Kahoot.
As for what comes next, we recommend checking out TechRadar’s coverage of future additions coming to Teams. There is quite a lot. First, the platform is expected to get a performance boost, although it is not known when exactly. and premium version of Teams will go into its first preview in December 2022, adding AI to help transcribe meetings in 40 different languages, and “advanced security features” among other things.