American tech conglomerate Microsoft has announced a new dedicated sign language view for its Teams video conferencing platform. According to The Verge, this new 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. If they are internal to the company, sign language interpreters can be pre-assigned before a meeting begins. External interpreters, however, can only be allocated during a meeting via the Accessibility tab in the app's settings. Microsoft does not provide sign language interpreters for Teams meetings, reported The Verge.
The prioritised video streams of the signer can still be pinned without interfering with them because they default to an uncropped ratio at the highest quality. When a presentation is shared, the prioritised stream changes, but it still retains its larger size and superior video quality, making it simple to identify from other participants.
Sign language view is also personal to the user -- other call participants will not be alerted or have their own Teams view altered. Microsoft has also announced a new sticky 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, as per The Verge.