Microsoft is adding real-time captions and subtitles for video calls and display-on-screen to PowerPoint and Skype to support deaf and hard of hearing users.
Skype’s new feature, which will appear as auto-scrolling text at the bottom of the screen, will be accessible via the ‘more’ tab or (+) button during the call, and can also be set to default. Subtitles will be available for both one-to-one and group calls, as well as to any phone number.
While the company has no set date for a complete global rollout, it is expected to be available to users through Skype version 8 on Android, iOS, Linux, Mac, and Windows, as well as Skype for Windows 10 in very early 2019.
In addition to subtitles and captions, from late January 2019, PowerPoint will also give speakers the option to add translations to presentations – which will be supported in 12 spoken languages and more than 60 for display-on-screen. The text will be fully customisable to match the individual presentation, and speech recognition will adapt for more accurate terminology based on the content.
While this functionality has previously been available as an add-on for PowerPoint users, this move will help to more readily support those with hearing impairments; allowing employers to better meet the needs for their employees, both in the office and out.
The new functions for both platforms are based on Microsoft’s ongoing work in artificial intelligence.