بالبلدي: Continuous innovation for more inclusive work: What’s new in Microsoft 365 accessibility

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belbalady.net Use more intelligent captioning and transcription features in more scenarios 

For deaf and hard of hearing workers and those who work in noisy environments, captions and transcripts are a crucial tool for inclusion and productivity. At Ignite, we were pleased to announce the general availability of Microsoft Stream (on SharePoint), and with it several enhancements to the captioning and transcription features the platform offers. Stream (on SharePoint) can now transcribe videos spoken in 28 different languages and locales, and transcripts now scroll automatically alongside the video. Additionally, early next year you’ll be able to edit transcripts inline and search transcripts to quickly find important sections You can then scroll through the search results and click on a portion of the transcript to be taken to that respective spot in the video. (Video has no audio; it shows a user changing the Stream caption language to Spanish, searching for a word, and then editing the caption.)

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We’ve also expanded live transcription in Teams meetings to the Android and iOS apps. Participants joining meetings from their Android or iOS devices can now view Live Transcripts during the call and revisit those transcripts after the meeting. Learn more about using Live Transcription in Teams. 

And of course, in case you missed it, in the last update to Windows 11, we rolled out system-wide live captions, which provide real-time captioning for any system audio – including the microphone. That means that Windows 11 can caption not only any audiovisual content on your computer – it can caption your in-person conversations as well. And since the captions are produced locally on the machine itself, those conversations – like all your captioned content – stay protected. Learn more about system-wide live captions in Windows 11 and read about their journey from idea to reality, grounded in the lived experiences of deaf and hard of hearing employees and the broader community.       

Control calls with fewer clicks 

For those with limited dexterity and other fine motor disabilities, trying to quickly click through multiple layers of menus or locate small click targets onscreen can be a barrier to effective collaboration. To reduce the number of clicks and physical movement necessary to manage calls and meetings, we’ve taken a number of steps to streamline Teams interfaces and device integrations in recent months. Within the Teams app, you can now use the “Record Automatically” feature to start both recording and transcription automatically, with no additional clicks once the meeting starts, and for situations where you’ve joined a meeting from multiple devices, we’ve introduced logic that allows you to leave the meeting from all of those devices with a single tap. And from any Certified for Microsoft Teams peripheral device that supports the camera on/off feature, you can now turn your video camera on or off with a single click. Learn more about recording meetings, joining and leaving meetings from multiple devices, and using certified Teams devices to manage calls and meetings. 

Inclusive tools to create accessible content 

Looking beyond meetings, we’ve also continued to build out more flexible ways to create content across Microsoft 365 apps – and to help make sure the content you create is accessible too.  

Productivity beyond the keyboard 

Typing is not everyone’s favorite way to write, whether due to disability or personal preference. And features that cut down on typing can help everyone improve efficiency and avoid hand and wrist fatigue. Now in Insiders, those who prefer to use longhand can convert handwritten notes into text in apps like Word, Excel, and PowerPoint for iPad. Leveraging an Apple iPad capability called Scribble, this feature allows you to insert and edit text in Word documents, PowerPoint presentations, and Excel worksheets using your Apple Pencil.  

Demo of the Scribble feature in iOS showing a person handwriting

To reduce the typing necessary to keep up with a fast-paced Teams chat while also providing ample scope for self-expression, we recently introduced several new ways to contribute in that space, including sending short, lightweight video messages; reacting to messages using a new set of over 800 Teams emojis; and selecting from a set of suggested replies rather than typing common responses within group chats. Learn more about how to send video clips, use emojis, and work with suggested replies.  

Another way to cut back on typing – and to get past the dreaded blank page – is to leverage past work as a starting point for your next creation. There have long been many ways to do this across Microsoft 365, like reusing slides across PowerPoint presentations or creating templates from existing documents. Now we’ve added a few more: in Microsoft Forms, you can now convert existing Word or PDF surveys or quizzes into web surveys, eliminating the need to re-type questions and answer options into a new format. And in Teams, meeting organizers and presenters can now re-use previously created polls in meetings, rather than creating new polls for each meeting from scratch.  

Stay in the flow – and create more accessible content 

Once you’ve started writing, clicking back and forth across multiple ribbons and interfaces can pull you out of your rhythm. Track Changes cards help keep you in the flow of work by providing the option to accept or reject changes directly within the document canvas – and we’ve now expanded their availability from Word on the web to the Windows and Mac clients, in Insiders.  

Track Changes pop-up card in Word for desktop.

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