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Zoom catches up with new accessibility features for sign language interpretation

Mashable 23 Sep 2020 01:00
Keep the spotlight on an interpreter or certain speaker.
Keep the spotlight on an interpreter or certain speaker.
Image: zoom

For Zoom users who are part of the Deaf and hard-of-hearing community, some long-awaited features are here.

On Wednesday, Zoom added three major accessibility options, each mainly focused on making it easier for sign language interpreters to stay visible on the screen.

Jen Hill, a Zoom marketing manager, demonstrated on a Zoom call how users can now pin and spotlight multiple video screens at a time, to keep someone who is signing alongside the speaker or on the main screen and always in view. In Zoom's grid view, users can rearrange video windows to keep the interpreter where they want to see them. These changes are intended so that everyone is "able to live and work in a digital platform," especially during these pandemic days. 

Following standards set through the A11Y digital accessibility group, which promotes inclusion for people with disabilities on tech tools and services, Zoom added spotlighting and pinning for multiple screens during video calls. Previously, you could only pin one video screen while on a Zoom call. For meetings (those are usually in speaker mode, which keeps whomever is speaking highlighted), users can keep more than one speaker's video centered, so there can be several videos pinned to the main screen. Only you as the user would see the multiple videos, so you can choose to keep an interpreter video pinned next to the main speaker, while other call participants might choose to just have the speaker centered on their screens. 

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