Tuesday, 4 December 2018

MS: Live Captions/Subtitles for HI.

Microsoft (MSFT) on Monday announced that it’s bringing live captioning and subtitles to two of its biggest products, PowerPoint and Skype. Set to coincide with the United Nations’ International Day of Persons with Disabilities, the move will facilitate communications between users with hearing difficulties or who speak different languages. 

 I was able to experience the new communication features during a recent visit to Microsoft’s massive Redmond, Washington, campus. It worked incredibly well, offering seamless, real-time captioning that kept up with every word spoken in the room. That became a problem when it was translating Spanish to English and I began speaking in English, but that’s to be expected. 

 Of course, Microsoft isn’t the only company working on or offering accessibility features for its consumers. Apple’s (AAPL) iOS lets individual users configure playback and captioning, and can read content out loud for those who have vision issues. There’s also a guided control feature that lets parents or caregivers ensure individuals with autism or attention and sensory issues stay on task by disabling the Home button, as well as portions of the display to limit accidental inputs. 

 Building for accessibility Microsoft’s accessibility team is run by Jenny Lay-Flurrie, the company’s chief accessibility officer and someone who understands how important such features are for users. As someone who’s been nearly deaf her whole life, Lay-Flurrie also stands to benefit from the captioning features coming to PowerPoint and Skype.  

Why are Deaf unable to access Public Entertainment?

Why Are Deaf People Still Being Prevented From Enjoying Public Entertainment? 

If no one holds services providers to account over their legal obligations, there really is nothing to dissuade them from continuing to ignore the needs of deaf and disabled people.

Think back to a time when you purchased something, it could be a product or a service, and you were left feeling royally shafted by the experience? Go on, I’ll wait… Got one? I can think of a few, but my most recent was a visit to one of those swanky London restaurants; the sort of place where you can tell that the only word on the interior design plan was ‘ambiance’, and all the bar staff have names like Atticus and Dax. 

The menu was thrilling, but the vegetarian options were scarce. When the waiter came to take our order, I chose one of the dishes and requested to have it without the meat. Not an unreasonable request in this day and age, right? When I was younger, the only vegetarian option available tended to be mushroom *insert sauce of your choice here*, so I became pretty comfortable asking restaurants to tweak their menu slightly. 

I have honestly never had any pushback until the swanky London restaurant. Anyways, long story short – they refused, I left, I complained, they apologised, and I got an offer of a complimentary meal. All was right with the world. But I won’t lie, it was tedious and time-consuming and by the end, I was exhausted from having to have such a big fight about something that was so small. Now, imagine you had to have that fight periodically, and for your whole adult life. Decades of tedious and time-consuming fighting to achieve something that was so ordinary that everyone else took it for granted. 

You go to the cinema and the sound isn’t working properly, so you can’t continue watching the film. It’s annoying (you bought popcorn already!) but the cinema apologises, and they give you some freebie tickets. When you go back the next time, it happens again. And again.