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How to use accessibility features on Microsoft Teams

We look at how you can make your meetings more accessible when using Microsoft Teams.

A meeting on Microsoft Teams
A meeting on Microsoft Teams. Source: Microsoft

Automated captions

These are captions (also known as subtitles) that translate spoken language into text automatically through a software.

How to switch on as a participant

  • To use live captions in a meeting, go to your meeting controls and select More options. > Turn on live captions.
  • To stop using live captions, go to the meeting controls and select More options. > Turn off live captions.

How to switch on as a host

Automated captions are not switched on automatically for external users of the free version of Microsoft Teams.

To make sure external users have access to captions, contact your IT administrator and enable from the admin centre:

  1. Go to Microsoft Teams admin centre
  2. Expand meetings > click on meeting policies > scroll down to Participants & guests
  3. Global (Org-wide default)
  4. Enable live captions by choosing “Not enabled but the user can override” option.

Note: the size, font and position are fixed on Microsoft Teams and can’t be changed. You won’t get notified when the captions are turned on.


Automated transcript

This a written transcript that’s recorded from the audio of your meeting automatically through a speech-to-text software.

How to switch on as a participant

  1. Choose Start transcription
  2. Go to the meeting controls and select More actions ***
  3. Choose Hide transcript or Show transcript.

How to switch on as a host

Contact your IT administrator, they will allow you to enable these settings from the Admin center:

  1. Go to Microsoft Teams admin center
  2. Expand Meetings > click on meeting policies
  3. Global (Org-wide default)
  4. Scroll down to the ‘Audio & transcript’ section. Then, make sure the option for ‘Allow Transcription’ is on.

How to save

Transcripts are automatically saved. You’ll get automatic access to the transcript from the chat.

How to share

Transcripts can only be shared by the meeting host.

  1. Select Calendar on the left in Teams
  2. Open the meeting event and select the transcript
  3. Above the transcript, select Download and then choose the file type you want
  4. Download the transcript to your computer
  5. In the meeting chat, select Attach beneath the compose box and then upload the transcript.

How to know if you can access automated transcripts

This feature is only available on the desktop version of Teams, for customers with these licenses:

  • Office 365 E1
  • Office 365 A1
  • Office 365/Microsoft 365 A3
  • Office 365/Microsoft 365 A5
  • Microsoft 365 E3
  • Microsoft 365 E5
  • Microsoft 365 F1
  • Office 365/Microsoft 365 F3
  • Microsoft 365 Business Basic
  • Microsoft 365 Business Standard
  • Microsoft 365 Business Premium SKUs.

Note: you’ll get notified when the captions are turned on.


How to add a speech-to-text reporter

A speech-to-text reporter is someone who types everything that’s said in a meeting, word-for-word.

A speech-to-text reporter can only be added to a meeting by the host.

  1. Create and send the meeting invitation as usual. Remember to invite the CART (Communication Access Realtime Translation) captioner to the meeting
  2. Open the meeting invite you created
  3. Select Meeting options
  4. On the Meeting options page, turn on the Provide CART Captions switch, and then select Save to create the CART caption link
  5. Paste the link to an email message and send it to the CART captioner to enter into their captioning software
  6. Connect with the CART captioner before the meeting to make sure everything is set up correctly
  7. To use CART, go to your meeting controls and select More options  *** > Turn on live captions. CART captions display by default. 

How to add a notetaker

A notetaker can only be added by the meeting host.

  1. Send meeting invite to the notetaker 
  2. Before starting the meeting, everyone knows there is a notetaker present. 

Using a BSL interpreter

A British Sign Language (BSL) interpreter helps deaf and hearing people communicate with one another.

How to add a BSL interpreter

A British Sign Language (BSL) interpreter can only be added by the meeting host.

  1. Send meeting invite to the BSL interpreter
  2. Before starting the meeting, ensure those who require the support pin the interpreter/s.

Using a BSL interpreter

  1. Right-click on the BSL interpreter’s name
  2. Click pin.
How to make sure participants can see the interpreter

Meeting participants who use BSL may want to be pinned so they can speak to the interpreter if they need to.

If the BSL interpreter’s video appears cropped, participants can right click on their video and click ‘fit to frame’. They should then be able to see the interpreter clearly.


Audio quality

How to adjust sound settings

  1. Select the three dots next to  your profile picture at the top right of Teams and then select Settings
  2. Select Devices on the left and then, under Noise suppression, select an option.

How to adjust sound settings during a meeting

  1. During meeting, Select More options ***  in your meeting controls and then select Device settings
  2. Noise suppression, select option.

How to change audio output for hearing aids, cochlear implant or assistive technology

  1. Select Settings and more *** next to your profile picture at the top of Teams and then choose Settings > Devices.
  2. Under Audio devices, pick the speaker and mic you want Teams to use by default
  3. Check it’s working with a test call
  4. To make a test call, select Settings and more ***  next to your profile picture at the top of Teams and then choose Settings > Devices
  5. Choose Make a test call under Audio devices.
What the different audio options mean
  • Auto (default): the Teams app decides on the best level of noise suppression based on local noise
  • High: suppresses all background sound that isn’t speech
  • Low: suppresses low levels of persistent background noise, such as a computer fan or air conditioner. Use this setting for playing music
  • Off: noise suppression is disabled. Use this setting for high-fidelity microphones in low noise environments.

Recording

Meetings aren’t recorded by default but you can start a recording at any point during a meeting. Find out how to record a meeting on the Microsoft Office support website.

How to edit the captions on a recording

If your organization is still using Microsoft Stream to store meeting recordings:

  1. The recording owner (the person who started the recording) can edit the closed caption transcript after the recording has been uploaded to Microsoft Stream
  2. In Teams, go to the meeting recording in the chat history and click More options *** > Open in Microsoft Stream
  3. On the Microsoft Stream portal, click *** > Edit
  4. Under Options, go to Captions and click Download file
  5. Download the VTT caption file, make whatever changes you need to it, and save it to your computer
  6. Go back to your browser and uncheck Autogenerate a caption file
  7. Click Upload a caption file, click Select file, find your VTT caption file, then click OK
  8. Click Apply.

How to save or share a recording

Recordings will be automatically saved in your organisation’s agreed location. Internal users will be able to access the recording automatically.

For external users, you can attach the recording file and share through various channels based on size of file.

How to make sure your recording has subtitles and a BSL interpreter

As a participant

Users in the same organisation can record meetings which will be saved in the organisations agreed location.

External users will need to request recordings from the host.

As a meeting host

Make sure the BSL interpreter is visible and clear on the screen of the person recording.

For help using Microsoft Teams, visit the Microsoft Teams support website.