Microsoft has announced that as part of its commitment to accessibility, Skype is offering real-time call transcriptions from today. Anything anyone says in a call will appear in real-time AI-powered captions at the bottom of the screen so that deaf or hard-of-hearing people are able to follow along.

The same functionality will soon be offered for PowerPoint presentations, with translation options coming to both apps …

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Microsoft made the announcements in blog posts for each product. For Skype, the company said that the launch today was to support a UN initiative.

Today, Skype joins the world in celebrating the United Nations International Day of Persons with Disabilities with the launch of call captioning with live captions & subtitles. This new feature works on the latest version of Skype for one-on-one calls with a friend, coworker, or to any phone number, as well as in group calls with a work team or friend group. The live captions & subtitles feature provides a more inclusive experience for everyone in the Skype community, especially for people who are deaf or hard of hearing.

It added that a translation feature was on the way.

To show our commitment towards inclusivity, we’re also releasing translations that support over 20 languages and dialects in the coming weeks. Whether you’re learning a new language, having a tough time understanding your friend from across the world, or attending a meeting that is not in your native tongue, our new translations will help keep you up to speed. Once you turn translations on through a simple setting toggle, you can read subtitles in the language of your choosing in every call.

Microsoft said in a separate blog post that the same features would be added to PowerPoint early next year.

Building on the success of the PowerPoint Presentation Translator add-in, today we’re announcing plans to release native live captions and subtitles for PowerPoint in early 2019, making presentations more inclusive and engaging for all audiences.

  • Live captions & subtitles provides real-time transcriptions of a presenter’s spoken words that appear onscreen either in the same language or in a different language.
  • At launch, we will support people presenting in one of 10+ spoken languages and support showing captions/subtitles on the screen in one of 60+ text languages.
  • The add-in option is still around and is not being deprecated – we know it’s loved, and it’s the inspiration for us going native.

Instructions for using the feature in Skype can be found here. For iPhone, iPad, Mac and Android, you need Skype version 8.

Skype voice and video calling was made available to Amazon Echo speakers last month – which are also about to get Apple Music support.


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