Exciting New Features in Microsoft Teams
Microsoft recently announced several innovations in features, capabilities, and accessibility for Microsoft Teams. Presenter mode further professionalizes Teams presentations, while dynamic view automatically customizes the meeting experience, and PowerPoint Live provides increased functionality and accessibility for presenters and attendees alike. Descriptions of the most salient features will be discussed in this article, but you can also refer to the more comprehensive resources from Microsoft’s communications linked at the bottom of the page.
This new functionality automatically adjusts the meeting experience based on participants and content. As people join the meeting, turn on video, and start to present or speak, Teams personalizes the layout, but you still have the option to choose the view that you want (gallery, large gallery, spotlight, gallery at the top, and together mode). An accessibility case use is the ability for deaf or hard of hearing attendees to pin the sign language interpreter, fit the interpreter’s video to the frame, and see the interpreter beside the meeting’s shared content.
PowerPoint Live in Teams
With this feature, presenters can see what others see in addition to their speaker notes, timing, upcoming content, and attendees—all on one screen. You can also co-present seamlessly using the same content without having to switch control of the presentation. The ability to see facial expressions of attendees while sharing slides and accessing notes may be helpful for neurodiverse presenters who need more visual information about audience members. Presenters with memory loss can easily view slide notes alongside their presentation to make it easy to stay on track. Presenters can also more easily moderate the chat, view raised hands, and see reactions, which can make the meeting more inclusive. For attendees with learning or attention disabilities, shared slides are privately navigable and retroactively self-paced, meaning members can skip back to any previous slide without interrupting the meeting. For those attendees who are blind or have low vision, high-contrast mode and screen readers can be used privately to access the shared slides. PowerPoint itself also has a built-in Accessibility Checker so presenters can ensure presentations are accessible to all attendees.
With this new mode, you can take your production quality and polish to the next level right from within Teams. From the sharing tray, you can use Presenter Mode to bring yourself in front of the content you are sharing and use different layouts, such as “reporter” for a side-by-side presentation of yourself and your content.
Webinars, which can host up to 1,000 attendees and provide view-only broadcast for up to 20,000 attendees and are available with an E3 or Business Premium subscription, combine presenter capabilities and audience engagement with easy ways to set up, run, and market a webinar. You can set up your webinar with a custom registration experience, automatically send invitations, and have attendees join with a meeting link. Attendees can interact with real-time polls for immediate responses and feedback, and they can use chat or moderated Q&A tools to discuss. Moderation controls help you minimize unwanted disruptions by disabling attendee chat and video. After the webinar has concluded, attendee reporting is available, and Teams Webinars have integrated with Dynamics 365 to allow post-webinar activities from follow-up communications to marking campaigns.
Microsoft Teams Connect
With this capability, you can share Teams Channels with people outside of your organization, creating a shared workspace that allows collaboration beyond organizational boundaries through chatting, meeting, collaborating on apps, sharing content, and co-authoring documents in real time. Moreover, the new invite-only meeting control feature ensures that only directly-invited participants can attend meetings (i.e. no Teams-bombing!).
Teams Mobile Enhancements
The Teams mobile app will soon include (first on iOS, then on Android) the ability to switch to dark theme automatically, a new search experience, and the ability to pin chats. These features will make it easier for users who are blind or have low vision to use assistive technology and magnification to find content, pin content to the top of the feed, and access materials comfortably.
For more details on accessibility features mentioned here as well as additional accessibility features new to Microsoft Teams, visit Microsoft Ignite’s article “New inclusive features in Microsoft Teams and more | Ignite 2021 Edition.”
View “The Latest Innovations with Microsoft Teams” (March 2, 2021) presentation recording for more details on new features generally and access related resources by visiting the Microsoft Ignite on-demand webpage.
Also, you can join Microsoft’s upcoming Ability Summit to learn more about emerging tools and technologies for accessibility: “Mark your calendars and join us at the Ability Summit, May 5 – 6, 2021. The Ability Summit is a two-day, free digital event that brings together people with disabilities, technology leaders, accessibility professionals and allies to Imagine, Build, Include, and Empower the future of disability inclusion and accessibility. We hope to see you there!”