Microsoft has announced that it is rolling out a new call captioning feature on its video-calling platform Skype with the intention of creating an inclusive experience "especially for people who are deaf or hard of hearing".
The announcement came alongside the celebration on the United Nations International Day of Persons with Disabilities on December 3.
The new feature can be used on smartphones, tablets and Windows 10, version 14.
The new offering, which Microsoft has stated will be gradually released over the coming weeks, leverages AI technology to offer real-time transcription during Skype calls. To use the feature, users need to have the latest version of Skype, Skype version 8, and will then need to navigate to the setting panels to turn on the new calling feature.
"Live captions and subtitles are optimized to be fast, continuous, and contextually updated as people speak. Currently, the captions and subtitles auto-scroll in your call," Microsoft said in a blog post.
Furthermore, Microsoft outlined plans to introduce an additional "viewing options", including a chat log of the real-time subtitled transcriptions in a side panel on the screen, although no release date was specified.
In addition to the new offering, the company announced plans to launch a translation feature in aim to support more than 20 languages. "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," the company stated.
Microsoft is not the only company working toward inclusivity for deaf and hard of hearing individuals. Huawei, the European Union for the Deaf, Penguin Random House and Aardman Animations recently developed an application that offers a virtual avatar to sign books for hearing impaired children.