Host a Microsoft Teams meeting with American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters

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As host, you are responsible for ensuring your Microsoft Teams meeting is inclusive and accessible for people who communicate via American Sign Language (ASL). To do so, there are certain steps you must take both to prepare for the meeting and during the meeting.

Because the Microsoft Teams format and the traditional face-to-face interpreting process differ greatly, multiple considerations and configurations are required to achieve communication access for D/deaf and hard-of-hearing audiences in the Microsoft Teams format.

Pre-meeting consultation

Meet with interpreter(s) to discuss technical settings and procedures that will help to ensure a successful meeting. Invite the D/deaf or hard-of-hearing participants to be involved in the meeting.

Take note of any specific accommodations requested at the meeting.

Consult with the D/deaf or hard-of-hearing participants to discuss and clarify their preferences. Keep in mind that the majority of Deaf participants do not read lips, nor do they rely on residual hearing via hearing aids or other hearing devices. For them communication is achieved through the usage of an ASL interpreter. As for the hard-of-hearing participants, their preferences could differ and they may not necessarily use ASL or other forms of sign language.

Before the meeting

You must take several steps before your meeting to ensure the best experience for people relying on ASL interpretation through Microsoft Teams.

  1. Allow 10-15 minutes before the meeting to ensure all accommodations are in place.
  2. Consult with the ASL interpreter(s). This consultation allows you to discuss the format of the meeting, such as the use of breakout rooms, and any settings or practices the interpreter may recommend.
    Some professional interpreters may have little to no experience using some of the Microsoft Teams features, hence the importance of seeking consultation from a knowledgeable source.
  3. All participants can pin as many videos as will fit on their screen.
  4. Adjust your meeting settings to:
    • Allow all participants to use the chat features so D/deaf and hard-of-hearing participants can communicate with interpreters and hosts if there are any issues.
    • Mute all participants on entry to the meeting, to reduce noise interference.

During the meeting

You should follow these best practices during your meeting.

  1. Admit both interpreters and any D/deaf or hard-of-hearing participants into the meeting early so they can connect with one another and pin needed videos.

    The typical practice of allowing all participants into the room at once and speaking immediately excludes D/deaf and hard-of-hearing participants who must search for and pin interpreter's videos.

  2. Ensure that interpreters are able to see the D/deaf and hard-of-hearing participants so that any needed clarification or missed information can be determined. This is especially important when there are multiple interpreters in a Microsoft Teams meeting who alternate after a designated period.
  3. If recording the meeting, spotlight the ASL interpreter to make sure they will be visible in the recording.
  4. Ensure that D/deaf and hard-of-hearing participants have access to asking questions. Clarify for all participants at the beginning of the meeting if questions are to be asked through spoken English (through the interpreter), through raising a hand (clarify an actual hand raise or a virtual hand-raise), or through the chat.
  5. Encourage all participants to say their name before commenting: "This is Jiatyan speaking, ..."
  6. Provide a brief pause before speaking so interpreters and all D/deaf and hard-of-hearing participants may be located and pinned. This is especially important when entering breakout rooms or returning to the main meeting.
  7. If using breakout rooms:
    • There must be at least one interpreter assigned to the same breakout room as each D/deaf or hard-of-hearing participant.
    • If the purpose of breakout rooms is to have individuals engaging with one another, be sure an additional participant is assigned to the breakout room with the D/deaf or hard-of-hearing participant. Interpreters are not participants, nor do they contribute - as individuals - to discussions or interactions.
    • Returning to the main meeting room after breakout sessions may require reinstating co-host status.
  8. Pause after a final sentence or question to allow the interpreter to sign the entire utterance and allow D/deaf and hard-of-hearing participants to respond before moving on.

    Interpreters must first hear the information in spoken English, then interpret that message into ASL, so D/deaf and hard-of-hearing participants are receiving the information on a delay, later than hearing participants.

This is document bhzy in the Knowledge Base.
Last modified on 2022-11-03 15:18:20.