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Zoom just launched new features to make video calling easier for everyone

New Zoom accessibility features
(Image credit: Zoom)

Zoom has become an essential tool in many people's lives — and now it's becoming a lot more accessible for them. Zoom announced new features, including multi-pinning and rearranging gallery view, that aim to make the video conferencing service easier to use for individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing or have visual impairments. 

With the new multi-pinning feature, a Zoom user can keep more than one video window in place. That way, a speaker and a sign language interpreter can stay in the same spots throughout the entire meeting.

The new multi-spotlight option works similarly, except that the host can designated up to nine spotlighted videos for everyone in the meeting.

Zoom is updating its popular gallery view, which displays meeting participants in a grid. Users can now rearrange the position of each video window by dragging and dropping them into a custom order. 

Zoom is also improving its existing accessibility settings, like keyboard shortcuts, closed captioning and screen reader.

Zoom worked with A11Y, which promotes digital accessibility and inclusion, and other groups to develop these new features. The updates coincided with the International Day of Sign Language on Sept. 23.

The service is embarking on a social media campaign to promote to "raise awareness" about the features, said Damien Hooper-Campbell, Zoom's Chief Diversity Officer. "Not just for the people who benefit from it directly," but also the entire Zoom community, no matter their abilities, he told USA Today.

Other video calling services offer accessibility options, as well. With Apple's release of iOS 14 last week, FaceTime now auto-detects if someone is using American Sign Language (ASL) and keeps that video front and center. Google Meet and Skype provide real-time closed captioning and transcription.